Sep 30, 2015
While reading Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit today I came across this gem about love: "Active love—for love that does not act has no existence...—aims at removing an evil from someone and being good to him."
Sep 22, 2015
I will be returning to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marlborough and Hudson on November 29, 2015 to lead worship there.
Sep 16, 2015
My invitations to preach seem to be coming in twos this autumn. I'll be leading worship at Harvard Divinity School's Unitarian Universalist chapel service on October 16 and the First Church in Salem, Unitarian on November 8.
Sep 1, 2015
Aug 24, 2015
I learned today that my paper "The Ku Klux Klan, the Industrial Workers of the World, and Cultural Apocalypse" has been accepted for the 2015 Harvard Divinity School Graduate Religion Conference Ways of Knowing. Here's the abstract that I submitted:
In the wake of the catastrophic violence of World War I, American social movements across the ideological spectrum deployed eschatological rhetoric to articulate visions of a coming end time. Members of the Ku Klux Klan feared a “rising tide of color” would soon “seal the white world’s doom.” At the same time revolutionaries affiliated with the left-wing labor union, the Industrial Workers of the World, believed that the crisis of the war would bring about a global general strike, end capitalism, and issue in a worker’s utopia.
My methodology pays particular attention to the religious tropes found within the poetry and prose of historical documents residing in archives such as the Walter P. Reuther Library of Wayne State University and the special collections of the University of Georgia. I compare the rhetoric of Klan founder William Joseph Simmons and IWW organizer and poet Ralph Chaplin to argue that the crisis of the war unleashed what theologian Catherine Keller has called the “cultural apocalypse” script, the idea that a series of traumatic events will usher in a new social order, across American culture.
In making this argument my work differs from those scholars of American religion in the twentieth-century like Matthew Avery Sutton who see millennialism and apocalypticism primarily as a mark of religious fundamentalism and the political right. Instead, I argue that regardless of ideology social movements draw from a common cultural repertoire that includes religious symbols, narratives, and rituals to mobilize their memberships for political action.
In my conclusion, I consider how the crisis of war has in the past, and might in the future, intersect with religious narratives to fuel social movements in ways that transcend the bounds of ideology. This paper proposal is submitted to the Religion and Crisis special module.
Aug 21, 2015
Aug 19, 2015
I am currently seeking preaching engagements for the 2015-2016 congregational year. My schedule is fairly open at the moment but I am particularly interested in finding preaching engagements for the autumn.
Here’s a bit about me, for those who might have stumbled upon this blog post via social media: I am a fourth year PhD candidate in Harvard’s American Studies program. My current academic work focuses on the relationship between the religious and political imaginations. My dissertation “Onward, Christian Soldiers: American Social Movements and the Religious Imagination in the Wake of World War I” is a comparative study between three very different social movements in the early part of the twentieth-century--the Industrial Workers of the World, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Universal Negro Improvement Association and the African Communities League (commonly called the Garveyites).
I have been preaching since 2000 and have won three of the UUA’s sermon awards. Prior to returning to academia I was the parish minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland for five years. At this point I’ve led worship at more than fifty Unitarian Universalist congregations in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom and given lectures at several universities and colleges, including Harvard and the University of Chicago. Click here if you’re interested in seeing some examples of my sermons.
In addition to being a preacher, I am also a long time social justice organizer. I co-founded a human rights and solidarity organization in Mexico that worked in Chiapas and Oaxaca called CASA. I have been involved in union organizing campaigns and civil rights work throughout the United States, working most closely with indigenous and immigrant communities.
Aug 18, 2015
I am pleased to announce that I am the reciepent of a 2015 Joseph Gittler Fund for Religion and Ethics grant. I have received $1500 to support the research for my dissertation "Onward, Christian Soldiers: American Social Movements and the Religious Imagination in the Wake of World War I."
Aug 17, 2015
UUA General Assembly video of my award winning sermon "This Land is Your Land?" is now available on You Tube.
Aug 16, 2015