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

Category Archives: Readings

For Equilibrium, a Blessing — John O’Donohue

For Equilibrium, a Blessing: Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore, May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul. As the wind loves to call things to dance, May your gravity by lightened by grace. Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth, May your thoughts Read more →

“A Practice of Compassion” by Pema Chodron

WHEN WE TALK of compassion, we usually mean working with those less fortunate than ourselves. Because we have better opportunities, a good education, and good health, we should be compassionate toward those poor people who don’t have any of that. However, in working with the teachings on how to awaken Read more →

Into the Silence We Breathe — by David Pyle

Into the silence, we breathe Breathe in, breathe out Through that breath, we feel the spirit of life Life that has been with us since that first breath When we first come into this world A miracle is always at our beginning A miracle is our life upon this earth Read more →

“Each Person as a Teacher, Each Person as a Learner” by Nancy Shaffer

“In our tradition we understand each person as a teacher, each person as a learner, all life long. We believe that what we know about what is good and true can deepen for as long as we live – and that it is both a gift and a responsibility to Read more →

“An End to All Wars” from the Universalist General Convention, 1790

“Although a defensive war may be considered lawful, yet we believe there is a time coming, when the light and universal love of the gospel, shall put an end to all wars. We recommend, therefore, to all churches in our communion, to cultivate the spirit of peace and brotherly love, Read more →

Gary Smith

“We need each other, more than emotionally, more than psychologically, more than socially. We need each other spiritually, which has to do with the divine flame within each of us; with our spiritual mentors in Transylvania who had to fight for our faith, not in the time of the Council Read more →

Norbert Capek

In the name of that which implants in the seed the future of the tree and in the hearts of humanity the longing for people living in neighborly love; In the name of the highest, in whom we move and who makes the mother, the father, brother, and the sister Read more →

Bill Schulz

Unitarian Universalism affirms: That Creation is too grand, complex, and mysterious to be captured in a narrow creed. That is why we cherish individual freedom of belief. At the same time our convictions lead us to other affirmations . . . That the blessings of life are available to everyone, Read more →

Adlai Stevenson

“I think that one of our most important tasks is to convince others that there’s nothing to fear in difference; that difference, in fact, is one of the healthiest and most invigorating of human characteristics without which life would become meaningless. Here lies the power of the liberal way: not Read more →

David Baumbaugh

“We have not been called into being in order to take in each other’s emotional laundry. We have not been called into being to serve ourselves, to enrich our interior lives, to justify our narrow vision…The purpose of the church is the salvation of the world. The purpose of its Read more →

“God” by Alice Walker, from “The Color Purple

God ain’t a he or a she, but a it. God don’t look like anything . . -It ain’t somethin’ you can look at apart from anythin’ else, includin’ yourself I believe God is everything … Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you feel Read more →

“Spiritual Discovery Tree” by Aaron Semrow

The seed of my “spiritual discovery tree” was planted a long time ago. The soil was barren however and the tree didn’t do very well and almost died. Then I discovered Deism and the tree took root and grew vigorously. Reason acted as warm sunlight for the leaves and branches Read more →

“At One” by Victoria Safford

“Imagine this. On the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, every fall, every year, the people make their peace with anyone they have wronged or slighted or injured or in any way neglected in the past twelve months. The task is not to patch things up, smooth things over, Read more →

“Letter from Col. Dubois” by Robert Heinlein

The following is a reading from a fictional story. It is a part of a letter that an old teacher and retired Infantry Colonel sent to a young recruit who had once been his student. The story was written by Robert Heinlein. “You are now going through the hardest part Read more →

Excerpt From “The Buddha and the Terrorist” by Satish Kumar

Introduction: The following story is based upon a Buddhist Parable about a bloodthirsty murderer, called Angulimala, which means Wearer of a Necklace made of Fingers. Angulimala believed in his anger that if he could make a necklace of a thousand human fingers, he would have enough power to rule the Read more →

“A Veteran’s Prayer in Time of War” by the Rev. Marie E. deYoung

On this somber day, Spirit of Life, Teach us how to honor our veterans of war. Teach us how to care for those who bear arms to protect our lives. Teach us how to reverence those who sacrifice their dreams to secure freedom for unknown peoples. Teach us how to Read more →

