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Listen to Helene Newberg, a Unitarian Universalist from Arlington, Mass., share the moving story of running in the 2013 Boston Marathon in honor of her neighbor, a young Muslim girl who committed suicide one year ago—a memorial run that was sadly interrupted by the bombings at the finish line. (That’s Some American Muslim Life – 4.26.13)In the congregations
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Caribou, Maine, made the difficult decision to sell its building. (Bangor Daily News – 4.25.13)
The UU Fellowship of Winston-Salem, N.C., unveiled the permanent home of its Community Clothes Closet, which provides free used clothing to low-income area residents. (Winston-Salem Chronicle – 4.29.13)
The UU Fellowship of San Dieguito in Solana Beach, Calif., submitted a petition to the city council requesting action on several items to potentially reduce the likelihood of gun violence. Discussion at the city council meeting revealed strong feelings on both sides of the argument. (Coast News – 5.1.13, Del Mar Times – 4.26.13)
First Parish UU Church in Canton, Mass., held a candlelight vigil for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing. Photos from the event appear in gallery of “Recent Happenings” in Canton. (The Canton Citizen – 4.26.13)
The Rev. David S. Blanchard resigned from the UU Church of Canton, N.Y. (Watertown Daily Times – 4.30.13)
The congregation of First Parish in Concord, Mass., prepared to meet the Ministerial Search Committee’s candidate for senior minister: the Rev. Howard Dana. (The Concord Journal – 4.25.13)
Much of the heat in this week’s UU conversation online came in reaction to news of the UUA Board’s proposal to budget $100,000 to help the board and administration move past their disagreements.
The Rev. Tom Schade wrote a series of posts, beginning with the questions “How are we to evaluate the performance as Moderator of Gini Courter?” and “How do we apply the lessons of her tenure to the choice between Jim Key and Tamara Payne-Alex to succeed her?”
Gini Courter has been an extraordinarily ambitious Moderator, attempting to make the UUA Board the real leadership of the Association. By establishing Policy Governance, her plan was that the Board would begin to evaluate the work of the Administration and Staff, holding it accountable for effective work toward the goals of the Association. . . .
Behind the plan was an analysis that the problems of Unitarian Universalist drift was the a problem of governance: the people who worked for us were largely self-directed and unaccountable, even though they were talented and committed people. (The Lively Tradition, May 1)
For Kimberly Hampton, spending $100,000 on a “marriage counselor” makes no sense in a time of staffing and program cuts.
Let me see if I have this straight. There isn’t enough money to keep some really valuable employees. There isn’t enough money to keep the MFC and RSCCs from having backlogs. There isn’t enough money to do some real church planting. But there is enough money to hire a marriage counselor. (East of Midnight, April 30)
The Rev. Scott Wells writes that “the UUA acts like the kind of legacy organization or corporation that persons my age and younger than I mock.”
It’s impossible to think anyone not on the Board would have the time or stamina to be able to follow the process, and its product looks more like generating more process than say, new congregations, building loans, print or online publications, a new hymnal, religion education materials . . . .
Performance metrics, however well-loved in the nonprofit sector today, can lead staff to “work to the test” and (at their worst) can become a kind of performance art which steer the work of the Association staff away from practical work. (Boy in the Bands, April 29)
Tim Atkins doesn’t want “governance by platitudes.”
[When] I look at the UUA I don’t see a lot of concrete stuff coming out, especially from President Morales. I hear platitudes. I see people talking about how exciting and revolutionary those platitudes are, but I rarely see concrete action beyond a blog post. And I am all for “monitoring” with clear definitions/job roles/etc. because as someone who does contribute to the UUA I do want to know that the money is making an impact. (Tim Atkins, May 3)
The Rev. Sarah Stewart provides a board member’s perspective on the issues at hand.
Unitarian Universalists should not let any of us, the administration or the board, off the hook for accomplishing our ends, including the end of growth. Our faith can serve more people. It can thrive in the 21st century. We believe so; the administration believes so; our congregations and their leaders believe so. Demand this task of us, your leaders. It is what you elected us to do. (Stereoscope, May 2)
Finally, UUA President Peter Morales and Moderator Gini Courter have responded to questions about the board meeting in letters sent to the UU Ministers Association chat list and published with their permission on Tom Schade’s blog. (May 3)The pivot toward equality
Responding to veteran NBA center Jason Collins coming out as gay, Andrew Mackay asks, “What is equality really about?”
Society is slowly pivoting to gays being part of the norm rather than an error, an aberration. . . . What is Collins’ action part of? The idea that gay people are woven into the fabric of this nation. . . . When he came out two days ago it was national news. Part of the goal is that one day an athlete will come out, and it’s not a media spectacle. It’s just someone living their life. (Unspoken Politics, April 30)
The Rev. Debra Haffner responds to suggestions that Jason Collins is not a Christian because he is gay.
When NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay, he noted “My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding.”
After years of hiding who he was, this courageous basketball player needs our support. (Sexuality and Religion, May 2)Seekers of meaning
UU World managing editor Kenneth Sutton invites us to “revel in the actual,” as he shares experiences from his recent sabbatical.
