On January 16th, 2017, MLK (Martin Luther King) day, the ten-piece band I play in, “Souliverse” (Souliverse.com), will be celebrating and performing at a mid-day event at the historic Ashland Armory in downtown Ashland, Oregon. If you’re in the area, please join us for this celebration. (Souliverse just released a live DVD/CD from the Mederi Benefit Concert from this past August.)


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At this time of year, perhaps more than any other, we have the opportunity to shine forth our soul’s brightest light. The joyous celebrations and sacred traditions of Christmas and Hanukkah help to connect us with our inner spirit of gratitude, praise, generosity, and love, as well as with one another. At the same time, the Winter Solstice, a celebration of the earth, calls us to journey within in the darkness of the season and to look forward to the returning of the light.


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“[If] you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones— bad, muddled, out of date ideas.” —C. S. Lewis

From all appearances, the importance of religion in the U.S. has dramatically declined in recent years. According to the prestigious Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, changes in religious affiliation have affected all regions of the country, and many demographic groups.


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Several months ago I wrote about hope, which grew from my reflections on the meaning of hope and how it differs from optimism. As I’ve continued to reflect on hope and optimism, I’ve found my thoughts turning to the subject of faith.

As a professed Secular Franciscan, I feel a special affinity for St. Francis of Assisi, who espoused the simple virtues of Humility, Generosity, Reverence, Service, Respect, Prayer, Joy, and Love. The teachings of this gentle monk guide my daily life, including my approach to the ETMS. As I consider the subject of faith, the teachings of St. Francis inspire me.


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In every spiritual tradition exists the foundational precept of loving-kindness. In my life, I find no greater joy than to be working in loving- kindness, serving God above all else. But how do we discover what God’s will is for us?


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Optimism can be defined as the non-empirical belief that positive circumstances will result from uncertain or even negative circumstances—in other words, it is the expectation that good things rather than bad things will generally happen. On the surface, that sounds like a positive way to live. But there’s a significant flaw in viewing the world optimistically. What happens when reality doesn’t live up to our optimistic expectations? Optimism claims, “Everything will be all right!” But what if everything isn’t “alright”?


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