Category Archives: Spiritual Practice
This summer, I had the honor of preaching a sermon on interfaith engagement to eight different Unitarian Universalist congregations in Illinois and Wisconsin. The sermon was entitled, “Acts of Faith: Interreligious Engagement as Spiritual Practice,” and won the District Sermon Contest Award in my faith tradition.
Based on the themes found within Eboo Patel’s book, Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, The Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, my experiences delivering this sermon for two straight months gave me an opportunity to reflect on not only the place of interfaith engagement within the spiritual formations of individuals within my own religious tradition, but also on the art of homiletics. Read the rest of this entry
The men and women moved slowly past the prostrate women in her eighties. She repeated a modified sun salutation and prayer for peace several times in the aisle, even as a dozen or so latecomers passed her as they made their way to their seats. And then the woman stood up, hands pressed together in a sign of peace and compassion and returned to her seat using her cane for assistance.
All this time, the room remained rather hushed with four thousands hearts and minds fixated on the stage, awaiting the words from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This woman was physically doing what so many of us longed to do. We longed to match the peace and compassion of this global religious figure in action. Instead most of us just sat in awe of his demeanor and superb eloquence. Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday, November 7th 2012
I eulogize today with a heavy heart of sadness and grief. For some time, it has seemed as if our beloved Religious Left’s longtime struggle with terminal silence was slowly improving, and its emotional recovery and reemergence into the public arena was only a matter of time. Alas, as the shocking election results of last night remain burned into our hearts with pain, so too is the reality that this morning the silence that consumes us is not by agency, but by definition of being deceased.
At solemn times such as these, it is the honorable thing to do to pay our respects and celebrate the life of that shared loss we feel. In truth, the Religious Left lived a very long and productive life. Actual birth records are hard to find, but evidence shows the Religious Left has traveled throughout Europe in Germany and England and across the Atlantic to the United States and to various parts of Latin America, especially Peru, over the last several centuries. Most recently, the Religious Left found its residence mainly in the U.S. due to growing secularism in Europe and religious conservatism in Latin America. It was quite central in the 20th century with proponents of the Social Gospel movement and passionate champions of peace and justice initiatives during the Civil Rights Movements giving life to this dear friend of ours. And, perhaps, the Religious Left’s biggest ally of all time was the young revolutionary from Atlanta, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who, unlike the Religious Left, had such a short time to spread his message on earth. Read the rest of this entry
Unitarian Universalism is a religious tradition with roots in Christianity, but has since taken a strong stance regarding religious freedom in every person’s spiritual formation. This may be characterized as a non-creedal religious tradition, which is arguably shared with some mainline protestant traditions and other traditions altogether. However, Unitarian Universalism reaches a step further by eliminating a theological centrality (i.e., monotheism, Trinitarianism, etc.). The embodiment of our understanding of religious freedom is found within our 4th Principle: we promote a free and responsible search for truth and meaning for every person.
This Principle, however, receives a lot of misunderstanding and distortion. Ironically, the majority of the people who perpetuate this distortion are Unitarian Universalists. The misinterpretation of this Principle goes something like this: “We as Unitarian Universalists believe in religious freedom, which means that we can believe whatever we want…” Unfortunately, this fails to understand the true complexity and beauty of this Principle. We do not promote religious freedom, alone; we promote freedom and responsibility in our search for truth and meaning. The religious freedom is met with theological responsibility. But, what is theological responsibility and how does it either hinder or enhance religious freedom? Read the rest of this entry
As we enter the second week of Ramadan, hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world continue to fast as a prescribed spiritual practice in the Islamic faith tradition. Last year, as a part of an ongoing journey within the interfaith movement and my own spiritual formation, I chose to participate in this month long act of spiritual observance. This year I chose to follow the practice again because of the powerful affect it had on me. Only this year, something feels different about the experience. Something feels off, unnatural, and confusing. So, on Sunday night, I decided to stop my observance of Ramadan. But, why? What changed?
By highlighting the benefits of my experience with Ramadan from last year and the subsequent changes it brought about it my life throughout the last year, I may begin to arrive at an answer. Ramadan profoundly changed my life last year. It has been by far the most powerful spiritual month of my life. It taught me about the relationship between food and drink and spirituality. It gave me the tools to eat more ethically and compassionately. This month also gave me a greater reverence for the mystery and beauty of the divine, the sacred source of all life. Read the rest of this entry