- About Us
When news stories spark conversations about domestic violence, Karen Johnston urges us to “let our voices be a safe haven.”
Let us remember who is in the room.
Let us be mindful of who is in the room when we speak, when we consider how and when to ask our questions. Let us be thoughtful when we speculate.
Let us be guided by facts and real-life testimony of survivors of violence and their allies that in most any public circumstance, in any gathering of people, there are survivors of domestic violence among us. They are us and we are them. (irrevspeckay, September 11)Thirteen years ago
The Rev. James Ford comments that it’s hard to believe it’s been thirteen years since the September 11 attacks.
Today, these thirteen years later, at home we’ve come to be divided even more than we were before, something I’d not thought possible if asked in about it on 9/10.
And in the relentless play of causality even a president who came into office in significant part on the promise to extricate us from the morass looks to be forced into a fight with a truly horrific child birthed out of the whole dirty mess.
Blood poured upon blood. (Monkey Mind, September 11)
The Rev. Lynn Ungar acknowledges that we have responded to the 9/11 attacks by choosing security over freedom.
When the World Trade Center towers came down. . . . everything changed, because we had to come face to face with the reality that loss on such a grand scale really could camp out on our very doorstep.
And then we had to figure out how to respond. Would we build back our personal defenses through going on attack, following the illusion that we could simply exterminate everyone who was a possible threat? . . . . Why yes, we would.
Because anything is better than simply dwelling in the knowledge that we are not safe, that the horrors which befall any one of us could befall all of us, that loss lurks around every corner. (Quest for Meaning, September 11)The just-world fallacy
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum examines the just-world fallacy in the context of leaked celebrity photos and the death of Michael Brown.
What happened to Jennifer Lawrence was a crime. Her privacy was invaded, her digital material stolen, her pictures shared without her consent. What happened to Michael Brown was horribly wrong, and no unarmed person deserves to be shot by the police. We’re pushing back against the bully culture and the rape culture, too, that tell us that the victims deserved what they got.
[Your] disease, your misfortune, crime perpetuated against you—these are not what you deserve. The Just-World perspective is a fallacy. You have inherent worth and dignity, you are worthy of love, you deserve a good and happy life. (Loved for Who You Are, September 8)Effort, engagement, and success
The Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford wonders, “When did ‘pet project’ become an insult in UU churches?”
What if, rather than trying to get 40 participants for one program, we instead equipped and empowered 40 members to go out and each one follow their own passion? Maybe we gave them meeting space or maybe even a little seed money. Maybe all we did was cheer them on, and offer them the shared wisdom of all the other church members who were changing the world in their own particular calls. (The Lively Tradition, September 11)
The Rev. Dan Harper responds to a blog post about moving beyond the simple congregational metric of average worship attendance.
Odom’s blog post ends with him wishing that he “could go back to the good old days and track a couple of different numbers.” I don’t share his nostalgia—I’m fascinated by the ongoing evolution of congregations, and I love the opportunities for creativity we now have.
How about you? What metrics would you use to figure out how your congregation is doing? (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, September 9)
The Rev. Dawn Cooley, drawing on her experience with roller derby, asks, “What are our stinky pads,” the evidence of our hard work?
On the one hand, I see evidence of our liberal religious effort all over the place. . . . Of course, just providing space is not enough—a roller derby team can provide practice times, but if no one shows up, no effort is put in. So then I wonder: Are people attending these events, workshops and opportunities provided by various liberal religious entities? Are they showing up and putting in effort? If so, then I think that this is one way that we can see evidence of “faithful sweat stains.”
But this does not seem sufficient—we need an outward component as well. (The Lively Tradition, September 10)Finding peace
The Rev. Tamara Lebak struggles to be calm when she gets a flat—driving on the highway, with her young daughter in the back seat.
It is nearly impossible to hide an emotion when in cognitive or emotional overload. You will inevitably leak. It seeps out in our voice or in a nearly imperceptible micro-expression that warns others of our emotional world even if they don’t know exactly what they saw. On the one hand I want Beckett to be able to identify and articulate what she is feeling when she is feeling it and I would like to model that. I don’t want her to hide her feelings. On the other hand I do not need her upset when I am trying to dodge oncoming cars. I had a job to do. (Under the Collar in Oklahoma, September 9)Using—and protecting—the web
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern encourages us to help protect net neutrality.
