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Famous church scheduled for $25 million restoration
Members of Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Oak Park, Ill., will begin meeting at a local Lutheran Church as construction begins on their famous Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building. Earlier this year, the church was nominated for consideration as a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site. (Chicago Tribune - 3.23.15)
Selma martyr awarded posthumous degree
In the first such act in their 145-year history, Wayne State University will award Viola Liuzzo an honorary doctor of law degree. Liuzzo’s five children have been invited to the awards ceremony. Liuzzo was a nursing student at Wayne State when she joined the civil rights movement. (Christian Science Monitor - 3.21.15)
Construction would make building more accessible
Second Parish in Hingham Unitarian Universalist, in Massachusetts, has been working for more than two years to design an addition to their building that is both historically appropriate and fully accessible for people with mobility issues. (The Patriot Ledger 3.22.15)
More coverage: “Second Parish in Hingham seeking funds for handicap-accessible entrance” (The Hingham Journal - 3.22.15)
A new paradigm for interconnectedness
The Rev. Peggy Clarke writes to urge people to acknowledge that the work of seeking environmental justice is indelibly linked to seeking racial and economic justice and opposing discrimination based on individual identity. What we need is a Beloved Community, argues Clarke. (Huffington Post - 3.18.15)
Selma anniversary inspired Wisconsin march
The Rev. Laurie Bushbaum, interim minister at First Universalist Unitarian Church of Wausau, Wisc., has been instrumental in organizing a march in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Other faith groups expressed interest in joining the event after observing the 50th anniversary of the Selma, Ala., march. (Wausau Daily Herald - 3.25.15)
UU recognized for volunteer contributions
A member of First Unitarian Universalist Society in Albany, N.Y., Dawn Dana is interviewed about her volunteer work in the annual CROP Walk, her Unitarian Universalist beliefs, and her daughter, who serves in Unitarian Universalist ministry in Dallas, Tex. (Albany Times Union - 3.20.15)
Jordinn Nelson Long and her family find “slow church” in a consumer culture that expects immediate gratification.
I hope that in the course of your own religious life there are at least a few sermons that you gratefully carry—the feelings, the moment of awakening—for years after hearing them.
This was one for my family; the moment when we realized that we weren’t satisfied because we cannot consume community. That we were unsure where else to turn because we can’t purchase wisdom and depth. And that we need the flawed, frustrating collective because as humans, we are not wired to individually find our way to gratitude, love, or healing. (Raising Faith, March 22)
Christine Slocum has stopped going to church, because no matter how hard she tries, the only nearby UU congregation isn’t a good fit.
What I am seeking when I go to church is a place that will facilitate living my faith. A consumerist approach, as Jordinn notes, is the wrong one, as my faith requires that I give a lot of time, energy, and love. However, it requires that I give it to the world, not just to other self-identifying UUs. (Christine Slocum, March 22)
The Rev. Tom Schade suggests that a focus on community building hasn’t been an effective strategy for UUs.
Creating covenanted, healthy, spiritually nourishing, genuinely inclusive, peaceful, and safe communities became our evangelical and ecclesiological method. But now, the strategy of community-building has become so pervasive, it is unseeable.
. . . . We believe that there is a deep hunger for community out there, but is that really true?
Building community has its own value, but maybe it’s time to reconsider whether, as a strategy, it is enough to change our anemic growth trends. (The Lively Tradition, March 25)Grownup conversations
The Rev. Dr. David Breeden is tired of childish squabbles, and wants an adult conversation about truth and meaning.
In matters of religion, the question of who is right and who wrong dims before the fact that so many people are harmed by the wrangling and tribalism around the question. . . .
Who will be the grownups?
What is the practical difference in actions between atheists, agnostics, theists and those who just don’t care? (Quest for Meaning, March 26)
The Rev. Kit Ketcham’s beliefs about “power beyond human power” have evolved.
I have not gone so far as to think of myself as an atheist, or even agnostic, because both these terms do not describe where I am in my thinking. To me it is undeniable that there is power beyond human power. Some people call this power God but grant to the power a state of being that is too human-like to satisfy me. (Ms. Kitty’s Saloon and Road Show, March 24)
Elizabeth warns about easy answers.
