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

Category Archives: Liberal Faith

A Dream of Rationality

We have a dream in America of rationality. What I mean by that is that we have imbued our country with an ideal of rational discourse being the primary form of interaction between human beings. That if we can make the right argument, it will persuade people to our (meaning Read more →

Angus MacLean

“It has been said that liberal religion is a ‘do it yourself kit.’ But there is a danger that we would make it a kit not only without blueprint but without tools and materials.”

Bertrand Russell

“The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment.”

David Baumbaugh

“People give because they need to give for their own spiritual welfare; people give to a vision, to a dream, and they give not out of guilt but out of an expanded sense of what is possible and out of their own sense of abundance and blessing and gratitude. And Read more →

Michael Dowd

“Beliefs are only important to the degree that they shape how we live, how we love, and how we relate.”

Gene Reeves

“Far from having nothing to say, religious liberals have to proclaim, over and over again, against both religious and secular adversaries, the good news that the future remains open and the Fates are not in control.”

Friedrich Schleiermacher

“Everything is present in vain for him who stands aloof; for in order to intuit the world and have religion, man must first have found humanity, and he finds it only in love and through love”

Immanuel Kant

“For a religion which rashly declares war on reason will not be able to hold out in the long run against it.”

Robert G. Ingersoll

“I believe in the religion of reason — the gospel of this world; in the development of the mind, in the accumulation of intellectual wealth, to the end that man may free himself from superstitious fear, to the end that he may take advantage of the forces of nature to Read more →

Thomas Jefferson

“Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear”.

William Ellery Channing

“Respect those who differ from you, and also respect yourselves. Do not feel as if you had monopolized truth or goodness. Treat none with derision. Esteem no person the more for thinking as you do, and no person the less for thinking otherwise, but judge all by the principles that Read more →

Albert Einstein

“We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a Read more →

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 religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. The religion which is based on experience, which refuses dogmatism.”

Mark Twain

“I told you that there are none but temporary Truth-Seekers; that a permanent one is a human impossibility; that as soon as the Seeker finds what he is thoroughly convinced is the Truth, he seeks no further, but gives the rest of his days to hunting junk to patch it Read more →

James Luther Adams

“(Liberalism is) the conviction that people should be liberated, indeed should liberate themselves, from the shackles that impede religious, political, and economic freedom, that impede the appearance of a community characterized by a rational and voluntary piety, and that impede the reality of equality and justice for all.”

Eboo Patel

“Action is what separates a belief from an opinion. Beliefs are imprinted through actions.”

James Luther Adams

“Our first task, then, is to restore to liberalism its own dynamic and its own prophetic genius. We need conversion within ourselves. Only by some such revolution can we be seized by a prophetic power that will enable us to proclaim both the judgement and the love of God. Only Read more →

Ursula Goodenough

“We have celebrated our individual selves as organisms, as self-aware creatures, and as recipients of immanence and grace, even as we have also honored the experience of humility, of being but a part of the whole and yet connected to the whole.”

Joanna Russ

“Faith is not contrary to the usual ideas, something that turns out to be right or wrong, like a gambler’s bet: it’s an act, an intention, a project, something that makes you, in leaping into the future, go so far, far, far ahead that you shoot clean out of time Read more →

Albert Schweitzer

“Civilization can only revive when there shall come into being in a number of individuals a new tone of mind, independent of the prevalent one among the crowds, and in opposition to it — a tone of mind which will gradually win influence over the collective one, and in the Read more →

Paul Tillich

“Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt.”

HH the Dalai Lama

“Whether you believe in God or not does not matter so much, whether you believe in Buddha or not does not matter so much. You must lead a good life.”

Galileo Galilei

“I do not feel obligated to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reasons, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

D. H. Lawrence

“A person has no religion who has not slowly and painfully gathered one together, adding to it, shaping it, and one’s religion is never complete and final, it seems, but must always be undergoing modification.”

Ursula K. LeGuin

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

“To have doubted one’s own first principles is the mark of a civilized man.”

Marian Wright Edelman

“My faith has been the driving thing of my life. I think it is important that people who are perceived as liberals not be afraid of talking about moral and community values.”

