#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 the critique, it’s a good idea to look at the usual mistakes the uninformed make about Humanism. The term “humanism” developed in the second half… 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 colonized minds. All of us are born into a matrix of time, space, assumptions, and requirements. Culture. Gender. Race. Nationalism. Class. Religion. Ay caramba! The… 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, I’m building my (sloppy mental) list on avoiding what the twentieth century philosopher Martin Heidegger enumerated as three diseases of the soul: 1. We have… 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 where the faces of some of our national old white guys are carved. But reflect that the Lakota Sioux called that particular mountain “Six Grandfathers.”… Read more

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

I suspect that I am far from the only one having a hard time getting in the Christmas spirit these days. It’s hard to feel all ho-ho-ho when the news is full of the wholesale slaughter of civilians in Aleppo and a string of outrageous and appalling appointments from a president elect who was voted in under the auspices of a foreign power. On the other hand, there is something in my little Jewish-UU heart that is reaching out toward… Read more

Communities of Resilience and Resistance

As a young theology student, James Luther Adams watched the Nazi rise to power. For the rest of his life he insisted that voluntary associations are the key to resisting oppression—voluntary associations such as congregations. When facing the breakdown of the rule of law, voluntary associations provide a place of both resilience and resistance—resilience for the individuals sustaining the struggle; resistance amplified by its collective nature. JLA’s conviction has remained topmost in my mind as the multi-cultural, multi-faith clergy group… Read more

Better Living Through #Cynicism

Good. Better. Best. Choice. In consumerist cultures we learn to make choices but are discouraged  from thinking through to the ultimate value of things. For example, last weekend, the center-left Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned after a resounding defeat at the polls. The victors were populist parties such as the Five Star Movement, led by former comedian Beppe Grillo whose catchphrase is, “Vote with your heart, not your head.” “Vote with your heart, not your head.” There’s a lot of choosing going… Read more

Risking together

It has been over two decades now, but I still remember being assigned A Feminist Ethic of Risk as an undergraduate political science major.  I did not know at the time how profoundly my ethical worldview was about to be shaped by a Unitarian Universalist theologian (…or even what Unitarian Universalism was).  Now I am a Unitarian Universalist minister, turning back to the wisdom found in those pages for this moment. Ethicist Sharon Welch, Provost of Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary, has… Read more

Protectors

OK, friends. I’ve been listening. Like all of us, I want to know where we go now. I want the path forward, and a way out of feeling terrified and depressed and hopeless. I don’t know if we are on our way to a fascist state, and neither do you, but like you I am determined that we can and must do better. I want to know what to do, and so I’ve been listening. I have heard that we… Read more

As the People Fell into a Well

JUNK The popular Christian writer Father Richard Rohr says, “If your religion is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk religion.” I’d expand on that and say that if your politics is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk politics. Think about that as I relate a story told by the Confucian philosopher Mengzi (also known as Mencius), lived in the 300s BCE: You are out for a walk in the country. Suddenly you see… Read more

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