#Religion: Let’s Talk About the Relationship

Recently I saw a bumper sticker: “It’s not a religion / It’s a relationship.” The bumper sticker was in black and white with a little cross on the left side. My first thought: “good marketing!” That phrase surely comes as the result of contemporary research showing that younger people, millennials, are looking for just that: [Read More…]

Explicitly Black UU Healing Spaces: Spiritual Compassion Practice at GA 2016

[A note of gratitude and a heart full of appreciation to the Rev. Carlton Elliot Smith for his generosity, insight, and  reflections in the creation of this post. -DV] Last night I began reading Uncovering Race: A Black Journalist’s Story of Reporting and Reinvention by Amy Alexander (Beacon Press, 20011).  Describing landing her first “real job” as [Read More…]

Getting a Mission On

If I’ve learned anything from serving and visiting several congregations, it is that survival is not a mission. Religious institutions either have a saving message or they don’t. They know why they exist or they don’t. When I see a thriving congregation, I see one that is continually asking itself why it exists at all. [Read More…]

Holy Work in this Holy Week

As the Christian world grieves and celebrates the Passion of Christ during this Holy Week, climate justice activist are gathering in New Orleans to resist the issuing of new leases to destroy life in the Gulf of Mexico and livelihoods in the Gulf South. For a deeper understanding of what is going on, The New [Read More…]

The Grace of Learning

In life, there are many things we can learn from other people. And there are many times when we have to be “the other people” in order to learn. In Unitarian Universalism, there is a tradition of blessing babies and young children when they become a part of the congregation by giving them a rose [Read More…]

The heartwork of coming alive

“Under all the harsh noise of the world coming in on us, this is how the things that last move: a small wave from the deep moves us on and the more we’re moved, the more we bend and bow and reach for each other. Our very life is the ground of practice by which [Read More…]

Relax: #Humanism Is Not Mack the Knife 

Small Humanist groups are popping up and organizing around the US, some as independent groups, some as interest groups within larger Unitarian Universalist congregations. This movement has drawn some interesting reactions . . . I know these reactions well, because one of the oddities about my position as a minister at First Unitarian Society of [Read More…]

Some Accumulated Wisdom for Seminarians 

One of the best aspects of being a senior minister is working with ministers-in-training. I have learned far more from seminarians than they have learned from me. Here are some things I’ve gleaned over the years: #1. Hear the wisdom of the congregation. (#hivemind) #2. Be you . . . but be getting better. (#cultured) [Read More…]

Some Slack for the Tense on the Holidays

I know, I know—some people just love the holiday season—“the hap-, hap-, happiest time of the year” and all that. Good for you. Some of us don’t feel so well this time of year. Perhaps it is the prohibitive distance to visit loved ones; perhaps it is grief over lost loved ones; perhaps it’s that [Read More…]

Why Would Anyone Want to be a Minister?

My mother says I was born serious. Could be. For example, I remember that when I was six or seven one of the neighborhood kids slapped me. I turned the other cheek. Because . . . well, I went to Sunday school is why. I was a serious kid. (Or at least a kid who [Read More…]