UU News

Peace and calm, truth in hard times, world-saving religion, and more

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2015-03-20 16:06
Peace and calm

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)

Categories: UU News

Members of burned church vow to rebuild, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2015-03-20 15:37

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)

Categories: UU News

General Assembly 2015: Greener!

UUA Top Stories - Tue, 2015-03-17 15:33
Did you know that the UUA's annual meeting, General Assembly (GA), is one of the greenest events around? Did you know that GA 2015 in Portland, Oregon will engage UUs in working for climate justice?
Categories: UU News

Blessings for Justice Builders

UUA Top Stories - Tue, 2015-03-17 14:37
The Rev. Lindi Ramsden, a Unitarian Universalist minister long at the forefront of work for human rights and environmental justice, wrote these blessings—"beatitudes"—for people who work for positive change. They are part of of our collection of readings, reflections, and prayers on WorshipWeb. Blessed are you who can question your own assumptions and listen with an open mind; you will receive new insights beyond your imagining. Blessed are you who suffer the attacks of others to stand up for what is right; you will not be alone, for your courage will inspire others to rise. Blessed are you who build friendships as well as justice; even when you lose an issue, you will have strengthened the foundation of your community. Blessed are you who take delight in people; you will not be bored in meetings.
Categories: UU News

Access to water is a human right

UU World - Mon, 2015-03-16 01:00
IDEAS: Improved water management is essential to climate change adaptation.
Categories: UU News

UUA trustees mull their role in Starr King conflict

UU World - Mon, 2015-03-16 01:00
NEWS: At Board of Trustees meeting in Alabama, UUA welcomes two new congregations, may have eight more by June.
Categories: UU News

Taking Selma home, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2015-03-13 16:25

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)

Categories: UU News

Break the ropes, Selma is now, contrary voices, and more

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2015-03-13 13:32
Break the ropes

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:
dear god,
and not choke, not giggle,
nor fill with fear. (Irrevspeckay, March 10)

Selma is now

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)

Categories: UU News

Blood of the Tiger

UUA Top Stories - Wed, 2015-03-11 15:00
Set against the backdrop of China’s ascendance to world dominance, Blood of the Tiger tells of a global fight to rein in the forces of greed on behalf of one of the world’s most treasured and endangered animals.
Categories: UU News

Return to Selma

UUA Top Stories - Wed, 2015-03-11 14:40
On Sunday, March 8, 2015, hundreds of Unitarian Universalists, dressed in Standing on the Side of Love gear, marched with tens of thousands of people across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL, to honor the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. 
Categories: UU News

Grief and Weariness

UUA Top Stories - Wed, 2015-03-11 14:13
I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for twenty-four years. In 1981 I remember reading the New York Times thoroughly one summer day as I rode the subway. Somewhere way in the back pages I saw an article reporting that a number of young men were suffering from Kaposi’s sarcoma, a rare cancer usu­ally found only in older men with Mediterranean heri­tage.
Categories: UU News

Letter from a hoped-for future

UU World - Mon, 2015-03-09 01:00
SPIRIT: What Unitarian Universalism looks like, twenty years from now.
Categories: UU News

All eyes are on Selma, Ala., in this UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2015-03-06 17:56
Anniversary events over the weekend draw broad coverage and Unitarian Universalists are in the spotlight in different ways

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 3.2.15

The 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 3.4.15

Rev. 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 3.3.15

Image 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

Categories: UU News

Remembering Selma, messes and imperfections, General Assembly, and more

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2015-03-06 12:44
Arriving in Birmingham

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.”

Leslie Mills, volunteering with the Living Legacy Project, plans to blog her experiences.

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)

Other UU participants are sharing their journeys via social media, including these photos by the Rev. Linda Hart.


