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

Tag Archives: Faith

The Prejudices around a Personal God

If there is any issue about my personal faith where I have found others have both the most assumptions and the most confusion, it has been around my theological stance of having a personal relationship with God when God does not have a personal relationship with you. I believe I Read more →

Happy Birthday Dad…

This is a repost of an article from last year.  This is a hard time of year for me. I guess we all have these times of the year, where the past experiences of our lives fill up the time we spend living today… times in which what we live is Read more →

Continuing to Normalize Military Ministry

On his blog, “UU A Way of Life”, David Markham offers the opinion that military chaplains who are Unitarian Universalists are not living the principles of Unitarian Universalism. While I honor his opinion, I believe it in part arises from an incomplete understanding of Military Chaplaincy, as well as a 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 →

On the Origin and Nature of Evil

It is surprising to me when someone one asks me whether or not I believe in evil. I can see how someone can begin to learn about my theology and come to that question, but it surprises me every time. It is surprising to me because I know exactly how Read more →

The Problem with being Lambs

Recently in an email someone said to me that they were still a “lamb of God”, even though they were working through some issues in their faith. As Jacob once did, they have been “wrestling with God”. I remember the metaphor “be ye lambs of God”. I remember those words 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 Abuse and Misuse of Emotions

This week, I have been wrestling with how to talk about something that has been instrumental in my recent ministerial formation, while still “agreeing in love”. It is hard for a seminarian to say something that might be construed as critical of colleagues, even if, as one minister friend told Read more →

Titles and Clown Noses

During a ceremony today at the Zen Temple I attend, my teacher became a Roshi, receiving the final “seal of approval” from his own teacher. As the ceremony was beginning, with his students sitting seriously with just a little bit of awe (at least I was), he reached into the Read more →

Tired of Negative Apologetics

Perhaps it is that I am deeply involved in reading Reinhold Niebuhr, but I am tired of people attempting to prove their own beliefs by showing what is wrong with everything else, or negative apologetics. I’m tired of listening to political candidates discuss everything that is wrong with their opponents, Read more →

THE QUESTION (Part 5)

Go to Part 1  Why it is important to “plant a seed”, and how I learned to let go of the results. When I speak of “planting a seed”, I speak from personal experience, for many years ago a seed of Unitarian Universalism was planted in me. It rested on Read more →

Rejectionist Theology

If I had to describe my own faith journey over the last fifteen years in one sentence, it might be that I moved from understanding my faith only in terms of what I was against, to building a faith based upon what I am for. For years, whenever someone would Read more →

THE QUESTION (Part 4)

 Go to Part 1 Opening the answer to the Inquisitive Question “So, can you tell me a little about Unitarian Universalism?” and drawing more questions. This may come as a shock to those brave and committed souls who read the long blog articles at Celestial Lands, but the two keys Read more →

THE QUESTION (Part 3)

 Go to Part 1 The inquisitive “can you tell me a little about your faith?” and Questioning the Questioner. This version of THE QUESTION “Just what is Unitarian Universalism?” is my favorite. It often comes from someone genuinely interested who is trying to understand. It is not an invitation to Read more →

THE QUESTION (Part 2)

Go to Part 1  Understanding the difference between representing your beliefs and representing Unitarian Universalism. One of the first challenges I faced in learning how to respond well to THE QUESTION “Just what is Unitarian Universalism” (asked most often by my more conservative Christian colleagues) was learning to separate with Read more →

THE QUESTION (Part 1)

Just What is Unitarian Universalism, Anyway? One of the great benefits of spending several weeks (or even months) taking a course with my military chaplain and chaplain candidate colleagues (and now chaplain assistant colleagues too) is that I get asked “THE QUESTION” over and over. When I was at the Read more →

Galveston Island and Home Church Photos

Many of you know that I am a member of and was a student minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Galveston Island, where Hurricane Ike is currently making landfall. Last weekend, I visited Galveston and my home church, on my way to Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. I Read more →

