Spiritual Practice for Skeptics

I tend to get it from both sides when I talk about spiritual practice: many of my fellow skeptics blanch at the word “spiritual.” And many Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Sufis, and what-have-yous seem to think that rationality and spiritual practice are at loggerheads. But humanists value connectedness and experience wonder just like everyone else. As [Read More...]

The Harvest Comes

On a blazingly sunny January morning, I marched into a sanctuary outside of Denver, Colorado behind three huge paper maché puppets. They were elaborately fashioned, built on backpacks so they could be carried on the backs of their puppeteers: A brown skinned grandmother, two white braids and a kerchief, a coat hanger twisted into a [Read More...]

Apocalypse Never (and what we can do about it)

I grew up in the Pentecostal church. When I was ten, I knew just how the world would end: “the fire next time.” Tribulations. Seven seals. The four horsemen. Rainstorms of blood and fire. And what was more, this was coming any day now: the present terrible state of the world had been precisely prophesied [Read More...]

A Scream and a Theory: Natural Selection and the Higher Moral Order

Scientific theories do not occur in a vacuum. Like poems or paintings, theories reflect the times and characters or their authors. Darwin’s theory of natural selection, far from being a stark and cold scientific theory, was—and continues to be—an impassioned cry for equality and justice. A cry far more grounded and stirring than anything available [Read More...]

Worthy to be Entrusted

(Today, I preached at the ordination of a new minister in my denomination, Unitarian Universalism. Her name is Rev. Lara Campbell, and I shared the pulpit with Rev. Michael Tino. Here is my half of the sermon.) “Do not demand immediate results but rejoice that we are worthy to be entrusted with this great message,” [Read More...]

Epiphany (Continues)

[More king cakes than you can imagine and only two weeks into Epiphany, I am still tugging on the promise of this season, even as I find myself tugging on clothes that seem strangely tighter...] Kathleen Norris notes the irony that King Herod “appears in the Christian liturgical year when the gospel is read on [Read More...]

A Gift, A Letter, and a Drowning Man: The Legacy of “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

There’s an old Zen story that does like this:   Once there was a great warrior. He had never been defeated, and he continued to win every confrontation into old age. He was known far and wide as the only warrior who had never suffered a defeat. This of course was a challenge to younger [Read More...]

Saving the music, Saving our souls

Much talk is made of gentrification, but I want to take a moment and lift up the shadow side of all the cool new coffee houses and increased property taxes – dispossession. New Orleanians who managed to return post-flood are finding themselves pushed out of the city by the incredible post-2005 rent & tax increases [Read More...]

What A Miracle Is

  Once I crossed the Sierra Madres with a bus driver named Arturo who had one arm and a stick-shift bus.   Sometimes between the the shift and wheel Arturo’s good right arm would pause to make the sign of the cross toward a portrait of the Virgin that banged the windshield from a string. [Read More...]

Sometimes It Takes A Lie

Sometimes it takes a lie to keep a religion. “It’s merely a game,” they told the priests–”how we fast for days, then cut a tall pole to climb. How we costume and dance. It means nothing, how we chant in circles and bleed chickens. How we climb and fly round and around in air. Come, [Read More...]


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