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)

UUs and money

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)

Categories: UU News

In Selma, 'we are your partners forever'

UU World - Fri, 2015-03-06 01:00
NEWS: More than 500 Unitarian Universalists join 50th anniversary march in Selma, Alabama, March 4–9, 2015.
Categories: UU News

"The Gift" by Jeffrey Lockwood

UUA Top Stories - Mon, 2015-03-02 15:53
Our Subaru Forester was sliding sideways down Interstate 80 at fifty miles per hour. My wife, Nan, had gingerly switched to the left-hand lane to avoid a truck that was overturned on the right shoulder, but no amount of experience, skill, or caution could overcome our car’s mass and momentum on a nearly frictionless surface. In an instant, we’d lost traction on the icy highway and were headed toward the wide median between the east- and westbound traffic.
Categories: UU News

Grief and weariness

UU World - Mon, 2015-03-02 01:00
SPIRIT: Grief has often worn me out, while restoring me to myself at the same time.
Categories: UU News

Muslim leader speaks to N.C. Unitarian Universalists

UU World - Mon, 2015-03-02 01:00
NEWS: Charlotte UUs build interfaith partnership in aftermath of killing of three Muslims in Chapel Hill.
Categories: UU News

Honoring memories of Selma, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2015-02-27 17:06

More coverage of UU connections to the historic march in Selma, Ala.

Former executive editor of The New York Times Howell Raines reflects on the powerful experience he had in 1965 when he was given the assignment to cover the prognosis of Unitarian Universalist minister the Rev. James Reeb. (Montgomery Advertiser 2.23.15)

The Rev. Lynn Hopkins of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Montgomery led a vigil to honor the death of a young, unarmed black man at the hands of police in 1965, Jimmie Lee Jackson. (Montgomery Advertiser 2.20.15)

Other Selma related stories include:

“Honoring civil rights activists on Selma’s 50th anniversary,” Albany Times Union 2.21.15

“Oscars 2015: What “Selma” Got Right and Got Wrong,” NBC News 2.22.15

“Practicing compassion, and teaching your kids: #1000speak,” ChicagoNow.com 2.21.15

UU minister seeks justice for prisoners

San Francisco, Calif., public defender and Unitarian Universalist minister, Karen Tse is profiled for her work fighting for the rights of prisoners by providing them with free legal counsel. (The Wall Street Journal 2.20.15)

Congregation celebrates new building

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon have spent the past 3 years designing and building their new meeting place in keeping with Unitarian Universalist principles supporting the democratic process and environmental stewardship. (The Bend Bulletin 2.22.15)

Seasonal event supports community members

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in East Falmouth, Mass., holds a mid-winter event each year to help support their local community, many of whom are senior citizens. The Rev. Bob Murphy says the event raises awareness of the problems brought on by difficult winter weather conditions. (capenews.net 2.20.15)

UUs lobby Texas legislators

Members of the Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry joined other people of faith at the state Capitol in Austin to lobby legislators to support full equality for LGBT people. Talking about LGBT issues from a faith perspective was both uncommon and appealing to the legislators. (dallasvoice.com 2.20.15)

Categories: UU News

Our whole complicated lives, new humanism, Malcolm X, and more

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2015-02-27 16:25
Our whole complicated lives

The Rev. Gretchen Haley writes about “how loving works.”

Some people are really super duper consistent in the type (and biological sex) of the person they fall in love with and desire. And some people truly only fall in love with and find intimacy with one person, for their whole life.

But for many of us, love and desire is a lot more complicated across our lifetimes. There are relationships we just cannot have words for, that mean more to us in many ways than the relationships we do have words for. We surprise ourselves with desire for people that we would’ve never expected at other points in our lives. Some of those desires we act on; many of them, we do not. Love changes and grows and fades and evolves—because we do. Living things change. (Another Possibility, February 23)

Karen Johnston writes about “Sex and life and aging and death [as one] gorgeous, edgy, voluptuous cloth.” (Irrevspeckay, February 24)

Katy Carpman isn’t a fan of hugging.

My body is mine, and I like to keep some space around it. When someone I do not much know is touching me more than incidentally, or wrapping around me, I can deal but I get a little twitchy. It wears me out.

A good friend? Sure, we’ll do a hug. Maybe two. I do not need to do the orbit of hugs when I arrive or before I leave a party. (Remembering Attention, February 25)

Responding to the popular book and movie, 50 Shades of Gray, Desmond Ravenstone prefers relational covenants to transactional covenants.

