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Alternatives to the War on Drugs (2002)

Thirty years ago as a young student minister in Michigan I preached against our government’s persecution and prohibition of drugs. In the back of the room the local police and prosecutors sat, glowering. In the front, in the pulpit, I rolled what appeared to be a joint. However, because marijuana was illegal, I had to use imaginary marijuana, relying only on the placebo effect for our shared spiritual experience. I toked it up, held my breath, and passed it around as a communion. Most people…

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What and Wither, Really?

What and who are we, and whither would we go, and why, really?   I start to answer these questions, not by copying what others say, or by mouthing what others expect me to say as a minister, but by honestly saying what I think I know.   As you know, I entered ministry via a route through embalming.  At 18 I looked closely into death.  It awakened a wonder at the structure of our bodies and an appreciation for our precious, limited life.  Too…

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Visions of Whole, Healed, Healthy, Happy World

What ever became of vision?  Our current political and religious leadership have visions so dark and backward we forsake ever hoping for better.  Can we look past these dreary scenarios?  Dare we?   The visionaries of the past left failed results, leading us to cynicism.  Skinner’s meager Walden II was at least a fair attempt at being fair.  The Farm in Tennessee and the Oneida Community in upper New York were limited to limited communes.  The great socialist vision of a worker’s paradise descended into…

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This, at Least

Humans are meaning-seeking creatures.  We want to know, or at least want to seem to know.  We want coherence and congruency.  We want to know what is, why it is, and how to live in it.   By “it” I mean this obvious manifest material world.  We find ourselves born into a family and culture, living in a body that grows and ages.  We cling to life and see that those who pass from it do not return, except in memory and dreams.  Occasionally we…

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The Eastern Way in the Western Mind

Bucky Fuller, one of the more innovative and colorful engineers of our 20th Century, saw early boats as the strong shape of a dome upside down.  Typical of his far-reaching sort of thinking, he once speculated that early boats either went with the wind or against it.  In the west, we admire the daring-do of earliest ship captains fighting the wind by using it, angling sail and rudder just so to travel zig-zag out of the Indian Ocean, around Africa, and up to Europe.  This…

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The Answer to Our Humanistic Prayers

Humanists tend not to believe in prayer.  Humanists believe in human ability and choice in a natural universe.  Miracles are either impossible or explainable.  Working material and social reality by merely thinking something fervently just doesn’t happen.  Scientific evidence for the effect of prayer is scant.  But personal experience of many is profound.   Prayer may not be humanistic, but is human.  Many humans in all sorts of cultures pray.  They talk as with ancestors, saints, gods, or God.  Healing is an act of both…

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A Saint’s Call

I once got to meet The Blind Saint of Vrindivan, India.  He was the guru of my guru, Dr. Vasavada.  Dr. Vasavada, of Bombay, India, was fresh in Chicago from having been trained with Carl Jung as an analyst.  I was at the University of Chicago in seminary and took to helping Dr. Vasavada get around town while learning about Jungian psychology and eastern religion from him.  When the chance to meet his guru in India came up in the summer of 1972, I went. …

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The Mandate of Heaven

The eastern version of our western divine right of kings was the Chinese Mandate of Heaven.  Let us consider its framework and apply it to our current king of sorts, King George.  I do this, not in a partisan way, but towards loving our country, all humanity, and earth. The Chou, a somewhat crude but ambitious crew, defeated the Shang in 1115 B.C., beginning one of the longest dynasties in Chinese history (1115-221 B.C.)   In order to convince their subject peoples, especially the nobles, of…

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The Heart of Matter

What is the worth of matter and these bodies made from it?  Some religionists say matter provides a mere stage on which we act the drama of our lives, creating the conditions of our afterlives.  Some scientists say it and our world are just insignificant specks in the enormity of the universe.  Are we lost in a false dilemma?  Must we choose between irrelevant matter and senseless matter?   We should reject both irrelevancy and senselessness.   As I once wrote in a paper for the…

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Pronoia

“The secret of fortune is joy in our hands.”  Emerson They’re out to get you.  Who or what?  Circumstances.  Whether they are malevolent or benevolent depends on what you look for.  Just as a paranoid person sees and hears mean forces conspiring to trip him or her up by saying cruel things, so does a pronoic person tend to see friendly, celebratory forces out to make life a bounteous pleasure.  Go through life with cracked eyeglass lens and you’ll see a fragmented, cutting world.  Go…

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