March 10, 2023

I would like to invite us to spend some time reflecting on the life and legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer (1917 – 1977). Her story feels like a perfect bridge as we move from Black History Month into Women’s History Month. If this post leaves you curious to learn more, I was inspired to blog about her by two excellent and accessible biographies that were published recently. The first is from Beacon Press, Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s... Read more

February 15, 2023

I blogged previously about AI in a post titled “Immigrants Aren’t Coming for Your Job, Robots Are.” So, why am I revisiting this topic now, five years later?  I knew it was time last summer when The Washington Post reported that an engineer at Google was raising the alarm that Google’s AI chatbot had already become sentient. Have you seen the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey? It’s a classic example of science fiction writers speculating that AI will one... Read more

January 31, 2023

I wonder if you have taken a philosophy course? Did you enjoy taking it?   More importantly for our purposes, did you take a philosophy course in middle school or high school? How about even earlier: in elementary school? Or kindergarten? I’m increasingly convinced that as a society we wait far too late to give people opportunities to formally engage with the really big questions of “life, the universe, and everything,” to wrestle with the many different ways that various... Read more

January 24, 2023

Sunday was the fiftieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade. On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7–2 that the Constitution protects the right to choose to have an abortion. As Jamal Greene notes in his book How Rights Went Wrong, it is perhaps surprising to remember that that majority opinion was signed by “five Republican appointees…as well as the only Catholic justice on the Court” (117). Nevertheless, six months ago in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a... Read more

January 17, 2023

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in 1929, and if he were still alive today, he would be celebrating his ninety-fourth birthday. I am always shocked to remember that he was only thirty-nine years old when he was assassinated; that’s five years younger than I am. I’m also holding in my heart that January 22nd will be the one-year anniversary of the death of Thich Nhất Hạnh—beloved peace activist, Buddhist teacher, and author of more than 100... Read more

January 13, 2023

In ancient Roman mythology, the month of January is named after the god Janus. He is the god not only of beginnings and endings, but also of the liminal spaces — the gates, transitions, and passages that are betwixt and between one thing ending and another beginning.  As a visual manifestation of this duality, Janus is said to have had two faces looking in opposite directions. So, “Janus” is a perfect namesake for the first month of the year, a... Read more

December 28, 2022

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: From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by Arthur C. Brooks (2022) Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey (2022) The Superhumanities: Historical Precedents, Moral Objections, New Realities by Jeffrey J. Kripal... Read more

December 23, 2022

Can you feel the “Wheel of the Year” turning? During this season when each day here in the Northern Hemisphere becomes incrementally shorter, can you feel the inexorable pull toward Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year? The Sixth Source of the Unitarian Universalist living tradition is “Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.” And I am regularly grateful for the reminders... Read more

December 5, 2022

John Kaag is a philosophy professor who published a book a few years ago with the intriguing title, How William James Can Save Your Life. It’s not my favorite book on James, but Kaag is onto something with that title.  William James was born in 1842 and died in 1910. He has been called the father of American philosophy and the father of American psychology, and he is remembered for coining terms like “stream of consciousness,” “dissociation,” “timeline,” “pluralism” and... Read more

November 16, 2022

There is a scene in Shakespeare’s Macbeth in which a character approaches the three witches, asking them to foretell his future. He implores, If you can look into the seeds of time, And say which grain will grow and which will not, Speak then to me…. (Act 1, Scene 5) There are so many ways to spend our finite time and resources, but which seeds are most likely to ripen and which are more likely to wither? Should I quit... Read more

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