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…]

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…]

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…]

Ganesha, Nietzsche, Truth, Consequences

  The story goes that Shiva—one of the chief manifestations of divinity in Hinduism—and his wife Parvati had two sons: One was Ganesha, perhaps the most recognizable  of the Hindu gods because he has the head of an elephant. Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and the god of creativity in the arts and sciences. [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…]

A Review of Grace Without God: the Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age by Katherine Ozment.

By Rev. Dr. David Breeden A question from one of her children sends Ozment on a five year quest. As they watch an Eastern Orthodox procession, one of her kid’s asks, “What are we?” The question brings her up short. Ozment long ago lost any attachment to her childhood Presbyterianism, and her husband is a [Read More…]

They Ain’t Heavy: UU Pluralism and Its Discontents 

One of the most serious issues for a tradition such as Unitarian Universalism that has embraced pluralism as a central doctrine is how to navigate the fraught waters of pluralism itself. Furthermore, when a collection of congregations with very different traditions join together—as is the case for General Assemblies—the chance of odd and jolting disjunctions [Read More…]

You should start a meme, they said…

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Cafeteria, Smorgasbord, Grubhub: Religion Delivery Today 

A Twitter meme says, “Spiritual but not religious: people who prefer to make up their own stuff rather than believe stuff others have made up.” Is that the essence of the changes happening on the US religious landscape? In a recent post I mentioned a bumper sticker I saw: “It’s not religion / it’s a relationship” [Read More…]

Oh, Peugeot of Many Names: on authentically using the term “god”

It Is What It Is Despite what many conventionally religious people appear to think, humanism does not exist to annoy the pious. As a matter of fact, some humanists are pious—in both the positive AND negative senses: righteous and self-righteous; reverent and sanctimonious. Piety comes in many guises and clings to various theistic and atheistic [Read More…]