A significant part of our congregation’s outreach to kids during the pandemic has been to send monthly packets, via U.S. mail, with word search puzzles, other puzzles, coloring pages, and mazes. Sometimes there’s a little learning in these packets, but mostly they’re a form of support and ministry to parents and kids: kids get mail addressed to them, which they love; kids get an activity that doesn’t require more screen time; and parents get a few extra minutes of free time while the kids are working on the puzzles and mazes. And it shows that our congregation remembers the kids, and cares about them, even though we can’t see them.

It’s also fun for me, since I love making puzzles. Problem is, when I get into puzzle-making mode, sometimes I make puzzles that aren’t suitable for kids. Like the one below, which is derived from the old Boggle game — and rather than waste this puzzle, I’m inflicting it on you by posting it on this blog:

Find six words that begin with the letter “c” and end with “ate.” To make words, you can join letters going up, down, sideways, or diagonally; but each letter in the puzzle grid can only be used once in a given word.

Update: Carol posted this to Facebook, and both Clarissa and Deb found another word. So now you have to find eight….


We Californians always worry about The Big One, the next big earthquake.

Apparently what we should really worry about is ARkstorms. These storms come along every couple of centuries. During the last ARkstorm, in the winter of 1861-1862, it rained for 43 days straight, and the subsequent flooding turned California’s Central Valley into an inland sea 300 miles long. If such a storm happened today, some scientists estimate that it would cause three times the amount of death and destruction of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake.

Just wanted to give you something else to worry about….

Bertrand Russell on humanism

“I should not have any inclination to call myself a humanist, as I think, on the whole, that the non-human part of the cosmos is much more interesting and satisfactory than the human part.”

As quote in Phillip Hewett, Unitarians in Canada, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Canadian Unitarian Council, 1995), p. 234.

Close-up of lichen, probably Xanthoparmelia spp.


“There is a fine old story,” writes Carl Jung, “about a student who came to a rabbi and said, ‘In the olden days there were those who saw the face of God. Why don’t they any more?’ The rabbi replied, ‘Because nowadays no one can stoop so low.’…” [Memories, Dreams, Reflections, “Retrospect”]

I suspect most Unitarian Universalists today would not even be able to stoop so low as to ask the question….

The problem with free will

“Free will exists to an extent for the individual, but disappears in the group.” — Spider Robinson, Off the Wall at Callahan’s (Tor Books, 1994), courtesy of.

Given that Unitarian Universalists tend to be obsessed with free will: assuming this statement is true, it would explain a lot about the dissatisfaction many Unitarian Universalists have with Unitarian Universalism.

(For the record, my sense is that free will is a cultural artifact of Western Christianity, not a valid way of thinking about how human beings interact with the world.)

Why someone might actually want a new civil war

In an opinion piece published on Religion News Service, historian John Fea, a progressive Christian evangelical and an expert on evangelical history in the U.S., offers some pointed commentary on right-wing evangelicals like Robert Jeffress and Franklin Graham who are warning of “civil war” should Donald Trump be impeached. In response, Fea offers a historian’s view of why right-wing evangelicals like Jeffress and Graham might welcome a new civil war:

“[Robert] Jeffress’ own First Baptist Dallas, with its long history of segregation … was built upon a Civil War fracture that has not yet healed. Under his leadership, it has failed to confront its long-standing commitment to racial injustice in any meaningful way.”

Name games and icebreakers

With Greg’s help, I expanded the page on icebreakers and name games on my curriculum site: there are now seven time-tested name games and nine icebreaker games. These are all suitable for Sunday school groups, youth groups, and adult groups in UU and other liberal or progressive congregations.

Above: illustration for the Zombie Name Game

Noted without comment

In her poem “graduate school first semester: so here I am writing about Indians again,” Cheryl Savageau, a poet of Abenaki descent, tells about an ongoing conversation she once had with a white professor. Here’s an excerpt from the poem:

…but when I mentioned
the European world view,
she said there isn’t any such thing
which was quite a relief to me,
I hate to think there were a
whole lot of people thinking in
hierarchies and as if the
earth is a dead object and
animals and plants and some people
not having spirit…

500 years of love songs

If you’re in the San Francisco area, the quartet I sing with will be singing twice in the next few days. On Friday, we’ll be at The Heritage on Laguna St.; contact them directly for exact time and location on their campus. Then on Monday, we’ll be singing in the Ferry Terminal Building beginning at 5 p.m.; we’re never sure exactly where we’ll be able to set up in the Ferry Terminal (we don’t want to disturb the friendly merchants there), so look around for us. Our program is “Five Hundred Years of Love Songs,” with music from the early Renaissance to Meghan Trainor, in genres ranging from classical to jazz, pop to country.