It’s been interesting watch the dialog about ethnic Halloween costumes go by on my Facebook page. It has ranged from a Chinese-American friend posting a picture of a “Chinese” costume that featured yellow face paint (Really? Have you ever seen a Chinese person who was actually yellow?) to a friend who was genuinely bewildered that [Read More...]

Words, Words, and the Word Was With . . .

In his play Hamlet, Shakespeare has the character Polonius ask Hamlet, “What do you read, My Lord?” “Words, words,” Hamlet replies. Polonius says, “But what is the matter, my lord?” “Between who?” “I mean the matter that you read, my lord.” “Matter.” Shakespeare loved words that cut two ways. “Matter,” as in what’s the matter? [Read More...]

Why Does a Super-Nice Word Like “Spiritual” Make Humanists All Itchy?

Here is what Plato had to say about the body and the soul: Does not purification consist in this . . . in separating as much as possible the soul from the body, and in accustoming it to gather and collect itself by itself on all sides apart from the body, and to dwell, so [Read More...]

Things that get in the way

I often tell the story of the time my Chaplain Supervisor told me, “Deanna, I wish you would stop being so hard on yourself” (She paused here and I had a moment to think sweetly “Oh, she really cares about me.” This tenderness quickly faded as she continued) – “because then you would stop being [Read More...]

Death of the Curate

Art museums are currently going through a sea change, and that sea change is about the difference between access and curating. Now, obviously, as in most either/or binaries, the answer is actually both/and, but binaries help us get clarity in our thinking.  Think of the old model of art museums: they served a curatorial function: [Read More...]

Putting First Things First: Congregations of Philosophers

In 1931 the Humanist Unitarian minister Curtis Reese looked into his crystal ball and wrote that society was moving “away from religion conceived as one of man’s concerns, and toward religion conceived as man’s one concern.” Why would a Humanist foresee religion becoming more, not less, central as a human concern? (Note that Reese had [Read More...]


Late last night a member of my congregation was killed. She was someone who cared deeply about her spiritual life, who not only took classes through our church but also was moved to go through seminary. She was someone who believed, as Unitarian Universalists do, in growth, in possibility, in the urge toward the good, [Read More...]

Musing On Relevance

I meet monthly with clergy colleagues, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian of various stripes, all of whom are leaders of urban, liberal congregations. We clergy—and most of our members—do not see our own way as the only way. We believe that dialogue is the antidote to violence. None of us are fundamentalists. That said, none of [Read More...]

Mansplaining, Whitesplaning, and the Power of Listening

Totally unprepared are you To face a world of men Timid and shy and scared are you Of things beyond your ken The composition date is 1959, the composers Rogers and Hammerstein, the musical The Sound of Music. “You are Sixteen Going on Seventeen” is perhaps the epitome of mansplaining. Mansplaining. It’s about speaking from [Read More...]

In this time of intense polarization

I cannot help but to wonder: [Read more...]