JD Stillwater

Active Love and Anthropocene Angst (zoom)

That humans are having major impacts on the planet is now quite clear, and some of those impacts may be evident millions of years from now. Are we a cancer on the biosphere, a plague? Would it be better if we had remained blissfully in the stone age? Our angst about such matters may be no more helpful to building sustainable systems than is white guilt in forging racial justice. Guilt about environmental destruction won’t help build a sustainable society, but active love might, the kind of love we have for our teenagers when they’re especially annoying. JD Stillwater somehow relates all of this to romantic relationships, beautiful sunsets, and Joni Mitchell.

Defining Enough

Failure to define “enough” means never being satisfied. It makes us vulnerable to slick advertising, and fills our lives with tedium and chaos. It deflects our focus from sources of true happiness, like play, family, relationships, community. Ultimately, it also leads to the desecration of Earth’s living systems. Defining “enough” is a spiritual practice.  

Honoring My Ancestors (and, Am I a Good One?) (Zoom)

Ancestors – everyone has them, and (spoiler alert!) most of them are dead. Euro-American culture isn’t very good at death. We avoid talking about it; we literally kill ourselves trying to postpone it; we expect grief to have stages and then stop; we are so scared of death we’ve perverted the one day each year our ancestors set aside for remembering them, to instead focus on giving children candy and expressing our fear with giant inflatable spiders. JD shares his journey from judging his ancestors to questioning his fitness to be one. As always, science plays a leading role, along with several other faith traditions and cultures.

Defiant Love: Interrogating Our Inheritance (Zoom)

What are we, crazy?! Some aspects of our inherited cultural system are clearly harmful to our planet, our descendants, and our own humanity. How did this happen? The study of trauma and the science of epigenetics offer clues. In the context of our damaged and dysfunctional culture, acting with honor for our ancestors, respect for ourselves, and love for future generations often looks like rudeness or radical defiance. Sometimes, Love requires us to defy our own heritage.

Complementarity: Quantum Physics and the End of Dogma (Zoom)

Do you despise the question “What do you believe?” JD Stillwater gets real about his own personal beliefs, and discovers a scientific approach towards a New Agnosticism, one that fully embraces the mysteries and ambiguities inherent in natural reality. Along the way we meet a cryptic cat, a famous psychic, a woman with a problem, and a religious organization for atheists. The exclamation “Poppycock!” also makes a cameo appearance.

This Is Not My Beautiful House (Zoom)

One of our culture’s foundational myths is about ownership, security, and permanence. JD offers a bit of science, some personal experiences, and a Talking Heads song as puzzle pieces toward a new, more vulnerable humility.

Befriending the Thief: Remembering Mary Oliver

Death is a thief that steals our loved ones, breaks our hearts, and ravages our lives. One of life’s few guarantees, death will come for each of us in time. What good is it? Does the natural world offer hints at deeper purposes that might help us befriend Death? Mary Oliver’s poetry often touched on death as integral to life, and when enriched by understandings from science, her beautiful words inspire a new, friendlier relationship with it. (Our Outreach Offering this morning supports our 1st Principle Project.)

One Song: The Science of Unity

For millennia mystics and prophets have told us “All is one” and yet we feel ourselves surrounded by separation, antagonism, and isolation, plenty of reasons to conclude instead that “All is horribly splintered.” Recent advances from mainstream science reveal an underlying integrity, connectedness, and wholism in everything from human bodies to ecosystems to the fabric of space-time. Science agrees: “All is one.” New findings from science offer an interfaith, non-dual spirituality, grounded in Reality itself.