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It’s time for the spiritual people to get active and activist people to get spiritual.

The following comments were given at the closing of the April 27, 2019 Prayer for the Planet interfaith vigil sponsored by 350 Indiana-Calumet in Gary, Indiana. Represented at this Earth Week service were Buddhist, Christian, Humanist, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Pagan, and Sikh religious communities.

A friend of mind recently sent me a quote:

“There’s nothing more radically activist than a truly spiritual life. And there’s nothing more truly spiritual than a radically activist life.”– Brian McLaren, Naked Spirituality

I believe that, but I’ve struggled to live it. Continue reading It’s time for the spiritual people to get active and activist people to get spiritual.

The Real Reason Why Racism Persists: Capitalism

A version of this article was previously published at Huffington Post. It has been republished here as part of a 5-part series for Black History Month.

“Black Lives Matter” and Angry White People

A couple of years ago, I was walking in the Fourth of July parade with my Unitarian church in Hobart, a small town in Northwest Indiana. The church, like the town, is almost entirely white. The church members walking in the parade that day were all White. We had put “Black Lives Matter” signs on one of our trucks and a couple of the members were wearing “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts.

As we walked down the street, some people applauded and shouted approval, but it seemed that many more people angrily shouted (or loudly mumbled), “All Lives Matter!” One elderly woman even came up to one of us and shouted “Shame on you!” And an off-duty police officer loudly proclaimed that we were “hypocrites” who, he seemed to think, didn’t see the contradiction in being White and saying “Black Lives Matter.”

Continue reading The Real Reason Why Racism Persists: Capitalism

Why We Aren’t Growing: An Open Letter to My Unitarian Congregation

Dear friends and fellow Unitarian Universalists,

While in church, I frequently hear the desire expressed to see our congregation grow. Doubtless, our congregation has its own unique challenges, but the stagnant state of our membership rolls is not unique to our congregation; it’s endemic to UUism.  Unitarian Universalist membership has been more or less flat since 1961, when the UUA was formed, with a little over 1,000 congregations and a little over 150,000 members.  (The high point was 1968.)  But if you consider that the U.S. population has almost doubled in that time, then UU membership has actually been shrinking as a percentage of the overall population.

Continue reading Why We Aren’t Growing: An Open Letter to My Unitarian Congregation

Letters from a Human Being in a Cage

The more I read what Aaron wrote, the more I realized that “What did he do?” is the wrong question. The right question is “Who is he?” Who is Aaron? Not who was he 13 years ago? Who is he now? If we are going to try to justify someone being locked in a cage, shouldn’t that be the question? Not what did they do in the past? But who are they today?


Aaron was only 17 when he entered the prison system. He turned 30 last December. His release date is not until 2037.

Aaron is not the person he was 13 years go. In spite of that, Aaron has no opportunity to show that he has changed. The system, and those who maintain it, simply do not care whether or not Aaron is reformed.

What follows are Aaron’s words. Only minor editorial changes have been made for readability.


The feeling of being stranded, As if I was abducted by aliens and woke up to a deserted island, has unfortunately somehow become my life. Scratching my head, trying to recall the answers, hopefully I can find one that would resolve my anger of my new reality.

I scream for help in all directions, until my voice dies in the raspy chord. I shoot a flare, start a fire and spin my…

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Earth Blessing by Jack Manno

May earth’s song reach us in our deepest and wildest places.
May it be heard as we move upon her, as we partake of her sustenance,
as we nestle in her waters and grasses
May we hear the voices of the stones, the winds and waters,
creatures and plants, above the human chatter,
softly but not silently, so we can heed them when we must.
May all those who try to conquer earth’s powers learn instead from
compost and humus and take from them humility,
knowing any force conquered is lost forever to the conqueror.
May compassion wrack the polluter’s heart,
so stunned by earth’s gifts their poisons cannot be released.
At long last, may earth’s protectors throw grand parties
where victory is declared in a mighty sigh of relief.
May this exhalation resound in ocean depths,
reverberate in humpback flesh and please all the watery souls.
May whales and wolves rejoice with weird shouts that all is well.
May we have a world’s celebration where everyone stays put,
our roots seeking amusements together deep in the earth,
our branches entwined in the winds.
May our grandchildren’s grandchildren share legends of when
we brought about the end of the time of arrogance and waste.
May they toss stones from shores, hearing our names echo in the ripples.
So May it Be.

— Jack Manno —

Continue reading Earth Blessing by Jack Manno

21 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day: Beware of Lists

Each day of the month of April leading up to Earth Day (April 22), I will be offering a suggestion for how we can really honor the Earth this year. This list will go beyond the usual suggestions to change your light bulbs and take shorter showers. Instead, the focus is on collective action working toward radical social change.

My last bit of advice is to beware of lists, including this one, but especially those premised on an individualistic value system and those that sound suspiciously like advertising.

Continue reading 21 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day: Beware of Lists