Theology is Words, Words Matter

When people first visit First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, a very common first response to walking into what we call our Upper Assembly Hall is, “Wow! Beautiful sanctuary!” To which, as a minister of the place, I am duty bound to respond, “We call it our “Upper Assembly Hall.” By insisting for sixty-five years that [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…]

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…]

The Mindfulness of Stoicism, Part Four

Last week I continued a discussion of the Stoic methods of inner-discipline (what’s popularly called spiritual practice nowadays). http://www.patheos.com/blogs/uucollective/2016/08/the-mindfulness-of-stoicism-part-three/ Number one is Write and Reflect in the Morning. The second is Focus on Your Goals. The third is Take the Long View and Practice Letting Go. Today I want to look at the fourth, Practice [Read More…]

When Hope Seems Silly

The life that no longer trusts another human being and no longer forms ties to the political community is not a human life any longer. ~Martha Nussbaum This summer of 2016 has been a summer of tragedy. Many are mentioning the summer of 1968 as the last time so much bad news crowded a season. [Read More…]

Law and Order: Donald Trump’s Fantasy

Donald Trump has promised us that he will be the candidate standing on the side of law and order in the face of all of the scary things going on in the world. And goodness knows, the world is a scary place. Shootings by police. Shootings of police. Terrorists and people who want to dignify [Read More…]

Aesop and the Story After Dallas

One of Aesop’s Fables goes like this: Lion once went once hunting with Fox, Jackal, and Wolf. They hunted and they hunted, and at last they surprised a stag, and soon took its life. Then came the question of how to divide the spoils of their hunt. “Rip the stag into four pieces!” roared Lion. [Read More…]

Black Lives Matter more than White Fear

Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter. In Louisiana In Minnesota In Texas Black Lives Matter. When we commit to undoing the systemic racism that sets black people up for harassed and penalized existence, that sets police up for fearful lives, that sets us all up to be dehumanized – only then can the news change. [Read More…]