Showing posts from August, 2008

When Will We See Humanist Religious Leaders at the Conventions?

This week's On Faith (Newsweek/Washtington Post) features an article by Humanist Harvard chaplain Greg M. Epstein on "Don't Exclude Humanists, Atheists from the Melting Pot." In it, he writes:

I've seen several signs that an Obama administration might recognize the single most essential truth of American religion and politics in the 21st century. That is, not only is the U.S. not merely a "Christian Nation," we have become something new entirely: the world's first truly "Interfaith Nation." As my Harvard colleague Diana Eck has eloquently described, the U.S. is now the world's most religiously diverse nation. If we embrace the values of religious pluralism, our diversity will be a rich resource, rather than a source of division.

However, this historic opportunity would become an historic tragedy of prejudice and discrimination if we fail to recognize that an Interfaith Nation must make room for Humanists, atheists, and the non-religious …

About This Blog

The UUA's Best Practices for Unitarian Universalist Blogging report suggests that UU bloggers consider several questions. Here are the questions, along with my own responses.

1. Why do you blog? What goals do you have for your blog?
I've started blogging because I see it as one way to keep in touch with my congregation, to respond to issues that are of interest to UUs that are not appropriate for a full sermon for any reason, and to share thoughts and opinions with a wider audience.

2. Who is your intended audience?
Unitarian Universalists, particularly members of my congregation, but also members of other congregations, colleagues, and UUA staff.

3. Who owns your blog? Does it belong to you as individual or to your congregation
or other organization?

I see blogging as a service to the congregation, but owned by me. Similarly, our church has agreed that I have ownership of my sermons.

4. How frequently do you post?
My goal is to post once to twice a week.

5. What is the tone of your blo…

Politics and Religion

It's tough to stay on my side of the line between politics and religion during this intense campaign season. I personally have never been so caught up in a presidential race as I have been in this one. And there's been so many issues that have been brought up in this race, issues that I am free to comment on, professionally and personally, like race, gender, the economy, war. There have been issues of religion brought up by this presidential race, too, that I have found absolutely fascinating, and sometimes infuriating. For example, there is the fact that a substantial number of U.S. Americans still believe BarackObama is a Muslim, and the anti-Muslim sentiments that have been e-mailed around the company accompanying statements of his supposedly Muslim identity. This campaign has also brought up what I would consider the most religious issue of all: hope.

Our church web page links to this blog, because I am its minister, yet this is not a blog that is run by or owned by the chu…


There are a couple of new developments in the same-sex marriage issue in our area. First, as I wrote about a few weeks ago, the Jackson Citizen Patriot has refused to publish a same-sex wedding announcement in their "Milestones" section. They're also refusing to publish letters about the issue, claiming that they don't publish letters criticizing business practices of any business, unless that is already an issue in the news.

Well, now it is. Former Jackson resident Chuck Meade has taken this issue to another level, contacting the state's leading lgbt periodical, Between the Lines. You can read about it at The CitPat says that Meade's wedding isn't legal in either this state or the state it's happening in, but if they were approached by a Jackson couple getting married in a state that recognizes same-sex weddings, then, well, who knows? They're taking it on a case-by-case basis for now. I noti…

Starting School and Intergenerational Life

Every year I seem to write something about fall being the start of the church year and the start of the school year. For me, this year it's true again in a more concrete way.

Today I start teaching again. I'm teaching adjunct at Jackson Community College, and I'm teaching two sections of English 131, which is freshman composition. I taught freshman composition before at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, MA, but it's been four years since I've been in a formal classroom.

I'm looking forward to meeting my students later today. At a community college, you often get a very nice mix of traditional and nontraditional students which enriches, I think, the classroom setting. I remember my own college experience at the University of Michigan, and one thing that could be said is it isolated me from the rest of the community. I remember walking across campus one day and seeing a child and thinking it had been months since I'd seen a small child! There…

Do We Want World-Wide Movement?

Three things I've heard lately have been coming together in my mind.

First, the Lambeth conference of the Anglican Church recently concluded. A major issue of the conference was the ordination of a gay bishop a few years ago. From reports I've heard, it seems that while the Americans and British are divided over the issue, they tend to lean more to the left than Anglicans in other parts of the world. It seems some churches under the Bishop of New Hampshire have been pulling out to be under African bishops.

Second, a local Methodist colleague remarked to me that the United Methodists would have a very different policy about homosexuality if they weren't part of a world-wide communion. But the African churches again were specifically named as some who band with the Southeastern U.S. and other conservatives in other parts of the world, and their votes dominate on the issue.

Third, I'm thinking about what people have often mused about American Catholics versus the entire Cath…

The Last Lecture and Evangelical UUism

Randy Pausch, who gave the "Last Lecture" and became an internet sensation, died recently. I learned that he was a UU when it was posted on the UUA's website. I suspected he might be a UU while reading his book of the Last Lecture, however. Sadly, the reasons I suspected it were that he mentioned his church but didn't say what his church was, and he mentioned his faith, but didn't mention what his faith was. He says in the book, "I was raised by parents who believed that faith was something very personal. I didn't discuss my specific religion in my lecture because I wanted to talk about universal principles that apply to all faiths--to share things I had learned through my relationships with all people." I think if he was Christian and his faith had helped him in his battle with cancer, he wouldn't hesitate to say so.

It's a sad commentary on our faith when you suspect someone is a UU because they specifically don't say so.

This is not to …

Hope and Love in the Response to Hatred and Tragedy

The first draft of an editorial I’ve submitted to the Jackson Citizen Patriot. An edited version is scheduled to appear on Sunday, August 10.

By now most people have heard about the shootings that occurred on Sunday, July 27 in the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Knoxville, Tennessee. Two people were killed and seven other wounded or injured when a gunman began shooting during an intergenerational service featuring a production of “Annie.” People responded immediately with shock, grief, and anger. That was news.

But what people often don’t hear about is what happens afterwards—the small gestures, the work of a church community to pull itself together, the reaching out of the larger community. The responses we have as time goes on are of healing, love, and hope. These things are not news. But they are the important pieces of our lives as we respond to tragedy.

The next day after the tragedy, members of the Tennessee Valley congregation gathered at the nearby Presby…

What Is a Milestone?

I recently submitted this letter to the editor. So far, it has not been printed, but that may be due to the editorial page being taken up by election issues.

Dear Editor,

I have recently been informed that the Citizen Patriot misguidedly refuses to print wedding announcements for same-sex couples in the “milestones” section alongside other wedding announcements, because they are not legal in the state of Michigan.

You do not discriminate based on where the wedding is, as in Sunday’s paper there are notices of weddings in Florida, Illinois, Maryland, and Ohio. I assume you would also print weddings that take place in Massachusetts and California between a man and a woman. In those states same-sex weddings are also legal. If you were merely reporting legal transactions, this would go in a different section of the paper—with the legal notices. Anniversaries and Engagements are not legal procedures, either. Legality is not the issue.

Furthermore, there are two types of weddings: civil and rel…