I have loved living in this age, seeing the internet grow from nonexistent, to a seldom-used novelty, to the central part of our lives it is now. It’s how I do research, meet new people, share my daughter’s childhood with faraway family and friends; it’s my ongoing university, workshop, and studio; it’s how I met my wife. I hate to picture looking back on this as the long-gone heyday of the internet. I don’t want to tell my daughter, as she works with a much different network of channeled and ranked information, “Let me tell you about 2014, when the internet was still neutral.” (Sermons in Stones, September 10)
Katy Schmidt Carpman uses “the interdependent web” to facilitate a long-distance, surprise donut delivery.
The blessings of a single donut have rippled through the week. Favors and laughter and networking and sugary sweetness—it’s all good. (Remembering Attention, September 10)
County vote supports woman seeking sanctuary
Dozens of people from ten different Unitarian Universalist churches and other faith communities recently gathered in support of a resolution to close the deportation case of a Tucson, Ariz., woman who has received sanctuary at a local church. Pima County supervisors voted 3-1 in favor of the resolution. In an email message, an ICE spokeswoman explained: “Essentially this means ICE has not granted a stay of her court-ordered removal, but the agency is exercising discretion by not taking her into custody.” (Arizona Daily Star – 9.2.14)
Demonstrations aimed at moving legislators to act
A prayer rally was held at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus as part of a “Moral Week of Action” event that took place across twelve states and aimed to move legislators to act on a variety of issues, including economic justice, racial equality, and women’s rights. The Rev. Lynda Smith of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Ohio, was in attendance. (Examiner – 8.29.14)
Unitarian church to hold conference on immigration in Ohio (IndeOnline.com – 9.3.14)
Minister’s book examines ‘Naked Truth’ of aging
A 2012 calendar featuring twelve older men posing in tastefully nude photographs has now led to a new book, The Naked Truth About Aging. The book’s author, and former calendar model Hugo Hollerorth is a retired Unitarian Universalist minister who originally posed for the 2012 calendar to raise funds for his church, First Parish in Framingham, Mass. (Boston Globe – 9.4.14)
More news from UUs and congregations
Conflicting stories of the events leading to an LGBT community leader’s arrest by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have raised the concerns of some local residents. More than a dozen community leaders gathered at a press conference earlier this week calling on local police to investigate the incidents leading to the arrest and the arresting officer who has a history of aggressive interactions with the public. “I think we as a community, we would agree as a baseline standard that we would ask those first responders to first do no harm, don’t make the situation worse,” said the Rev. Jay Leach, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte, N.C. (GoQnotes.com – 9.3.14)
All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Okla., joined a group of local churches to host an interfaith candlelight vigil in response to the deadly shooting of Ferguson, Mo., teen Michael Brown. At least nine religious leaders spoke at the event as candles were lit as a sign of unity in the wake of the violence that swept through Ferguson last month. (NewsOn6.com – 8.31.14)
Visiting her parents after her father has had two strokes, Kari Kopnick finds solace in song.
The song most present for me today is . . . “All Will Be Well” by the Rev. Meg Barnhouse and while it’s not in any of our hymnals (yet!), it is one of the best songs for keeping on keeping on when things are hard. I have plucked my way through the chorus of this on my guitar, teaching it to groups of children and adults—and they have told me that it helps. It helps. It does.
All will be well, all will be well all manner of things—will be well. (Chalice Spark, August 28)
Lane Campbell writes about the self-destructive habit of comparing herself to others.
I am someone who often measures my own accomplishments next to colleagues. I take a look at what they are doing on their websites and in social media. I listen to colleagues at professional events and wonder why I am not doing more. Why am I not like them?!
It is a way of shaming myself. I look at what others are doing and revisit those feats and accomplishments as a source of why I am not good enough at my job, at my work-life balance, at being a family member—the list could continue. (Loved for Who You Are, September 1)
Jordinn Nelson Long shares the struggles—and joys—of homeschooling her gifted, complicated son.
Babies come shrouded in mystery, and between that and the beauty that blinds and the strengths that draw our gaze away from the weaknesses and the love that’s so big it’s unspeakable and the fear—O, God, the fear—it is hard. It is a difficulty both daily and eternal to see in our child’s face not our dreams but their reality.
