As the People Fell into a Well

JUNK The popular Christian writer Father Richard Rohr says, “If your religion is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk religion.” I’d expand on that and say that if your politics is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk politics. Think about that as I relate a [Read More…]

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…]

Kick the Dog, Pet the Dog—Off-Loading Anxiety

There’s two things we can do with suffering: we can kick the dog; or we can pet the dog. That’s really as complicated as it gets. We can kick the dog; or we can pet the dog. Or the cat. Or the parakeet. Or our partners or kids or co-workers or fellow citizens. Because, as [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…]

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…]

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…]

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…]