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…]

Alternative Facts and Reason in Religion

  There are no alternative facts. There are alternative theories when we don’t know the facts. There are alternative ways of looking at interpreting the facts. But there are no alternative facts. I say this as someone who is not scientifically trained. I’m a poet and a minister. But I know that artists and ministers [Read More…]

“Great Men” and the Tide of History

“Hindsight is 20/20” goes the cliche. And in my experience a lot of people want to say “I told you so.” I have to say I’m a terrible pundit—over and over in the last US presidential election cycle I predicted the meltdown of Donald Trump. I was wrong every time. I got it completely wrong [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…]

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…]

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…]

Hand Me A Pickaxe, Please! I Need Hope!

I’ve been thinking lately about despair and hope, especially for people like me who live relatively comfortable and privileged lives. There is always reason for despair in the world, but lately the reasons feel as if they are parading before me with relentless, tedious, insistence. I have been holding in prayer a line from the [Read More…]

Sharing in the Anthropocene 

My ethics in terms of economics comes from the first of the Humanist Manifestos: “Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world.” That’s foundational for me. I know that it’s idealistic, but that’s what ethical stances are for, idealism. This idealistic stance becomes more and more important to say out loud as we realize [Read More…]