Don’t be enticed by the promise that things will be okay. . . . It will always be hard, if you are living well you will be struggling, you will be aching, you will be longing and loving and failing and getting up again. It is messy out there, beautifully and excruciatingly messy. (Elizabeth’s Little Blog, March 24)
As he celebrates his 70th birthday, the Rev. Ken Collier thinks about living and dying.
I’ve had my share of disappointment, sorrow, grief, and pain. . . . And I’ve also had my share of joy and success and and love. . . . Accept the one and you get the other. Reject the other, and you lose the one. . . . And so as I love my life, I also love its end. Which will come in its own time. While I wait, I intend to live, as fully, as freely, and as joyful as I can, embracing whatever lot happens to fall to me. And when my death does embrace me, I intend to return the embrace.
Death is just not the big issue. Life is. (The Colliery, March 26)
Working in a congregation with a difficult history, the Rev. Theresa Novak’s direct style “is freaking a few folks out.”
Homophobia will come out, if it exists, during a conflict, just as racism will. Even among liberals and self defined radicals and progressives. It is in our culture and individuals can’t always help it, but it is also important to name it when it happens.
I have been accused of “unwelcome touching.”
I have been called a bully.
I think they were really calling me a bull dyke.
I think they are afraid of me.
I hope I can find a way to walk with them through that fear. (Sermons, Poetry, and Other Musings, March 24)Living lightly on the earth
As a climate crisis looms, the Rev. Tom Schade asks, “Who will be saved?”
As it now stands, it is the global elite that will survive. They will migrate to the most habitable places; they will monopolize the resources needed for life; they will deploy the arms to protect themselves from the increasingly desperate masses. Everything we know about the modern arrangements of power tell us that this is true. . . .
Unitarian Universalists. . . . believe in Universal Salvation: all of humanity is a single unit. Our faith is that we share a common fate. For us, the climate crisis is a struggle for global justice and solidarity. (The Lively Tradition, March 24)
Patrick Murfin answers the question, “Why should anyone give a damn about World Water Day?”
With another year in an epic drought under its belt, National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) satellite photos reveal that California has only about one year’s stored capacity in it reservoir system. Strict compulsory rationing may be necessary but is being fought tooth and nail by business interests. One of the nation’s riches agricultural regions may essentially go out of production. (Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout, March 22)
Karen Johnston is uneasy about finally making the move to a smartphone.
Despite its inconsequential heft in the palm of my hand, it is weighing heavily on me.
It weighs heavily because it is yet another way I do not live lightly on the earth. . . .
May I use this device to tap into and strengthen the interconnected web of all existence, rather than to add to its unraveling.
May I demonstrate the discipline to know when to disconnect, that it not lead to my ignoring other people, Nature, or my own heart’s true needs. (Irrevspeckay, March 26)
Karen Johnston tells a story of kids being asked what “We Shall Overcome” means. They said it means, “We shall overcalm.”
Out of the mouth of babes comes such necessary wisdom, the deep meaning of overcalm: to exercise an inner peacefulness that connects us to a great source not of our making, available to all and especially available to those seeking justice on behalf of those treated unjustly, especially for moments and movements like this, especially for those seeking to create the Beloved Community.
Let us listen to children. Let us all cultivate overcalm. Let there be peace, but first let there be justice. (Irrevspeckay, March 14)
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern celebrates the work of two Irish women, winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, and founders of the Community of Peace People.
A peace congress probably wouldn’t have made much difference, but thousands of people demanding peace, over and over, in a grassroots movement all over two lands, most certainly did good work for fraternity—and sorority—between those two nations. Both women continue to agitate for peace to this day. (Sermons in Stone, March 18)Truth in hard times
With a child seriously ill, Katy Carpman compares herself to raw garlic.
I get to call my own truths.
I’ve no patience for your platitudes . . . (Remembering Attention, March 16)
Grieving her mother’s recent death, the Rev. Amy Beltaine writes that “Unitarian Universalist Pagans have a robust set of tools to carry with us as we face the loss of a loved one.”
