Posts by David Breeden

Relax: #Humanism Is Not Mack the Knife

Small Humanist groups are popping up and organizing around the US, some as independent groups, some as interest groups within larger Unitarian Universalist congregations. This movement has drawn some interesting reactions . . .

I know these reactions well, because one of the oddities about my position as a minister at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis is that many people I meet know up front that I’m a Humanist. Often I get asked to speak various places because I’m a Humanist, but sometimes I meet up with a hostility that surprises me. I’ve even had people say out of the blue, “I KNOW there’s a God!” To which I don’t have much of a response . . . “That’s nice for you”? Or should I take the time to explain that Humanism isn’t really much about that question?

There seems to be a fear that Humanism is a corrosive force that must be contained, a genie in a lamp that must be kept bottled up at all costs. Now, sure, I know that there are those in the freethought community, especially among newly-converted atheists, who do wield reason like a sharp razor. But I’m not one of those, and most Humanists aren’t. Read more about Relax: #Humanism Is Not Mack the Knife »

Humanism, Like Mushrooms

When primates began to look at the stars in wonder, humanism was born. Far from the cliche of superstitious creatures huddled in caves, Homo Sapiens have from the beginning been engineers and artists, philosophers and scientists discovering how to adapt to our environment and make the most of our brief time on the planet.

Humanists then and now ask a question: What are we to do with the life that we have? The Humanist difference is that we do not accept ready-made answers. The ideas and ideals of humanism have sprouted in many times and places.

Among animals, human beings are unique in that we have developed methods to conceptualize time and ways to preserve and communicate knowledge and culture across generations. Humanity evolved complex social relationships and unique solutions to complex challenges, yet we are also prone to superstitions and hatreds—aspects of ourselves that must be transcended. Read more about Humanism, Like Mushrooms »

On Not Flying Away: Humanism and the Afterlife

When I was a kid we sang on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights—church night—and at revivals and camp meetings, “Some bright morning when this life is o’er . . . I’ll fly away.”

It’s an upbeat and happy song, by design. The song was written by Albert Edward Brumley back in 1929 and is the most recorded song in gospel music . . .

Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away
To a land where joy will never end,
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, oh glory,
I'll fly away
When I die, hallelujah by and by,
I'll fly away.

Spiritual But Not . . . Keep Talking, Humanists

Literary critic Terry Eagleton said, “The din of conversation is as much meaning as we shall ever have.” I like that. On first glance, it appears to be bleak—human conversation is all the meaning there is?

But imagine what human conversation has given us.

Imagine the din of conversation under the porches (stoa) and under the trees (akademeia) in Athens during the time of Socrates.

Imagine the din of conversation in Baghdad in the late 700s when an institution called the  House of Wisdom opened it’s doors—an attempt to gather all the wisdom in the world.  Read more about Spiritual But Not . . . Keep Talking, Humanists »

Rowboat in the Woods: the role of Humanism in a Secular Future

This talk by Rev. David Breeden was part of the "Serving the Non-Religious" session at the 2015 UUA General Assembly in Portland, OR on Friday, June 26. David is the senior minister of the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis which has, "A heritage of forward-thinking humanism at home in the here and now". In this talk, David discusses the changing religious landscape of the FUS neighborhood, and by extension the country at large, then suggests how Unitarian Universalist congregations are going to need to adjust their programming and their thinking to thrive in the new reality.

Listen to the Presentation

[A special thank you to Adam Gonnerman for creating the video version of this presentation.] Read more about Rowboat in the Woods: the role of Humanism in a Secular Future »

Sneaking One Over on the Humanists (warning: snark)

By David Breeden

[Editor's note: This is the second article published recently that makes a case against the use of traditional religious language in Unitarian Universalism. As the poll of our members and friends indicates (at least with the current sample) about a third of you have no problem with such language though, unsurprisingly, few UU Humanists prefer it. I would like to publish an article that makes the case that using traditional religious language is not an issue. Please consider submitting one.] Read more about Sneaking One Over on the Humanists (warning: snark) »