New Ubuntu Linux on Thursday

In brief, I’ll see if “Karmic Koala” — the soon-to-be-released version of Ubuntu Linux — passes the ease-of-use test for novices. There are conflicting reports, but either way I’m keen to see the changes. Here’s one video report from the BBC.


I’m back, but not quite ready for blogging

Scott Wells in front of the Cologne Dom 2009-10-12 14.33.10My “scheduled outage” was a vacation Hubby and I took to Paris, Cologne and Bonn.

We’ve been back almost a week, but I’m not quite ready to blog again. I only have so many observations — church-wise — to make, and besides a project at Day Job is quite consuming right now, and plans there fill my thoughts even at home.

But the real “problem” is that I’m not sure what I have to say, and would rather be silent than try and fill the void. (Vaguer and more frivolous thoughts may go to Boy in the Bands.)

Silverman on church finances

Yes, it’s a bit rude and tons of people have seen this. But it’s Sarah Silverman and I totally heart her.

And I love where she goes with respect to church wealth. And not just — by implication — the biggest owners.

Eben Moglen on software freedom

A valuable lecture I saw in person this spring at the Nonprofit Technology Conference from Eben Moglen, the executive director of the Software Freedom Law Center. Consider the role access to information has for the liberation of human beings. This dovetails neatly with the Universalist assertion of the role of understanding in overcoming fear and thus growing closer to God.

Indeed, this might be the best sermon — if an unintentional one — I’ve heard all year.

Or you can appreciate it as-is.

Pocket history about "Dr. Chapin's Church"

The New York Times ran a story — on June 15, 1874 — about the history of Universalism in that city, which can be read as a PDF in the newspaper’s archives. Interesting stuff, including the intersection of radical Universalist minister Abner Kneeland with Tammany Hall — the building, at least. Indeed, in the telling of the fortunes of the various Universalist congregations, the interplay of who-had-what-building-when suggests a story as yet untold. Lacunae for a history scholar, no doubt. Hint, hint.

The Dr. Chapin mentioned in the title is Edwin Hubble Chapin, whose most famous pastorate was with the Fourth Universalist Society, the last surviving Universalist church in Manhattan.

Submission for "Liberal Christian"

I’ll be wrapping up my little magazine The Liberal Christian at the end of this month. If you have a article or news note you’d like to submit, please send it to me at

Thanks —

An academic's look at Universalism's reputation as second-rate Unitarianism

Ann Lee Bressler’s Universalist Movement in America, 1770-1880 is one of the finest works on the subjects I know. This thought, from page 42, is vital to our understanding of the movement — as a social movement — in conjunction with Unitarianism.

The rise of restorationism during the second quarter of the [nineteenth] century helped ensure the common characterization of Universalism would be Unitariarianism’s poor relation, a form of liberalism that shared Unitarianism’s view of benevolent divinity and perfectible humanity but lacked its intellectual base and social standing.

What would have been the alternative? Ultra-Universalists (infers Bressler) which disavowed a temporary period of punishment after death and thus avoided the moralism that gives most religions in America their particular flavor and ferver. Ultra-Universalism was more concerned with a common humanity, the consciousness of which — among other things — overcame fear and self-centeredness.

But  ultra-Universalism was too easily painted with the brush of lax morals and the early impulse that way was quenched, leading to the quotation above.