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

November 9, 2022

On this day after the Election, I want to invite us to reflect on the state of our democracy. Democracy, after all, is a valuable method for governance, but it’s not a guarantee of good outcomes (Gershberg and Illing, Paradox of Democracy, 2). In a democracy, the people are free to choose, and sometimes their choices are out of alignment with progressive values.  And we need to be honest that globally today, there are a number of corrupt authoritarians in... Read more

November 3, 2022

A congregant said to me recently, “Many of us would like to love our neighbors without exception, but we know there are people who regularly deal in bad faith.” And with election denial continuing as Election Day rapidly approaches on Tuesday, November 8, it can be especially consequential when anti-democratic, authoritarian politicians act in bad faith. So let me submit for your consideration that one significant antidote to bad faith is raising people’s awareness that bad faith actors exist, and... Read more

August 23, 2022

I suspect we could all make a long list of the major problems facing us today—from threats to democracy at home, to global climate change, and so much more. As the author and activist Grace Lee Boggs used to say, “Another world is necessary.” But she didn’t stop there. She would add, “Another world is possible.” Then she would go one step further: “Another world is happening.”  What do you think about that three-part claim? Is a better world not... Read more

August 16, 2022

I first came to Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) by way of Bob Dylan (1941-). Regarding Guthrie’s influence on him, Dylan said, “You could listen to his songs and actually learn how to live” (Seymour, 21).  The two singer-songwriters only met once. In 1961, when Dylan was 19 years old, he visited Guthrie in the hospital. Guthrie was 48 years old and receiving treatment for the neurodegenerative condition of Huntington’s Disease, which he inherited from his mother (Edington 79). Two years later... Read more

March 31, 2022

I started making plans for this post almost a year ago, when I saw that Beacon Press had published a book titled With Her Fist Raised: Dorothy Pitman Hughes and the Transformative Power of Black Community Activism. Dorothy is how she prefers to be called, and her story felt like both an appropriate topic for Women’s History Month, and a bridge linking back to Black History Month.  The book cover caught my eye first, because it features the famous photo... Read more

March 21, 2022

In the early twentieth century, a tradition began of celebrating March 8th as International Women’s Day—an annual invitation to celebrate women’s contributions to events in history and contemporary society. In the early 1980s, this tradition expanded within the U.S. to Women’s History Week, and a few years later, to all of March as Women’s History Month. Relatedly one of my core convictions is that the stories we tell matter. Too often, our collective cultural history and stories have been told... Read more

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