Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Brief Dialogue With Tom Schade

After a long absence from the blogUUsphere, I've been sidling back in. Thus it was the other day when I wandered over to The Lively Tradition, read some posts, and responded to one. Tom kindly replied ... More thoughts on this to come...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Michael Dowd, Distilled

Over the last four years I have been on an increasingly focused spiritual journey. I've documented much of it, albeit haphazardly, in this space over the last couple of years.

Most recently, Brian McLaren's book A New Kind of Christianity has marked an opportunity to more completely synthesize where I am now. Indeed, his work is turning out to be a significant touchstone for me.

I hope to say more about that here soon... But in the meantime, I wanted to revisit another significant touchstone: The work of Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution. This talk by him, which I just got a link to in my email, offers as good a distillation of what he has to say as any.

I commend it to your attention.

 (Post edited slightly to remove some inelegant phrasing and repetition.)

Monday, July 23, 2012


This is good to see. Episcopal Bishop Stacy Sauls ("chief operating officer" of the Church) incisively rebuts a Wall Street Journal columnist who accuses the Episcopalians of caving into the culture by, among other things, opening up marriage rites to include same-sex unions:

...The church has been captive to the dominant culture, which has rewarded it with power, privilege and prestige for a long, long time. The Episcopal Church is now liberating itself from that, and as the author correctly notes, paying the price. I hardly see paying the price as what ails us. I see it as what it means to be a follower of Jesus... 
The Episcopal Church is on record as standing by those the culture marginalizes whether that be nonwhite people, female people or gay people. The author calls that political correctness hostile to tradition. 
I call it profoundly countercultural but hardly untraditional. In fact, it is deeply true to the tradition of Jesus, Jesus who offended the "traditionalists" of his own day, Jesus who was known to associate with the less than desirable, Jesus who told his followers to seek him among the poor. It is deeply true to the tradition of the Apostle Paul who decried human barriers of race, sex, or status (Galatians 3:28)....
Related, somewhat: A rebuttal as well to Ross Douthat's recent New York Times column on liberal Christianity.

(via Sightings)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer Camp -- A Quick Postcard

Having a great time... Wish you were here!

Actually, you are, in a way.

I am at the Midwest UU Summer Assembly in Missouri. While I intend to offer more detail later, a couple of quick notes for now...

The first is, that I really am offering my workshop on liberal Christian theology and scholarship. Day One went well, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the week. Some of what I'll be speaking about and asking participants to reflect on comes from the things I've thought about and shared here, and heard from others here.

The second, is the accidental discovery of a bit of online opportunism founded on my URL here... if you miss one letter in it (leaving out the 's' in 'blogspot') you wind up at a completely different place -- some kind of gospel music portal.

I guess I'm at least a little bit flattered... but then I can probably be bought cheaply...

Hopeful Words for the Mainline Churches from a Progressive Evangelical

A favorite writer of this Unitarian Universalist Christian is the Evangelical writer Brian McLaren. He spoke this week at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), my "mother-in-law church," which DairyStateMom will be attending later this week.

This morning she emailed me this link and this one to stories about his talk.

Decline, he says, is not inexorable in the Mainline tradition ... and he sees hope for the future in the quality of young leadership coming into the PC(USA), often from more conservative Christian traditions.

Is there something we in the UU tradition -- whether or not we identify as Christian -- can learn from this, too?

Friday, June 1, 2012

'Not Your Daddy's Jesus' Update

revdawn asks about my workshop on Jesus so, for her and for anyone who might be interested, a very brief update...  I will be presenting a 10-hour workshop on contemporary liberal Christian scholarship and theology at the Midwest UU Summer Assembly in July... a goodly number of people have signed up, and now I'm in the final stages of preparation. I did not so much a test drive as offer a rough-draft/brainstorming version of this in March at my home church, and it was well-received. But this summer's version will be a more polished approach.

Because I've been so preoccupied with many other things in my life, my blogging has dwindled to almost nothing. I do hope (and have been hoping, for months!) to change that, but just when isn't certain... If it seems appropriate, I might do some blogging from MUUSA, though...

Friday, April 6, 2012

In Memoriam: R.D. Munro, 1914-2012

DairyStateMom's father died last night. We miss him already.

It was certainly his time, as much as any passing can ever be. In the last few years, his health had been seriously in decline, exacerbated by steadily progressing dementia, presumably Alzheimer's. Yet an ironic benefit of his decline was a family decision to move him from Indianapolis, his lifelong hometown, up to assisted living facilities very near to us, where we got to see him much more frequently in his last few years than we otherwise would have.

When I met him, a few months after I began courting his youngest daughter, he was already a bit stooped and frail looking. But he still completed the Daily Jumble in the paper and listened with interest as I described my work.

I called him "Mr. Munro" in those days, when we would see him in visits every three or four months in which we would drive down to Indianapolis. At some point, he took me aside and kindly told me, "Just call me R.D."

And when his daughter and I drove down on a weekend in the middle of the summer of 2004 to announce the happy news of our engagement, he beamed quietly.

The DairyStateKids got to know him a little bit as a new step-grandfather, and when the time came that his cat had to be taken to the vet to be euthanized, my younger son drew him a picture of the beloved pet. We gathered that up last night from my father-in-law's room at the assisted living facility where he died, surrounded by family and under the immensely kind care of wonderful hospice nurses.

Had life been different in so many ways, perhaps my sons could have known him as the strong and steadfast gentleman he was for most of his life. But I'm glad they got to at least meet him -- and he them -- in any case.

We also took home his copy of one of our wedding pictures. And from that same day, I will always treasure one memory especially: the man who, at the age of 91, slowly, but with great patience, dignity and pride, walked his youngest daughter down the aisle to marry me nearly seven years ago.

Rest in Peace, R.D. You were a good man, and I am so grateful that I got to know you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Eyesight to the Blind

Goodness, weeks and months of silence, then two posts in one day...

Almost every week I take a look at the sermons of John Shuck, the progressive Presbyterian pastor whose church in Elizabethton, Tenn., is where I suspect I'd worship if I were living in the area.

I think his sermon yesterday on the story from the Gospel of John about Jesus healing a blind man is one of his best.

Martin Marty on 'Religion for Atheists' ...

I saw this item from Martin Marty this morning, whose twice-weekly newsletter I receive and usually read.

I haven't read either the book [Alain de Botton's Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion] nor the articles he references; they're going on a very long list of when-I-get-to-it stuff to peruse.

But for all who contemplate both the past and future of Unitarian Universalism, our recurrent debates over whether we can expect to really become, in the words of our president, "the religion for our times," and the perpetual sorting-out of whether we are too syncretic, too rootless, too vague, or too-whatever... the Marty essay and the issues as well as the readings to which he points seem highly relevant to the conversation.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why I've been so silent for the last 3 weeks

Let's just say I was way ahead of the curve in going dark to protest SOPA. Yeah! That's it!