Author: jimsherblom

Sermon on Human Flourishing

 In telling the story of his awakening Confucius said, and I paraphrase, “At 15, I set my heart on learning.  At 30, I planted my feet firmly in day to day living.  At 40, I no longer suffered from uncertainty.  At 50, I knew what made my heart sing.  At 60, I knew equanimity.  At 70, I became an authentic person of no fixed position.” Confucius lived masterfully.  In sitting down to tell the story of my life, I discovered that there were six spiritual disciplines of human flourishing that had guided me to my own awakening.  Like Confucius I could say at 15, I set my heart on learning.  At 30, I planted my feet firmly in day to day living.   At 40, I far less often suffered from uncertainty.  At 50, I knew what made my heart sing.  At 60, I finally discovered equanimity.  So now I seek to grow in wisdom and understanding into my seventies. For me, the first and foundational spiritual discipline was resiliency.  Let me tell you a story …

Spiritual Audacity by Jim Sherblom

Spiritual Audacity radio interview

Next Thursday August 17, 2017  from 3 pm to 3:58 pm Eleanor LcCain will interview me about my new book SPIRITUAL AUDACITY: Six Disciplines of Human Flourishing on her “All Together Now” radio program on the progressive radio network ( You can listen to it live at: (on your computer) (on your mobile device) radio (on Twitter)  (on Facebook) Or listen to the archive of the show later at

Heaven and Hell

So what about heaven and hell after death? What role do they play in human flourishing? When my kids were little, my parents would sometimes come up to spend the weekend with us in Concord. On Sunday mornings, we would attend First Parish in Concord, and of course, my parents would come with us. I remember one particularly beautiful Sunday morning standing on the church’s front steps with my father following worship. “How many people attended worship this morning?” Dad asked. “About four hundred or so,” I replied. “And none of them believe in hell or eternal damnation?” “We are universalists,” I said, “so none believe in hell or damnation.” “So why don’t they stay home on Sunday and read the New York Times?” he questioned. “UUs come for spiritual community,” I answered, “neither for fear of hell nor lusting after heaven.” The religious metaphors of heaven and hell are, I think, usually intended as aids to devotion. These concepts are borrowed from mystics who describe heaven and hell as a human psychological state in …

Spiritual Audacity by Jim Sherblom

Discipline Six: Awakening

Seeking direct experience, but mindful of my physical limitations, I found myself on a long flight to India on New Year’s Eve. I was in search of enlightenment, knowledge, gnosis, wisdom, insight, oneness, ecstasy, and awakening—all terms used to point toward that spark of the divine which feels like salvation in one religious tradition or another. Plato offered one of the most cited metaphors of this spiritual state of clarity in his allegory of the cave. He describes a group of people imprisoned in a cave since childhood, chained in such a way that a fire burns brightly behind them and casts shadows on the wall before them. Talking among themselves, they come to understand what is happening out of their range of sight simply by paying attention to the shadows on the wall. This is the only reality they have ever known.  Then one prisoner breaks free, and his reality is changed forever. As this former prisoner’s eyes adjust to the sunlight beyond the cave, allowing him to see all the beauty of the …

Jim Sherblom - Transitions

Discipline Five: Mystery

The first mystery is simply that there is a mystery. A mystery that can never be explained or understood. Only encountered from time to time. Nothing is obvious. Everything conceals something else. The Hebrew word for universe Olam comes from the word for hidden. Something of the Holy One is hidden within.  — “Honey From the Rock” by Lawrence Kushner  My childhood faith was formed within a loving caring small town Baptist community.  But as to the nature of God, more was concealed than revealed.  As young adults Loretta and I chose to raise our kids and anchor our faith within the Unitarian Universalism of First Parish in Concord.  Its broad inclusive affirmation of the worth and dignity of every person, seeking justice, equity and compassion in human relations, and acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations fit our sense of the divine mystery. But what do I intend to convey with words such as God or divine mystery?  The existential “God is dead” movement was popular among some Protestant …

Spiritual Audacity by Jim Sherblom

Discipline Four: Generosity

Discipline Four of Six: Generosity My spiritual memoir Spiritual Audacity is built around six spiritual disciplines of which the fourth is generosity.  Is this an important discipline in your spiritual life? Generous means “freely giving more than is necessary or expected.” So generosity includes the idea of open-handedness, along with a connection to our internal experience and spirituality. . . . Generosity ennobles us; it makes us great souls.”  From The Generosity Path by Mark V. Ewert How has generosity helped shape your life and well-being? Generosity takes different forms, depending on our financial circumstances. Jesus expressed this in his story of the widow’s mite. She had very little and therefore could give very little. Yet what she gave was everything, so far beyond the large gifts of the rich man. This is the gift of spiritually transcending scarcity. Each of us chooses how we will live, and that choice alters our spiritual opportunities. So choose abundance. All religions teach some form of this wisdom. Generosity enhances the joy we receive from living. This has always been …