Hurricane Rita and Cowboy Church

  In September of 2005, my wife and I were evacuating from our Island home on Galveston Island, Texas, ahead of Hurricane Rita. It was a frightening set of days, in which we were in the midst of the nightmare of all traffic jams, in which we traveled only 100 Read more →

A Faith of Transitions

It is always in these times of transition in my physical life that I seem to think the most about the continuing transformations in my spiritual life. My life is, has been, and probably always will be a bit nomadic. At first, it was following my father around from assignment Read more →

A Seachange in our Faith

Rev. Kit Ketcham, a UU Minister, fellow blogger, and in some ways a kindred spirit has recently observed on her blog how UU’s and UU Congregations seem to have trouble reaching out to military personnel. Her article apparently was inspired in part by conversations she has had with fellow ministers Read more →

A Personal Relationship with God

I am always amazed by how the spirit moves when I am in the pulpit. This past Sunday, during a sermon about the religious thought of Albert Einstein, I was moved to do several “drop-ins”, or to say a few things in the moment that were not in my text. Read more →

Connected to the History

There is a joke I have heard told among Christian ministers. At an interdenominational seminary, a new Presbyterian professor of Church History gave an assignment for the first day of class, for each student to come to the course with a three page paper on what they knew of “Church Read more →

Hope, Courage, Compassion, Love, Faith.

I know that there is currently a lot of anxiety among those who hold our liberal faith, to realize that we can be the target of a hate crime… but that is not what has moved me in this tragedy. What has moved me in this tragedy has been the Read more →

Standing with our Tennessee Valley Sisters and Brothers

It is with great sympathy and a heavy heart that I write in support, solidarity, and sympathy with the members, ministers and friends of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in my home town of Knoxville Tennessee. TVUUC was the first UU congregation where I attended worship in our faith. Read more →

Straddling Worlds

This past week, I have been both serving on Active Duty for Training (ADT) as a U.S. Army Chaplain Candidate, and serving as the Summer Minister for the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL. In the mornings, I get up early, sit Zen meditation, and then put on my Army Combat Read more →

Faith and the Strategic Corporal

Recently, the media have connected with several stories regarding enlisted soldiers who have conducted themselves in Iraq in ways that bring into question the religious motivations behind their service. In one story, a soldier at a checkpoint was handing out proselytizing coins that ask, in Arabic, where someone is going Read more →

A Vision of Fear or of Hope?

Last night, as I listened to the speech of Barrack Obama acknowledging his clinching the nomination of the Democratic Party for the office of the President of the United States. As a preacher, I am always fascinated by his ability to gather an audience together, and bring them along with Read more →

Back to the Well of Faith

I have an institution in my life in which I must have faith, but it is sometimes hard to hold on to. We all have such organizations in our lives, be they schools, churches, community action groups, and even our families. Those of you who know me personally can probably 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 →

Keep the Faith SPC Hall and Rev. Matt

I do not usually cross-post to other blogs here on Celestial Lands.  I use this blog as my public pre-writing for sermons and other essays… to clarify my own thoughts, to get them down in written form, and to do so while practicing my public, prophetic voice.  But as many Read more →

Defining Religious Language: Faith

Faith is not about belief. Faith in fact has very little to do with what beliefs you hold, other than that it allows you to hold them.  Faith is a sacred, deep, emotionally involved kind of trust. Faith is the kind of trust that you enter into with your whole Read more →

Defining Religious Language: Crucifixion and Resurrection

Of all of the religious language that I have worked over the past few years to define for myself, these two words and concepts have by far been the hardest. I think there are three reasons for that. First, they are probably the two most sensitive words in the Christian Read more →

Many Mere Christianities

As I was walking into a store a few nights ago here on the South Side of Chicago, a woman was yelling at a homeless man who had obviously just asked her to spare some change. She yelled “I don’t give money to beggars because I’m a Christian!” She then Read more →

Becoming Better Christians

Rev. Cynthia Cain, in her blog Isten Aldjon, Y’all, has posted the story of evangelical Methodist college students coming to the worship services of her UU congregation in Kentucky and accosting members and visitors about why they were attending a UU church. Sadly, I am not surprised by the story. Read more →

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