SERMON: Ring Them Bells!
In a 2012 Huffington Post article, “The End of Church,” author and historian of American religion, Diana Butler Bass, says “Something startling is happening in American religion: We are witnessing the end of church or, at the very least, the end of conventional church.” She refers to studies that reveal an increasing disenchantment with organized religion, not just within Roman Catholicism or the aging and typically more liberal mainline Protestant denominations, but also within the more evangelical and conservative denominations such as the Southern Baptist Conference. People are leaving church. Continue reading….
SERMON: A Mark Made Upon You
In a May 28th blog-post entitled “Branding Hurts a Little; As Any Cow,” the Rev. Tom Schade says, “a brand is a mark made upon you, which identifies you, whose you are.” The post was the third in a loose series on Unitarian Universalist identity. He was wrestling with that perennial question all faith traditions ask at times, “Who are we?” Well, actually, he wasn’t wrestling with that question per se. He was wrestling with how we Unitarian Universalists wrestle with that question. He was writing in light of the recent, mildly controversial unveiling of the new Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) logo. He was also anticipating “a flurry of harsh and negative commentary” in response to an article that was about to be published in Boston Magazine entitled “Selling God.” The article was about how the UUA hired an advertising team to help it rebrand itself. Continue reading….
SERMON: It’s All Poetry
Poetry points to the great truths; but only points, because inherent in poetry is the recognition that words alone are insufficient to name them fully. So poetry uses fewer words, and in so doing creates space for other ways of knowing—feeling, sensing, intuiting, dreaming, imagining—ways of entering the place beyond words. Or, as the late poet who was also a spiritual leader, Nancy Shaffer, said in a stanza forever dog-eared, highlighted and triple underlined in my copy of her book, “I have been looking for the words that come before words, the ones older than silence, the ones not mine, that can’t be found by thought—the ones that hold the beginning of the world and are never used up, which arrive loaned, and make me weep.” Was she a poet who was also a spiritual leader, or a spiritual leader who was also a poet? Nevermind, this question no longer matters to me. From this day forward I acknowledge no distinction between poetry and the heart of religion. Poetry uses fewer words to point to the truth and create spaces for all forms of human discernment of the truth. At its best, so does religion. Through its scriptures, prayers, meditations, songs, hymns, chants, sayings, aphorisms, parables, sutras, suras, chapters, verses, liturgies, rituals, worship and witness it points to the truth and creates spaces for all forms of human discernment of the truth. Poetry lives at the heart of religion. Continue reading….