An Antidote to Racial Theatre

Review of Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. New York: Broadway Books, 2017. Whatever your political leanings, Democracy in Black is an essential book. Princeton University history professor Eddie Glaude mixes the gravitas of an academic historian with the brio of a concerned citizen writing a [Read More…]

Dreaming White

An acquaintance (who is white) once related one of the nightmares of his life. He had been a high school student at Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 when the school was desegregated by court order. One morning, the students were summoned to the school gym. To drown out the speaker, students broke [Read More…]

Shine on! Faithful living in a breakable world

I spend a lot my time and life energy organizing with the New Orleans community inside the walls of a church with no windows. Hearing my boots crunching on the shattered glass on the floor after a brick was thrown through a beautiful window last Sunday at First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans, it [Read More…]

Bad Theology=Bad Politics

I hear an undercurrent of assumption in much of the current liberal rhetoric—a mythology that progressives can best do without. That is the assumption that our present turn toward authoritarianism has somehow only temporarily interrupted American social progress. This assumption is more of that good ol’ “onward and upward forever” mythology that progressives have held [Read More…]

Meaning, Purpose, and Individualism: Thinking Our Way Out of Self-Reliance 

We human beings appear to be the only animals that become confused about our meaning and purpose. Cats don’t appear to forget their cat purpose; horses reclaim their own meaning and purpose as soon as the harness is removed. It appears that only human beings get confused about meaning and purpose. Humanity has devised many [Read More…]

A Toolkit for Resisting Totalitarianism 

For my money the philosopher Hannah Arendt offers the most profound analysis of the causes of totalitarianism. During and after the Second World War, Arendt spent a lot of time researching and thinking about totalitarianism and wrote such classics as The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. [Read More…]

Working for Posterity

Sir Boyle Roche was an eighteenth century Irish politician known even today because of his unfortunate turns of phrase. He was the master of mixed metaphors. He once said, “Mr Speaker, I smell a rat; I see him forming in the air and darkening the sky; but I’ll nip him in the bud.” Sir Roche [Read More…]

Building Walls, Banning the Human 

“Blame is a valuable antidote to helplessness.” Martha Nussbaum I spent last Monday morning in a multi-faith press conference where the subject was the recent immigration ban by the Trump administration. We heard from Muslims, Jews, and Christians. All read scriptures concerning how “the stranger” is to be treated. All agreed that “god” wishes the [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…]