Personally I very much like the idea of becoming one with my divinity, for that is how I view the earth. The planet is both sacred and divine. The broccoli I had for dinner is a part of me, I have recycled dinosaur cells in me, larger than that, I have stardust in me. (Nature’s Path, March 19)World-saving religion
The Rev. James Ford proposes an interdependent humanism that might “save the world,” rather than devolving into survival of the fittest.
We see where we are. Arising precious and unique, none of us ever to be replicated.
And fragile. All of us…
And then we can see what we can do.
We see we are all of us and this blessed planet connected.
Connected more deeply than can ever be said.
And, we act from this place.
And then the whole thing will be blessed.
And every action taken, a blessing. (Monkey Mind, March 13)
For the Rev. Dr. David Breeden, everything is transient except for human experience.
So, what are the truths of religions? What’s permanent? You. Your essence. Your human essence. Is that enough? Well . . . it has to be. Because that’s all we get. (Quest for Meaning, March 19)
John Beckett responds to a provocative opinion piece in The New York Times, which argued that schools teach children that there are no moral facts.
We no longer live in a monoculture, if we ever did. It’s no longer sufficient to pretend your culture, your religion, and your morals are objectively better than everyone else’s – you have to demonstrate why your moral standards work better, not just for you and yours but for everyone else as well. (Under the Ancient Oaks, March 19)Encouragement to spiritual growth
For Catherine Clarenbach, being in recovery from mental illness means that she has less direct connection to the sacred.
Do you understand? Do you understand that while I am grateful for health and for stable relationships with friends and family, I also miss that one, great, powerful, and easy relationship? Do you understand that while I still can sometimes touch the fingers of the Goddess in the stars at night, it is not because I walk enveloped in those stars, but because I seek them, yearn for them, slowly do the work to find them within me as powerfully as I see them without? . . .
I . . . practice to catch the slightest ray of the blinding star in whose light the whole world used to shine. (Nature’s Path, March 17)
The Rev. Phil Lund writes about encouraging spiritual growth in lay-led congregations.
After all the time spent figuring out what’s going to happen on Sunday mornings, meeting with committees, and coordinating social justice events, there isn’t a whole lot of time leftover for lay leaders to plan adult faith development experiences on the subject of spirituality.
And just what did they have in mind way back in 1985? What does “encouragement to spiritual growth” entail, anyway? (Phillip Lund, March 17 and 19)
The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg reviews a new book from Beacon Press, The God that Could Be Real, written by Nancy Abrams—”an atheist married to a famous scientist.”
In constructing a positive theology, the most interesting perspective she proposes is that ‘God’ is not cosmic, but “planetary”—an emergent phenomenon of life on Earth. Note that she means “Emergence” in the technical sense of the field of science that studies how systems (such as the human body) are much greater than the sum of their parts. . . . This evolving, emergent “God that could be real” is akin to Carl Jung’s “Collective Unconscious” in which the sacred is understood less literally than metaphorically and archetypally—but which is still actual, efficacious, and real. (Pluralism, Pragramatism, Progressivism, March 13)
Fire destroyed church built in 1860
While heartbroken over the loss of a building that was like a second home to many of its members, the congregation of First Universalist Church of Southold, N.Y., is determined to rebuild. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but is not considered to be suspicious. (cbslocal.com - 3.16.15)
The Unitarian Universalist Association’s Central East Regional Group (CERG) is facilitating donations for recovery assistance for First Universalist Church of Southold. Learn more on the CERG website.
