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

Tag Archives: Responsibility

On the Contract-to-Call Process

This is the second in a series of articles that I am bringing to Celestial Lands over the first few months of this New Year, exploring several aspects of the interrelation between professional ministry, congregations, and the current UUA search process.  Future articles will include an exploration of the different Read more →

Hire a Contract Minister or Call a Settled Minister?

This is the first in a series of articles that I am planning to bring to Celestial Lands over the first few months of this New Year, exploring several aspects of the interrelation between professional ministry, congregations, and the current search process.  Future articles will include an exploration of the 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 →

The Transition of Ordination

It has now been over 2 years since I was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist Minister, and each of those years I have spent in more than full time ministry as a minister in our congregations, as well as a reserve military chaplain.  Prior to that was a little over Read more →

Beyond Military Borders — Homily at PSWD-UUA District Assembly 2012

I have received multiple requests for copies of the homily that I presented at the UUA Pacific Southwest District Assembly this year, and instead of continuing to email it out, I thought I would publish it here at Celestial Lands.  The task was to reflect on what “Beyond Borders” meant 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 →

War, Young Kids, and a Professional Military

Last week, a video surfaced on the internet that shows several young U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.  Immediately, there were calls for an investigation.  World leaders talked of their disgust.  U.S. Military leaders promised that they would get to the bottom of the Read more →

Without Change, Something Sleeps Inside Us… Ministry in the Transitions

My life has been one of change.  Change both within and without.  That reality affects my preaching, it affects how I build relationships, it affects how I look at the universe.  As I have been reflecting on this past year, I have been struck by how much change was within Read more →

The Real Meaning of the Thanksgiving Story

On this day, Thanksgiving Day, I think we are remembering the wrong message.   I think our society has taken the wrong meaning from the mythologized story of starving pilgrims, a coming hard winter, and Native Americans who shared.  We give thanks to God, or to some sense of the Universe 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 →

Religion and the Four Great Fears

My dear friend, Chaplain the Rev. Seanan Holland visited us this weekend, and as usual he and I got into one of our hours-long rolling discussions about Life, the Universe, and Everything.  This time in particular, we were rolling around the origin and nature of religion, the fundamental flaw in Read more →

Is the Constitutionality of Military Chaplaincy in Danger?

This week, I received an email from an organization I track, known as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.  It is an organization that advocates both legally and in the media, for the protection of the Free Exercise of Religion in the military, often with more passion than restraint. Yet, over 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 →

Ministry is Big, so Have Faith

I want to give thanks to my colleague Christian Schmidt for being one of two inspirations for this post, through a question he posed to me in a comment on my article on our denomination’s feelings about supporting ministries.  It is a topic that I have thought about engaging many Read more →

General Assembly Day 3: A Tale of Two GA’s…

I remember my first General Assembly many moons ago.  I was so excited for the opportunity for all the workshops I could ever dream of on every aspect of church life, of theology, and of our ecclesiological history.  I packed each moment full of engaging panel discussions, of plenary sessions, Read more →

General Assembly Day 2: Lions, Tigers, and Ministerial Authority, Oh My!

One of the things that always amazes me about my time at a General Assembly is how different my experience is depending on what I wear.  Now, for most people this might not be literally true, but it my case it is.  Let’s take the first and second days of Read more →

A Tribute to the Rev. Barbara Pescan

The following were my words at the Tribute and Celebration of the ministry of Rev. Barbara Pescan, at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, on June 4th, 2011… I remember a day at General Assembly in Ft. Lauderdale in 2008.  A few weeks after Barbara had sprinkled some pixie dust on Read more →

Staycation and Mr. Bean

This week is Candidating Week for the congregation that I am serving as an Interim Minister.  Now, by all indications Candidating Week has gone well, and the congregation will vote tomorrow on whether to call Jeff Liebmann as their new settled minister.  What will be with that will be… and 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 →

The Purpose of Religious Communities

I always know I’m onto something when I can get a congregant to look at me cross-eyed. A few months ago I was having a conversation with a dear congregant from a corporate background about how our Fellowship here in Midland “did things”. How our committees and teams function, how Read more →

Is Libya a “Growing-Up Moment” for the United States?

For all our power in the world, the United States is still a very young nation. Unlike the modern states in Europe, in Asia, and in the Middle East, we do not stand upon thousands of years of history in the location where our nation is. Because of our youth Read more →

Happy Birthday Dad…

This is a repost of an article from each of the last two years. 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 Read more →

Dawn Breaks on “Offer Day”

It is an interesting part of being an Interim Minister, that you come to love a congregation, that you have ministered among them, that you have hopes and dreams for them, that you are an intimate part of a religious community… and you know that you are only there to Read more →

A Short “I Told You So”

I wish I could say I did not know this was going to happen.  I really wish I had been wrong.  I really wish that my theory that the power of Mass Protests to significantly affect political realities is expirational had been proven wrong.  I wish that mass protests still had the power 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 →

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 →

Church Life, Alcohol, and Me

Every year at this time of year I end up having the conversation with someone (usually a congregant) about church life, me, and alcohol. There is a familiar flow to the conversation, and I thought this year, after having one conversation with a friend and ministerial colleague along these lines 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 →

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 →

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 →

Long Robes and Titles – Reflection Upon my Upcoming Ordination

What does it mean when someone calls a minister “Reverend”? Is it an honorific, or is it perhaps something else. Not an academic question for me anymore… 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 →

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 →

Post Navigation