Ralph Emerson's Desiderata
To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty,
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
Religion has almost always been of great value for me, even though it has taken different forms: from Roman Catholicism to Anglicanism and finally to Unitarian Universalism. I was brought up in a somewhat stern form of Roman Catholicism. I remember being in seventh grade and reading most of the Bible in order to get a "plenary indulgence" which would insure my soul's entrance into heaven! However, the religion in which I was raised also contained positive elements. Like most things in life, it was a mixture of good and bad. As I share in ministry with others, I try to draw inspiration from all religions, each one having its strengths and weaknesses.
I went to college at the UMASS, Amherst. Fortunately, the reputation of the school as "Zoo-Mass" reflected upon only a small portion of the student body and not at all upon the excellent faculty! Religious studies was my major. Visiting Israel and Rome gave first-hand knowledge of the geography of the Bible. It was quite a thrill to step on the very stones of Herod's Temple upon which Jesus walked and to swim in the Sea of Galilee!
I planned to go to seminary and become an Episcopalian. Harvard Divinity School seemed to be the most interesting place to pursue these goals. There, I found a more inclusive and liberal approach to theology. Since I was no longer convinced that Jesus was the "Son of God."
I entered Boston University to start a Ph.D. in religious studies. I graduated with my Ph.D. and have continued to teach college courses one or two nights per week in the ensuing years. While the academic environment has a lot in common with rational UU faith, I find life in the congregation is deeper and more long lasting than teaching in an environment when so many want to know, “is that going to be on the final exam!”
I became a Unitarian Universalist where my liberal spirituality could find a home at last. I have followed Sugarloaf congregation ever since the ministry of Rev. Amy Russell, who met with the Small Group Cluster of UU Ministers. I realize that you are a small congregation and that this is 1/2 time. As I teach religion and humanities at local colleges, so part-time works for me. My wife works as a pharmacy professor in Baltimore, therefore it's good to have one partner with more flexibility for children's sick days, dentist visits, etc. I have a son and a daughter.
I served for 11 years at Cedarhurst in Carroll County.
My preaching runs the range from theistic to humanist to Buddhist to philosophical ideas. I like to add some literary allusions, and try to convey, in the beauty of language, just how beautiful and meaningful life can be. --Sometimes we all struggle to find the meaning we know could be there.