Minister is first installed in church’s 177-year history
After leaving the Catholic Church, the Rev. Helen McFadyen found the support she was seeking in the Unitarian Universalist Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It helped her come to terms with her deteriorating eyesight and follow a spiritual journey to atheism and Unitarian Universalist ministry. (CBCNews - 3.14.15)
Congregation supports undocumented children in Long Island
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, N.Y., is tapping into its endowment to give $400,000 this year to four Long Island organizations helping immigrant children in their community. The money will help provide legal services for the children. (Newsday - 3.17.15)
Mich. congregation offers reception for weddings held last year
The Rev. Bill Freeman, of Harbor Unitarian Universalist Church in Muskegon, married nearly 50 couples during the brief period of time when same-sex marriage was legal in Michigan. Now the congregation is planning a wedding reception for the couples, in connection with other marriage-equality events across the state. (mlive.com - 3.18.15)
High school students honored for leading peaceful protest
First Parish Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist in Cambridge, Mass., recently gave Courageous Love Awards to Sydney Fisher and Mary Gashaw. The young women led more than 200 of their fellow students in a “Hands Up Walk Out” protest last December in response to the decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson. (Cambridge Chronicle & Tab - 3.20.15)
Anniversary participants link Selma to issues in their communities
Unitarian Universalists and others showed their support for Black Lives Matter protesters during an arraignment hearing in Minnesota. Many had just returned from Selma anniversary events and felt their presence at the court house was a continuation of that racial justice work. (KARE11.com – 3.10.15)
After participating in a Unitarian Universalist conference honoring civil rights activists from 1965 in Selma, Ala., climate justice activist Amelia Shenstone returned to her work at home with a renewed calling to continue working to bring clean energy to the South. (cleanenergy.org – 3.7.15)
The Rev. Phyllis L. Hubbell of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun in Leesburg, Va., invoked the anniversary of Selma in a town council vote on creating the town’s first-ever Diversity Advisory Commission and urged the town to be a model for inclusion in the region. (Loudoun Times – 3.11.15)
Remembering Selma activists who lost their lives
Amy K. Nelson interviewed the families of Unitarian Universalists Viola Liuzzo and the Rev. James Reeb to get their reflections on the current state of race relations and to consider whether enough progress has been made to make the loss of life worth it. (Medium.com – 3.11.15)
The Rev. Rob Hardies of All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C., is interviewed describing the civil rights work of the Rev. James Reeb, a former minister of All Souls. Hardies also described the congregation’s commitment to continuing the work of seeking racial justice. (The Washington Post – 3.6.15)
The Rev. Clark Olsen was with the Rev. James Reeb when he was attacked in Selma, Ala., in 1965, and he offered a powerful retelling of that evening and how it shaped his life and ministry since. (New York Daily News – 3.8.15)
Other remembrance stories include:
“Beaten, bloodied and murdered – Selma 50 years later” (CNN – 3.4.15)
“The unsung American heroes of Selma” (Al Jazeera – 3.6.15)
“Ragland: Don’t forget Selma or the hard-earned right to vote” (The Dallas Morning News – 3.6.15)
“Dying for the Right to Vote: Remembering the Selma Martyrs, From Jimmie Lee Jackson to Viola Liuzzo” (DemocracyNOW! – 3.10.15)
“Rev. James Reeb died in Birmingham 50 years ago today after Selma beating” (al.com – 3.11.15)
Unitarian Universalist Association supports environmental sustainability
The U.S. Green Building Council profiles the Unitarian Universalist Association’s new headquarters building in a list of best organizations that have achieved LEED certification. The UUA was awarded LEED platinum certification in December, which is the highest of four possible certifications. (USGBC.org – 3.13.15)
UUA Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Tim Brennan wrote an op-ed as an organizational shareholder in American Electric Power to urge the company to expand its existing clean-energy offerings and support clean-energy policies in Ohio and throughout the country. (Cleveland Plain Dealer – 3.13.15)
Working toward interfaith understanding
The Rev. Dr. M’ellen Kennedy led an event at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Marietta, Ga., intended to help heal the divide between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Kennedy is founder of Peace and Unity Bridge, an organization dedicated to this work. (The Marietta Daily Journal – 3.6.15)
The Rev. Lynda Smith, co-chairwoman of Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio, joined an interfaith conference in Hilliard, Ohio, to show support for a local Muslim congregation that has recently been the target of harassment. (The Columbus Dispatch – 3.11.15)
A question quoted in Mary Oliver’s Blue Horses hits Tina Porter between the eyes: “If you don’t break the ropes while you’re alive, do you think ghosts will do it after?”
