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…]

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…]

Trauma Stewardship?

Dear Friends, Happy Autumn! On day one of my summer break a dear friend recommended to me some timely sabbatical reading – Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others by Laura van Dernoot with Connie Burk. Divine intervention… For all of us working towards collective liberation, I invite us [Read More…]

Humanism: Without God, Not Anti-God 

The September 2016 Atlantic features an article about new Humanist communities titled “A Less Lonely Way to Lose Your Faith.” The article describes the burgeoning crop of secular communities as if they were a new phenomenon. This is particularly ironic since this autumn First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis is celebrating one hundred years as a [Read More…]

Sharing in the Anthropocene 

My ethics in terms of economics comes from the first of the Humanist Manifestos: “Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world.” That’s foundational for me. I know that it’s idealistic, but that’s what ethical stances are for, idealism. This idealistic stance becomes more and more important to say out loud as we realize [Read More…]

Law and Order: Donald Trump’s Fantasy

Donald Trump has promised us that he will be the candidate standing on the side of law and order in the face of all of the scary things going on in the world. And goodness knows, the world is a scary place. Shootings by police. Shootings of police. Terrorists and people who want to dignify [Read More…]