Chris Highland served as a professional “Interfaith Chaplain” for 25 years in school, congregation, detention and street settings. Over a long period he has been a minister, teacher, writer, shelter director and housing manager. He’s worn many hats. He was a Parish Associate in a Presbyterian Church for ten years. In 2001 he left his Christian ordination and “came out” as a secular freethinker. He is the author of ten books including Meditations of John Muir, My Address is a River and Life After Faith. Now and then he posts on Beyond God and Natural Bible.
With many years of active listening and “presence,” he is skilled in bridging diversity and working toward collaboration and respectful communication across mental and artificial boundaries. He is regularly in conversation with people who hold a variety of faith positions. Continuing to teach naturalistic courses in universities, seminaries and congregations (in the tradition of Paine, Wright, Stanton, Thoreau, Muir, Burroughs, Whitman, Ingersoll and others) Chris has a strong interest in redefining and practicing a new form of chaplaincy in a secular context.
In 2016, Chris became a Humanist Celebrant through the American Humanist Association. He continues his memberships in the Speakers’ Bureau of the Secular Student Alliance, The Clergy Project, Americans United and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. He writes a weekly “Highland Views” column for the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Chris is a “Compassionate Freethinker” rather than an angry Atheist or anti-Religious warrior. However, he does have some strong opinions on these matters and can get fairly worked up over nonsense. He shares some of that compassionate agitation with his wife Carol, a progressive-style Minister and (former) Interfaith Director.
The purpose of this blog is primarily to offer commentary on issues that matter, and to offer a listening ear to agnostic, atheist, freethinking students of Life. While respectful and questioning theists are welcome to visit and engage, the Chaplain is not interested in contentious debate or illogical theological distractions. Secular Chaplain is intended to be a safe sanctuary for reasonable contemplation, discussion and personal support.
What is a ” Secular Chaplain”?
As defined and practiced here, a Secular Chaplain is someone who finds goodness in the natural world–the only world we have–without being distracted by some imagined “supernatural.” It helps to be knowledgable in both the religious and secular fields. A Secular Chaplain seeks to be available to non-theistic persons in a supportive and advisory role with special concern for assisting people in human service, environmental organizations or academic settings to “build bridges rather than walls” to encourage communication, cooperation and collaboration rather than confrontation, conflict and divisive contentiousness (more “pro” than “con”).
A Secular Chaplain takes to heart these words from the old naturally Secular Chaplain, John Muir,
“The natural and common is more truly marvelous and mysterious than the so-called supernatural. Indeed most of the miracles we hear of are infinitely less wonderful than the commonest of natural phenomena, when fairly seen.”
(My First Summer in the Sierra (1911)
Secular Students: SSA can help get me to Your Campus for a presentation! Invite Chris!
Many photographs on this website including header images are by Chris Highland