Martyrs and Heroes (2006). Another spin-off from my review of Sam Harris’ The End of Faith. Why it helps no one to portray Muslim suicide bombers as totally unlike us.
Reviewing Dennett, Harris, and Aslan (2006). Opening a discussion on my book review in UU World of Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, Sam Harris’ The End of Faith, and Reza Aslan’s No God But God.
Humanist Spirituality: Oxymoron or Authentic Path to Enlightenment (2006). This is the text of a talk I gave to the Humanist Association of Massachusetts on March 19, 2006. I reject the idea that Humanism leaves no room for spirituality, and offer Stoicism as the basis for an authentically Humanist spiritual vocabulary and practice. Along the way, I explode a number of myths: that quantum mechanics is mystical, that the spiritual East stands in opposition to the rational West, that you can’t state a simple criterion for separating good spirituality from bad spirituality, and that Stoicism is necessarily cold.
The Born-Again Experience: a secular account. (2006). The power of conservative Christianity comes from the life-changing experiences it induces. Counter-arguments that shoot holes in Christian theology won’t convine anybody, because the theology wasn’t what convinced anybody to begin with. Instead, liberal religion needs an alternative account of Christian religious experience.
Is Feminine the New Normal? (2006). It’s easy for a man to feel out of place in a Unitarian Universalist church these days.
The Unreasonable Influence of Geometry (2000). For thousands of years, geometry has symbolized something larger than itself, and consequently changes in the way that mathematicians think about geometry have rippled out into the larger culture. For the ancients, geometry had a mystical significance, pointing the mind in the direction of eternity. For the Enlightenment, geometry was a model showing that reason could find universal and unchangable truth. And though few people realized it at the time, non-Euclidean geometry was the beginning of the end of the Enlightenment worldview.
Metabeings and Individuals: Aids and Obstacles to Growth (1999). We all participate in collective consciousnesses – groups, organizations, societies, cultures. For the individual seeking psychological or spiritual development, participation in such metabeings offers both help and hindrance. We can apply the teachings of Western science in conjunction with the teachings of the Western Esoteric Tradition to become conscious of and take responsibility for our participation in metabeings, to recognize dysfunctional relationships and heal them, and to redefine our relationships with metabeings in ways that facilitate our development.
The Astrologer and the Psychologist (1999). Neither the Astrologer nor the Psychologist is doing what s/he appears to be doing. They have a lot more in common than they may suspect, and the virtues of each may counter the vices of the other.
Building the Tree of Life (1998). The Tree of Life has been called the “master glyph” of the Western Mystery tradition. This essay is an introduction to the Tree and the ideas behind it. It was originally presented May 10, 1998 at Seminar on the Western Mysteries in Arlington, Mass.
When Goodness Isn’t Good Enough (1993). As I got into my late 30s, I began to notice a disturbing fact: The good people I knew didn’t seem to be particularly happy, and their lives weren’t particularly enviable. It got me thinking that maybe their (and my) idea of goodness had gone out of date.
The Shape of the Next Religion (1991, revised 1993, converted for HTML 1998). Modern America, like Rome at the time of Christ, is in a period of rising secularism and religious chaos. Christianity has lost the power to shape our culture, and no rival religion or philosophy seems able to take its place. I argue that this period of tension will end as the Roman one did–with the advent of a new religion that will synthesize the best features of our current religions into a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Childlessness (1991). There are a lot of standard arguments about why you should or should not have children. But when my wife and I were faced with the decision ourselves, none of those arguments made much sense to us. This is what we really thought about.