Tag: humanism

The Treasure in the Trash: Symbol and Art

a wasteland of garbage

My father was an inveterate and unapologetic garbage dump aficionado. On Sunday afternoons when I was a kid, it was off to the garbage dumps, known and unknown.  Along with us would come one of my uncles, who had been a Japanese prisoner of war and came home . . . not quite right. One …

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Corn Grows at Night: Reflections on Flood, Drought, and Climate Change

Corn in the field.

As a farmer myself, I know that drought and flood are part of life. Still, it’s tough to watch 

I is Always We

book cover Jen-Luc Nancy

In the United States, the pandemic has revealed an astonishing national immaturity.

Despots in the Trees? Think Kudzu

A lone tree on a hillside covered in kudzu

Two French philosophers, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, in a pair of books together titled Capitalism and Schizophrenia, set out to change our way of thinking, away from hierarchical patterns and into integrated patterns.

It’s All in the Cards; I Mean Stars; I Mean . . .

Mechanical fortuneteller Zoltar

Astrology, mysticism, Tarot, oh my!

Getting Your Mystic On

Salvator Dali tarot card

And now playing in religion news is Gen Z, which appears to be a generation with even less trust in religious institutions than Millennials. (Even among those who do participate in institutionalized religion, 52% say they don’t trust the institution.) 

So Below

white sand on a black table

they were right even though they were wrong.

Oh, Grow Up!

children's blocks in stack

One aspect of a mature relationship with reality is understanding that there is no view from nowhere. No unbiased way of seeing. When we think we are thinking in a completely neutral way, that’s exactly when we have been mastered by assumptions. It’s exactly when we are puppets on a string. 

Sacred Art and an Artful Sacred

Hammock in a backyard

With so many people thinking artfully, shouldn’t religions be lots more fun?

How to Go to Heaven

Long stairway with bright white steps toward blue clouds

Most Americans believe in a multi-cultural, multi-religious, and accepting America. But it’s a vague set of beliefs. Most Americans haven’t thought that much about it. Too many Americans have not committed to examining those values and working for them.

Theocracy and Its Discontents

two whole fish on a platter

In my youth, the school cafeteria at my public school served fish on Fridays in an attempt to make us all fasting and pious non-meat eaters at school. The result was piety of another sort.

Wait! Where’s the Mystery?

One thing about Humanism that catches people up is that we don’t have any secret words, elaborate handshakes, esoteric stages of enlightenment, or locked doors.

Get Your Narthex On Out of Here

Book cover Robert P. Jones White Too Long

That the character of Jesus is a Rorschach test of one’s personal politics should perhaps give us pause, but such is the nature of American Christianity.

What We Think They’re Thinking

raging fire burning in the night with human figures silhouetted

When Christopher Columbus wrote a report concerning his first voyage, he described the people he found: “they are timid and full of terror” and “they are very guileless and honest.” Timid. Terrified. Guileless. Honest. Notice that the first two assessments—“timid” and “terrified” can be read through observation of physical reactions. “Guileless” and “honest,” however, came …

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Appropriately Appropriative

book cover Timothy Morton Hyperobjects

The question of cultural appropriation is real and complex.

The Neighborhood of Boston

Nowadays, Boston is a multicultural city, but the Boston that created Unitarianism was not. 

Whose Cakes, What Cakes: Testosterone and Monotheism

classic yin yang symbol black and white

The God of the ancient Hebrews did not answer all the needs of the people. The religion had a patriarchy problem. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam still do. 


partial view of cross-legged person on floor holding an open book

Belief. It’s one of the most beautiful of human emotions; it’s one of the most evil of human emotions. It’s one of the most complex of human emotions.  It’s one of those foundational words in the vocabulary of English. I “believe” that the sun will rise tomorrow. I believe that the earth is part of …

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Religions, Shoes, and Cobblers

a row of small plastic communion cups

Religions are now consumer products in the US. How did that happen?

Skepticism and the Drowning

Our inherent human moral imagination tells us that saving the drowning is a moral good. To choose to ignore this intuition takes . . . well, value judgments.

Christmas Eve 2020

Speaker: Rev. Jim Foti

The Noise and Haste: Stillness Reconsidered

Speaker: Rev. Jim Foti

Learning as We Go

Speaker: Jim Foti

Rightful Place: Black Humanism from the Past and Into the Future

Mandisa Thomas

Do You Get the Picture?

Rev. David Breeden and Rev, Jim Foti speaking

BLOG: Thoughts on God

Excerpts from an unfinished (undated) manuscript written by Rev. John Dietrich, sometime well after his retirement from First Unitarian Society in 1938, and before his death in 1957. Find the full 33-page manuscript here. His background philosophy For many years, I believed and taught a philosophy and religion, which I called Humanism — a religion that …

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BLOG: Mixed Feelings

Excerpted from Rev. Jim Foti’s talk “Mixed Feelings,” on the eve of Memorial Day 2016. Conversations about America’s greatness can deteriorate very quickly. One problem is when we take the step of labeling ourselves as “the greatest nation on earth.” It’s not a good sign when any country feels a need to assert its superiority …

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BLOG: Change and the Progressive Mind

Excerpts from a talk presented by Rev. Dr. David Breeden, 4 September 2016, at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis “Are you discontent with the lot the universe has given you? The universe is change; life is opinion.”– Marcus Aurelius (Meditations IV.3) Humanism is a progressive philosophy—we believe in change as basic to both human knowledge and social wellbeing. Humanists …

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BLOG: What If the World Went Humanist?

Excerpted from Rev. John Dietrich Sunday morning address, as compiled May 1930 in Humanist Pulpit XIII. The full transcript is here. A book version is now in FUS bookstore. This is the first archived talk to be discussed in the 2016-17 monthly Dietrich Centennial series, third Sundays, noon, at FUS. The Idea of a Humanist World …

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BLOG: Who We Are and Who We Have Been (2015)

On February 15, 2015, Rev. Dr. David Breeden delivered a talk at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis about our roots and shoots as a congregation titled “An Accident Called Intelligence: Global Climate Change and Stewardship.” Here are some of the highlights. Our Roots “It’s easy to feel hopeless. But this congregation over the years has faced …

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BLOG: Humanism as a Bridge (5/15/16)

This is an excerpt from a talk delivered May 15, 2016 by Rev. David Breeden. It is a good introduction to our humanist focus at First Unitarian Society. Full podcast and text of FUS talks here. …I like the way the British Humanist Association summarizes humanism. They have three points and the third goes this way: Living …

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BLOG: Our Physical and Spiritual Energy Force

We continue our excerpts of the Humanist talks delivered at First Unitarian Society, starting with the founding Humanist minister John Dietrich. He originally delivered this talk on April 14, 1929. Put a nonliving object in an environment and nothing happens. Put a living object in this environment, and something does happen. Energy, in other words, or …

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BLOG: Evolution and Progress

John Dietrich

In launching this series in 2016, in what feels like a churning time for progressive society, we open with an excerpt of Dietrich’s talk on “Evolution and Progress,” from the compilation The Fathers of Evolution (Pioneer Press, 1927). A Parallel Universe? “In the beginning of the 20th century, men began to look back over the last century and …

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