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…]

A Republic If You Can Keep It

I’ve long been a member of PEN America, a writers group dedicated to freedom of expression. One year, at an international convention in a capital city better left unnamed, I remember realizing that being “hosted” by a government could also mean being controlled by a government. We authors were wined and dined at the president’s [Read More…]

Social Gospel 2.0: Public Theology and #StandingWithStandingRock 

#MoralMonday, #MoralRevival, and #StandingWithStandingRock have ushered in a new day for public theology. Religions can easily lead to navel gazing—all about me and my issues and problems. Public theology is about directing our attention outward into such areas as politics and economics. Public theology necessarily takes into account sociology, anthropology, psychology, and on and on. [Read More…]

Mulligan Stew, Truth, and Worldviews 

In the early twentieth century the activist Rosa Luxemburg wrote, “The most revolutionary act is a clear view of the world as it really is.” As a Humanist, this is the idea I hold most dear. I don’t want placebos or half-truths, even if they feel warm and fuzzy. Nope. I want the truth. Even [Read More…]

how we spend our lives…

Back before we became adult adults, my younger sister and I would call each other whenever we were overwhelmed with life  and one of us would remind the other: Breathe in. Breathe out. If you forget this Nothing else matters. Friends, let us take a moment to be grateful for this essential element of life: [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…]

One Hundred Years of Humanism

Humanism is a product of Unitarian thought. The first Humanist congregation was a Unitarian one, First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis. The group that would become First Unitarian Society began meeting in the 1870s under the auspices of an association known as the Liberal League, a secularist gathering of freethinkers, agnostics, and atheists advocating for the separation [Read More…]

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…]