Ay Caramba! Decolonizing the Mind

The darkness drops again but now I know     That twenty centuries of stony sleep     Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,     And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,     Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? William Butler Yeats   We all walk around with [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…]

Now What?

Help me think this through, people. On the one hand, there are folks—good, honorable folks—who are saying that we need to pay attention to the result of this election, to get serious about addressing the needs and concerns of people who feel abandoned by the system. That we need to really hear the perspective of [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…]

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…]