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

In Each Ending there is a Beginning

We have closed another year here at Celestial Lands, and I want to thank all of those who read and send me comments, both in public through the blog and in private through my email. I keep this website because it is important to me… it is a place for my spiritual practice of writing; it is a repository of ideas; it is how I track my own philosophical and theological transformations… it is many things.

And I am slow to realize that it has been important to others besides me. I want to thank each of you this year who came up to me after a sermon, or sent me an email (and in one case a snail mail letter) telling me how something I had written had been important to you. I know that not all of those who read the articles here feel confident enough to post online, and that is okay.

Last year was a time of my realizing how important this public practice of writing was for me. This year has been a time of realizing how important some of these articles have been for others. For all who contacted me this year, I am humbled.

As I look back over the last year, the articles I am most proud of were those that explored theological ideas such as theodicy and evil, the series that explored why I am a liberal and not a progressive, and exploring what it means to be a “Unitarian of the Holy Spirit”. I was pleased by how well I was able to walk the line on political activism that I have to walk, standing as a military officer while still moving as a UU minister, including the article on Iran and American Exceptionalism. I believe I met my goal to keep a firewall between my writing here and my experience as a hospital and hospice chaplain, though through consulting with my clinical and CPE supervisors I may be able to relax that firewall just a little bit in the coming year.

Some of the responses to articles have been deeply inspiring. I want to thank my High School friend and now conservative Christian minister for some real engagement on our theological differences. Though neither of us came closer to the other’s positions, I will say that the engagement deepened me in mine, and I thank him. I want to thank everyone who engaged with me in the discussion of progressivism, as well as in the discussions of the nature of evil.

This year also saw an increase in my writings on specific military issues… from the experience of visiting the war memorials in Washington DC to an article on why we cannot allow our soldiers to begin thinking of themselves as mercenaries. That first article generated more hits than any other this year, in part because for two days it was one of the most linked to articles from “Army Knowledge Online” the main U.S. Army Website. I found that out when my Chaplain Supervisor in the Army let me know how much the Deputy Chief of Chaplains liked that article, and how it was being discussed by the Chaplains who have eagles and stars for rank. I am also proud of the article for UU parents and loved ones of a young person considering joining the military.

Of all of the military-related parts of Celestial Lands this year, I am most proud of my photo-essay of the Unitarians, Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists who are buried at Arlington Cemetery. I will forever treasure the two Saturdays I spent walking that sacred ground… and I doubt that anyone who watches it can ever again say that we UU’s don’t serve in the military with distinction. At least two of the markers I found on those days belonged to UU ministers who are personal hero’s of mine.

In the year to come, I plan to continue to explore ideas of the self and of identity. I hope to explore the meaning of ministry and its place in the larger society. I want to explore where in the human soul rests the need for conflict, that uncontrolled leads to war. I hope to continue to re-engage the Deist community, and perhaps broaden what it means to be a Deist again. All of this and so much more is bubbling for the next year in the Celestial Lands. I hope you journey with me.

Yours in Faith,


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