Too often, our consumer culture reduces sexuality to what we do—from conventional intercourse to role-playing in fetish garb. We forget that what we desire to do is inextricably linked to who we are as unique persons, and how the doing may affect our being. May we remember who we are, and what we have to bring, whenever we come together. (Ravenstone’s Reflections, February 24)

Ravenstone also provides space for a guest blogger to respond to UU World’s recent article about sex offenders in UU congregations.

When you say that those monsters shouldn’t be allowed in the doors of the Church, that you would never shake the hand of someone “like that”, please remember that you are talking about my dad. My dad who started out the same as all of us—feeling attracted to kids because he was one, and who didn’t ever grow out of it. . . .

You are talking about my dad, who lived with urges that most of us cannot judge or understand because we don’t have them. My dad who thought he could be strong enough to overcome it on his own.

My dad, who fought a hard fight. And who mostly succeeded. (Ravenstone’s Reflections, February 21)

Life obliges

Shauna Ahern, a member of the congregation I serve, applies to her own life lessons she learned at a recent memorial service.

We don’t have just one life and then a death. . . . There are, without a doubt, a thousand deaths and births while we’re here. I think the best way to live through them is to talk about it and share it with each other. Why are we so afraid of talking about death? (Gluten-Free-Girl and the Chef, February 25)

Sara Lewis introduces her congregation’s monthly theme for March, “Rhythms.”

There is a time for everything, not just for foods, but for everything. The value of living seasonally is that you attune your life to what is the right thing to be doing right now. As a life-coach once told me, “you can do almost everything you want and need to do, but honey you can’t do it all right now.” (The Children’s Chalice, February 26)

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern suggests that we enlarge our definition of compassion.

I tend to think of compassion in the context of empathizing with someone’s suffering, although if asked to define it, I would say it encompasses all feelings, joyful as well as sorrowful. . . .

If we only invite compassion for people when they’re suffering, compassion has a steep hill to climb. It has to conquer our natural desire to avoid pain. . . . Partaking of someone’s feelings becomes a chore. But if we invite compassion for all feelings, . . . feeling others’ feelings, far from being always painful, can be a source of great pleasure. It’s an act of imagination, engaging and fascinating, which sometimes does carry us into experiences we would rather not have, but also brings us happiness that we would not have experienced had we remained shut in our own minds. (Sermons in Stones, February 20)

New humanism, and a new Fellowship Movement

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden explains some of humanism’s roots—and argues that humanism now has a new context.

In fighting religious dogmas, humanism became dogmatic. Attacks on religious claims; attacks on scriptures; claims and counter-claims became part of humanist practice. This is old fashioned now, at best.

But that was then. Now, humanism has a whole new world to dwell in. A world in which religions are interesting antiques and we humans can finally get around to exploring ways to make life better . . . here and now. (Quest for Meaning, February 26)

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum thinks it’s time for a new Fellowship Movement.

I think the answer looks something like multi-site and and something like a Fellowship. The folks that are not attracted to a traditional church and its worship as the central focus might be attracted to something that is Unitarian Universalism in another package, like the Fellowships were. . . . But it needs institutional support, like the Fellowships had through the UUA staff and the mailings from Boston that provided the Fellowships with pre-prepared worship services and programs.

Today, it won’t be an ad in a newspaper, but something spread by social media. And maybe the staff person isn’t from Boston but rather, like the multi-site model, supplied by the nearest congregation. But the model being so fixed and clear and authorized and organized centrally is what made the Fellowship model so successful. We need that clear vision and mandate to grow these new entities, the new Fellowships. (The Lively Tradition, February 20)

Remembering Malcolm X

For the Rev. Dan Harper, reading Malcolm X is “a bracing experience.”

Recently, I’ve been questioning this notion of “white privilege” that we white liberals have been playing around with for twenty-five years or so. In The Ballot or the Bullet, Malcom X writes: “Whenever you’re going after something that belongs to you, anyone who’s depriving you of the right to have it is a criminal. Understand that. Whenever you are going after something that is yours, you are within your legal rights to lay claim to it. And anyone who puts forth any effort to deprive you of that which is yours, is breaking the law, is a criminal.” This simple, clear statement puts the lie to the concept of “white privilege”; what we’re actually talking about is theft, a criminal act, a crime. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, February 21)

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