But here is truth, and I dare to speak it, not in resignation but in acceptance—an acceptance of what is that kindles a realistic hope for what may come. I speak, I believe, in the truest love I know: Soeren is not a normal kid. Our baby is not what we expected.
And we love him and we are grateful for the gift of him and we are deeply excited at the learning that he is doing. (Raising Faith, September 2)
The Rev. Cynthia Cain understands the rage at the center of the movie Calvary.
As someone who has lived with the knowledge of childhood sexual abuse committed by a family member, as well as a clergywoman who has listened to countless stories of childhood victimization, I am deeply aware of the toll of this transgression upon the victims. I actually understand the rage that could be so all consuming it could make an otherwise peaceful person resort to violence. (Jersey Girl in Kentucky, September 4)
Kenny Wiley has depression, and is young and black; these basic truths of his existence have a lot in common.
That feeling—that people are okay with knowing that you have depression, as long as you don’t talk about it—mirrors some of what blackness has meant in the post-civil rights era.
It’s okay that I have blackness, as long as I don’t talk about it, or “act black” in any way. (A Full Day, September 2)Lessons learned—or not
Doug Muder wonders whether we will learn from the national trauma of Michael Brown’s death—or forget it with the next news cycle.
In part, that decision is up to all of us. Will we let the things we’ve learned these last few weeks slip away like the trig identities we crammed into our heads for the big math test? Or will we hang on to our new understandings and not settle back into the same old conversations? Will we demand that our news sources and our political representatives recognize these realities? Or not? (The Weekly Sift, September 1)
The Rev. Elizabeth Stevens shares some of the lessons she learned from a visit to Ferguson.
Lesson One: Don’t believe what you see on television. I expected to witness chaos, devastation, and drama. Instead, I saw a community coming together to try to address deep systemic issues and individuals trying to get back to their normal lives. (revehstevens, September 4)
Kim Hampton believes UU responses to events like Michael Brown’s death are haunted by the Black Empowerment Controversy.
[Our] cousins in the UCC have many ministers of color and congregations comprised primarily of people of color. So do the Disciples (yes, they are cousins too). So what has impeded Unitarian Universalism?
. . . Will we see [racial bias] only as something that is happening outside of our congregations and not look at the way that what is happening outside of our congregations is being played out in our congregations too?
(East of Midnight, September 3)
Britton Gildersleeve compares Puritan and Quaker beliefs about why bad and good things happen.
Suffice to say: Puritans believed in the inherent evil of human beings; Quakers believed in the inherent good. If you were a Puritan and good things happened to you, God was showing favour. If bad things happened? It was your own fault. . . .
If you get tased by a cop, Puritans would say, it’s YOUR fault. NOT the fault of the racially paranoid clerk at the store, or the racially motivated police. Yours, even if you’re following the law. After all, if you’re black? God must not love you as much. Or something. (Beginner’s Mind, August 29)
The Rev. Meredith Garmon examines three contemporary perspectives on faith, including this one by Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg.
Faith is stepping, jumping, skipping, leaping, somersaulting right into the middle of possibilities for how we might evolve and for what goodness might burst forth. Faith’s opposite, then, is not doubt, but despairing withdrawal. (The Liberal Pulpit, August 29)
Claire Curole encounters opportunities to think about Postmodern theology while on vacation in Maine.
I ought, perhaps, to have used the camera more on vacation. Then I could pass round a picture and say, this here? this is what the post-Modern critique of Modernism looks like. It has weathered cedar shingles and a faded sign and a whimsical piece of folk art in the window, and it is open every day but only until four o’clock. It smells of salt and old fish and road tar. It is around the corner from a vacant boarded-up sardine cannery with a crumbling concrete dock and across the street from an empty lot where a set of granite stairs leads to nothing. Post-Modernism has a soft, cynical chuckle at Modernism’s notions of progress because progress is motion and motion means “away from here” and post-Modernism knows that “here” will still be here when the big houses burn down or sag on their sills until they collapse under their own unmaintained weight.
Post-Modernism paints flowers where they will not grow, because it can. (Sand Hill Diary, August 31)Quitting the NFL
The Rev. Adam Tierney-Eliot quits the NFL, after a turning point watching a game last season.
