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 that there’s no opportunity, after all. Or motive. For the ancient Hebrews, murder was how it all got started. In Genesis, chapter 4, we see… Read more

Getting Tough

So, apparently the current administration has pulled out of the Paris climate accord because they “want a better deal.” Kind of like how they alienated our allies in pursuit of “a better deal.” But, hey, the goal is just to “put America first,” and how is that a bad idea? Don’t we own our first allegiance to the people of our own country? Um…maybe. But the thing is that if you, like DJT, define success as “winning,” then you aren’t… 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 sure that those who notice my confusion (I do try to hide it) think I’m being willfully Humanist and anti-religion about it. I’m not. I… Read more

The Bodhisattva of Hee Haw

Growing up, my sister and I were briefly minor celebrities to insomniacs across Appalachia. What I mean is we showed up on late-night TV. It was 1982. The World’s Fair was coming to Knoxville. Everything was aflutter. Picture a whole city getting ready for company. Someone must have thought people needed a lecture because my sister and I ended up in a public service announcement. It started with a family, out at the World’s Fair. You could hear the daughter… 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 for we human beings to learn is that we don’t learn our lessons. A new name for an old insight is the Illusion of Explanatory… 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 slowly but absolutely stopped believing; some struggle with the concept and find they can no longer believe; and some actively reject the concept. Sometimes atheism… Read more

Could It Get Better? The Problem of Progressivism 

I am writing this morning at a McDonalds in a small farm town near my family farm in the Ohio River Valley. I go to McDonalds for the wifi, not available in the mom and pop cafes. The customers in the restaurant this morning are farmers rushing in for a sandwich and coffee before they head to the fields and a group of Amish in their Sunday best. The Amish have been settling in this area for some time as… Read more

The National Day of . . . Counter-Narratives #NationalDayofReason

Dominant narratives. They dominate. They tell a story that most people in a group want to hear. Those stories reinforce the beliefs of the dominant group. And the prejudices of the dominant group. In 1952 the US Congress declared a National Day of Prayer, which is nowadays officially the first Thursday in May. In the narrative I follow, 1952 was not a good year for the separation of church and state. In the narrative I follow, 1954 was another bad… Read more

Ashes to Ashes, Humus to Humus, and Humility 

Humility. Everyone knows it’s a virtue, since its opposite is . . . what? hubris? Excessive pride? Well, anyway, something not good. But what does humility look like? And—since its a virtue and therefore something good to have—how do we achieve it? In an April 15, 2017 op-ed for the New York Times, Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, published an article titled “The Quiet Power of Humility.” Mr. Wehner praises humility, and opines… Read more

Savoring The Milquetoast: Why This Humanist Remains a Unitarian Universalist

Why would a Humanist want to be a Unitarian Universalist? As the president of the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association, I get that question a lot. And, to be frank, I ask that question of myself a lot. The recent Easter holiday merely underlined the point. For those of us who don’t fit into the Christian hegemony, the fact that so many UU congregations—and ministers—celebrate the holiday feels just plain weird. Christian churches do it better. Let’s face it: UU Humanists… Read more


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