A conversation with a student called Ray

A few days ago I met one of my favorite USC seniors for breakfast. Ray is not usually awake before 10 am, so I considered it a compliment that he rolled out of bed for me. I'd have been more flattered if he'd combed his hair as well, but that's really just bald man jealousy [...]

By | 2017-11-17T15:58:08+00:00 February 14th, 2016|Blog|

On being ‘ministers’

Ever since I became a humanist, I’ve been trying to work the word 'ministry' into the secular lexicon. After all, almost every government but ours calls its various departments 'ministries' (and their heads 'ministers') because they tend to the various needs of its citizens. Plain and simple, ministry is a great descriptor of effective, intentional [...]

By | 2017-11-17T15:58:08+00:00 January 15th, 2016|Blog|

On hosting the Sunday Assembly Los Angeles

Dear friends, In 1893, the centerpiece of Chicago’s World Fair was the White City, fourteen neoclassical masterpieces carefully arranged around a large reflecting pool by architect Daniel Burnham, who knew from the start that the whole thing would be torn down as soon as the fair was over. Certainly Burnham must have been grateful for [...]

By | 2017-11-17T15:58:11+00:00 July 21st, 2015|Blog|

On my first year at USC

Dear Friends, I’ve been the Humanist Chaplain at USC for nearly a year now, and in a few months I’ll be the Humanist Chaplain at UCLA as well.  I need to raise money for both those projects, but I’m new to Los Angeles and hardly anyone really gets my idea of building a relational campus [...]

By | 2016-02-23T00:17:17+00:00 June 19th, 2015|Blog|

An inspiring message at USC

An unexpected benefit of being the only openly secular campus minister at USC was being asked to offer a reading amidst the pomp and circumstance of this year’s Baccalaureate Service. As you can see here the ceremony itself was quite impressive. My reading of my friend Gretta Vosper’s prayer shows up at 14:00, but by [...]

By | 2017-11-17T15:58:11+00:00 June 4th, 2015|Blog|

An email about labels and identity

Here's a recent email from my inbox: Hi Bart, I'm a Christian. I left the church two years ago but retained the identity. Now I am not sure I want to be associated with Christians at all. It's all tied up with the Christian hegemony in my country, frustration with liberal Christians who won't stand [...]

By | 2017-11-17T15:58:11+00:00 May 27th, 2015|Blog|

A secular prayer

Last week it was my honor to participate in USC’s baccalaureate service. Thrilled as I was to be included, I was a bit nonplussed when Dean Soni asked me to offer a Scriptural Reading. After all, we secularists have no holy books. While most of my interfaith brothers and sisters consider their favorite texts holy [...]

By | 2017-11-17T15:58:11+00:00 May 22nd, 2015|Blog|

A mission spark without faith

I’ve corresponded with lots of ministry-minded people who have lost their faith, many of whom once were or still are church pastors. What these good folks fear most about going secular is losing the privilege of reaching out in love to hurting people, or the urgency to do so. Here’s a question from one of [...]

By | 2017-11-17T15:58:11+00:00 May 4th, 2015|Blog|

The essence of ‘humanism’

Recently it was my privilege to speak to USC’s Secular Student Fellowship. Instead of speaking, however, I asked the group to help me overhaul a document I found on the Yale Humanist Community’s website called What Is Humanism?, which I think almost but not quite captures the essence of many of those students’ spiritual identities, [...]

By | 2017-11-17T15:58:11+00:00 February 25th, 2015|Blog|

National exposure and – just to clarify!

After I talked with John Rogers of the Associated Press a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure how clearly I’d communicated my commitment to secular goodness as a way of life, not just a way of thinking. After reading his article about me in today’s New York Times, Washington Post and and a bunch of [...]

By | 2017-11-17T15:58:11+00:00 February 15th, 2015|Blog|