I saw a wealthy old billionaire high-fiving his billionaire friends while his employees permanently damaged their heads, spines, legs and backs in pursuit of…something. On the sideline was the caricature of the sort of horrible, screaming, obscene middle-aged suburban dad most of us try not to become at youth sporting events. I asked myself if I wanted to be the sort of person who condones this. The answer, it turned out, was “no.” (Burbania Posts, September 3)
Citizens for Economic Justice argues only human beings are people
An offshoot of the social justice committee of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Fairhaven, Conn., Citizens for Economic Justice, has begun gathering signatures in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which granted free speech protection to the political contributions of corporations. The group is associated with the national Move to Amend organization, which seeks to amend the Constitution so that the Bill of Rights applies only to human beings. Voters in the state’s 10th Bristol District will vote on the amendment in November. (South Coast Today – 8.27.14)
Climate change supporters gather in Iowa
Cross-country marchers visited Davenport, Iowa, earlier this week as part of the Walkers on the Great March for Climate Action. The walkers, who left Los Angeles in March and are expected to reach Washington, D.C., by early November, drew a large crowd of supporters, including members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad-Cities, Davenport. UU minister the Rev. Jay Wolin told those attending “We are one with the universe. If we harm it, we harm ourselves. Let us walk gently upon the earth.” (Quad-City Times – 8.24.14)
Other climate news:
Earth and Spirit: Marching for our climate (Wicked Local – 8.23.14)
More from UUs and congregations
A week after a request to remove a deportation order was denied, fifteen-year Tucson, Ariz., resident Rose Imelda Robles Loreto continues to live in a Tucson church while support for her cause grows. More than 3,250 have signed a website petition asking President Barack Obama to close Loreto’s case. The Rev. Matthew Crary and members of the Santa Rita Choral from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Amado, Ariz., have launched a website to bolster Loreto and other supporters. (Green Valley News and Sun – 8.24.14)
Disappointed by the latest ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court delaying same-sex marriage in Virginia, the Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael of Accotink Unitarian Universalist Church in Burke, Va., remains prepared to perform wedding ceremonies. “It’s an amazing time to live through all this stuff,” he said, “where it looks like we’ve regressed 40 years; but you take a couple steps forward, a couple steps back. You’ve gotta hope that you can enjoy the show.” (The Connection – 8.27.14)
Kim Hampton resists pressure to begin the healing process after the death of Michael Brown.
Too often in the U.S., black people and black communities are asked to start the healing (or reconciliation or forgiveness) process before our slaughtered are even buried . . . .
How can a community heal when a knife is stuck in their back 10 inches, brought back out, and then plunged in again? (East of Midnight, August 24)
The Rev. Cynthia Cain is not ready to “move on.”
Unlike our President and so many others, I do not pray for an end to the protests in Ferguson and for peace at all costs. Not if peace means people have gone back to sleep. Let them stand up, even with anger if that is what it takes, and let this rage spread as far as it must, for ignoring this situation has not made it better, only worse. (A Jersey Girl in Kentucky, August 23)
The Rev. James Ford marks the anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till.
So much has been accomplished since then.
And so much that is so deeply wrong continues. As long as someone’s life is in greater danger in this country because of the color of their skin, we need to keep the issue alive, to not allow ourselves to lull into some state of denial.
We need to remember. (Monkey Mind, August 28)Love is not enough
Pushing back against “Standing on the Side of Love,” Christine Slocum says, “Love is not enough on its own.”
We need love, and we are loved, and there is more to do. The next time you hear, “God is love,” ask yourself, “so then what?” What are you doing because of this love that you have? How do you improve the world because you are loved? The world needs love, and it needs more. Never forget that. (Loved for Who You Are, August 25)
When an African-American colleague tells the story of a traumatic encounter with the police when she was three years old, the Rev. Meg Riley writes, “I am stopped in my tracks, recognizing anew how totally and completely I will never know anything but my own (white) experience.”
From that moment on, in every other memory she carries, she has woven in a lack of safety and a constant threat that I can never imagine. Because she is joyful and generous, because she lives with a giant heart and spirit, I presume that she and I more or less inhabit the same planet. And then I hear just this tiniest formational sliver of her story and I realize I haven’t the faintest idea how she professes and lives her theology of love for people of all races. (HuffPo Religion, August 28)
Andrew Mackay considers the role of outsiders in working for change.
