Take Ethics and Moral Development with Dr. Mike Hogue

ImageWe live in a world that is paradoxically more interconnected and more polarized than it has perhaps ever been. At the very moment when our global moral challenges require us to collaborate across our differences we seem to be especially ill-prepared to do so. This is pretty unsettling and it means that leaders and change agents are faced with a pretty monumental task—getting folks to cooperate when they’d rather not. And when we add religion and ethics to the mix, things get even more complicated, which is why I’m so excited about teaching this course.


The premise of this course is that if we really want to understand religion and morality in a way that empowers us to become more effective progressive religious leaders, then we need to study religious ethics in an entirely different way. Whether or not one believes in a god or many gods or no god at all, it is important to come to terms with the idea that, whatever else it may be, religion is a human phenomenon. Further, insofar as we humans are creatures of nature, then religion is also a natural phenomenon. Understanding this is a critical step toward becoming a religious leader who can connect communities, span boundaries, and cross borders.


With all of this in mind, this course integrates exciting new work in the sciences and philosophy and offers students the opportunity to study religious ethics and moral development in a radically new way. Religious ethics is commonly taught through either a close historical analysis of a particular religious tradition or comparatively across several traditions. Incorporating but expanding these approaches, this course embeds the study of religious ethics in an evolutionary anthropological perspective. In addition, the course enriches socialization models of moral development by examining new insights emerging out of evolutionary psychology and the neurocognitive and neuroaffective sciences. As a result, our collaborative learning in this class will be as invigorating as the challenges of religious leadership in a complex world.

Learn more about the courses ML offers on our website

Take a Class at Meadville Lombard!

NicCableMy name is Nic Cable and I am a student at Chicago Theological Seminary. I am so happy and lucky that I am able to take classes at Meadville Lombard Theological School that assist in my formation in becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister. By not going to a UU seminary, it was really important for me to have some immersion with fellow UU seminarians and courses that will be beneficial to my development. I have taken six classes at Meadville and during each of them, I felt warmly embraced and treated like a part of the family. I recommend it to anyone!

Beyond the great courses that Meadville offers its students, the professors that teach there are brilliant, caring, and deeply committed to liberal religious values that our faith tradition espouses. Studying in a room filled with Unitarian Universalists may sound like the lead-in to a good joke, but it is actually quite transformative that leads to a strong sense of community even in the short time we spend together. Whether you live in Chicago, Alaska, or anywhere in between, I think it would be a fantastic growing opportunity to take classes at Meadville. Maybe I will see you there!

My Week in Chautauqua by Jason Cook

ImageChautauqua. It’s easy to stumble over the name upon first reading it, but I’ve been saying it most of my life. My friend Helen has been attending Chautauqua since we were kids. She would come back full of stories, so I knew something about it. I knew that it operated each year during the summer. I knew there was a different theme each week. And I knew there was a plethora of lectures, concerts, and other performances. Beyond that, it was still a mystery to me.


Now that I’ve been to Chautauqua, it’s no longer a mystery. But that mysterious quality has been replaced with a dreamlike quality. Was I really there amongst that collection of Victorian houses and buildings situated on a beautiful lake shore? Did I really spend a week in a place where I and virtually everyone else traveled by foot or scooter everywhere we went? Did I really hear people like diplomat Nick Burns and Middle East scholar Aaron David Miller share their deepest wisdom? Did I really attend multiple concerts each day, everything from opera to Broadway to pop? And, finally, was that really me preaching at the Hall of Philosophy one unseasonably chilly Sunday morning?

Life at Chautauqua is different than outside its gates, which gives it that wonderful dream-like quality. For the time that I was there serving as minister of the week, it was a true community in ways I hadn’t experienced before. People said hello and introduced themselves as I walked along the flower-lined streets. Hammocks waited by the lake shore for any who felt in need of one. Doors to houses remained unlocked just in case a neighbor needed to borrow something while the owner was away. My spouse and I stayed at the beautiful UU House, operated by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Chautauqua, where I had the opportunity to sit in rocking chairs over long television-free evenings and discuss concerns for our denomination and its future.

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The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Chautauqua couldn’t have been more welcoming. Planning the service with them, and then preaching that first Sunday was a pleasure. We were all excited knowing that our Unitarian Universalist message not only reaches UU’s at Chatutauqua, but so many other people who might have never heard of us before. I had several people of other faiths approach me at the end of the service and say how meaningful it had been for them, and how they were going to investigate the UU churches in their hometowns. At the Minister’s Talk Back, I had the opportunity to go deeper with the members of the fellowship and others, and our discussion ended up being quite meaningful for me. Throughout the week, I was deeply appreciative of their hospitality as they invited my spouse and me not only to their church meetings, but into their homes.

hallofphil (2)My week at Chautauqua was one where many of the important things in my life intersected. I had space and time to be in touch with myself spiritually, I could take care of my body, I could nourish my intellect, and I could enjoy a vibrant community. It was a time when I got to be a part of bringing our Unitarian Universalist message to a wider audience, and it was a true pleasure continuing the dialogue about the service throughout the rest of the week as I met person after person who had sat there in the Hall of Philosophy on Sunday morning. It was a time when I could meet new friends from the Chautauqua Fellowship and make deep, lasting connections. No wonder Chautauqua now rests in my memory as a beautiful dream—a dream I hope very much to return to one day.