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

Tag Archives: Prophetic Voice

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 →

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 →

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 →

The Center of a Liberal Faith Movement

What it means to be a Unitarian Universalist has been on my heart this last week.  Not surprisingly, considering that many UU’s are currently thinking about similar things in reaction to the recent white paper from Rev. Peter Morales titled “Congregations and Beyond”.  I know there is a lot behind Read more →

Our Responsibility to those Beyond Our Walls

Break not that circle of enabling love, Where people grow, forgiven and forgiving, Break not that circle, make it wider still, Till it includes, embraces all the living. –Hymn 323, Singing the Living Tradition Recently, the conversation has begun again about what makes a Unitarian Universalist.  Are you only a Read more →

How Can You “Come Home” When You Are Homeless? — 2011 Veteran’s Day Reflection

When I reflect on the few years after “coming home” from Bosnia, the years before some friends and a veteran counselor helped me to “get my head back on straight”, I realize that I had more than my share of luck.  I was lucky to be in a university that Read more →

It’s Always an Oligarchy

In the last few months, I have heard the word Oligarchy being bandied around on the edges of American political circles.  In the Tea-Party wing, they are using it as a new word for “Hollywood Elite” and “Liberal Media”.  On the semi-far left it is being used to refer to 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 →

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 →

General Assembly Day 5: Passionate Arguments for Our Faith’s Center

I want to say on Celestial Lands what I said in person to many people about the overall “theme” for this General Assembly.  In my most humble opinion, the overall theme was not the 50th Anniversary of the UUA.  It was not where we will be as a religion in Read more →

Osama bin Laden and Unrealistic Hopes

These last few days, I have been on a trip to attend a U.S. Army Chaplains training conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.  I have been in hotels, airports, and restaurants in my military uniform, sometimes with other Army Chaplains, but often on my own.  For these several days, I have had Read more →

What Turned a Conservative into a Liberal?

I regularly have conversations with conservatives, both political and religious conservatives. Sometimes that is through my work as an Army Chaplain, sometimes through my work as a liberal minister in a fairly conservative town, and sometimes it is through people from my past who seek me out to ask me 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 →

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 →

Just Go Home

I know, I get in trouble with someone when I delve into pure politics here at Celestial Lands. But I just can’t help myself. I’m not even completely serious about this one, because for the Democratic Leadership in the U.S. Senate and House to do what I am about to Read more →

The Journey from Conservative to Liberal

I remember a day in seventh grade when I came home all excited to tell my parents that I had discovered that I was a Liberal. We had been studying the American political system in social studies class, and in our textbook was a little box that showed the typical Read more →

I Am an Appalachian-American

Yesterday, I was driving home from an ordination in Rockville Maryland, and I took a route that carried me through the Appalachian Mountains of Western Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania… and I felt at home. I felt at home in a way that is hard to describe. As I spent 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 →

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 →

Meetings and Meeting

For the past week I have been with the congregation I am serving as an Interim Minister, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland Michigan. In fact, this is my inaugural article for Celestial Lands written in the ministerial study of the Fellowship. They are a congregation easy to love, in 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 →

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 →

Building a Just Peace

Below is an excerpt of and collection of resources for the speech on Building a Just Peace that I presented at People’s Church Chicago on November 22, 2008.  I am thankful for all the wonderful engagement and questions, and look forward to continuing the conversations with those who were there, Read more →

Unitarian Universalist Peace Ministry Network

The Congregational Study Action Issue Core Team on Peacemaking has unveiled a new website, designed to provide communication and connection for Unitarian Universalists as we move forward in our work to create a more peaceful world. The website (http://uupeacemakers.org/) founds the Unitarian Universalist Peace Ministry Network, and I encourage all Read more →

Now I’m Really Concerned

It might come as a surprise to some of you now, or who know me now, but for years I was an avid listener and dare I say fan of right wing talk radio. In my office and workshop I nearly forced my crew to listen to Rush, G Gordon, Read more →

Stop, Sit, Listen.

Though I have hinted at it several times, I have not specifically mentioned on this blog the current turbulence occurring at my seminary, the Meadville Lombard Theological School. I have not done so for several reasons, not the least of which being that I love my school. I chose to Read more →

Message of Fear or of Faith?

Earlier this week the “No-War in Iran Coalition” held an event at our church, which we co-sponsored through our Peace and Justice Committee. The two speakers for the event were both men whom I had known of before. Scott Ritter is a former Marine officer, and a former Senior United Read more →

Votes, Volunteers, or Vision?

A friend recently told me (by commenting in this blog, no less) about an email that she read on one of her church email lists concerning the religious background of one of the current presidential candidates. The email was apparently a smear about whether that particular candidate was really a Read more →

Prophets and Evangelicals

As I was driving to the church yesterday after posting my reflections on the one-year anniversary of my oath as an army officer, I was a little worried. I am trying not to be so “out front” when something going on in the military community annoys me. I know that Read more →