Though there are moral principles at stake here, the question those who wish to help need to ask is “if we can, how can we help you?” versus “I know what can help you.” Respect for autonomy, whether in the black community, or indigenous peoples fighting Chevron and mining companies, or whatever group is engaged in struggle, is important. Part of the Freedom Summer was allowing the oppressed to gain political tools to use against their oppressors. Supplying power to others, not using your own power in their name. (Unspoken Politics, August 26)
The Rev. Thomas Perchlik, who ministers in the St. Louis area, offers suggestions about how people can respond to Ferguson.
The best way you can stand in solidarity with us is to look at your own community. If it has not been done, look at how often police in your area stop people of color in proportion to their percentage of the population. Talk to people in your community about how much they trust the police officers to protect them. Ask the Police if they feel trusted. (Rev. Thomas Perchlik’s Weblog, August 22)Looking back
As he celebrates 20 years as a religious educator, the Rev. Dan Harper takes stock of his experiences.
So why have I stuck with it? Well, I still believe that religious education is important. Occasionally I have seen our congregations save the lives of children and adolescents; more often, I have seen congregations serve as anchors for kids, stabilizing influences in their lives. Equally importantly, now that so many adults come to our congregations with no background in organized religion, religious education for adults becomes increasingly central to congregational life. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, August 28)
Andrew Hidas remembers the advice of a long-ago spiritual director.
Live. Be involved. Do. Move. Quit dividing the world into sacred and secular, spiritual and profane, body and mind. Don’t worry about the “What,” just make sure you get after the “Do.” (Traversing, August 22)Organizing for mission and usefulness
The Rev. Dawn Cooley suggest a “6H” approach to organizing congregational mission—healing, holding, hearing, helping, handing off, and homecoming. Here’s the first H, healing:
HEALING those participants who are spiritually wounded and struggling, providing resources (such as pastoral care and counseling) to those in spiritual need who choose to participate in the life of the congregation. So many people come to us desperate for our message of love and acceptance. And so many of those already with us have crises in our lives during which we need a community of love and support. Before any of the other steps can take place, people need to be spiritually rejuvenated. (Speaking of, August 25)
Cooley also applies the 6H approach to making the UUA a “relentlessly useful” organization. (The Lively Tradition, August 28)Knowing and unknowing
The Rev. Dr. David Breeden thinks of agnosticism as a spiritual practice.
Contrary to the cliche, agnosticism isn’t about not deciding. It’s about honestly facing what we know about knowing itself. It is, as the Victorian biologist, T.H. Huxley, who coined the term, said, “not a creed but a method.” (Quest for Meaning, August 28)
The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg revisits the biblical story of Eve and the tree of knowledge.
This connection is intentional between being mature enough to comprehend moral complexity (good and evil) and being mature enough to be self-aware of adult sexuality. The capability of understanding the messiness, complexity, and gray-areas associated with adult moral reasoning emerges around the same time as adolescence and puberty. So in the trajectory of human psycho-sexual development, we can see the root of that correlation between eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and one’s body beginning to come into fruition (if you will) in a way that brings a very different kind of knowledge — a carnal knowledge sometimes called a “loss of innocence.” And once you “eat of such fruit,” childhood innocence is lost — just as Adam and Eve could never go back to their previous naked and carefree life in the Garden. (Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism, August 28)
Supreme Court blocks same-sex marriage in Virginia
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed earlier this week to delay an appeals court ruling that would strike down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. A constitutional amendment approved by Virginia voters in 2006 banned same-sex marriage and prohibited the recognition of legal marriages performed in other states. A network of state clergy, including the Rev. Linda Olson Peebles of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Va., have planned to attend courthouses across the state to begin performing wedding ceremonies once the ban is lifted. “It’s been a long journey,” she said. “We’re letting everybody know we’re going to be ready to join in Virginia moving forward, letting go of its sad history and moving forward.” (CBS News - 8.20.14)
“Clergy preparing for same-sex marriage ceremonies” (NBC 29 – 8.19.14)
“Same-sex marriage in Virginia blocked by Supreme Court” (WSET.com - 8.20.14)
Arizona UUs reach out to immigrants seeking sanctuary
Facing a deportation order, Mexico native Rosa Imelda Robles Loreto has taken sanctuary at the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Ariz., where community members have gathered in support of the 15-year Tucson resident, including the Rev. Matthew Cray and members of the UU Church in Amado, Ariz.. The Amado congregation has considered becoming a sanctuary church for other immigrants and is looking at how it can address needs in the community. (Green Valley News and Sun – 8.18.14)
