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

Tag Archives: Universalism

Institutional Resistance To Change — Homily by the Rev. David Pyle

Last Preached on January 19, 2014   The Rev. Dan Hotchkiss, fellow Unitarian Universalist Minister and the author of a book that has been an inspiration for one of our own congregation’s efforts at transformation, has observed the inherent paradox in the phrase “Organized Religion”. Religion is about transformation. It 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 →

To Write or Not to Write… A Systemic Theology Book

One of the aspects of a Clinical Pastoral Education Residency that was most valuable to me was spending a year with ministers from other religious traditions, being required to have deep discussions about theology, about pastoral care, and about our life experiences.  It not only helped me to broaden my Read more →

What Would a UU Religious Order Look Like?

One of the first essays I ever wrote in seminary, and the first essay I ever had published, was on the need for Unitarian Universalism to develop integrated spiritual practices that can be shared and engaged by large groups of Unitarian Universalists.  In that essay, I make the case that 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 →

Let it Be a Dance! — Sermon by Rev. David Pyle

This sermon was presented at the UU Church of Ventura, on January 15th, 2011.  As a child growing up in Hawaii, I danced the hula.  This was not an abnormal thing, growing up in Hawaii.  In fact, my first encounter with the hula was in a class at school, where Read more →

UU Military Chaplains and the Cross

Unitarian Universalists are almost always surprised when they see me wearing the Christian Cross on my Army Chaplain uniform.  Perhaps they should not be, given the Christian ancestry of our two founding denominations, but they are.  Reactions have ranged from mild curiosity to outrage to some deep pastoral need.  On Read more →

Introspection and the “Set Apart” Life of Ministry

There are times where the internal shifts necessary to be in a life of ministry in our liberal faith tradition are more obvious than others.  As Unitarian Universalist ministers, we often emphasize a radical leveling in our ministries, and many UU ministers react against the classical understanding that ministers should 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 →

Our Feelings on Supporting Ministries

Over the past few months, I’ve been surprised by some of the reactions from colleagues and former colleagues about my decision to accept an Assistant Minister position.  Those reactions have covered a broad range of concern and emotion… all of which was heartfelt.  I do not want this article to Read more →

My Seminary Graduation Gift: A Year with Honor Harrington

I was determined to give myself a gift at the end of 5 years of seminary, church internship, military chaplain basic training, hospital internship and hospice residency… and I did not know what I wanted.  Could I be craving a vacation on a beach in the Caribbean?  Well, always… but 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 →

General Assembly Day 4: Universalism, Compassion, Spiritual Practice and Salvation

My experience of the fourth day of the 2011 General Assembly in Charlotte, NC, was framed around two lectures… the Murray Street Address by the Rev. Bill Sinkford… and the Ware Lecture by Karen Armstrong.  For me, these two lectures swam in my personal pond through waters that have been 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 →

Blogging the UUA General Assembly

As I did last year, I once again intend to write an article here at Celestial Lands for each day of the General Assembly in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Sandy and I are here in Charlotte, checked into the hotel suite of rooms we annually share with the Rev. Katie Norris 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 →

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 →

Unionized Ministry

Recently, I had the honor and privilege to meet Rev. Don Southworth, the current Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA), at the Spring Minister’s Retreat for the Heartland Chapter of the UUMA. This is my first year as a “regular member” and not a student member of 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 →

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 →

Generations of Ministerial Colleagues

Last week I attended the First Year Minister’s Seminar at the UUA Headquarters at 25 Beacon Street in Boston. The program was great… it was good to hear directly from the many different UUA staff offices, and the conversation I had about my theory of social justice with a senior UU 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 →

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 →

Bridging Day becomes Car Repair Day becomes Baby Day: General Assembly 2010 Day 3

Day 3 of General Assembly for me went all off kilter, but became a time of relationship building, maintining, and creating. Read more →

Service of the Living Tradition Day: GA 2010 Day 2

Day 2 of General Assembly has always been in my mind “Service of the Living Tradition Day”… and this year it was my Service of the Living Tradition. Oh, and I took communion as well… Read more →

Opening Day: GA 2010 Day 1

Reflections on the First Day of General Assembly 2010: Seeing colleagues and friends, and the most Freudian Chalice Lighting of All Time! Read more →

Moving out of Liminality, and Into New Ministries

As I move out of my space of liminality and into the ministries I will carry in the coming year, the expeirence of intentional creative not-knowing has been incredible. Read more →

The Liminal Space of Intentional Not-Knowing

The last month has been a liminal space for me, as I have intentionally stayed in a space of not-knowing when it comes to what the next few years will bring. Perhaps there is a key to understanding our faith tradition in such liminality. Read more →

Ordained, and Thank You…

My thank you to everyone who participated in and helped to make my ordination by the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL such a wonderful event… if a long one… 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 →

Arizona GA Boycott: Why Phoenix and Not Ft. Lauderdale?

What is the difference between moving the UUA General Assembly away from Arizona, and why the UUA General Assembly 2008 was not moved away from Ft. Lauderdale, FL? Read more →

The Commoditization of Religion

The recent media attention that Fox News personality Brit Hume drew for himself by suggesting that Tiger Woods find his way out of his current marital and image problems by converting from Buddhism to Christianity, because Christianity offers a “better” (perhaps easier) form of forgiveness, has gotten me thinking about Read more →

A New Deism for a New World

It is an interesting experience for me to intentionally write an article about Deism, a bit of a “return to my roots” you might say. For the last several years I have not primarily identified as a Deist, although my understanding of God has always been a Deistic one. Deism 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 →

Returning Home, Warriorship, and the Society for Creative Anachronism

The morning after I came home from serving as a Peacekeeper in Bosnia, a friend knocked on my door at some early hour. I wanted to sleep in, but he had another plan. There was something we absolutely had to go do, something he had become involved in that he Read more →

Clara’s Universalism in Her Own Hand.

For some obvious reasons, Clara Barton is one of my more inspiring religious ancestors.  One of my more important deep religious moments happened while I was reading a biography of her.  Her committment and dedication to taking care of soldiers is an inspiration to me.  Today I visited (for coffee Read more →

My Reticence to Support UU Congregational Outreach to Veterans

Every few weeks I get an email or a call from someone in leadership of one of our Unitarian Universalist congregations asking how they can set up an outreach program to military veterans, servicemembers, and families. For a long while, I would send them the information I have on the Read more →

I Survived January

January Intensives are over… and I’m both happy and sad. I am happy that I have survived, I am sad that some of my favorite people in the world are headed home to parts across North America. January is a special time at Meadville Lombard, but it is also a Read more →