Florida Panhandle

The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind. Since returning from my time with 125 'emerging church' evangelical leaders in the Bahamas (see my last post), Connie and I have driven from St. Louis to Lexington, to Louisville, to Cincinnati, to Birmingham, and finally to (and throughout) the Florida panhandle, from Pensacola to Panama City.

Progressive Evangelicals / Emergents

I'm writing from Nassau, the Bahamas, where for the last week I've been with 125 progressive evangelical leaders at an event called Soularize. What a treat! As I shared in my "UU's: Celebrating Evolution" post, over the course of the last five and a half years of living on the road, speaking to religious and nonreligious audiences across North America, by far the majority of the people Connie and I have addressed are on the moderate to liberal end of the theological spectrum. This is, of course, not surprising. Any minister who believes evolution is of the devil, as I once did, is not likely to invite me into his or her pulpit. So it's exciting for me to get to know so many "emerging church" leaders, most of whom embrace, or at least accept, an evolutionary worldview.

It Just Doesn't Get Any Better!

As I mentioned toward the end of my second blog post, "Life as an Evolutionary Evangelist", one of the richest aspects of our itinerant lifestyle is falling ever more deeply in love with Nora (North America), in all her stupendous beauty and diversity. September and early October in New England are fabulous in this regard. Here I am atop Mt. Chocorua, near Tamworth, NH, a few weeks ago.

Cherished Retreats

There's no place quite like autumn in New England. For the past two years, Clare Hallward, a dear friend of ours from Montreal, Canada, has invited Connie and me to stay at their family "cottage" on the coast of Maine. It's a nine bedroom, four bathroom house that is filled with family during the summer but used only infequently the rest of the year.

Evolutionary Religious Studies

"Is 'Do Unto Others' Written Into Our Genes?" This is the title of a September 18 New York Times article by journalist Nicholas Wade.

Here the bright new field of "evolutionary religious studies" comes front and center. The article analyzes a 2006 book, The Happiness Hypothesis, by moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt (pronounced "Height").

I am anxious to get a copy of this book, as it seems to build new and alluring bridges between liberal and conservative religious perspectives. And it does so precisely by tracing the evolutionary history and adaptive value of five broad categories of religiously sanctioned "moral intuitions".

Inspiring Podcasts

Nearly every Sunday morning, year-round, I am delivering a sermon as a guest minister in some Unitarian Universalist, Christian, or New Thought church. How do I keep my own soul fed and expanded with the ideas of others?

UU's: Celebrating Evolution

The last five and a half years Connie and I have travelled America (with three excursions into Canada) doing programs in churches, retreat centers, colleges, universities, and other religious and educational settings. We have delivered Sunday sermons, evening programs, and multi-day workshops in more than five hundred churches, convents, monasteries, and spiritual centers, including liberal and conservative Roman Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Unitarian Universalist, Unity, Religious Science, Quaker, Mennonite, and Buddhist groups. We have also presented audience-appropriate versions of our evolution-celebrating message in nearly a hundred secular settings, including colleges, high schools, grade schools, nature centers, zoos, and public libraries. You can see the various places we've been here.

Honoring Thomas Berry


UPDATE: Thomas Berry died on June 1, 2009: See here for details, including some of our favorite quotes of his and audio clips of Thomas reading from his book, The Great Work.

I have been inspired by the work of countless scientists, theologians, and scholars over the years, but none has had a greater influence on my thinking and my life than Fr. Thomas Berry, a 94-year-old retired Passionist priest, cultural historian, and self-described "geologian". He is one of the most precious people in the world to me.

Connie and I visited Thomas in Greensboro, North Carolina a few days ago (on Nov 17, 2008), where he and his sister Margaret both live in a residential care community. Thomas has been a friend and mentor since 1988. He is truly one of the great hearts and minds of our time.

Thomas's writings have inspired a generation of thinkers and activists in disciplines as diverse as cosmology, cultural anthropology, big history, religious studies, sustainability, bioregionalism, permaculture, evolutionary spirituality, eco-theology, creation spirituality, deep ecology, and eco-feminism, among others. His books, The Dream of the Earth, The Great Work, Evening Thoughts, and The Universe Story (co-authored with Brian Swimme) are gems of deep thinking and inspired insight. In my opinion, no one writes more brilliantly about the role of humanity in the ever-emerging sacred story of the Universe than does Thomas.

The Great Blasphemy?

Here's my beloved, Connie, in front of the world-famous "fish-within-a-fish" fossil at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History. We visited this amazing museum, part of Fort Hays State University, in Fort Hays, Kansas, a few days ago on our drive from Durango, Colorado to New York.

When I'm at a world-class museum like Sternberg, I can't help wondering if future generations will look back at our time and judge it as the period of "The Great Blasphemy." To "blaspheme" is to treat something sacred as profane, in word or deed. It is behaving disrespectfully or harmfully toward someone or something that is, in fact, worthy of deepest honor, respect, even reverence.