What are your visions and what are the ropes that need to be cut? What are the days ahead of you full of and what can they be full of? . . . [If] your soul is straining at invisible ropes, perhaps it is time to follow the line of the rope back and see what is holding you, because maybe you are a visionary, but you’ve never been given permission to be so—by yourself or anyone else. (Ugly Pies, March 12)
Claire Curole wrestles with hard questions about identity and vocation.
Who am I? Whose am I? From what source and by what means and to what end? Sometimes we get clear answers. More often, we don’t, and like a dolphin or a bat navigating by echolocation, we fling questions out into the Mystery and get, from time to time, a ping in response. . . .
I hope, in my bones, that there is a place in this world where I am the missing piece that completes the jigsaw picture—just as I am, where my bumps and angles fit exactly as I am. (Sand Hill Diary, March 12)
Karen Johnston writes a prayer “for someone in deep pain who does not yet pray.”
Let me begin by setting aside my skepticism,
my sarcasm, my doubt, my intellectualized judgment,
my clever snarky attitude that wants to
shut me up and keeps me shut down.
I do not release it completely,
for it serves me well in other circumstances,
but I let go my tight grasp,
leaving room for something more.
Let me say these words:
and not choke, not giggle,
nor fill with fear. (Irrevspeckay, March 10)
Leslie Mills shares one of the key questions of the UU Selma experience this past week: “Do you love?”
It’s not enough to reason your way to action, or to argue your way, and you can’t even believe your way to action. You can only act for justice from a place of love. And your actions will have more power if you are able to articulate that, because it connects your humanity to that of the people with whom you are striving for justice. (Leaping Loon, March 7)
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern asks, “For what would I risk everything?”
Mostly I would like to give my life by living and working for a cause, not by dying for it. When I think of what I would risk dying for, I think of freedom and fairness, of the earth, but mostly of people: people I know. It’s a principle of community organizing and congregational leadership that what people give to, sacrifice for, go to the wall for, is their connection with other people. When we know someone who is suffering under oppression, abstractions such as freedom and justice take on flesh. They acquire a face, and the face silently asks us to act. Their fight becomes our fight. (Sermons in Stones, March 9)
Doug Muder helps us sort through the mixed news of the Justice Department’s Ferguson report.
In the end, although the Justice Department hasn’t given the black citizens of Ferguson Darren Wilson’s scalp, it has given them what they really need: Exposure of the corrupt and predatory system they live under, and some hope of relief. (The Weekly Sift, March 9)
The Rev. Tom Schade makes a case for reparations for the people of Ferguson.
The people from whom those dollars were taken are owed them. All of the dubious charges, all of the fines, all of the fines levied because the original fines were not paid on time, all the penalties and interest and court fees need to be returned. Not as a matter of “development funds” or “community investment” or “public policy”, but simply because stolen money must be returned from the criminal to the victim, to be used by victims for whatever purpose they choose. It’s their money, end of story. (The Lively Tradition, March 10)Contrary voices
Kim Hampton is skeptical about UU promises.
So when Peter Morales stands in Brown Chapel last Saturday and says, “We are your partners forever,” is that really true? Our history shows that our partnerships, when it comes to race, are infrequent and easily dropped. But what might be even more telling, our memory is selective; we remember Selma (oh how we remember Selma), but we all but ignore the tumultuous relationship between the AUA and Ethelred Brown. We remember Selma, but skip over the fact that for an organization headquartered in Boston there was almost universal UU silence during the Boston busing riots of the 1970s.
If we are going to be partners, what’s the plan? Talk is cheap and easy; just saying we’re partners doesn’t mean that we are. (East of Midnight, March 11)
The Rev. Scott Wells has mixed feelings about UU participation in the fiftieth anniversary observances in Selma—and a bit of advice.
[To] escape the peril of exoticism, live where you work and work where you live. Be not tourists, but companions. Be present in the place. Show up daily, not every fifty years. (Boy in the Bands, March 9)What is church?
