In Celebration of How Women Have Redrawn the Religious Landscape Enormous changes have taken place in religion as women have moved, in just about one generation, from acquiescence to power and influence. The change had to happen - even though we were hardly prepared and often resistant. But in the process religion has become more adept at and better connected with the power of life.
The Tao of Happiness What does it take to be happy? Do striving and achievement bring fulfillment or are they, as the Tao would suggest, “empty as straw”? Can you become happy by trying to be happy or does the pursuit of happinessn necessarily thwart happiness? The vision of happiness and fulfillment presented by the Tao and the findings of modern psychological research in this arena seem to be miles apart. What are we to think?
'Tis a Gift to Be Simple There is an inner tension in the Tao Te Ching between the virtue (te) of simplicity and the complexity of life as symbolized by the ever present yin and yang of all that is. There is a central lesson here for Unitarian Universalism, recalling H.L. Mencken’s words, “For every problem there is a solution which is simple, clean, and wrong.”
If the Kingdom of Heaven is Like a Party, Is It “Come As You Are”? There once was a man from Galilee named Jesus who had a vision of what life would be like if it were the way God intended it to be. You’ve probably heard of Jesus. But you can’t believe everything you've heard about him.
Prophecy Rooted In Love There are two strains of Hebrew Prophecy, one that cries out against injustice and another that offers a vision of beauty and peace. Both are necessary. It can be gratifying to rail out against injustice but without an accompanying vision of a better world such cries are merely aggressive gestures and are probably the seed bed for recrimination and revenge.
When God Seems Like a Jerk (or When Bad Things Happen to Good People) Do you ever feel as if the universe is playing you for a patsy? Do you ever wonder “what did I do to deserve this?” Do you ever question the suffering of the innocent? You just might have something in common with a man called Job.
Limping Toward Forgiveness: Jacob & Esau (Judaism) A tale of twin brothers. One to become patriarch of the 12 tribes of Israel; one to fade into obscurity. A strange encounter at a mysterious river crossing with surprises yet to come.
The Self Beyond the Self A recurring theme in Hinduism is the “true" nature of the self - the larger “who we are" that beckons us on and is not yet realized. It is an attraction we didn't create but is part of the dynamic of the world.
Avatars for a Day, Avatars for a Lifetime For many of us the word “avatar” probably brings to mind the James Cameron science fiction film by that name. Or we may know the word from the world of video games and virtual reality where an avatar is a computer user’s alter ego. But in Hinduism, an avatar is an incarnation of a god or goddess in bodily form on earth. How might we embody the Hindu insight that “the one becomes many and the many are one?”
Distinguishing Devotion from Compulsion Religions have long traded on fear to “encourage” certain forms of behavior but the Bhagavad Gita suggests that a sense of devotion can be a far more powerful - and sane and respectful - motivation for our dealings with each other and the world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Hinduism Encounter We begin our Living Texts Project explorations - and conversations with sacred texts from other traditions - with Hinduism. We are in good company here. Ralph Waldo Emerson and others of our Transcendentalist forebears engaged Hindu texts in order to develop their own religious thoughts and spiritual practices, believing that Universal Truth had been expressed in every age and culture. Emerson’s dialog with Hinduism reveals the challenges and rewards that come from seriously engaging wisdom from less than familiar sources.
Are Women under Attack? Does it sometimes seem to you that women and women’s rights are under assault in this country? Does it sometimes feel that we have taken a step backward in terms of reproductive justice? Unitarian Universalism has a pretty strong record of supporting the full equality of women. What form might that support take today?
Finding Comfort How can we more readily relax, feel supported, at ease with oneself in the world? And, what can we do so that others can be more readily relaxed, feel supported, be at ease with themselves and the world.
Can Religion Lose Its Taste for Violence? Most imagine that religion should create conditions for peace - yet violence is hardly unusual. Why religions support violence - and how they support violence - might surprise you.
If the Trees Could Talk (Earth Day) It is impossible to walk in or drive by Memorial Park - or any “wooded area” in Houston - and not mourn the loss of trees from the drought in 2011. As Earth Day approaches, I am drawn to wondering what it is about trees that speaks so to the soul and what they might teach us about the earth and our dependence upon it. I know people who “talk” to trees and swear they talk back. Could it be so? The Emerson Intergenerational Orchestra and Andrew will be performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor. Grieg is touted as the greatest composer to come out of Norway and this concerto is full of passion. It should be a real tour de force!
We Celebrate Easter! Even though our Unitarian Universalist interpretation may be very different from our more orthodox Christian sisters and brothers, resurrection is a rich and meaningful concept to us, maybe even more so because we are free to view from many perspectives.
If Apes Can Do It, Why Can’t We? Make peace that is. Does our animal nature doom us to violence and continued strife? Or are there parts of our animal heritage that may predispose us to mutuality and reconciliation if we knew how to draw upon them? What do the biologists and the evolutionary psychologists have to say about the matter?
Is No News Good News? When you listen to the evening news, do you ever think “the world is going to hell in a hand-basket”, as my mother used to say? Do you feel that what passes as “news” is usually bad? Do you feel like the good, the beautiful and the holy are increasingly scarce? You are not alone! But - and excuse the pun - the “good news” is there are better things to be found.
Reasons for Hope A service, in honor of the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., to celebrate the progress that has been made in advancing the cause of freedom and justice, not just in terms of African American rights, but in other arenas as well. There are victories happening which would have seemed impossible in just the recent past. There are developments which were quite literally unimaginable decades ago. Perhaps the “better angels of our nature” really are winning the day!