Category: Musings of David Breeden

David Breeden is the Humanist Senior Minister of First Unitarian Society. He is also a poet, translator. This is the audio format of David Breeden's Medium Blog

Selling at the Marketplace of Ideas

The Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius proposed a rather large educational enterprise when he wrote, “We exist for the sake of one another. Teach them, then, or accept them as they are” (Bk 8:59). I wish this were not the wisdom of the ages, but experience indicates that it is: teach people the way of tolerance …

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Holy Subtraction Theory!

Holy Subtraction Theory! Nearly every new religious movement claims to be getting back to basics — what some prophet or other originally said or meant; what the founder of some religion or other really meant. Don’t buy it. The words in scriptures change meaning with time. The cultural realities change with time. The social and …

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Nothing Neither Way: A Humanist Samadhi

As a Humanist, I’m always skeptical about complicated religious texts. Is the complication bad translation? Is the complication merely a smoke screen for vacuity? Nothing Neither Way: A Humanist Samadhi Blog Post

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Refugees from Complexity

In his fantastic new book Out of Our Minds: What We Think and How We Came to Think It, the historian of ideas Felipe Fernandez Armesto writes a pithy description of the worldwide rise in populist nationalism: “confused by chaos, infantilized by ignorance, refugees from complexity flee to fanaticism and dogmatism.” Refugees from Complexity Surfing …

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Surfing the Contradictions — Lived Religion

Like it our not, you’re living your religion. Like . . . morning breath . . . everybody’s got it. Or at least that’s the way sociologists of religion have traditionally framed our lives. You can choose “Roman Catholic;” you can choose “Secular” or “None of the Above,” but there’s a list, and you fit …

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Where’s Azazel? Scapegoating, Sacrifice, and Reconciliation

There’s a whole lot of scapegoating going on just now. It’s the way of populism and the demagogues who drive it. The script goes like this: “Look at how bad things are! It’s because of those dirty ____s!” The concept is straightforward in politics, but its origin in theology is not so straightforward. First off, …

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Identity Politics; Recognition; and a Universal Humanist Imperative

There’s much media space and time being taken up just now in discussions of “identity politics.” For some, it’s the next chapter in progressive social change; for others, it’s the end of the road for any semblance of social cohesion. Identity Politics; Recognition; and a Universal Humanist Imperative Blog Post

Mental Maps and the Inevitable March of the Isms

Marching as I often do under the banner of Humanism (yep, one of those pesky Isms), I’ve long listened to the theism / atheism debate, though I have to admit I tuned out several years ago. No, I don’t think the theism / atheism debate is engaging, because I don’t think atheism and theism are …

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Reason, Logic, Poetry, Dance

“Thinking fast” and “thinking slow” have very different purposes. When it comes to the task of establishing justice, thinking fast may get us to empathy, but only slow, deliberate thinking will get us to equity. Both matter. Pitting one against the other is motivated thinking. Agra-Kings, Reason, Logic, Poetry, Dance Blog Post

Agra-Kings, Agra-Gods, and the Death of the Planet

For my money, one of the most insightful critics working just now is Timothy Morton, whose latest book, Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People lays out one direction human thinking might go if we manage to save ourselves here in the Anthropocene. Agra-Kings, Agra-Gods, and the Death of the Planet Blog Post Image provided by dikaseva …

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Humanism’s Non-Negotiable

I think the absolute, bottom-line essence of Humanism was best summed up by Frederick Douglass. Douglass had himself escaped enslavement; he worked tirelessly for the rights of African Americans all his life. When a group of African American ministers came to him and asked him to pray publicly — to thank God for freedom — Douglass refused. He said: …

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Early/Late and the Next Big Religion

#Humanism #Unitarian #Spirituality We are too late for the gods and too early for Being” said the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. “Too late for the gods and too early for Being.”… Early/Late and the Next Big Religion Blog Post Image provided by Nick Fewings https://unsplash.com/@jannerboy62

The Din of Conversation Might Save Us Yet

Literary critic Terry Eagleton once said, “The din of conversation is as much meaning as we shall ever have.” I like that. On first glance, it appears to be bleak — human conversation is all the meaning there is? The Din of Conversation Might Save Us Yet Blog Post Image provided by frank mckenna https://unsplash.com/@frankiefoto

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Forbidden!

