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

Category Archives: Uu Movement

Policy or Vision as the Mission of the Church?

Recently, in private conversation, on this blog, and among radio hosts I listen to, there has been conversation about why the liberal churches do not get involved in certain national policy issues… and each time I hear that call I cringe. Though I have friends in several of our UUA Read more →

“Army Wives” Find Unitarian Universalism

I am not afraid to admit that one of the television shows I watch regularly with my wife is Lifetime Channel’s “Army Wives”.  I pretend it is “research” for this future Army Chaplain.  My wife does get annoyed at my regular corrections of their uniforms and their doctrine (but they Read more →

Unitarian Universalists at Arlington National Cemetery

Click on the picture or this link to see the slideshow   During my time in Washington DC these past few months, I spent a few days shadowing the chaplains at Arlington National Cemetery. During a break, I went for a walk among some of the markers, and was surprised 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 →

In Honor of Memorial Day — UU Servicemember’s Devotional Project

“Each time I have to stand by the “Chaplain Corps” table strewn with religious and spiritual information for the National Guard Soldiers I support, I find myself yearning deeply for material that is representative of the open, diverse, nurturing, affirming and accepting ideas of the UU tradition…So many of our Read more →

The Myth of Objectivity

I have a colleague here at seminary who shares with me several things, including that we both name our cats after Gods, and that we both have Bachelor’s degrees in History. Yet, we have a fundamental disagreement about the method of the study of history. He was trained to try Read more →

Home from CMWD District Assembly

I had every intent of writing a blog article or two while I was at the District Assembly of the Central Midwest District of the UUA, but as staff I was rather busy, and never found the time. In truth, on Saturday night I fell asleep in my room and Read more →

Great Lakes UU Military Ministry Easter Homily

Though I do not often post sermons to Celestial Lands, there are exceptions. On this Easter Sunday Morning, I thought I would share the homily I am preaching in our UU Worship Service at the Great Lakes Naval Station, Recruit Training Command this morning. Introduction to the Homily In our Read more →

The Danger of Progress as a Source of Meaning

In a conversation with a fellow seminarian who had read my article “Why I’m not a progressive”, it became clear to me that though I laid out the reasons why I call myself a Liberal and not a progressive, I did not highlight what problem I have with the word 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 →

New CLF Military Ministry Website!

It is my honor and privilege to invite Military Affiliated Unitarian Universalists (and indeed all Unitarian Universalists) to visit the new Military Ministry Website, sponsored by the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF). www.clfuu.org/military We hope it will become a place for those of us of liberal faith with a Read more →

No More Books, Please!

I am asking for your understanding. Perhaps I am speaking a prophetic voice for Seminarians in and beyond our Liberal Faith. I am writing to all so I can ask for this favor, this boon. Please stop giving me books you think I just have to read… please! I know Read more →

Can a Deist find a Home in Unitarian Universalism?

From time to time someone asks me about the relationship between Deism and Unitarian Universalism. For many years I was considered something of a “leader” (as much as Deists have leaders) in several attempts to organize Deists around the world… from the United Deist Church to the Deist Alliance. For 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 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 →

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 →

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 →

Farewell UCE

Today is the last day of my Internship and then Summer Ministry at the Unitarian Church of Evanston Illinois. It was a wonderful and formative experience, and I will miss being a part of the life of this wonderful congregation. Here is a link to the sermon I preached this Read more →

Blogging Best Practices

I would like to thank Shelby Meyerhoff and the UUA Blogging Resources Project for the effort to put together a survey and report on “best practices” in Unitarian Universalist Blogging. It was an honor to be asked to participate in the survey behind the report. It was also useful for 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 →

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 →

In Uniform at General Assembly

It was an amazing and enlightening experience for me at this General Assembly, in that I spent much of my time in uniform as a Chaplain Candidate. I was in uniform so much, some people might think I wear it often. In fact, I purchased the class B shirts just Read more →

On the Way Home

Sitting here in the Ft. Lauderdale Airport, I have found my first reliable and generally useful internet connection of my entire time at General Assembly. It was not a problem I noticed very much, because I was so busy at GA this year it was actually a blessing to not Read more →

Why This GA Will Be Different

This year will be the first year in the last three that I will be able to attend the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly, held this year in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Last year I was at the U.S. Army Chaplain School, and the year before that I was in the midst 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 →

Not Misusing Intoxicants

A year ago, inspired not only by my Zen practice but also by wanting to better understand a friend, I made the commitment not to use alcohol for one year. Now, alcohol has never been a large part of my life, but I have enjoyed both a professional and personal Read more →

Unitarian Universalism and Military Chaplaincy

A few years ago, at a Unitarian Universalist Houston Network event, a young woman challenged in a loud and public way how I could dare call myself a Unitarian Universalist, and be willing to serve in the military. I was not actually in the military at the time; I had Read more →

Our Congregational Foundation — The Fields Well Planted

I did not intend to be writing a second blog series at the same time as I am working on developing a personal spiritual practice based in the 7 principles, but that seems to be what is happening. The blog discussion about congregationalism that has included Philocrites, Making Chutney, UU Read more →

What Does It Take to Make a Unitarian Universalist?

This past summer I did something pretty radical for a Unitarian Universalist seminary student… I performed a communion service adapted from a Universalist service from the late 1800’s. It was at the U.S. Army Chaplain School, so my “congregation” consisted of Baptist, Methodist, Evangelical ministers and Catholic Priests. After the Read more →

The Movement of Unitarian Universalism

The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations is not the Movement of Unitarian Universalism, rather a service organization for a part of that Movement… congregations. For years I used to correct people when they referred to the UUA as “our denomination”, and I finally quit trying, for two reasons. One, it Read more →

The Military and Religious Freedom — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached November 3rd, 2007 This is my first Sunday morning back here at the Great Lakes Recruit Training Center in over four months.  You see, this past summer I was in Basic Training myself.  It was my second time going through basic.  My first time was in 1991, at Read more →

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