Showing posts from December, 2023

New Year's Resolutions

  Topic: New Year’s Resolutions The wheel of time has turned once more, and the new year is upon us. The idea of resolving to be a better person in the coming year has its roots in ancient Babylon, about four thousand years ago. A 2022 poll by YouGov indicated that about thirty-seven percent of Americans made some sort of resolution or set a goal for 2023. I found that number surprisingly low, but I want to talk about the practice of making New Year’s resolutions The usual New Year’s resolutions involve improving our health, either by getting in better shape, eating better, or quitting smoking. According to gym statistics, about twelve percent of new gym memberships begin in January. Unfortunately, most of us do not maintain our Efforts: Around eighty percent of of those new gym customers will quit by the end of May. Millions of smokers resolve to quit the habit every January, although nicotine is the hardest addiction to kick; around seventy-five percent of those who quit will rel

Season's Greetings

  Topic: Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. Whatever. Today, we will discuss the ways in which we greet one another during the month of December, and how to accept the greetings of others as they are intended. Every year, possibly since the Big Bang, some people raise a huge stink about what it is acceptable to say to another person in December. “Happy holidays” and “Season’s greetings” are for godless heathens, as is “Happy Hanukkah” for some reason. No. What must be said, from Black Friday all the way through December 26 th , is “Merry Christmas” and nothing else. To do otherwise is to let the terrorists win. Some people even say “Merry Christmas” in this really aggressive manner, daring you to respond with some un-American generic winter holiday greeting. Speaking personally, I do not care if somebody says “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy holidays” or even “Hail C’Thulu.” I will take it as good wishes, respond in kind, and go on with my day. You do not have to cho

In Pursuit of Serenity

  Topic: In Pursuit of Serenity This sermon is about some of the different spiritual practices and traditions intended to lead to Serenity and how they relate to the Path. The state of Serenity or inner peace is much like Rome: There are many roads that lead to it. However, various mystic practices and non-Christian traditions offer a path to Serenity that originates within the Self rather than some invisible Other. These practices and traditions always require Self-Control, Mindfulness, and Patience, and include Buddhism and Taoism, among others. When we speak of Serenity, or inner peace, we are not talking about the Zen state of meditation, but rather a personal demeanor of Serenity. Calm acceptance of whatever the Universe throws at you, coupled with the ability to see a way forward even if those around you cannot, is the foundation of Serenity. According to Path doctrine, this journey toward Serenity begins with Self-Control, and that same core concept can be found in other s

This Affluenza Bullshit

  Topic: This Affluenza Bullshit Most of you probably remember the kid who did not have to go to jail for killing four people because his lawyer argued that he was too wealthy to “do well in prison.”   It actually worked. Let’s talk about this for a moment, because he is not the only rich kid who failed to understand that doing bad things makes bad things happen to you. First of all, nobody does well in prison. It’s fucking prison. The whole point is to make you as miserable as possible so you do not break the law again. (Whether or not this works is actually addressed in the essay “The Distinction Between Justice and Vengeance,” found elsewhere in this book.) It is supposed to suck. It will not suck worse for him just becaue his parents are rich. Humans need to pay the consequences for our actions in order to evolve into better people. Depriving him of those consequences is not doing him any favors; he will never learn that drunk driving is wrong and you should not do it. I guaran

On Compassion and Accountability

  Compassion & Accountability Our sermon today is about Compassion and how its mantra is not intended to excuse harmful behavior. Although we can recognize that “Everything that does evil is in pain,” it does not obligate us to become a punching bag. Suffering may explain evil, but it should never be used as an excuse to inflict harm upon others. When we talk about suffering, we are using a more Buddhist than Western definition of the word. We mean that suffering that arises when you form unhealthy attachments to temporary things, like objects or ideas, and then start being afraid of somebody taking them away. It is not always a conscious kind of suffering; sometimes it is deep in the subconscious mind, but it corrupts all thought and action. When a human being -who is basically just an ape wearing pants- is living submersed in that kind of fear, they cannot behave rationally until recognizing and controlling it. The fear will trigger anger, and anger is sloppy: it flies around