Leslie Mills meets a woman in Selma who says of Unitarian Universalists, “I think I’ve found my people at last!”
When this woman walks through the doors of her local UU congregation, brimming with this fierce hope that, after years of believing she was alone, she’s finally—finally—found her true home, a faith where the flame of justice burns brightly, how will her fierceness be received?
Will you try to tame her? Will you ask her to conform to your way of doing things? . . . You see, I don’t want us to disappoint her, and I don’t want us to use her up. (Leaping Loon, March 7)
The Rev. Andrew Millard is grateful for a recent workshop that restored his faith in church.
I have been disheartened by the apparently exclusive emphasis on other forms of religious group-making, including the earnest promotion of ministry as a vocation that in the future will require either independent wealth or a submission to poverty. . . . The fact is that it takes hard work for people to actually be in community, particularly religious community. (Life’s Too Short to Sing the Melody, March 6)
Thomas Earthman wishes we would stop thinking of UUism as a halfway house.
Unitarian Universalism has a reputation of being the rehabilitation clinic for people who are leaving religion. That is a sad statement on how we view faith. People don’t come to us because they want to leave religion; they come because they want a religion that speaks to a broader world view and inclusion. . . .
What many are looking for is community, encouragement, hope, and mental or ethical stimulation, and maybe some music or ritual. They are looking for religion when they show up, just one that is liberal and offers them a chance to explore theology, philosophy, and morality safely and as part of a community. (I Am UU, March 6)
Unitarian Universalists are participating in events across the country and reconnecting with civil rights efforts.
“Knoxville, Oak Ridge groups to march in Selma,” Oak Ridge Today 3.6.15
“Olympian Alison Mathews was moved to march in Selma,” The Olympian 3.4.15
Rubén Rosario: Debbie Montgomery is going back to Selma,” Pioneer Press 3.4.15
“Selma: Commemoration and Commitment,” The Huffington Post 3.2.15The civil rights of 1965 are linked to justice work of today around LGBTQ equality
Coming Home: Selma, Int’l Women’s Day, LGBT Rights and Unitarian Universalism, The Huffington Post
“Like Selma 1965, Unitarians vow to keep fighting for civil rights – this time on gay marriage,” al.com 3.6.15
MAHONEY: Many footprints show Lyla the way to Selma, Alabama, Hamilton Spectator 3.4.15Rev. Reeb’s death a common touchstone, with some mention of Viola Liuzzo
“‘A Call From Selma,’” The New York Times 3.6.15
“John Shearer: Selma Participant Viola G. Liuzzo Was A Former Chattanoogan,” TheChattanoogan.com 3.2.15
“The road from Selma was paved with the blood of four unsung martyrs,” Religion News Service 3.5.15
“Remembering the martyrs of Bloody Sunday,” USA Today 3.3.15Image galleries offer visual narratives
“Gallery – Timeline of 1965′s Voting Rights Movement,” The Commercial Appeal 3.6.15
“Selma: ‘Marching to the Freedom Dream,’” The Wall Street Journal 3.5.15
“Timeline: The Selma-to-Montgomery marches,” USA Today 3.6.15
Many UUs are traveling this week to Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Selma. (See UU World‘s coverage, “Unitarian Universalists return to Selma.”
Bob and Peg were lovely companions for our flight to Birmingham. At Peg’s insistence, Bob had come for the march in 1965, and he heard Dr. King’s speech in Montgomery when he said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” He shared memories with me of how tense the South was during his last visit—how he’d been turned away from buying a Coke by a white shopkeeper because he was one of the marchers; how the national guard had pulled out suddenly after the march, and the risk of violence escalated immensely; how he’d had to have an escort when going to and from the church where he was being housed. He remembered receiving the news of the murder of Unitarian Universalist minister James Reeb, and a few days later the murder of Unitarian Universalist lay leader Viola Liuzzo. It was a different time then, Bob assured me. (Leaping Loon, March 5)
All the messes and imperfections
Jacqueline Wolven, inspired by the movie Wild, asks, “What if we forgave ourselves?”
