The Danger is in Not Being You 

There is a story that has been told in various ways about a rabbi named  Zusya. As Rabbi Zusya was dying, he told his visiting students that he was very afraid. The students were shocked and said, “But rabbi, you have always told us that God is full of love and kindness!” “I’m not afraid [Read More…]

A review of Why God? Explaining Religious Phenomena by Rodney Stark 

Before I say anything else, I should say: Read this book. Whether you agree or disagree with the central point, this is a valuable book in the ongoing discussion of religion in the US. What is Stark’s central point? “Only religion can make existence meaningful.” A sociologist of religion, Dr. Stark falls into (or perhaps [Read More…]

Until the Cows Come Home

(being a personal summary of the Zen story of the Ten Bulls*) As the youngest, it was my job to find the cattle each evening and bring them back to the barn. The herd might be anywhere across the rolling hills. I’d walk and walk until I found fresh dung or perhaps caught a glimpse [Read More…]

Loving What Happens

Amor fati. The love of (your own) fate. The Stoic philosopher Epictetus appears to have been the first to put this together as a Latin phrase in writing. In Yoruba, it’s called “ayanmo.” The concept has been around—I suspect—as long as humanity has been suffering life’s ill effects. Fate. It’s what happens to you and [Read More…]

The Lesson of Sunday School Cards

My dad was out of work a lot when I was a kid, so we traveled from town to town in the Southeast. Consequently, I attended all sorts of churches, from strip mall storefronts to white wooden boxes with a steeple on top. The churches were always in the Pentecostal / Apostolic range, which in [Read More…]

The Stories We Listen To; the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Our elders teach us things. Sometimes, later, we change our minds about those teachings, sometimes not. Sometimes we take those teachings lightly, only to realize the depth of the wisdom later. My father told a story about the family just up the road. It was the Great Depression, and the farmer and his wife had [Read More…]

Murder and What’s in a Story

Why do we kill each other? I have to admit that when I walk along a street and look at the apartments and houses, I don’t wonder what evil lurks in the hearts of the neighbors. Instead I wonder why so many people go day after day, year after year, without killing anybody. It’s not [Read More…]

An Improvisational People

True confession: I don’t know a chancel from a narthex. This can become a liability when one is, as I am, employed as a Unitarian Universalist minister. When I visit places, I’ll get an instruction such as “sit to the right on the cancel.” Or the narthex. I don’t rememberer. Anyway, it’s a liability. I’m [Read More…]

On Knowing What We Don’t Know

Knowing that you don’t know what you don’t know. Socrates declared that supreme knowledge a long time ago. Even earlier, a Hindu scribe had penned, One believes in existence; Another says, “There is nothing!” Rare is the one who believes in neither. That one is free from confusion. (Ashtavakra Gita 18:42)  Apparently, the hardest lesson [Read More…]

I’m an Atheist! Now What?

As I mentioned in my last blog post, unlike progressive traditions such as the United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalism, and Humanism—all of which stick closely to the college-educated demographic—atheism crosses all lines, from race to class to gender, et cetera. Some people never believe in a god; some realize one day that they have [Read More…]