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About This Blog

public witness 2011In November, 2014, I left parish ministry and, over the next several months, created Shenandoah Spirituality, a new, personal ministry focused on spirituality, healing, and wholeness. In this space, I’ll be posting writings that might have been used in a sermon or a newsletter column–but with a far wider range of topics. New entires will be posted at least once a week.

April 23: Changing for Good

    There’s a saying among my friends that goes something like, “Everything I’ve ever let go of had claw marks.”  That’s how I felt when, finally, I gave up artificial sweeteners. More seriously, I’ve seen this applied to everything from unhealthy relationships to bad habits to toxic beliefs and attitudes. Continue reading

April 9: Palm Sunday

     A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to share my spiritual journey at the Quaker meeting I attend when I’m not preaching at Unitarian Universalist congregations. I won’t share my whole story here, but on the occasion of Palm Sunday, I want to share my journey with  Jesus. It’s a story I’ve told in earlier blogs, but with a little updating. Continue reading

April 2: Shifting Paradigms

“We feel and weigh soon enough what we suffer from others; but how much others suffer from us, of this we take no heed.” Thomas a Kempis.

What we dislike in others often is something we dislike in ourselves. Put more simply, “if you spot it, you got it.” I’m not just pointing my finger at you, my readers. I freely confess that I do this, too. We all do. It’s part of the human condition. Continue reading

March 26: Prayers for Transgender Justice

     This weekend has been designated by a large number of faith groups as a National Weekend of Prayer for Transgender Justice.  You may read about these organizations and the many activities taking place this weekend by clicking here. 

      The dates were chosen to coincide with the arguments in the Supreme Court in the case in of Gavin Grimm, a Virginia transgender teen who wants to use the boy’s rest room in his high school. On March 6, the Court dropped the case when the new Trump administration removed Title IX guidance issued by the Obama administration. That guidance had interpreted Title IX to mean that schools should let students use the bathroom of the sex with which they identified rather than the sex on their birth certificates. Now, as I understand things, schools are free to do what they want–and that’s not likely to be good for many transgender students. Continue reading

March 19: Tribute to Huston Smith

Huston Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned only this week that Huston Smith died recently. Arguably, Smith was one of the most famous and respected scholars of world religions. It’s a personal loss for me. In the spring of 2006, I attended a weekend workshop with him with about 20 other students. I got to spend quality time with him, and I feel like I got to know a truly kind and wise man who continues to influence my spiritual journey. Continue reading

March 12: Happy Purim!

     This day, Jews celebrate Purim, a story told in the Bible in the Book of Esther that commemorates a time in ancient Persia when the Jews escaped mass murder because of the bravery of Queen Esther.  (For Jews, the day began at sundown last night and ends at sunset this evening.)  In family gatherings and synagogues across the world, Jews will read this story to their children, who are encouraged to add sound effects at the recitation of certain names. It’s a fun festival that celebrates a serious subject, and it offers meaning to all of us concerned today about religious freedom. Continue reading

March 5: Waiting

I “Ye must do what ye thinks best and leave to the Lord all the rest.”

I heard this at a recent Quaker meeting from a woman who recalled hearing it from her favorite teacher as a young child. Substitute your own concept of the ultimate reality for the Lord and any of us should have no trouble translating this otherwise simple and easy-to-remember phase into something than can enrich our spirituality. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The philosophy of waiting is sustained by all the oracles of the universe.”

Waiting is a fundamental principle of Taoism. In that tradition, it’s called wu wei or non-doing. It’s also called “creative quietude.” (I love that phrase!) As the word “creative” suggests, it’s not as passive as simply waiting might suggest. More precisely, the idea is not to resist nature, but to go with the flow as some might say.  That’s not the same, though, as passively accepting an injustice or waiting for others to make things happen. Continue reading

February 26: World Religions Quiz

This week, I’m trying something new. I’m learning to use Google Slides to make interactive quizzes for use in the classroom. So, I’m using my blog–which means you, my readers–to practice. Here’s a 13-question quiz taken from the World Religions class I have taught at the congregations I’ve served. Click here to take the quiz.

If you have trouble with any of the links, please let me know. I’ve disabled the comments, so send an email to my regular account for those who have it or to paul@revpaulbritner.com. Thanks!

February 19: Authoritarianism

     I’m going out on a limb here because I’m clearly on the political left, and I have many friends who would disagree with this, but  .  .  . Trump is no Hitler, and (with some exceptions) his supporters aren’t Nazis. I also have loved ones who voted for Trump, and I’ve struggled with how they could have done so. I’m getting closer to an answer. Continue reading