Decisions and life moments make us who we are and each one of us is different and beautiful. There is no “right way.” There is no “better way.” And as much as we judge each other the judgement that we do to ourselves is way more damaging. So, cheers to being who you are and to who I am. All the messes and imperfections. I hope that my life can help yours someday—that is why it all happened. This I now know. (Jacqueline Wolven, February 28)
Tina Porter wrestles with forgiveness—only to have it “squirm away in a tangle of humanness.”
I ask for forgiveness daily. I ask it of God, I ask it of myself, and sometimes I even ask others to give it to me. Some might see this as a martyr fixation, but I see it as rooting myself in my humanness. I am a human, and so, by definition, I am a mistake-maker. And so are you. Knowing that I need forgiveness reminds me that others may be feeling the same way. Forgiveness is our message to each other (and ourselves) that being human is good, and messy, and can be kind. (Ugly Pies, March 3)
Liz James, a self-described “family toad,” chronicles her determined effort to learn how to sing well enough to be useful as a song leader.
When did we start thinking of music as a thing you get to do when you’re good enough, instead of an inextinguishable part of being a human being? When did I have to get permission from Lynn, from my guitar teacher, from “real musicians” to be able to just start singing? Half of what my guitar teacher does is teach, and half is the bestowing of blessings. “Yes, you may do that. You may do whatever you want. Although some of the things–heads up–will sound really bad. And then nobody will die and we’ll try something else.” (Rebel with a Labelmaker, February 27)Good people
Karen Johnston’s friend, Mark Green, died this week.
As someone more intimate with Mark wrote, he “won” his battle with brain cancer.
Clearly, this definition of winning is different than what we usually hear. It is, I believe, a much braver one. . . . Yet winning did not mean staying alive in body. That would have been magnificent, but strangely, secondary.
It meant staying alive in spirit.
Not ceding humor, or kindness, or playfulness, or generosity.
That would have been the more tragic death. (Irrevspeckay, February 28)
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern, posting daily for Women’s History Month, writes about Helen Keller.
I imagine that the way I learned about Keller was typical: she was the protagonist of an overcoming-adversity tale, cast as a mixture of victim and heroine. What that story obscures, as such stories tend to do, is the fact that her accomplishments would be remarkable regardless of her ability to see or hear. (Sermons in Stones, March 1)This world
Tina Porter embraces this world’s messy beauty.
Oh, God. This world.
It brings me to my knees in awe of all the good, weeping with joy at the pink clouds on the horizon as the sun falls slowly, a large glistening orange sphere, calling us all home. And it brings me to my knees deep in despair at what is happening, what we are doing to each other in the name of God.
Oh, God. This world. (Ugly Pies, March 2)
The Rev. Amy Freedman offers a prayer during a trying winter.
In this harsh cold environment,
Our challenges are harder to handle,
Our losses press more heavily on our hearts,
And we are depleted.
Now, in this moment, we center
to rest our bodies and to renew our spirits.
Like our fellow creatures who hibernate,
May we draw on our reserves for strength and comfort. (Amy Freedman, March 4)
The Rev. Tom Schade has a proposal for making General Assembly more financially accessible.
We do not become less class-biased by subsidizing poor and working class people to participate as though they were upper middle class. We become less class-biased by structuring our work so that poor and working class people can participate as they are. Unitarian Universalism should be a democratic faith not because any member can go to General Assembly, but because every member votes for and instructs their delegates to the highest governing body of the Association. (The Lively Tradition, March 3)
The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg shares reflections based on the book, The Generosity Path.
There are such complex personal experiences and social histories behind the various ways each of us think and behave about money. And too often messages around money are guilt- or fear-based. But the invitation to walk the generosity path is to increasingly approach money from a place of inner freedom and abundance. (Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism, March 5)The view from outside the UUA
This week’s The Thinking Atheist podcast explores Unitarian Universalism, and includes interviews with UU ministers, the Rev. Rebecca Bijur and the Rev. Dr. David Breeden. (The Thinking Atheist, March 3)