After the November 2004 Presidential election I was deeply disturbed that America had put the Bush Administration back in office. I viewed John Kerry as the lesser of two evils, but at least he wasn’t cynically pandering to the “Christian” theocrats.
On November 14, 2004 I preached a sermon entitled, “Walkin’ the Strait and Narrow.” This was my response to 22% of voters who claimed to be followers of Jesus and voted for Bush on the basis of “moral values.”
I began to feel a call to enter the public debate on spirituality and morals more explicitly as a Preacher of Liberal Religion. Having cut my teeth in the literalist Bible tradition, I knew the strength of passionate belief and gaping intellectual blindness in this approach to Religion and Society. I kept hearing this passage in my head about Jesus after he “cleansed” the temple, in relation to my sense of responsibility for the Soul of America. “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
I said to myself, “You are a Liberal Minister. You have a radio show. Why not use it to express the Prophetic message you are being compelled to speak?” For the first ten years Soul Talk was kind of a Terry Gross “Fresh Air” approach to offbeat spirituality. I felt I didn’t have this luxury any longer. The times were calling me to a more pointed mission – To speak with authority in my skin as a Minister of Universal Spirituality and Ethics.
I was, and continue to be troubled that progressives have largely abandoned Spirituality in the ethical considerations of our time. I saw that Religious bigots like Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson were household names, and that few if any Ministers of a more sane, humane Religion were known beyond their relatively small spheres of influence. I saw how the narrow-minded teachers were shrewdly using media to spread their fearful God, and that we progressives were scarcely using the potent tool of mass communication.
I am emboldened by the faith of Edward Everett Hale. “I am only one but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” I have chosen to “syndicate” the show via the rapidly evolving avenue of podcasting. My vision is to plant the tiny mustard seed of Soul Talk, water it, and see if it grows “such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
This was my thought process in fashioning a reborn Soul Talk. I wanted to express myself in the time honored form of Preaching, I wanted to feature and independent artist each week through song, I wanted to have dialogue with my radio “congregants” around my sermonette, and I wanted to interview someone who expressed positive faith in action. You can see how this practically played out by going to the “Soul Talk Menu” page.
My first program with the new format was on February 10, 2005, unconsciously Soul Talk’s 11-year birthday. A month later my Soul Food sermonette articulated a new vision for the broadcast. It was entitled, “An Itch, A Call, or a Hammer?!”
I closed my sacred snack with a quote from “Care of the Soul” by Thomas Moore, an exquisite contemporary spiritual manual. This passage is a fitting expression of the cosmic necessity and art of rebirthing.
“Care of the soul begins with observance of how the soul manifests itself…Cultivation of the soul implies a lifelong husbanding of raw materials. Farmers cultivate their fields, all of us cultivate our souls…The aim of soul work is not to be superficially adjusted, but to be profoundly connected to society and nature, woven into the fabric of family, nation, and globe.”