What I learned at the American Humanist Association’s Annual Conference

FB140409 Enlightenment Kant cropped

A few days before Mother’s Day, I headed to Denver for the 74th Annual Conference of the American Humanist Association’s Annual Conference. I, along with three other Directors of The Clergy Project (TCP), were sharing the work of TCP, each of us introducing a different aspect of the many realities faced by clergy caught in the pulpit long after their beliefs no longer hold.

TCP panel members...<a class= Continue Reading…

You’re In(vited)!

It's what we leave behindThe latest Pew Research report has some amazing statistics in it. Almost every headline has been about the incredible losses being sustained by Christianity across the board. The evangelicals are putting a positive face on it by referring to the remaining righteous remnant. We in the liberal church did that twenty years ago. The graphs could be plotted with a blindfold. Indeed, I shared those graphs while in the UK… Continue Reading…

Confronting the Unbelievers

The United Church Observer, a magazine that explores issues relevant to The United Church of Canada (UCC) and its members from an arm’s length position, has drop-kicked the conversation on whether clergy who no longer believe have a place in the UCC’s pulpits. Confronting the Unbelievers was published in its May issue.*

It is a conversation that is way overdue. When I took my ordination vows, it was the responsibility of Bay of Quinte Conference to determine whether or not I was in… Continue Reading…

Shucking God: Interview with a Non-Believer

Almost two months ago, Presbyterian minister, John Shuck, posted a guest blog on Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist Patheos Blog. It was titled, I’m a Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God. I was delighted. It is always a celebration when someone comes and stands in the field with you. And it’s humbling to have that someone be John Shuck.

Religion for Life host John Shuck

Religion for Life host John Shuck

Back in December 2013, John and I… Continue Reading…

why should i?

This week at West Hill we are celebrating the tenth anniversary of “Our Words of Commitment” which were originally known as “The Children’s Prayer.” It has shown up in many places. We made a video of it and accompanied it with the song As I Live by Anne Walker, who set it to music. I recall being amazed when, while reciting the words in a keynote address in Australia, a gentleman in the front row recited them right along with me. They are etched on… Continue Reading…

Love, Again

Love is beyond all thingsThis week opened with the wonderful news that a tumor in the lung of a much-loved friend and member of West Hill was benign.  A week or so ago, as the medical diagnosis was still pending, that friend asked me to rewrite the song Amazing Grace. Since Scott has already adapted the original words for use at West Hill, I chose to go the whole rewrite route.

 

But it was… Continue Reading…

Clarington Answers Clarion Call

The council meeting in Clarington, Ontario, opened this past Monday with a time of reflection. It always does. This week, however, Regional Councillor Willie Woo, rather than invoking the god called God, read a reflective piece that made no mention of the town’s previously favoured deity.

2-Sketching Ottawa

Sketching Ottawa by morguefile.com user lisasolonynko

Mayor Adrian Foster, who felt no one would be harmed by the use of the word “God”, recognized that a Supreme Court ruling against… Continue Reading…

The Church of Gleaned Practices

A spiritual naturalist, wearing liturgical vestments, leads a small group in Houston. Gary Coronado, Staff, Houston Chronicle.

A spiritual naturalist, wearing liturgical vestments, leads a small group in Houston. Gary Coronado, Staff, Houston Chronicle

There is a group currently meeting in Houston that calls its members “spiritual naturalists”. They are, for the most part, people who do not believe in doctrinal claims of any religious sort, but who have noticed that the act of… Continue Reading…

semantics sleight of hand

For the past many years, I’ve been struggling against the power of the Christian story within the traditional church and outside of it. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Baha’i, and so many other religious streams ply stories of a cosmology that includes either a deity residing in a supernatural realm or a life that is more (or less) rewarding after this reality. They are all stories which, I do admit, can have a positive influence by controlling masses (through fear) and keep… Continue Reading…

All Roads

pathsFor this Sunday, the service is looking at privilege. So my hymn writing challenge veered off in that direction. An abrupt shift in the first verse might be disconcerting but it evidences the kind of “scales falling from our eyes” reality that consciousness raising so often is. And I hope that the song ends with a sense of cooperative movement toward a positive goal. The tune is Crusaders’ Hymn most often sung… Continue Reading…