Say It Isn’t So, Betsy: Since When Has Religious Freedom Come to Mean the Freedom to Proselytize in Public Schools, and to Discriminate on Religious Grounds Against People We Don’t Like?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught his disciples about religious practices such as charity and prayer. In contrast with the vulgar display of false piety of the Pharisees and religious teachers of his day, Jesus admonished his followers to practice their religion privately: So when you give to the needy, do not announce…

The American Armed Forces, Militarism, and the Church

It was Sunday, January 5th, and the congregation I serve—Groton Community Church (UCC)—was still basking in holiday good cheer. New Year’s resolutions and counting down the seconds to midnight were fresh in our memories, as were the blaring sounds of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on TV, and the Christmas greetings of peace and…

The Last Pastor

After being the last pastor in a congregation, Reverend Gail Cafferata, wondered “how other pastors and congregations who experienced the closing of a church felt and, particularly, how it affected pastors who, like me, had accepted their call with starry-eyed hopes for renewal.”  Her wondering led Cafferata, an Episcopal priest and sociologist to study, research…

The Abundance of Retired Clergy

Over the past century, American life expectancy has increased by nearly 50% (as seen here). We in the U.S. now have multiple generations facing significantly longer lifespans than their parents and grandparents. The fastest-growing population here is, in fact, people over 85 years old. This has literally never happened before in human history, and we,…

Atomic Bombs, Caesar’s Wife, and a Cautionary Lesson about Seduction, Forgiveness, and Grace for Church Leaders

I just finished reading Kai Bird’s and Martin J. Sherwin’s magisterial American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (New York: Vintage, 2005), and Ray Monk’s equally impressive Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center (New York: Anchor, 2012). Admittedly, these are unlikely readings for a UCC minister who is opposed to American…