“A Prayer for Memorial Day” by David Pyle

Spirit of Life, To you we consecrate our silent tears, For the memory of all of those who have fallen in war, For the lives of families broken by loss, For the spirits of those who live with the memories every day, For the loss of our innocence. Spirit of Read more →

“Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander” by Thomas Merton

In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all of those people, that they were mine and I was theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we Read more →

“Partner Church” by Rev. David Baumbaugh

The church I currently serve is in an affluent New Jersey suburb of New York City. When I came to the church, almost nine years ago, it had a modest budget which was never quite adequate to its needs a budget supported by an annual pledge drive which always a Read more →

“In a World” by Scott W. Alexander

In a world with so much hatred and violence, We need a religion that proclaims the inherent worth and diginity of every person. In a world with so much brutality and fear, We need a religion that seeks justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. In a world with so Read more →

Excerpt from “What Torture’s Taught Me” by Rev. Bill Schulz

Taken From “What Torture’s Taught me” by Rev. Bill Schulz Former President of the Unitarian Universalist Association Former Executive Director of Amnesty International So who are the torturers? Are they madmen? Deviants? Hardened criminals? Sexual predators? Almost never. In fact, most police and military units weed out the psychological misfits Read more →

Denise Levertov’s “Misnomer.”

They speak of the art of war, but the arts draw their light from the soul’s well, and warfare dries up the soul and draws its power from a dark and burning wasteland. When Leonardo set his genius to devising machines of destruction he was not acting in the service Read more →

“Let Religion Be To Us Life and Joy” by Vincent Silliman

Let religion be to us life and joy. Let it be a voice of renewing challenge to the best we have and may be; let it be a call to generous action. Let religion be to us a dissatisfaction with things that are, which bids us serve more eagerly the Read more →

“Cherish the Dream” by David Baumbaugh

I suppose that every American of my generation has a “how Dr. King shaped my life” story. Here is mine. I had graduated from seminary in 1964 with a clear idea of the focus and shape my ministry would take. I spent my time reading and reflecting, and crafting sermons Read more →

“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by W.B. Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made: Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade. And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping Read more →

“A Liberal Definition” by John F. Kennedy

Acceptance Speech of the New York Liberal Party Nomination September 14, 1960 What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “Liberal?” If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and Read more →

“Prophets” by Clinton Lee Scott

Always it is easier to pay homage to prophets than to heed the direction of their vision. It is easier blindly to venerate the saints than to learn the human quality of their sainthood. It is easier to glirify the heroes of the race than to give weight to their Read more →

Buddhist Prayer for Peace

May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind quickly be freed from their illnesses. May those frightened cease to be afraid, and may those bound be free. May the powerless find power, and may people think of befriending one another. May those who find themselves in trackless, Read more →

A Soldier—His Prayer

This anonymous poem was blown into a slit trench in Tunisia during a heavy bombardment in the early days of World War II. It was included in Poems to Live By in Uncertain Times, edited by Joan Murray. A Soldier—His Prayer Stay with me, God. The night is dark, The Read more →

“Meditation on Centering Prayer” by Thomas Keating

Meditation on Centering Prayer (Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart, p.136-137) We begin our prayer by disposing our body. Let it be relaxed and calm, but inwardly alert. The root of prayer is interior silence. We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words. But this is Read more →

“A Bag of Nails” by Unknown Author

Once upon a time there was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he should hammer a nail in the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the Read more →

“Simplicity ” by David Pyle

Simplicity, What is more basic that breathing? What is more elegant than the breath? To breathe is to live, To live is to be, To be is to become, To become is to change, To change is to grow, To grow is to become aware To become aware is to Read more →

A Samurai’s Creed

A Samurai’s Creed The creed of a samurai, written around 1300 by an unnamed author. I have no parents; I make the heaven and earth my mother and father. I have no home; I make awareness my dwelling. I have no life and death; I make the tides of breathing Read more →

24 Hours to Die

Raj asked Buddha, “Reverend Sir, how come my mind wanders around to forbidden places and yours does not?” “Sir, how come I do back-biting and you don’t?” “Sir, how come I don’t have compassion for others, while you have?” All the questions that Raj asked were of similar nature. Buddha Read more →

Excerpt from “The Financial Crisis Investigation Report”

The greatest tragedy would be to accept the refrain that no one could have seen this coming and thus nothing could have been done.  If we accept this notion, it will happen again.