Thomas Paine

“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”

Thomas Jefferson

“I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If Read more →

Adlai E. Stevenson

“What do I believe? As an American I believe in generosity, in liberty, in the rights of man. These are social and political faiths that are part of me, as they are, I suppose, part of all of us. Such beliefs are easy to express. But part of me too Read more →

Hosea Ballou

“Preaching is to much avail, but practice is far more effective. A godly life is the strongest argument you can offer the skeptic.”

Conspiracy with the Future — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on July 28th, 2013   Sermon     “Conspiracy with the Future”        Rev. David Pyle One of the dangers of being a preacher is that you tend to preach. More than a few of you have been subjected to “mini-sermons” from me, either in counseling, or in meetings, or Read more →

Being a Liberal Patriot — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on July 7th, 2013   Sermon     “Being a Liberal Patriot”      Rev. David Pyle On July 2nd, two hundred and thirty seven years ago, Thomas Jefferson was drafting a document that would change the world. A few days later, the first copies of the newly approved Declaration of Read more →

Born Again… and Again! — Sermon by Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on November 18th, 2012   Meditative Reading So the hymn comes to a close with an unsteady amen, and the organist gestures the choir to sit down. Fresh from breakfast with his wife and children and a quick run through of the Sunday papers, the preacher climbs the Read more →

The Consequences of Omniscience and Omnipotence

When I was at the U.S. Army Chaplain’s School at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, there was a day in class that we were responding to hypothetical counseling situations.  One of the scenarios presented to us was that of a young woman who came to us for counseling after having been Read more →

By Their Groups Shall You Know Them — Rev. David Pyle

Last preached September 23rd, 2012   Sermon        “By Their Groups Shall You Know Them”       Rev. David Pyle In the late 1960’s, when the Soviet Union was at the height of its power, Unitarian professor and theologian James Luther Adams attended a meeting of the American Philosophical Association in Boston. Read more →

Is This Really Where We Are? — A Psalm of Lament

Oh Lord, Is this really where we are?  A man once said, “I believe, but help my unbelief”. I’m not sure I ever understood, until I myself had to cry out to you, Is this really where we are, oh Lord. Are we really as far from the Kingdom of Read more →

Truth: The Greatest Adaptive Problem of Humanity

In the last few months, I have been wrestling with one particular set of theological and epistemological questions… and I’m not done with them yet.  That has been part of the reason for the fall-off of writing here at Celestial Lands.  Unsure of where I was flowing around the issue, Read more →

Shifting Sands — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on April 5th, 2012   Sermon     “Shifting Sands”   Rev. David Pyle I’ve said before that one of the best parts About being a Unitarian Universalist Military Chaplain Is that I often get to discuss faith and theology With minister’s who are far more conservative than myself. I love Read more →

To Write or Not to Write… A Systemic Theology Book

One of the aspects of a Clinical Pastoral Education Residency that was most valuable to me was spending a year with ministers from other religious traditions, being required to have deep discussions about theology, about pastoral care, and about our life experiences.  It not only helped me to broaden my Read more →

Covenant as a Spiritual Practice — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached March 11th, 2012   Sermon     “Covenant as a Spiritual Practice”   Rev. David Pyle One of the most important lessons I learned in seminary, I learned from a three year old boy.  Now, it is true that this is a pretty amazing three year old, as you might expect Read more →

The Center of a Liberal Faith Movement

What it means to be a Unitarian Universalist has been on my heart this last week.  Not surprisingly, considering that many UU’s are currently thinking about similar things in reaction to the recent white paper from Rev. Peter Morales titled “Congregations and Beyond”.  I know there is a lot behind Read more →

Letting Go of What We Know — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on January 22nd, 2012.   Once someone knows that you are a Unitarian Universalist, there is an almost inevitable question… and one that is very difficult for many of us to answer. “So, what do you Unitarian Universalists believe?” Over the years, I’ve had many different answers to Read more →

Religion and the Four Great Fears

My dear friend, Chaplain the Rev. Seanan Holland visited us this weekend, and as usual he and I got into one of our hours-long rolling discussions about Life, the Universe, and Everything.  This time in particular, we were rolling around the origin and nature of religion, the fundamental flaw in Read more →

The Method is the Message — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

  Last preached October 28th, 2012   One of the most common questions that my chaplain colleagues, both civilian and military, ask me about Unitarian Universalism is how in the world we all stay together in one church, one faith, one religious tradition when we all “believe such different things”. Read more →

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