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

Category Archives: Principles And Purposes

The Church and Leadership Development

One of my developing ecclesiological theories is that the church, especially the liberal church, serves among its many purposes as the laboratory for being a whole, full, and religious human being.  The liberal congregation is the container, the laboratory where we are able to learn how to engage one another Read more →

Glowing Coal

Something that regular readers of the Celestial Lands might have picked up on… and something that anyone who has been in a congregation I have served as a minister probably could not have missed… is that I love our congregations. I love the congregations of this Liberal Faith Tradition we 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 →

Unitarian Universalism as a Postmodern Religious Faith

There are many different “models” we use to try to describe and understand this living, growing religious faith we call Unitarian Universalism. The most common one is to describe us as a “non-creedal” faith, saying that we are a church that sets no creed or dogma for membership. While that Read more →

Policy or Vision as the Mission of the Church?

Recently, in private conversation, on this blog, and among radio hosts I listen to, there has been conversation about why the liberal churches do not get involved in certain national policy issues… and each time I hear that call I cringe. Though I have friends in several of our UUA 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 →

Deepening in the Principles workshop

Last Night (February 18th) I faciliated an evening workshop at the UU Society of Geneva, IL about deepening our understanding of the Unitarian Universalist 7 principles by looking at them through the lens of another traditions ethical guidence.  As I said that night, I think this could be done with Read more →

Dare to Dream

There are many hopes that I have for Liberal Faith, and for Unitarian Universalism specifically, but the greatest of these is that we dare to dream. Not necessarily as individuals, for I have met dreamers aplenty in our congregations. No, my hope is that we learn to dream, to vision Read more →

The Arrest of Radovan Karadžić

In 1996, when I arrived as a Peacekeeper and an intelligence analyst in Bosnia, there was a mission at the top of our list… find Radovan Karadžić. My team and I knew he was most likely in Serbia, probably Belgrade… where we had no jurisdiction and where the U.S. Government Read more →

Defining Religious Language: God

Some words have so many meanings that they become near incomprehensible, and almost unusable. When I use the generic word “meditation”, I usually mean Zazen meditation, or sitting on a cushion and following my breath. But “meditation” means about a thousand different things, from concentration on a passage of scripture Read more →

Defining Religious Language: Atonement, Redemption, and Sin

I remember in the Baptist church I grew up in that, as Easter got closer, the sermons about sin would become more and more strident. We all sinned, or violated God’s laws for us… and it was only through the cross that we fallen humans could be redeemed from that Read more →

What Does It Take to Make a Unitarian Universalist?

This past summer I did something pretty radical for a Unitarian Universalist seminary student… I performed a communion service adapted from a Universalist service from the late 1800’s. It was at the U.S. Army Chaplain School, so my “congregation” consisted of Baptist, Methodist, Evangelical ministers and Catholic Priests. After the Read more →

Principles as Spiritual Practice – Why Inherent? (1.4)

“I take up the way of affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” I mentioned in an earlier article in this series that, for years I added my own little caveat to the first principle… that I believed everyone was born with the same inherent worth and dignity, Read more →

Principles as Spiritual Practice – Introducing the Intent (I.2)

Over the past several days, I have been discussing this project of looking at the Seven UU Principles through the lens of spiritual practice with one of my ministerial mentors. Through those discussions and a few others, I have realized that I need to add another segment to my introduction Read more →

Principles as Spiritual Practice – Forgiving the Unforgiveable (1.3)

“I take up the way of affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” For me personally, the hardest aspect of learning to live the first principle of Unitarian Universalism in my daily life has been learning to forgive… particularly learning to forgive those who seem to have done Read more →

Principles as Spiritual Practice — Your Own Inherent Worth and Dignity (1.2)

“I take up the way of affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”  There are two key phrases in this principle, and the second one often gets overlooked though it is probably the more profound of the two. That phrase is “Every Person”. There have been creeds and Read more →

Principles as Spiritual Practice — Those Not Known (1.1)

“I take up the way of affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” The most common interpretation of the first principle that I have come across, and indeed the one that I primarily held for a long time, involves a commitment by myself to the ideal that everyone Read more →

Principles as Spiritual Practice — Introduction

For those few hearty souls who read this blog from time to time, you could probably tell that writing has been a part of my spiritual practice for some time. Between the Celestial Lands Journal and now this new effort at regular theological and sociological blogging, part of my spiritual Read more →

The Inherent Worth of Terrorists

In 1992 I saw a set of pictures of a village in Peru that had been massacred by members of the Sendero Luminoso, the “Shining Path”. It is hard for me even today to describe the brutality of those images. Hate is not too strong a word for the emotions Read more →