I am a parish minister currently serving the Eliot Church of Natick MA. Eliot Church is a Community Church affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Any statements made and postions held in "Unity," however, are solely mine(of course, they may be used with appropriate atribution). Therefore if you disagree, please do not blame the church!

Monday, July 17, 2006

About two summers ago I made a theological excuse for my lack of regular blog posts. It had to do with the abundance of fine mountain biking opportunities and made reference to the great Quillen Shinn. Many years ago Shinn described three "texts" for the religious life. These three ways of connecting to the Divine were the Holy Bible, Nature, and Human Nature. Well, thanks to son #3 there is very little time for the solitary pursuit of biking. So, therefore, my "nature text" has to be something else.

I am spending a great deal of time in and around the Charles River, which is right across the street form the parsonage. Thanks to the generosity of my in-laws (Hi Margaret!), we recently acquired a canoe. Sons #1 and #2 are helping me make ample use of it. For folks way down stream (the science museum in Boston and Cambridge, for example) The river here is hardly recognizable. However, it is the Charles, too. It is also quite lovely.

These two pictures are typical of what we see on the river. I should give credit where credit is due and say that they are the work of Son#1. Maybe he's no Ansel Adams yet, but give him time. He is only 7 years old!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Arch of Evolution

I am still slogging through my summer study project which, right now, includes that pesky biaography of Naturalist/Clergyman/Professor John Stephen's Henslow...

I remember reading an American Heritage essay some twenty years ago where they asked a variety of historians what historical moment they would most like to be able to go back in time and see. This is the "fly on the wall" excercise that is also good at parties. I would most like to be present in the the laboratories and workshops of those English collectors of the 18th and 19th Centuries before Darwin and Wallace laid down the new law (excuse me...theory) establishing the most likely mechanism for all the previously unexplainable wonders nature revealed to them.

Our modern debates about creationism and evolution seem rather binary and unromantic in comparison. These men and women really struggled to reconcile their faith to their science. After all, knowing about God's creation is a good thing! It is good even when it challenges ancient doctrine. Some folks, like Darwin became frustrated athiests. People like Wallace found the freedom to re-imagine the Divine in terms that fit better with their experience. Others, like Robert FitzRoy, found refuge in the rapidly developing world of religious fundamentalism. They were real people with real problems and amazing courage.

I will write more about Henslow soon, once things calm down enough here to finish the book and to read a few other things about and by him. Here, however, are links to information on some of the folks who mosted interested me...

John Ray who got the ball rolling

Jean-Baptiste Lamark: I love this guy in part because my high school science teacher taught him as some poor, confused, soul whose thought was way backward when in fact he was quite the forward looker, himself. Thank you , Jean-Baptiste, for reinforcing some of my deeply held predjudices concerning high school.

William Paley: Like Darwin I, too, had a Paley phase. I still think he has some interesting things to say...

Nicholas Steno: This is the rock-layer guy. His theory concerning the relative ages of horizantal rock layers must be one of the first things in geology I truly understood. It was also useful in archeology class...

Erasmus Darwin: This was the Unitarian Darwin which allows wishful thinkers to put the lapsed-Anglican Charles on T-Shirts across this great land of ours. Erasmus (Charles' Grampa) was, however, quite an intimidating figure, himself! As a doctor, naturalist and poet he was key to the development and popularization of the idea of evolution in nature and elsewhere.

Charles Lyell: Like Henslow, Lyell encouraged and influenced the young Charles. Also like Henslow, he struggled with Darwin's conclusions while remaining friends with him.

Thomas Huxley: "Darwin's Bulldog" I love the guys who enjoy being unpopular...

Bishop Samuel Wilberforce: The son of the abolitionist preacher William Wilberforce, he was a major player in the sort of "High Noon" of the evolution debate where "Soapy Sam" (so called because he rubbed his hands together when he spoke) took on Huxley at a meeting chaired by Henslow, but you probably know that. It is one of those semi-legendary science events...

Robert FitzRoy: The original meteorologist and the captain of the Beagle, FitzRoy's substantial accomplishments have been overshadowed by his suicide and hist rather odd behavior at the Huxley/Soapy debate..

I wrote about A.R. Wallace earlier...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Moxie Day

Well, I have gotten very little reading in the past few days and I feel that, while I may emerge from my vacation relaxed and ready for the new year, I may not be any smarter.

I did go to a parade in honor of the Moxie Day holiday celebrated in my childhood home town of Lisbon Falls, ME. The holiday (as anyone who has been forced to spend too much time with me knows) honors the soft drink Moxie. Why is it in Lisbon? Well, that isn't really all that clear, actually...

I don't actually go for the beverage, which I drink occasionally but which would not prompt me to go to some random town to celebrate in any big way. I attend because my family is there and it is nice to go back from time to time. I do not recognize a whole lot of the folks there. After all, I have been gone for a while and most of the people I grew up with have moved on in order to pursue whatever dreams and goals they might have had. Still, it is nice to come back from time to time and there is no better time than the Moxie Festival.

I posted a couple of pictures for the viewing pleasure of all you who wish you were there. One is of the Moxie Horse. There are a few of these. I counted two this year (also, there is at least one horse of this variety). The other picture is of local troubadours "Kaining Amy". I thought they were named after their lead singer, but her name is Jamie...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Dave's Workshop: Studio Zero

Happy Independence Day! Here are a couple of pictures of swan boat ridin', multi-taskin' Fourth of July Revellers in Boston...

However, this post is about "Our Friend Dave".

Back in the day (seminary, that is). Dave ran a meditation group known as the "Loveshack Zendo". The name came from the apartment block we lived in. It was owned by the Lutheran Seminary but, for some reason (I think it had to do with Dave), we Congregationalist types referred to it as the Love Shack. Actually, for a brief time I was elevated from "Tea Boy" (the person who served tea during the tea ceremony part) to "Organizing Guy" (the person who leads the group in meditation) when Dave briefly departed for other lands. Fortunately, he returned to the Windy City before everything fell apart.

Every year we get to see Dave when he comes "off island" from his gig as the Chaplain for various Star Island retreats. Dave is a UU minister and, therefore, should be referred to as 'Reverend Dave" when the opportunity arises. This year on his visit he pointed out to us that his on-line meditation workshops we nearing completion! Therefore, I have linked to his Studio Zero internet ministry above and here. Check it out! Take it from Tea Boy: Dave is a great guy and a sensitive and effective spiritual teacher. He is also God Father to my eldest child, a task that I wouldn't entrust to just anyone!