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

Category Archives: Theology

Character and Grace

(Sermon given at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, Maryland, on March 19th, 2017) As a minister serving a Unitarian Universalist congregation, you can’t just buy a car. A few years ago, before moving to Delaware to become the District Executive of the Joseph Priestley District, and now a member Read more →

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 →

Barbara Brown Taylor

“God is greater than my imagination, wiser than my wisdom, more dazzling than the universe, as present as the air I breathe and utterly beyond my control.”  ~from The Preaching Life

Miraculous Birth — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on December 8th, 2013   A child is born. That child grows up to change the world. Those who follow the teachings of that child look back upon the life that was lived, and see that it expanded horizons, that it changed hearts and lives, and look to Read more →

“God” by Alice Walker, from “The Color Purple

God ain’t a he or a she, but a it. God don’t look like anything . . -It ain’t somethin’ you can look at apart from anythin’ else, includin’ yourself I believe God is everything … Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you feel Read more →

Paul Valery

“God made everything out of nothing. But the nothingness shows through.”

John Donne

“God is so omnipresent… God is an angel in an angel, and a stone in a stone, and a straw in a straw.”

Meister Eckhart

“The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”

William Blake

“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”


“The nature of God is a circle of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Standing on the bare ground… a mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; I am nothing; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am a part or particle of God.”

Paul Ricoeur

“The clearer God becomes as legislator, the more obscure he becomes as creator.”

Marc Gafni

“God is the possibility of possibility…”

James Russell Lowell

“Truth forever on the gallows. Wrong forever on the throne. Yet the scaffold sways the future, and, beyond the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own”

M.C. Devon Vance

“I have found that God as a “Being” is more a “Sensation of Awe” than an “Object of Veneration”.”

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling

“As there is nothing before or outside of God he must contain within himself the ground of his existence…”

Maria Mitchell

“Small as is our whole system compared with the infinitude of creation, brief as is our life compared with the cycles of time, we are so tethered to all by the beautiful dependencies of law, that not only the sparrow’s fall is felt to the uttermost bound but the vibrations Read more →

Michael Cordner

“The imagination is the playground on which we meet God.”

Eugene Delacroix

“God is that inner presence which makes us admire the beautiful and consoles us for not sharing the happiness of the wicked.”

Harold Schulweis

“God is one. But unity does not mean uniformity.”

Eugene Kolisco

“It is a peculiar fact that all the great astronomers of the 15th and 16th centuries were deeply convinced that the whole Universe was a huge living being. Even during the height of western culture, the Greeks thought of the Living Planet organism as a fact of life.”

Rabbi Harold Kushner

“God is like a mirror. The mirror never changes, but everybody who looks at it sees something different.”

Timothy Freke

“If you’ve moved all your your other cognitive functions out of the dark ages mythic thinking to rational thinking, why have you left your spiritual associations about God there?”

Alfred North Whitehead

“Our true destiny as co-creators in this universe is our dignity and our grandeur.”


“If God did not exist it would be necessary for us to invent Him.”

D. H. Lawrence

This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go Read more →

Thomas Paine

“It is only in the CREATION that all the ideas and concepts of the word of God can come together. The Creation speaks a universal language that does not depend on any human speech or language. It is an eternal ‘original copy’ that all men can read. It cannot be Read more →

Morgan Wolf

“Oh the Folly, Oh the Arrogance, How Foolish it is, for a man to think he knows the thoughts of God”

John Shelby Spong

“God is the Source of life who is worshiped when we live fully. God is the source of Love who is worshiped when we love wastefully. God is the Ground of Being who is worshiped when we have the courage to be.”


“Nothing is better than to search for the true God, even if the discovery of Him eludes human capacity, since the very wish to learn, if earnestly entertained, produces untold joys and pleasures.”

St. Thomas Aquinas

“A mistake about Creation will necessarily result in a mistake about God.”

Michael Dowd

“Purpose is our permanent connection to One Heart, the “I Am” of all existence. When we are on purpose — pursuing our great work — we are centered in God’s love, grounded in God’s grace, and fulfilling God’s will.”

John Shelby Spong

“So who is God? No one can finally say. That is not within human competence. All we can ever say is how we believe we have experienced God, doing our best to dispel our human delusions. Let me try to do just that. I experience God as the source of Read more →

Michael Dowd

“Faith in God, if it doesn’t include trusting Reality, is an impotent faith. If having “faith” does not mean trusting time, trusting the wisdom of the Whole, then such faith will not give me courage, grant me peace, and ground my action in the world here and now. It most Read more →

Only in the Creation — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on September 29th, 2013   Our theme for this past month has been creation, and through that theme we have explored imagination, creativity, the building of beloved community, and how it is a fine line between creativity and foolishness.  We explored the roots of human creativity as resting Read more →

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 →

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 →

Who is Calling? — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on October 21st, 2012   There is an elephant in the room. You might not be able to see it, kinda like Carl Sagan’s Dragon, but it is in the room with us. It is an elephant that is not just with us in this church, but is 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 →

Prejudice is Part of Human Nature

We human beings have many times many different prejudices.  I’m not trying to make a value statement in saying that, just naming something that I believe is an inherent aspect of human nature.  We are deeply prejudiced beings.  It is impossible that this not be the case.  I have never 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 →

The Honor of Being on “Smiley and West”

This weekend I will be on a short segment of the Public Radio International program “Smiley and West” with Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West.  It was recorded today, to be aired this weekend.  It was an honor to have a letter I sent to the program selected for the Read more →

To Live Like Jesus

Last week and this week, I have been attending some military chaplaincy training in San Antonio Texas, as a part of my continuing education as both a UU Minister and an Army Reserve Chaplain.  The first week was a wonderful course, put on by the Rev. Dr. Chrys Parker and Read more →

In Defense of Inherent Worth and Interdependence — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on March 11th, 2011   In October of 1996, I was serving as a NATO Peacekeeper in the area of the Former Yugoslavia known as Bosnia-y-Herzegovina. A young, idealistic U.S. Army Sergeant, I was serving as an intelligence analyst for the international peacekeeping force that had been created Read more →

Faith is Hard… and Liberal Religion Needs Some

One of the earliest articles I wrote here at Celestial Lands is one where I seek to define, for myself, the meaning of faith (that faith is not belief, it is “sacred trust”). I sometimes think we Unitarian Universalists and others of Liberal Religion have a harder time coping with Read more →

The Origin and Nature of Good and Evil — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on February 20th, 2011.   Reading    Excerpt from “What Torture’s Taught Me,” by Rev. Bill Schultz Taken From “What Torture’s Taught me” by Rev. Bill Schulz Former President of the Unitarian Universalist Association Former Executive Director of Amnesty International So who are the torturers? Are they madmen? Deviants? Read more →

Commonalities in Liberal Faith

This summer I had the privledge to preach a four part summer sermon series at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL, that has explored what some of the ties between us as Unitarian Universalists may be.  I specifically sought to name some things that are rarely said, and to make Read more →

Equality in our Endings — Sermon by Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on August 8th, 2010   Reading   Excerpt from “Love and Death” by Rev. Forrest Church   When grandparents, parents, even children died at home, death was an inescapable presence in our lives. Today, shielded from intimacy with death by the cold, mechanically invasive and antiseptic chambers of hospitals, Read more →

God is the River

I almost never just post a video, but I was inspired this moring by my friend James doing so on his blog, Monkey Mind.  I have been a fan of Peter Mayer since long before his recent performance at GA, and while I love the song that James highlighted (Holy Read more →

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