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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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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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From Passive Tolerance to Dynamic Mutuality

The issue I wish to address today involves the inevitable tensions that can grow between the good souls of a church or fellowship.  My concern is twofold: how do we maintain and improve a dynamic, satisfying fellowship for all of us, and how do we model the dynamic mutuality possible in a pluralistic democracy?  These issues go to the heart of our congregational and societal relations.   I’m glad I don’t have any particular complaint or crisis in mind.  This really has to do with…

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Emerson, on his 200th

On May 25th of this year we could celebrate the 200th birthday of a quintessential American: Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Emerson exemplified American individualism as the holy duty of being human.  He was the ultimate Protestant, preaching we should be ourselves as daringly, caringly and authentically as we can – that is God’s infinite creativity made manifest and satisfied.   “Man is timid and apologetic; he dares not say, “I think,” “I am,” but quotes some saint or sage,” said Emerson.  I don’t mind the irony. …

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Faith in the Larger Liberty

Picture this: Our president in the White House takes scissors to Bible, cutting out of the New Testament all that makes Jesus more God than human.  Out goes the virgin birth story, the miracles, even the resurrection.  When preachers object, he calls them “soothsayers and necromancers.”  To top it off, he is having an extended affair with his half-black servant, fathering children with her.   Such a scandal would leave Fox News sputtering, unsure how to begin the spin.  How prissy and protected we are.…

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Lovely, Lonely Liberals

To be liberal means being generous, open minded, innovative, and kind.  It is the force of the new, the progressive.  It is inclusive and visionary, seeking freedom and progress for the whole of society.   It does not war against conservative forces, but uses them to stabilize a system while innovating within it.  Conservative and liberal are dynamics of nature -- structure, experimentation, and new birth.   It is a sign of how regressive an era we live in that the word liberal is used as…

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Why Unitarian Universalism serves God and Humanity better than Christianity Does

Many religions have one thing in common: each believes it has the best truth.   It is bold or predictable for me to preach on why our religion has the best truth?  I suspect many UUs would resist such an attempt.  Everyone has the right to their own way, we believe.  What works for some wouldn’t work for us, yet we’re glad that others have their ways.  We’re not evangelical.  We don’t proselytize.  We’re a “live and let live” religion.   Meanwhile other religions insist…

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Theology Still Pertinent

“It doesn’t make an iota of difference,” goes the phrase meaning it couldn’t matter less.  That phrase comes from an old theological fight over the letter “i”.  The homousians and the homoiusians had it out over whether the iota should be there.  One side claimed Jesus was of the same nature as God.   The other claimed he was of the same substance.  For this iota of theological difference, hundreds were killed.   More important than an “i” in a word is the “I” in you. …

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