Philocrites | 1.18.03

Selected essays written in my course of study at Harvard Divinity School, 1996-2000:

Early Unitarian interest in Hinduism

The early history of American interest in Hinduism is closely tied, surprisingly, to the early intellectual history of a small, liberal sect of American Christians known as Unitarians. 1999

The religious availability of Dewey's God

In his only book about religion, John Dewey defines God as the "unity of all ideal ends arousing us to desire and to action." What does he mean? 1997

The object of religion

G.W.F. Hegel and Ludwig Feuerbach each believe that studying human consciousness will tell us something about the nature of God — but Feuerbach says we'll discover that God is really a projection of human nature. 1998

The reality of the symbol of God

Paul Tillich and Gordon Kaufman both argue that God isn't something that exists, but that God is nonetheless real and profoundly important. What do they mean? 1998

The ontological imagination

William James says that in profound personal experience, compelling ideals become active forces in the world. Religion, he says, can "postulate new facts." 1999

Is tentative theology religiously adequate?

Sallie McFague urges us to behave as if the world is God's body. But doesn't faith seek some anchor more secure than "as if"? 1997

True religious fellowship

Friedrich Schleiermacher agrees that the historic church is profoundly corrupt, but he defends "true religious fellowship" — and a role for religious institutions, too. 1998

Authority in the spirit

A doctrine of the church, refined by theological and historical analysis, helps us identify the purpose and significance of Unitarian Universalist congregations. 1997

'Resistance is the true work'

What limits a person's potential? External "resistance" and internal "force of soul," according to the Unitarian theologian William Ellery Channing. 1999

'The kindred mind'

William Ellery Channing taught that not only are human beings capable of being good; we are capable of being like God as well. Why? God and man are "kindred minds." 1996

'Words are not the only language'

A leading 19th-century Unitarian says that "God talks in creation, in history, [and] in revelation," and that the church is a community of ongoing interpretation. 1997

Joseph Smith and prophetic authority

Joseph Smith's changing understanding of the role of the prophet was the most dynamic factor in early Mormonism. 2000

Is disenchantment the end of religion?

Max Weber famously described the disenchantment of the modern world, leading many to anticipate a fully secular society. Is there a future for religion? 2000

The train to Harvard

Why I moved to Cambridge to study for the Unitarian Universalist ministry. Published in Aspire, a journal for theological students, Winter 1998. 1998

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