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

Category Archives: Prophetic Voice

Institutions and the Voices on the Periphery of Power

I am excited that a tactic currently being used by many social justice activists appears to be having some effect, at least in the short term, and that tactic is (of all things) mass calling legislators.  I have not seen that it is causing legislators to change their minds on Read more →

Eboo Patel

“The realization that there is no better time to stand up for your values than when they are under attack, that bigotry concealed doesn’t go away, it only festers underground. It’s only when the poison of prejudice emerges out in the open that it can be confronted directly.”

Clinton Lee Scott

“Always it is easier to pay homage to prophets than to heed the directon of their vision.”

Melody Knowles

“The role of the Prophet is to unmask our duplicity.”

Free Speech, Responsibility, and Religious Violence

Freedom is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the United States, and perhaps in the world.  Be it Religious Freedom, or Freedom of Speech, or the Freedom of the Press, the Freedom of Association, or any of the common conceptions of freedom that we experience in the United States, 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 →

American Exceptionalism and American Irrelevance

One of the genre’s of Science Fiction that I love is what is called “near future Sci-Fi”.  These are stories set to occur in the next 200 years or so.  What I love about them is that they “forecast” out not into some far off fantastic future, but into the Read more →

Prophetic Love — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on February 26th, 2012   I have come before you this morning to confess a love. It is only appropriate that this is so, as our theme for this month has been love… It is not a common love that I confess this morning, or at least not Read more →

I’m Sick Unto Death of Hearing about Protecting the Religious Liberty of Military Chaplains

I remember something that my Drill Sergeant said to me, my first day of Basic Training some 20 years ago, when I was an 18 year old private at Ft. Leonard Wood Missouri.  We were all in one of our first formations, and he asked us if any of us 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 →

I’m a Liberal and I’m a Patriot who Loves God… Deal with It!

I think this topic is becoming a regular 4th of July weekend tradition of mine, mainly because I have had it with the idea that unless someone is a Fox News watching, gun toting Tea-Party Republican they are not a “Real American”.  Beyond the fact that such definitions of “Real Read more →

A “Real” Chaplain

The next person who even hints to me that, because I am a reservist I am not a “real” military chaplain, I might just scream at them. Fair warning. I’ve been somewhat defensive about this for awhile, and quite frankly I’ve moved beyond defensive to feeling darned angry. I’m not Read more →

Gun Control, Militias, and the Second Amendment

I have chosen never to carry or use a firearm ever again. I made that choice not because of a fundamentalist attitude toward guns, but rather because I am entirely too good with them. I reached a place in my faith journey where I realized that I would rather die Read more →

“Government-Paid Missionaries for Christ”

Recently I received a letter from a fellow Unitarian Universalist who is very concerned by incidents and attitudes he perceives among some military chaplains, where they seem to understand themselves as “government-paid missionaries for Christ”. The letter details some of his own research into the issue of some chaplains who Read more →

Civilian Control and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Harass, Don’t Pursue

As a military chaplain, the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell” does not apply directly to how I relate to soldiers. Any soldier can tell me anything in confidence, and I am bound by a level of confidentiality that is equivalent to the seal of the Catholic Confessional. In 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 →

Bridging Day becomes Car Repair Day becomes Baby Day: General Assembly 2010 Day 3

Day 3 of General Assembly for me went all off kilter, but became a time of relationship building, maintining, and creating. Read more →

The Political Right and the Road to Damascus

I have spoken before about what I believe is happening on the far right of American politics today, and from the public and private responses I know it is one of the more controversial topics I engage here at Celestial Lands. I speak as someone who traveled in those far-right Read more →

Sermon “Let Us Dare” by David Pyle

I do not often post my sermons directly to the Blog here at Celestial Lands, but something is moving me to share this one here this morning.  Perhaps because I have been so disappointed and depressed over some recent events in American Political History that this sermon, written a year ago, Read more →

The Myth of a Post-Racial America

When I visited the Smithsonian Museum of American History over the summer, there was one transition between exhibits that disturbed me deeply. It was not the content of either of the exhibits, but rather that one led directly into the other. As I was coming out of the exhibit on Read more →

The Commoditization of Religion

The recent media attention that Fox News personality Brit Hume drew for himself by suggesting that Tiger Woods find his way out of his current marital and image problems by converting from Buddhism to Christianity, because Christianity offers a “better” (perhaps easier) form of forgiveness, has gotten me thinking about Read more →

A New Deism for a New World

It is an interesting experience for me to intentionally write an article about Deism, a bit of a “return to my roots” you might say. For the last several years I have not primarily identified as a Deist, although my understanding of God has always been a Deistic one. Deism 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 →

It’s Time We Studied War

The few weeks around Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day tend to be heavy preaching for me. In several of the services this year, I was reminded of one of our standard hymns during this time, declaring that we will “Study War No More”. What struck me is that, though it 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 →

On Trial…

There are probably very few people in the United States who are interested at all in the trial of Radovan Karazdic, former President of the Republica Serpska, and the leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the Bosnian war of the mid-90’s. For myself, it has been a long emotional journey, Read more →

All of the Things I’m Not Allowed to Write About

Every once in awhile, I get an email or a quiet conversation from someone asking why I had not said something publically on an issue. Most recently, it was an email challenging me to write something publically on my position on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the U.S. Military. What Read more →

Unitarian of the Holy Spirit

It has been said that how we express the chosen faith of our adulthood greatly depends on attitudes and concepts that hold deep meaning for us as children. We often form our adult faiths in rejection of those childhood forms, or we transform them into new and deeper meanings. The Read more →

The Dangers of a Culture of the Infamous and Stupidly Famous

If you want to become a “legend” in our current culture, there are several paths that one can follow. You can create a Youtube video of yourself doing something inherently stupid. You can go on a reality television show where you will be challenged to do stupid things on primetime, Read more →

What is Really Behind these Town Halls… and a Retraction

“Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to much suffering.” — Yoda I want to thank all of the public and private responses to the more than slightly tongue-in-cheek article I put up a few days ago calling for Code Pink to go after those disrupting town Read more →

Please put the Government between me and my Health Care!

I have been debating whether or not to talk about this, because in one respect it is a little embarrassing. No one wants to admit that there are times in their lives where they were living not only paycheck to paycheck, but sometimes day to day… and even with that Read more →

Returning Home, Warriorship, and the Society for Creative Anachronism

The morning after I came home from serving as a Peacekeeper in Bosnia, a friend knocked on my door at some early hour. I wanted to sleep in, but he had another plan. There was something we absolutely had to go do, something he had become involved in that he Read more →

Iran and American Exceptionalism

With my passions, my history, and my hopes for the future is was probably inevitable that I would spend this weekend tied to my television and computer, following the limited amount of information that is coming out of Iran. As a former intelligence analyst, I can trace the political and Read more →

Defining Fundamentalism (for Celestial Lands)

I am well aware that there are those who view the term “Fundamentalist” as a positive label, and that they often are confused by the way that I use the term, and so it is probably appropriate that I be clear about what I mean by a fundamentalist. I have Read more →

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