By David Breeden Yes, forbidden knowledge is a very old literary trope. Remember Pandora and her box (actually a jar — amphora)? Pan in Greek means “all;” and dora means “gifted” or “giving.” Pandora. “All-Giving.”… Forbidden! Blog Post Image provided by Alex Pudov https://unsplash.com/@a_pudov

Be-At-a-What? Religion and Social Class

By David Breeden On this blog, I occasionally reflect on the Pentecostal religion of my youth in an attempt to explain how religion works among the poor. I find that people who grew up in mainline traditions just don’t get how religion works in the working class… Be-At-a-What? Religion and Social Class Blog Post Image …

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Arise, Autoteliacs!

By Reverend David Breeden Autotelic. It’s not a word that comes up in casual conversation. It’s not a word that is immediately recognizable when broken into its components. “Auto,” yes — “auto is that which operates “of itself.” But that Greek word telos? That means “end.” Goal. Purpose… Arise, Autoteliacs! Blog Post Image provided by …

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Jesus Left, Jesus Right: America’s Two Christianities

Written by Reverend David Breeden Read by Justin Bovee In the United States today there are at least two Christianities — one on the theological and political left and one of the theological and political right. This has been made starkly clear recently by the running feud between Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg and Vice …

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Stoicism and Paul’s New God

Written by Reverend David Breeden Read by Justin Bovee In a previous post I related the story of Paul’s trip to Athens as told in Chapter 17 of “The Acts of the Apostles” (or in Greek, Praxeis Apostolon). The book was written somewhere between 80 and 90 of the Common Era. Paul appears to have …

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Unknown and… (Saint) Paul Meets the Opposition

Written by Reverend David Breeden Read by Justin Bovee The Book of Acts in Christian scripture is properly titled “The Acts of the Apostles” (Praxeis Apostolon). The book was written somewhere between 80 and 90 of the Common Era and contains the triumphalist story of the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire… Unknown and… …

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Your Syllabus of Errors: The Struggle for Individuality

Written by Reverend David Breeden Read by Justin Bovee My nomination for greatest book title of all time is the 1864 papal publication titled . . . Syllabus Errorum, “Syllabus of Errors.” The book was written by Pope Pius IX. It was a list of 80 heresies… Your Syllabus of Errors: The Struggle for Individuality …

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Sticky Wicket? Just say “As if!”

Written by David Breeden Read by Justin Bovee The great Renaissance-era jurist Hugo Grotius looked out on a Europe in ruins from the conflagration that we nowadays call the Thirty Years War (1618–1648). It was a war that killed over eight million people through violence, disease, and famine. To put a stop to the killing, …

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Cognitive Imperialism: Let’s Hear It for POV

Written by Rev David Breeden Read by Justin Bovee Here’s what appears to have happened: On June the eighth of 793 CE, ships appeared off the coast of Northumberland in the northeast of England headed for an island called Lindisfarne. This island was home to one of the largest and richest monasteries in the Anglo-Saxon …

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There’s Still Time to Change the Metaphor You’re On

Written by Reverend David Breeden Read by Justin Bovee The metaphors we use for life tend to involve travel — a path; a journey; a quest; a road you’re on; you can have a peripatetic life — you can be nomadic; you can be itinerant. You can be a wanderer or a roamer or a …

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The Real You, Really

Written by Rev. David Breeden Read by Justin Bovee The dominant assumption in Western societies is that “genuine” — authentic — is a good thing for an individual to be. Nobody wants to be a fake or a poser or just another face in the crowd. The Real You, Really Blog Entry Image provided by …

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Human Government: What is the Chain Hanging On?

Written by Rev. David Breeden Read by Justin Bovee “The Great Chain of Being.” The concept is as old as agricultural kingdoms. It’s an idea that preceded its naming because it was simply assumed to be the way of being: humans were the “crown of creation” and in charge of the earth and all animal …

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