“A Man of Peace is Not a Pacifist” by Osho

A man of peace is not a pacifist, a man of peace is simply a pool of silence. He pulsates a new kind of energy into the world, he sings a new song. He lives in a totally new way; his very way of live is that of grace, that Read more →

“The Dragon in My Garage” by Carl Sagan

The Dragon In My Garage by Carl Sagan “A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage” Suppose (I’m following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you’d want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories Read more →

“How we get Hooked” by Pema Chodron

How we get hooked/how to get unhooked By Pema Chödrön You’re trying to make a point with a coworker or your partner. At one moment her face is open and she’s listening, and at the next, her eyes cloud over or her jaw tenses. What is it that you’re seeing? Read more →

“How to Change Time Into Life” by James Freeman Clarke

“I AM COME THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE LIFE; AND THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE IT MORE ABUNDANTLY.” THE purpose for which we exist is to turn time into life. A regular allowance of time is given to men — the same ration, every day, of twenty-four hours to each of us Read more →

Universalist 1935 Bond of Fellowship and Statement of Faith

The Bond of Fellowship in this church shall be a common purpose to do the will of God as Jesus revealed it and to co-operate in establishing the Kingdom for which he lived and died. To that end we avow our faith in: God as Eternal and All-Conquering Love, The Read more →

“Things Commonly Believed Among Us” by W.C. Gannett

Things Commonly Believed Among Us Proposed by William Channing Gannett at the Western Unitarian Conference, 1887 “We believe that to love the Good and to live the Good is the supreme thing in religion; “We hold reason and conscience to be final authorities in matters of religious belief; “We honor Read more →

“A Soldier’s Christmas” by Michael Marks

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light, I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight; My wife was asleep, her head on my chest, My daughter beside me, angelic in rest. Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white, Transforming the yard to a winter delight; Read more →

“Strange and Foolish Walls” by A. Powell Davies

The years of all of us are short, our lives precarious. Our days and nights go hurrying on and there is scarcely time to do the little that we might. Yet we find time for bitterness, for petty treason and evasion. What can we do to stretch our hearts enough Read more →

“Chances in Life Litany” by E.H. Chapin

CHANCES IN LIFE LITANY – E.H. Chapin (1869), response N. King (2008) WE MAY HAVE VIRTUE ENOUGH – RELIGION ENOUGH – FOR SET-TIMES AND SUNDAYS. HAVE WE ENOUGH FOR THIS CROWDED, THICK-SWARMING, BUSY, EVERY-DAY WORLD? May I have the courage and strength to be present to life’s opportunities. THE GREAT Read more →

“The Unclouded Mirror” by James Freeman Clarke

“I BELIEVE Jesus to have been Son of God, and divine, because filled full of the divine truth and love, and always abiding therein. He alone, of the sons of men, was always resting on the infinite love. He has sent the same spirit into the world, and enabled all Read more →

“Theology of Universalism” by Thomas Baldwin Thayer

Introductory of Thomas Baldwin Thayer’s influential “Theology of Universalism” published in 1862. “This is essentially the theology of Universalism, the character and action which, following the sacred Scriptures, it ascribes to God as the Supreme Governor of the universe, and the Creator and Father of men. In him are united Read more →

Excerpt from “The Method is the Message” by Angus MacLean

The liberal is beginning to discover that she is more in tune with natural processes than are her maligners. The liberal has been accused of not knowing where he stood, or of walking precariously and uncertainly in the middle of the road with Christian orthodoxy on his right and communism Read more →

“The Central Task of the Religious Community” by Mark Morrison Reed

The central task of the religious community is to unveil the bonds that bind each to all. There is a connectedness, a relationship discovered amid the particulars of our own lives and the lives of others. Once felt, it inspires us to act for Justice. It is the church that Read more →

Excerpt from “Governance and Ministry” by Dan Hotchkiss

Religion transforms people; no one touches holy ground and stays the same. Religious leaders stir the pot by pointing to the contrast between life as it is and life as it should be, and urging us to close the gap. Religious insights provide the handhold that people need to criticize Read more →

“All Things in Creation Exist Within You” by Kahlil Gibran

“All things in this creation exist within you, and all things in you exist in creation; there is no border between you and the closest things, and there is no distinction between you and the farthest things, and all things, from the lowest to the loftiest, from the smallest to Read more →

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