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…]

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 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…]

A Toolkit for Resisting Totalitarianism 

For my money the philosopher Hannah Arendt offers the most profound analysis of the causes of totalitarianism. During and after the Second World War, Arendt spent a lot of time researching and thinking about totalitarianism and wrote such classics as The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. [Read More…]

“Great Men” and the Tide of History

“Hindsight is 20/20” goes the cliche. And in my experience a lot of people want to say “I told you so.” I have to say I’m a terrible pundit—over and over in the last US presidential election cycle I predicted the meltdown of Donald Trump. I was wrong every time. I got it completely wrong [Read More…]

Death of the Curate

Art museums are currently going through a sea change, and that sea change is about the difference between access and curating. Now, obviously, as in most either/or binaries, the answer is actually both/and, but binaries help us get clarity in our thinking.  Think of the old model of art museums: they served a curatorial function: [Read More…]

The Duality Fallacy

The Methodist Church across the street from my church has a large lighted sign that reads, “It Will All Be OK!” Having been raised a Christian, I know what they mean by that. It’s a reassuring message. Perhaps those who put those words out there even believe it. It is, however, a myopic view and [Read More…]

On the Right to Take Up Space

(homily for a prayer vigil for those murdered at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina) I. Power is about controlling space. Fundamentally, power is about controlling space. Governments do it with borders. Governments do it with armies and navies and air forces. Governments do it with police. Power is about controlling space. In [Read More…]

Guest Blogger Maria Greene asks, Why is Humanism So Scary for the UUA?

In the late 1960s—like so many other liberal movements—Humanism lost its way. Understandably, many Universalist and Unitarian congregations held onto Humanism long after the philosophy had grown moribund. The cultural currents shifted toward an eclectic mix of Christian liturgy, Buddhist practice, yoga and “spiritual but not religious.” Humanism did not adapt. Many of us held [Read More…]