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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.

May 21: Identity and Intersectionality

     I was fascinated this week by a new report showing that white fears of “cultural displacement” was a bigger predictor of Trump voters than economic insecurity.  In fact, among poor whites, Clinton had a small advantage. Those who believe that discrimination against whites is just as bad as discrimination against blacks or that immigration threatens their basic way of life were more than three times more likely to vote for Trump.

     That was not the single biggest predictor of Trump voters. I’ll get to that below. For this blog,  I reflect on this idea of “cultural displacement” and how that fits into some other ways of thinking about people. If you haven’t heard it before, I’d like to introduce you to a relatively new term: intersectionality. It’s largely associated with traditionally oppressed groups such as persons of color or women. Yet, I think the idea helps to explain some of Trump’s voters. Continue reading

May 7: Thou Shalt Not Be Overcome

Julian of Norwich

     “And this word, ‘ Thou shall not be overcome,’ was said full sharply and full mightily for sickness and comfort against all tribulations that may come : he said not, thou shalt not be troubled, thou shalt not be travelled, thou shalt not be diseased; but he said, ‘ Thou shalt not be overcome.’* Continue reading

April 30: Getting Found


by David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you

Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,

I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.

No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,

You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows

Where you are. You must let it find you.

     If it feels like you’re spending all your time searching for your true self, you’re probably working too hard. Stop looking. Let yourself be found. Continue reading

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