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
The death of Apple, Inc., co-Founder and long-time CEO, Steve Jobs, has truly impacted a lot of people’s lives in the past several days. But, why? Why are so many people interested in the man behind the scenes of one of the largest technology companies in the world? Are they all geeks and computer nerds? No, they are clearly people from a diverse range of backgrounds. The death of Steve Jobs has had a profound impact because what he embodied was the spirit of innovation and creativity.
According to many, Steve Jobs was one of the greatest innovators of all time. He revolutionized the way we engage with the world. Forty years ago, no one could imagine how connected we are today. No one, except maybe Jobs. Jobs had an innate sense of aesthetic, performance, and design. He could see a problem in technology or a place for improvement and find away to enhance our ability to overcome it. Read the rest of this entry
Disgust. Shock. Outrage. Our country is in mourning. Our nation is truly lost. We are in a whirlwind of emotional upheaval, a rollercoaster of spiritual destruction. The lead up to the execution of Troy Davis has awakened this country to the thriving injustices and deep systemic issues of racism that are alive and well in the U.S. today. Tuesday and Wednesday have been particularly emotional, as more and more Americans began to realize the validity and personal impact of the statement “I am Troy Davis.” Whether people cared about the death penalty or not prior to the last few days, weeks, months, or years, starting Thursday morning, this country woke up to a new world, one of pain, confusion, and a greater need for healing than in recent years.
As I was sitting in my Pastoral Care and Counseling course at Chicago Theological Seminary, Tuesday night, I was tormented by the mixed feelings of pain, anger, confusion, and helplessness that were racing through my head and heart. I brought it up to the class, asking, “how do we as future pastoral caregivers grapple with this layering of emotions not just as they affect an individual or family, but also a community, nation, or the entire world? How can we be effective faith leaders in times of pain and grief when we’re confronted with cases as complex as that of Troy Davis?” We grappled with these questions for nearly an hour, with times of silence and utter-speechlessness scattered throughout the difficult reflection. 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
It is in most instances quite difficult to gauge cultural and generational shifts in society through the present lens. Social movements, political or otherwise, that we have witnessed throughout the ages, have oftentimes been labeled as such years or decades after the fact. Most times they are immediately recognized as meaningful points in history, but the full awareness of their actual grandeur and social impact are not felt until the dust has settled.
Last night marked the end of an era for millions of people worldwide, as the final installment of the Harry Potter film series opened at midnight. The Harry Potter phenomenon has been alive and strong since the first of the seven part book series was released on June 30th, 1997. The young, British novelist J.K. Rowling could never have imagined what magical journey she was about to lead the world on over the next 14 years. I wonder now what early reflections can be made on the effects this literary and cultural global movement has had on us as people in states of formation and reformation. I want to know specifically how, if at all, the existence of the HP phenomenon has affected our relationships to religion. Read the rest of this entry