What a downer! Look at the real world and you die! Yes, exactly. Look at the real world, and the illusions and confusions of your life will, if you are lucky, die. (Refreshment in a Pint Glass, April 30)
After a weekend singing Sacred Harp music, the Rev. Dan Harper reflects on what it could teach Unitarian Universalism.
I still love my Unitarian Universalist church; Sacred Harp singing would not be an adequate substitute for what I get out of my religious community. But I can still wish the Unitarian Universalism would embrace the DIY ethos, welcome ecstasy and transcendence, include younger people, and sing better. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, May 2)
The Rev. Dr. David Breedon remembers trying to talk with his parents about the philosophy of Spinoza.
On that day driving along the New Madrid Fault, I realized that Spinoza could not speak to my parents. And I discovered something else: I had the power to destroy the faith of poor, oppressed people such as my parents who had nothing else to fall back on. I stopped the argument when I was eighteen, and I have never argued religion again.
The chance to think abstractly, to pursue truth wherever it leads, is a powerful gift. A privilege. As with all power and privilege, it must be used responsibly and humbly. (Quest for Meaning, May 2)
Christine Organ remembers the Sundays of her childhood, and recommits to a regular day of rest.
As a kid, there was no mistaking when Sunday rolled around. Sunday was so clearly different than any other day. . . . The day moved on a special schedule, with a cadence and rhythm all its own.The day was slower, quieter, calmer. The day was sacred. (Christine Organ, May 1)
John Beckett considers the relationship between truth and meaning.
My search for truth and meaning has led me to Nature. . . . Along the way I’ve found bits and pieces of truth. I’ve found meaning so strong that when I’m caught up in it I have no doubt it’s true. I order my life as though it’s true.
But I still recognize that meaning is not truth. If I find evidence my beliefs are false and my practices are unhelpful, or that something else is better, I’ll change what I believe and what I do. (Under the Ancient Oaks, April 30)
On April 19, the Boy Scouts of America released a draft proposal—to be voted on in May—that would accept gay scouts but still bar gay leaders, a move that failed to please religious leaders on both sides of the issue. (Scouting.org – 4.19.13, Religion News – 4.22.13)
UUA President Peter Morales issued a statement in response to the proposal, saying in part: “The proposed resolution from the BSA is a step in the right direction, but it falls short of ensuring equality for gay scout leaders. Unitarian Universalists remain hopeful that there is still time to persuade the BSA to move from discrimination and prejudice to inclusion and respect for all Americans who wish to participate in scouting.” Pink News and GLAAD’s blog both point to Morales’s statement. (UUA.org – 4.19.13, Pink News – 4.22.13, GLAAD – 4.20.13)Climate activist Tim DeChristopher released from prison
Yes! magazine profiles environmental activist and UU Tim DeChristopher, who was released this month after spending 21 months in federal custody for disrupting a 2008 oil and gas auction. (Yes! – 4.22.13)
Tim DeChristopher Speaks Out After 21 Months in Prison for Disrupting Oil Bid (DemocracyNow – 4.22.13)
Activist Tim DeChristopher Released From Prison (KUTV – 4.21.13)
Tim DeChristopher’s path (UU World – Winter 2012)
Activism is an act of faith (UU World – Winter 2012)
UU leaders discuss religion and spirituality for CBS
A CBS segment that examines religion and spirituality in a changing society features UUA President Peter Morales; First Parish of Cambridge, Mass., minister the Rev. Fred Small; and other UUs.Bostonians seek solace, British Unitarians get a new leader, and more
The choir at Arlington Street Church, UU, in Boston, appears in an NPR story about Bostonians finding comfort in religious and memorial services as they await further developments in the marathon bombing case. (NPR – 4.21.13)
The Rev. Bill Darlison is the new president of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches in Britain. (Pontefract and Castleford Express – 4.21.13)
Members of the UU Congregation of Northern Chautauqua in Fredonia, N.Y., celebrated its 30th anniversary. (The Observer – 4.21.13)
As Earth Day approaches, Rebecca Hecking considers an article about working through environmental grief.
I don’t know . . . how the Earth will look a hundred or a thousand years from now, but I do think it’s fair to say that biological diversity will be diminished, and long-term damage will still be very much in evidence. Those of us who care even a little bit fall somewhere along the road from denial to acceptance, although we may not experience the stages in quite such a neat linear package since the object of our grief isn’t a person who has died, but rather a planet in a state of decline (for now). (Breath and Water, April 19)
The Rev. Carl Gregg observes Earth Day by writing about Wendell Berry, “earth breathing,” climate change and interdependence.
[From] Boston to West, Texas, we’ve been reminded this past week of just how vulnerable and precious our lives are. We can’t always control what happens around us, but we can learn to have more influence over our response to people and events. And one way to do that is to remind ourselves that we are more than isolated individuals bumping into one another; we are each part of the interdependent web of all existence. (Carl Gregg, April 22)
Jessica Ferguson’s Earth Day graphic quotes the Rev. Carol Hepokoski, who says, “I used to think maybe we need to save the Earth. Now I think maybe it is Earth that is saving us.” (UU Media Collaborative Works, April 22)
When faced with complex problems, the Rev. Naomi King suggests the power of not knowing.
