February 25, 2020

We are now in the final week of Black History Month, an annual reminder about the importance of reflecting on our past through the lens of African American experiences. Black History Month is also a more general reminder that history is never neutral. It is always told from some point of view even if that point of view is not always acknowledged. Let me give you an example of what I mean. If you sign up for a class on… Read more

February 20, 2020

Lorraine Hansberry died in 1965 at the far too young age of thirty-four. In those few decades, however, she nevertheless became “the first Black woman to have her play produced on Broadway and the first Black winner of the prestigious Drama Critics’ Circle Award. That first play, A Raisin in the Sun, is the most widely produced and read play by a Black American woman.” When she won that Drama Critics’s Award at the age of twenty-nine, she was also… Read more

February 11, 2020

Charles Darwin was born two hundred and eleven years ago this Wednesday, on February 12, 1809. And in recent years his birthday has been celebrated as International Darwin Day, an annual opportunity to celebrate the principles that guided his life: “perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth.”   As brilliant as Darwin was, a lot of additional scientific discoveries related to evolution have been made in the more than one hundred years since his death (202). So in the spirit… Read more

February 6, 2020

For the Ordination of Scot Hull as a Unitarian Universalist Minister Traditional Reading (Proverbs 3:13-18): 13 Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, 14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths… Read more

January 8, 2020

Happy New Year! And happy new decade! For anyone wondering, yes I’m aware that since there was no “Year Zero,” technically the new decade doesn’t start until 2021. But in this case I am on the side of our cultural tendency to think in terms of the ‘90s, the 2000s, and the 2010s. And what a difference a decade can make. Perhaps the past ten years have been fairly stable for you; there’s nothing wrong with that. But for many… Read more

December 28, 2019

The following are the top ten best books I’ve read this decade–in alphabetical order by the author’s last name because agonizing over a precise order would take all the fun out of remembering these books. I have read a lot of books–many of them good or even great–over the past ten years. The criteria that put these particular books over the top was that they transformed my way of understanding of the world (or my way of being in the… Read more

December 28, 2019

The following are the top ten best books I’ve read since this time last year–in alphabetical order by the author’s last name because agonizing over a precise order would take all the fun out of remembering these books: How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don’t by Leslie Crutchfield (2018) American Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Modernity by Ann Gleig (2019) Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber (2019) How to Be an Anti-racist by Ibram Kendi (2019) How Democracies… Read more

November 20, 2019

In early August, the news spread around the world that Toni Morrison (1931-2019) had died. She was eighty-eight years old. To name only a few of her pathbreaking accomplishments, in 1988, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Beloved, arguably her masterpiece. The next year, she joined the faculty at Princeton University, where she taught for more than twenty-five years. And in 1993, she became the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her obituary in… Read more

November 12, 2019

What does (and doesn’t) work in building the better world we dream about? Why do some movements for social change succeed while others fizzle or even fail? For considering these questions, one of the most helpful resources I have found recently is the book How Change Happens by Leslie Crutchfield. She is the executive director of Georgetown University’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative. She and her team have researched some of the major recent movements for social change in the United States… Read more

November 4, 2019

On Sunday, we passed the mark of being one year away from the next U.S. presidential election, which will be held on November 3, 2020. In reflecting on the current state of our body politic, one of the most helpful resources I have found is Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s powerful and accessible book, published last year with the sobering title of How Democracies Die. Both authors are professors of government at Harvard University. For most of their careers, they have… Read more

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