The True Origin Story

February 12th is the 208th birthday of Charles Darwin. In celebration, I want to look at a couple of extracts from his writing. The first is from The Descent of Man, published in 1871: As man (sic) advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual [Read More…]

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

I suspect that I am far from the only one having a hard time getting in the Christmas spirit these days. It’s hard to feel all ho-ho-ho when the news is full of the wholesale slaughter of civilians in Aleppo and a string of outrageous and appalling appointments from a president elect who was voted [Read More…]

Communities of Resilience and Resistance

As a young theology student, James Luther Adams watched the Nazi rise to power. For the rest of his life he insisted that voluntary associations are the key to resisting oppression—voluntary associations such as congregations. When facing the breakdown of the rule of law, voluntary associations provide a place of both resilience and resistance—resilience for [Read More…]

Risking together

It has been over two decades now, but I still remember being assigned A Feminist Ethic of Risk as an undergraduate political science major.  I did not know at the time how profoundly my ethical worldview was about to be shaped by a Unitarian Universalist theologian (…or even what Unitarian Universalism was).  Now I am a [Read More…]

At #Thanksgiving, A Wish for Freedoms

I lost one of my cousins this week. (As a hillbilly, I have lots of cousins.) In lieu of flowers, his wife is asking for donations for his burial—open casket of course, because that’s the only way Christians of their ilk can do it. The expensive way. My cousin worked two jobs and died of [Read More…]

Kick the Dog, Pet the Dog—Off-Loading Anxiety

There’s two things we can do with suffering: we can kick the dog; or we can pet the dog. That’s really as complicated as it gets. We can kick the dog; or we can pet the dog. Or the cat. Or the parakeet. Or our partners or kids or co-workers or fellow citizens. Because, as [Read More…]

Outsourced Morality

True confession: I understand Trump voters. I come from that place. We’re the same people who voted for Andrew Jackson—duel-fighter, bigamist, slaveholder, and native-killer. As a matter of fact, when I was a kid, we would go to his plantation in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday afternoons. The Hermitage. The story of Jackson told us that—no [Read More…]

Public Service Reminder

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard An invitation to think about how we are spending our days – for this is how we are spending our “one wild and precious life” ( A Summer Day by poet Mary Oliver).  [With gratitude to Berwick “Mahdi” Davenport of [Read More…]

The War of Positions and Communities of Resistance  

Antonio Gramsci was an early twentieth-century neo-Marxist who died in the 1930s as a result of imprisonment by the Italian Fascists. Gramsci described the inner-working of social systems as “the war of positions.” To simplify a bit, Gramsci thought that labels—cultural norms—create the positions oppressed groups must inhabit. These are the structures that keep certain [Read More…]

How Can You Say You Love Me?

The Rabbi Jeffrey Summit [of Tufts Hillel] tells a Hasidic story of the rabbi who watches two Russian peasants drinking together at an Inn. The first asks, “Boris, do you love me?” His friend replies, “Ivan, Do I love you, we’ve worked side by side on our farm for years. Of course I love you!” [Read More…]