How Secular is “Religious”?

We don’t know how the ready access to information will ultimately change the human condition, but religions are already feeling the heat. A person today can, with a few keystrokes, discover facts about religions that, when I was young, were assiduously and successfully suppressed—particularly in those traditions common among disadvantaged people such as I was. [Read More...]

On the Right to Take Up Space

(homily for a prayer vigil for those murdered at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina) I. Power is about controlling space. Fundamentally, power is about controlling space. Governments do it with borders. Governments do it with armies and navies and air forces. Governments do it with police. Power is about controlling space. In [Read More...]

#RFRA, Soapy Cilantro, and Tasty Gods

(Or: A Little Demonstration of What Religious Freedom Looks Like) POLARIZATION Cilantro. It’s a polarizing vegetable. Many love it. Many hate it. For some, it is just the fresh touch needed to make Mexican and Thai cuisine perfect. For others, cilantro tastes like Ivory Soap. An unbridgeable chasm, it would appear. Three genes have been [Read More...]

The Transient, the Permanent, and the Stitching Horse: What Remains True in Religions

When I was a kid, I loved wandering in the barn on my grandfather’s farm. The barn had been built around a two-story log house. In the loft of the barn was a jumble of old farming equipment. My favorite piece of equipment there was what was known as a stitching horse. This was a [Read More...]

Apocalypse: What Death Cults Really Want

The recent Atlantic article by Graeme Wood, “What Isis Really Wants,” examines the Isis phenomenon from the vantage point of apocalyptic movements. It’s an insightful article. I’m just a bit confused at the reaction. We’ve had apocalyptic thinking living in our midst here in the US for some time. I grew up Pentecostal. Now that’s [Read More...]

The Bigness of our Littleness: Humanism and Individualism

  Late in his life the philosopher Richard Rorty—well known to be an atheist—was asked by an interviewer if he could define “holy.” I suppose the interlocutor thought Rorty would be stumped by the question, or even perhaps show some sympathy for one religion or another. Rorty was not stumped by the question. He responded, [Read More...]

Covenant: Broken Promises, Dumb Ideas, and Ways Forward

Captain, We’re Out of Beer! When those adventurers we now call the Pilgrims realized they weren’t going to make it to Virginia on their beer supply, they did what most idealists do, they jumped ship. But first they wrote up a little agreement for themselves that nowadays we call the Mayflower Covenant. This was 1620. [Read More...]

Blinding and Beheading: One Path, Many Mountains

  “I have been Don Quixote, always creating a world of my own.” ~Anais Nin Science is that which is the same for everyone. Everywhere. Gravity, for example: call it what you will; describe it’s origin as gods or fairies—still, it’s results are the same and describable everywhere for everyone. Science: oxygen and its effects—the [Read More...]

A Touch of Nature Makes the Whole World Kin: So What’s Our Excuse? (A Humanist “Theology” of Radical Welcome)

Mystical and Scientific The author of the Gospel of Matthew reports Jesus saying, “If you welcome your sisters and brothers only, what are you doing more than others? (5:47) Monk and mystic Thomas Merton wrote about one of his mystical experiences: “Yesterday, in Louisville, at the corner of 4th and Walnut, I suddenly realized that [Read More...]

Moses, Jesus, Paul and Sacred Soundbites

What ‘Ol Abe Saw Moses, Jesus, Paul, et. al. as motivator. Their words as marching orders for how to live and what is right to do. Sounds good. Yet, as he watched the bloody carnage justified on both sides by Christian theology, Abraham Lincoln perhaps said it best: “I know that the Lord is always [Read More...]


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