Working for Posterity

Sir Boyle Roche was an eighteenth century Irish politician known even today because of his unfortunate turns of phrase. He was the master of mixed metaphors. He once said, “Mr Speaker, I smell a rat; I see him forming in the air and darkening the sky; but I’ll nip him in the bud.” Sir Roche [Read More…]

The True Origin Story

February 12th is the 208th birthday of Charles Darwin. In celebration, I want to look at a couple of extracts from his writing. The first is from The Descent of Man, published in 1871: As man (sic) advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual [Read More…]

Building Walls, Banning the Human 

“Blame is a valuable antidote to helplessness.” Martha Nussbaum I spent last Monday morning in a multi-faith press conference where the subject was the recent immigration ban by the Trump administration. We heard from Muslims, Jews, and Christians. All read scriptures concerning how “the stranger” is to be treated. All agreed that “god” wishes the [Read More…]

Circles of Concern: How to Talk Politics

The bad news is…well, there’s a hell of a lot of it. But the good news is that many people are choosing to engage in politics and protest in a way they never have before. Which is awesome, and the main thing that gives me hope these days. But the thing is, like anything else [Read More…]

Alternative Facts and Reason in Religion

  There are no alternative facts. There are alternative theories when we don’t know the facts. There are alternative ways of looking at interpreting the facts. But there are no alternative facts. I say this as someone who is not scientifically trained. I’m a poet and a minister. But I know that artists and ministers [Read More…]

“Great Men” and the Tide of History

“Hindsight is 20/20” goes the cliche. And in my experience a lot of people want to say “I told you so.” I have to say I’m a terrible pundit—over and over in the last US presidential election cycle I predicted the meltdown of Donald Trump. I was wrong every time. I got it completely wrong [Read More…]

#Humanism, Specism, and the Baggage of Words

In a recent op ed article in The New York Times, Natasha Lennard and Cary Wolfe asked the question “is humanism really humane?” (see link below) While the authors rightly point out that the term “humanism” has many meanings, Natasha Lennard falls into the fallacy of equating humanism with specism. But before we look at [Read More…]

Ay Caramba! Decolonizing the Mind

The darkness drops again but now I know     That twenty centuries of stony sleep     Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,     And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,     Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? William Butler Yeats   We all walk around with [Read More…]

#Resolutions and Diseases of the Soul 

It’s that time of year again—time for resolutions. List makers will list them; the sloppy among us will make mental notes; the cynical will say, “Never again!” Yes, resolutions for the new year are a cliche, but determining to do things differently—taking ourselves off autopilot and living more consciously—is anything but a tired cliche. This year, [Read More…]

Happy Holidays From the Cruel Optimisms

Isn’t it just a tad too ironic that one of the US national icons is called Mt. “Rush-more”? Sure, I know—it’s named after a rich white guy, but Mt. Rushmore? I’m thinking Americans need a Mt. Rush-less or a Mt. Chill Out. Sure, it’s pure happenstance that Mt. Rushmore is the name of the place [Read More…]