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The Most Inspiring

In my high school yearbook, which I have purposefully lost, I am listed in a rundown of categorization as “the most bashful.” I have wondered about that rather unique claim to high school infamy. Most bashful. Not most likely to succeed. Not best dressed. Not most likely to be president. But most bashful. Introversion had a lot to do with it. Low self-image surely had something to do with it. Living in a rural town in the middle of nowhere also had something to do with it. Anyway, I am okay with being bashful. There’s worst things to be.
I am not sure if there is a “Most Inspiring” in high school yearbooks these days. Maybe there is. There wasn’t in mine. And if there were, I would not have been deemed Most Inspiring either, that’s for sure. I cannot think of a senior classmate who would have been deemed that. Even the cheerleaders were Gen-X cynical.
I begin with this to say I’ve been pondering the importance of being inspiring as a pastor. In the latter part of my 5 years here, I’ve …
Recent posts

What Autism Teaches Religious Communities

A religious community – what is it? A religious community is a group of people holding to religious faith that join together as a community to make the world and to enjoy the benefits of faith and community. So there is a religious/spiritual component to religious community. There is a social component, of course. And there is an emotional component.
As you might perceive, for kids on the Spectrum, engaging these three components are not so simple. First of all, religion and spirituality. As has been noted by psychologists and people who study these things, people on the Spectrum are far more likely to be atheists. According to a survey done not too long ago, “respondents with high-functioning autism were more likely than control subjects to be atheists and less likely to belong to an organized religion… And atheists were higher on the autistic spectrum than Christians and Jews.”

Thinking about what Autism is, it is not so difficult to see why this might be so. For people on the spectr…

Variations on the Theme of the Gospel

We hear the word gospel a lot in church and in talk about Christianity. I have been hearing the word “gospel” and about what the gospel is all my life. In fact, in the context I grew up in, the gospel was something you gave to people so they could become like you, a Christian. It amounted to sharing the plan of salvation, another term that was common in my growing up and one that remains common in Evangelical circles.

The word gospel is commonplace even in tax law. You probably didn’t know that. The IRS’s tax laws mentions this: “ministers of the gospel may be able to exclude from income tax…

But what is the gospel? This is a huge question.

Now, when it comes to the IRS, we can safely say the gospel has a broad definition. Rabbis, Muslim Imams, Buddhist monks, Hindu clerics are included in the line “ministers of the gospel,” and thus their compensation holds special exemptions from taxes.
What does the Bible have to offer when it comes to defining what the gospel is?...

Well, you may …

Autism & Earth Day

I want to begin with a poem I wrote before arriving here in North Orange. I wrote it when Corey was around 4 or 5. We were living in Florida at the time, which to me is the suburb capital of the world. I was missing the woods and hills of my home region in upstate New York. I imagined the open fields and forest treks I grew up around would be good for our very active son. This was before we had our diagnosis. Anyway, let me read the poem which happens to be one of my favorites.

My Son at Gymnastics Class
i watch you at the gymnastics class you skip through and jump over. you defy the lines you are supposed to remain in, twirling out of place as if water splashing over a rim or a step. you notice me on the other side of the gym’s window where the parents of more adherent children watch. you wave and greet and smile. you do it again, and then again as if silence on a balance beam is optional. it is optional. but it’s an as if world. you are just not yet quite living in it. you are as free as they will let y…

The MFC Interview Reconsidered

In March 2006, I interviewed with the Regional Subcommittee on Candidacy (RSCC) at the Unitarian Universalist Association headquarters in Boston. It did not go well. Despite graduating from a well-respected progressive seminary, despite three plus years of student ministry at a UU fellowship, despite a positive career assessment report, despite excitement about the prospects of UU ministry, I was in no uncertain terms "yellow-lighted."
The interview itself was grueling. It felt more a trial than an interview, especially for someone who had never been interviewed by a committee of strangers. I was led into a windowless, dimly lit conference room in the old UUA building on Beacon Street. I was seated in front of a six-person panel of white, seemingly middle-class or higher Bostonians volunteering on the committee. Sitting on the committee was David Petee, the Director of the MFC. The meeting was in the middle of the work week and work day. My wife and I had taken a day off of w…

Letter to Dr. King

Dear Dr. King,
In 1992, on the national holiday honoring you, I skipped chapel at my Christian college which mandated daily chapel. I thought to myself I want to hear from the man himself on his day. No well-meaning, ministerial mediators preaching a sermon about you or most likely around you. No Christian Contemporary praise songs that maybe included the word justice once or twice. No rendition of the old gospel tune “I woke up this morning with my mind staid on Jesus,” which the campus president sang every Monday and which the movement you led took and changed Jesus to freedom. I wanted to listen to you directly, at least you directly recorded. So I went to the media room at the Centennial Library thinking I’d find the “I Have a Dream” speech and listen to it in its entirety for the first time. I found a VHS recording. I watched and heard. I heard you talk about American writing the American people a promissory note. I heard you talk early on in that keynote speech about how when it …

Easter Newness of Life

READING #1

Since we’ve all heard the chuckles, we might as well face it is. April Fool’s Day and Easter share a day this year. Maybe you’ve wondered how to make sense of this aside from making a joke about the Easter bunny. Interestingly, the Bible has something to say about it. 

To introduce what the Bible has to say, I share a saying Korean Zen teacher named Seung Sahn loved to use. His famous teaching was the Zen mind is a “Only Don’t-Know Mind.” Why? Because thoughts and concepts, discursive thinking, what we might call human overthinking, too often get in the way of godly wisdom and compassion. Paul sort of gets at the same thing in a passage from I Corinthians 3 which is our first reading for today. Let me read it.

Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,
“He catches the wise in their craftiness,”
and again, “The Lord knows the tho…