I loathe not knowing the answer. I feel scared and vulnerable and very much at risk when I reach not knowing and have to confront that I do not know what comes next, what to do, how to fix what is broken or not working. But when I am with that not knowing, turning the problem over and over, seeking a new way, the fear drops away and curiosity and wonder take the lead. (The Wonderment, April 21)
The Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford wonders why the tragic explosion in West, Texas, received so much less attention than the bombings in Boston.
I think it was something far more basic: we are visual people, and we viscerally connect with pictures of other people. Quick, think of a picture of the Boston marathon bombing. The man with half a leg missing, being pushed in a wheelchair? The 78 year old runner knocked to the ground? The police, running toward the explosion?
Now, think of a picture of the West, TX explosion. The fireball? The cloud? The stripped-out apartments?
The lack of faces defining the explosion are, actually, perhaps the saddest part. (Boots and Blessings, April 20)
UUA Trustee Linda Laskowski begins her series of posts about the April UUA Board meeting with her experience of being in Boston in the aftermath of the bombings.
Being with a group of Unitarian Universalist lay leaders and ministers was not a bad place to be this week. We shared a lot of tears, poetry and prayer. . . . (UUA View from Berkeley, April 22)
Visiting with family in New York City, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein overhears a conversation about the two bombing suspects.
“All of them… family . . . fathers . . . uncles . . . say they so beautiful. He’s a beautiful young man . . . everything is beautiful.”
“No bad boys.”
“Everybody thinks their kid is beautiful, man.” (PeaceBang, April 19)
The Rev. Tom Schade responds to the question of why spiritually liberal people feel compassion for Dzhokar Tsarnaev.
Compassion is not judgment, which makes choices and priorities. Judgment weighs and measures and reasons. Judgment, which we give to the judicial system to exercise finally, will deal firmly with Tsarnaev. It’s a whole other thing.
But at every moment, someone has your attention, and in that moment, you will be feeling some emotion: compassion, hatred, indifference, affection. Spiritual liberalism notices that if you build a habit of compassion, you will be happier, healthier, more able to love and receive love.
The world will be better, too. (the lively tradition, April 20)
Andrew Hidas takes a different perspective—resisting pressure to forgive.
Talking about the need to forgive perpetrators of heinous acts before victims’ bodies have even turned cold is premature at best, presumptuous at worst. . . .
Righteous anger or at least revulsion is an appropriate response to a horrible act. The closer your “connection” to it, the more right and perhaps necessity you have to fully experience and express such anger. Full submersion is in many ways the precursor to the healing you ultimately seek. (traversing, April 20)
The Rev. Chip Roush shares opening words for worship after the Boston bombings.
Slowly but surely, the universe is evolving
toward greater freedom,
and toward tolerance.
This morning, and every morning,
may we be more aware
of the Spirit of Life
evolving in and through us,
toward deeper compassion
and firmer courage. (So May We Be, April 19)
The Rev. A. C. Millard explains why a practice of “checking in” is important.
Even when attending a meeting that is entirely centered on some item of business, we bring with us our whole lives and everything that has been going on in our lives, and that affects how we interact with each other. I know I’ve been in meetings where someone was behaving in an uncharacteristic way, only to find out later that something significant had happened to them; if we had heard about that at the start of the meeting, the rest of us might have been more understanding and our time together might have been better for all of us. (UU Fellowship of the Peninsula, April 25)
Thomas Earthman writes about the role of blogging in sharing Unitarian Universalism’s message.
The state of technology is that everyone can be a preacher. Everyone can be a journalist. Everyone can be an advertising agency. . . . It is only by recognizing those who have the ability to shape and stimulate conversation that we can ensure that people hear our message of salvation. We don’t need to sell it, but we need to make it accessible and we need to get people talking and asking questions. (A Material Sojourn, April 25)
June Herold discovers that negotiating Facebook privacy is tricky, even for tech-savvy people.
[Despite] privacy controls, heavy Facebook users—even the most advanced—can easily forget that once something is said on Facebook, it can take on a life of its own. . . .
Making assumptions—where to post; what to copy online; and what we should realize—can easily become a slippery slope. One that we all can slide down—including me. (The New UU, April 22)
The Rev. Meg Riley hosts a UUA Moderator Candidate Forum with Jim Key and Tamara Payne-Alex.
The Rev. Tom Schade objects to the candidates’ answers to the forum’s last question: “What can you do to make sure that those of us who are right of center still feel welcome in UU congregations?”
If the things that we religious liberals care about most deeply were held equally by both political parties, we could continue to act as though belonging to either party was just a personal preference that didn’t much matter. But that is not true, and we know it.
What religious liberals value and what contemporary political conservatism values are so in conflict that it is hard to be both. (the lively tradition, April 26)