“Child migrant crisis prompts some to open their homes” (KGOU.org – 8.17.14)
“Thousands of locals show support for woman in sanctuary” (KVOA.com – 8.21.14)
UUs work for social justice
One hundred people marched in a clergy-organized rally calling for the replacement of St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch in the wake of the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. The Rev. Julie Taylor, rally participant and minister at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church in Ellisville, Mo., said she had been to Ferguson and believed that clergy there had reduced tensions and saved lives. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch – 8.21.14)
In a Moral Week of Action event, the Rev. Lynda Smith of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Ohio, joined clergy from various faith traditions in front of the Ohio Statehouse to kick off a week of prayer aimed at encouraging legislators to govern with morality. (Columbus Dispatch – 8.22.14)
One Colorado, the state’s largest gay-rights group, awarded the Rev. Mike Morran of First Unitarian Society of Denver with one of six 2014 Ally Awards in recognition of his “efforts in advancing equality and making a difference in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Coloradans.” Morran has been officiating commitment ceremonies for LGBT families for 17 years and worked to organize Colorado Clergy for Equality in Marriage. (Denver Post – 8.15.14)
Plaidshoes, a twenty-year resident of the St. Louis area, is frustrated by opinionated outsiders and “agitators.”
I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to hear people pontificating on the circumstances of Ferguson when they don’t even live in the area. Ferguson, and the St. Louis metro area as a whole, is complicated. I have lived here twenty years and I am sure I don’t have a full grasp of all the nuances, especially in terms of race and class. . . . We aren’t going to get the answers with everyone distorting the truth—especially from those who aren’t from the area. I can only pray that the agitators back down so that the true work of justice can begin. (Everyday Unitarian, August 20)
Kim Hampton, with a longer family history in St. Louis, disagrees with Plaidshoes.
White Ferguson is living their life as if nothing has really changed all that much. . . . So while I understand Plaidshoes’ wish that the ‘agitators’ (a loaded term) would stop stirring up things, from my side of the divide, without those agitators Michael Brown would have been just another black kid who got killed by the police for doing nothing other than being black in a public space. (East of Midnight, August 20)
The Rev. Susan Maginn has deep family roots in the Ferguson area.
Here we are, all of us, the whole nation, the whole world looking at Ferguson, Missouri and feeling these questions arise that really have no answer. Are the decades and centuries of racial injustice just too heavy to completely heal? Are the echoes of ancestral sins so painfully loud that the best we can do is to move away from each other, to live in different parts of town, to steal from each other, to imprison and kill each other. . . ?
We look at Ferguson today and we see how real and unsettling these questions are. We see how easy it is for most of us white people to just move away from these questions if we want to. But not today. Even if you have never stepped foot in Missouri, for today at least, Ferguson is your messy ancestral home too. (Quest for Meaning, August 15)
Liz James admits that she understands “nothing about what it’s like to be a black person on the streets of Ferguson.”
Privilege does not call me to try to switch roles and become like the oppressed. That doesn’t work, and also it seems to me that the main point of that would be to make myself feel like a better person. When I say I don’t know what I am talking about, I don’t mean that I should feel bad for that. I mean that I should recognize it, so that I will channel my rage, guilt, frustration, and sadness in the right ways. Into learning about the things that I have realized I don’t know.
We are not called to become guilt-ridden. We are called to become useful. (Rebel with a Labelmaker, August 21)We will never get used to it
Lena Gardner writes that she will never “get used to” the stress of police harassment.
Someone on Facebook said they are just so tired of hearing Black people ‘complain’ about the police. There are many responses one could have to that, but my response is this: We will never get used to it. We will never get used to the police killing our children when the police could make another choice that would mean life instead of death. (Spirit, Soul and Journeying, August 18)
Karen Johnston takes “the Ferguson challenge”—talking to an African-American taxi driver about “what life is really like in this country from the lived experience of a person of color.” (irrevspeckay, August 21)The big picture
Kim Hampton looks at Ferguson in light of the story of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac.
Slavery created a dynamic in this country that not enough people want to recognize. Just like Hagar and Ishmael there is the misuse and abuse of black bodies and then the discarding of them as if they were the problem.
