Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Category Archives: Inspiration

“Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander” by Thomas Merton

In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all of those people, that they were mine and I was theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we Read more →

Walt Whitman

“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone who asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, and argue not concerning God.”

Albert Einstein

“The most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science. If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so Read more →

Albert Einstein

“How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another, if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those Read more →

Albert Einstein

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

Albert Schweitzer

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”

Let it Be a Dance! — Sermon by Rev. David Pyle

This sermon was presented at the UU Church of Ventura, on January 15th, 2011.  As a child growing up in Hawaii, I danced the hula.  This was not an abnormal thing, growing up in Hawaii.  In fact, my first encounter with the hula was in a class at school, where Read more →

My Seminary Graduation Gift: A Year with Honor Harrington

I was determined to give myself a gift at the end of 5 years of seminary, church internship, military chaplain basic training, hospital internship and hospice residency… and I did not know what I wanted.  Could I be craving a vacation on a beach in the Caribbean?  Well, always… but Read more →

I Am an Appalachian-American

Yesterday, I was driving home from an ordination in Rockville Maryland, and I took a route that carried me through the Appalachian Mountains of Western Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania… and I felt at home. I felt at home in a way that is hard to describe. As I spent Read more →

We Give Thanks, For this Blessed Day

As is customary on Thanksgiving morning, I woke up thinking of all the things that I give thanks for. All the things in my life that I am grateful for… and I thought I would share a few of them. I give thanks for my wife, and for the fact Read more →

Worship as Emotive Experience

This past Sunday, I became emotional in the pulpit… again. Ok, truth to be told, I’m always emotional in the pulpit. It’s part of why I never schedule anything for Sunday afternoon, because preaching a good UU sermon will wipe me out, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I usually maintain enough Read more →

Why I’m still a Christian

If there is anything that makes some of my fellow Unitarian Universalists more uncomfortable than my military past and probably future, it is my willingness to call myself, both in public and from the pulpit, a Christian. I remember one day in particular that a parishioner in my internship congregation Read more →

A Call of Christmas Peace

It was Christmas, so I called home. That may not sound like much, but after the day I had just had, it was everything in the world to me. I had woken up that morning in my bunkbed made of plywood and 2×4’s, in a bombed out hotel room in Read more →

Tragedy at Ft. Hood

I have intentionally not written anything about the recent mass shooting at Ft. Hood, committed by an Army Psychiatrist, because I did not want to jump to any conclusions. We still do not know enough to draw any conclusions save one… soldiers saved other soldier’s lives that day. I am Read more →

Photos of American Samoa

My wife and I were looking at the photos and video in the media of the devastation in American Samoa, following the tsunami.  My wife lived in American Samoa in a tent for months at a time, on archaeological digs.  Just as I did after hurricane Ike hit our former Read more →

Theology in Science Fiction

Since I was 9 years old, Science Fiction has played an amazingly important role in my life. I am secure enough in my identity that I do not mind admitting my personal geekdom. In truth, I credit a decent amount of who I have become to my encounter with science fiction Read more →

Celebrating my “Staycation”

During the months of July and August I have been on “Staycation”, and I have decided that I love it! Unlike the many vacations I have taken in my life, I actually feel refreshed and recharged at the end of these 8 weeks. Usually after a vacation, I feel tired Read more →

I Survived January

January Intensives are over… and I’m both happy and sad. I am happy that I have survived, I am sad that some of my favorite people in the world are headed home to parts across North America. January is a special time at Meadville Lombard, but it is also a Read more →

A Year in the Celestial Lands

A year ago today I debuted a new design for the Celestial Lands website, one that allowed me to add to the long standing online journal/archive that has served me well over the years something I did not know if I would actually use… a blog. It is hard to Read more →

A Faith of Transitions

It is always in these times of transition in my physical life that I seem to think the most about the continuing transformations in my spiritual life. My life is, has been, and probably always will be a bit nomadic. At first, it was following my father around from assignment Read more →

Across this Nation

This week, my wife and I drove from the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago to the town of Cullman Alabama, between Huntsville and Birmingham, to visit family. Specifically, we were there to visit her sister and brother-in-law, and her two nephews. It was a good visit, even if I thought Read more →

A Personal Relationship with God

I am always amazed by how the spirit moves when I am in the pulpit. This past Sunday, during a sermon about the religious thought of Albert Einstein, I was moved to do several “drop-ins”, or to say a few things in the moment that were not in my text. Read more →

Hope, Courage, Compassion, Love, Faith.

I know that there is currently a lot of anxiety among those who hold our liberal faith, to realize that we can be the target of a hate crime… but that is not what has moved me in this tragedy. What has moved me in this tragedy has been the Read more →

Independence Day

Every Fourth of July I begin my day the same way, I read the entirety of the Declaration of Independence. It is a yearly reminder to me that this nation was founded on the spirit of liberalism, and that to be a liberal (a true liberal) in this nation is Read more →

A Vision of Fear or of Hope?

Last night, as I listened to the speech of Barrack Obama acknowledging his clinching the nomination of the Democratic Party for the office of the President of the United States. As a preacher, I am always fascinated by his ability to gather an audience together, and bring them along with Read more →

Back to the Well of Faith

I have an institution in my life in which I must have faith, but it is sometimes hard to hold on to. We all have such organizations in our lives, be they schools, churches, community action groups, and even our families. Those of you who know me personally can probably Read more →

To Live Life Whelmed

To live fully, to love wastefully, and to have the courage to be what you are called to be… this is what it means to live life whelmed. As I was putting together my calendar for the next two months, I remembered something a fellow ministerial intern said to me Read more →

Preachers, Politicians, Vision

Yesterday, after I preached a guest sermon at Unity Temple, a woman shook my hand and told me she was hoping that Barack Obama was elected President so I would not have to go to Iraq. When I said something like “Well, we’ll just invade somewhere else” she chided me Read more →

The World’s Become Bendy

My world’s become bendy. Yesterday, my right eye became inflamed with what is either an eye infection or simply a very irritated eye from something that got under my contact lens. I don’t know, but today, to try and help it heal, I have been wearing my glasses all day. Read more →

Votes, Volunteers, or Vision?

A friend recently told me (by commenting in this blog, no less) about an email that she read on one of her church email lists concerning the religious background of one of the current presidential candidates. The email was apparently a smear about whether that particular candidate was really a Read more →

The Word Between Us

One of the most common questions I have been asked by those new to Unitarian Universalist worship is why the sermon is so central to our faith? For many it seems incongruous… that in this faith of inherent worth and dignity, where the responsibility for spiritual growth is placed on Read more →

What inspires?

A friend of mine wrote to me today, someone I have been doing some theological exploration with on the topic of inspiration.  Just what inspires someone?  How is it that some people can inspire thousands to wonderful works in the world, while others spend their lives in activism that reaches only Read more →