how we spend our lives…

Back before we became adult adults, my younger sister and I would call each other whenever we were overwhelmed with life  and one of us would remind the other: Breathe in. Breathe out. If you forget this Nothing else matters. Friends, let us take a moment to be grateful for this essential element of life: [Read More…]

Outsourced Morality

True confession: I understand Trump voters. I come from that place. We’re the same people who voted for Andrew Jackson—duel-fighter, bigamist, slaveholder, and native-killer. As a matter of fact, when I was a kid, we would go to his plantation in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday afternoons. The Hermitage. The story of Jackson told us that—no [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…]

One Hundred Years of Humanism

Humanism is a product of Unitarian thought. The first Humanist congregation was a Unitarian one, First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis. The group that would become First Unitarian Society began meeting in the 1870s under the auspices of an association known as the Liberal League, a secularist gathering of freethinkers, agnostics, and atheists advocating for the separation [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…]

The War of Positions and Communities of Resistance  

Antonio Gramsci was an early twentieth-century neo-Marxist who died in the 1930s as a result of imprisonment by the Italian Fascists. Gramsci described the inner-working of social systems as “the war of positions.” To simplify a bit, Gramsci thought that labels—cultural norms—create the positions oppressed groups must inhabit. These are the structures that keep certain [Read More…]

How Can You Say You Love Me?

The Rabbi Jeffrey Summit [of Tufts Hillel] tells a Hasidic story of the rabbi who watches two Russian peasants drinking together at an Inn. The first asks, “Boris, do you love me?” His friend replies, “Ivan, Do I love you, we’ve worked side by side on our farm for years. Of course I love you!” [Read More…]

Hand Me A Pickaxe, Please! I Need Hope!

I’ve been thinking lately about despair and hope, especially for people like me who live relatively comfortable and privileged lives. There is always reason for despair in the world, but lately the reasons feel as if they are parading before me with relentless, tedious, insistence. I have been holding in prayer a line from the [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…]