America, like Abraham, sacrificed one child for another. And just like Abraham, America has to live with the consequences of that decision. (East of Midnight, August 19)
Doug Muder provides an overview of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) forms of racism at work in Ferguson.
“This is a test,” Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said. But it’s not just the people of Ferguson or the police or Nixon himself who are being tested this week. It’s all of us. As we watch events unfold, in how many ways do they just look different because of race? How hard is it to back up, re-examine our initial framing, and ask ourselves what we’d be thinking if race were not a factor? (The Weekly Sift, August 18)
The Rev. Peter Boulatta calls Ferguson an American intifada.
To be sure, it is not a perfect analogy, but the sight of popular civilian protests facing off against an army firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowds, training their automatic weapons on civilians as they patrolled the streets in helmets and camouflage, seemed apropos. (Held in the Light, August 20)Enough already
The Rev. Theresa Novak, tired of preventable pain, says, “Enough already.”
Everyone must die
Pain is part of life
We can’t do much
And only some about disease
But we are here
To make it better
Enough already (Sermons, Poetry, and Other Musings, August 18)
The Rev. Dawn Cooley struggles with feeling powerless about Ferguson.
So many of us are hurting, overwhelmed by the issues going on in Ferguson and elsewhere around the country. We may want to just ignore it, but since it is not going away, we get drawn in.
Our pain is a testament to our interconnection. We hurt, seeing and hearing about these events, because we know we are connected to those who are suffering, in Ferguson and beyond. We have an innate capacity for compassion, to want to reduce suffering if we can. And right now, many of us feel impotent. “What can I do about it?” we may ask ourselves. (Speaking of, August 20)
The Rev. Dr. David Breeden tends to be cynical about change, but hopes smart phones might make a difference.
The new technology brought about the Arab Spring, and it might—it could—begin to dismantle the current US system of black oppression.
Violence against this systematic oppression is not the answer. Neither is a brief paroxysm of national outrage. The violence will stop only when we the people catch the acts and put them on television and across the web. . . .
I can’t speak for the people across the river in Missouri, but this white guy, a descendent of Confederates and white supremacists, would like to see an end to the violence and oppression. (Quest for Meaning, August 21)Faces of depression
Liz James joins the conversation about mental health, hoping that her story helps to decrease stigma.
Mental health ebbs and flows. We do not heal from what is wrong in order to become amazing, talented, happy creatures. There are all these stories of terrible pain and they are carried by people who are so awe inspiring in their skill, generosity, and general awesomeness. And that kind of makes the world a swirling tragedy, but it also kind of makes it filled to the brim with crazy punch drunk un-suppressible hope.
I am both.
I am guessing you are too.
The world is a miracle that way. (Rebel with a Labelmaker, August 18)
The Rev. Marilyn Sewell acknowledges her struggle with depression, and describes how depression feels.
We go through the day encased in a bubble, untouched by the life moving all around us. Ordinary sadness can be punctured by beauty, grief by hope. But depression disallows the small joys that coax others into wanting to get up another day. We can describe the sunset, but we can’t experience the sunset. We know people care, but no one can reach us. We are outcast, forsaken, a canker sore on the body of the community. We just want the pain to end. (HuffPo Religion, August 18)Relentless usefulness, radical love
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum hopes that the UUA will re-envision Donald Skinner’s goal of being “relentlessly useful.”
Create branding, yes, but create the websites, the newsletters, the pamphlets, the print ads, the Facebook photos for us to use it on. Help our churches by doing payroll for us and free us up from the back-office work, much like you help us with our endowments with the Common Endowment Fund. Free up our congregations to do what they do best. (The Lively Tradition, August 16)
Justin Almeida feels called by faith, vocation, and impending fatherhood to learn “radical love.”
My first child will be born around Christmas this year. My partner and I didn’t know if we could conceive. Now a baby is around the corner and the world is suddenly smaller because it is filled with baby-potential. And just like I would hate to have somebody come over with a pile of dirty dishes in the sink and dog hair everywhere, I am ashamed at the state of my world for which responsibility will fall on my child. The only way my son/daughter is going to succeed where my generation has failed is if I can teach them radically hard love, and I can’t teach something I haven’t experienced. (What’s My Age Again?, August 18)