- About Us
Andrew Hidas reviews the movie, The Sessions, which tells the story of Mark O’Brien, left mostly paralyzed after contracting polio as a child; the movie focuses on the relationship between the adult O’Brien and sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen Greene.
[At] one point during a session with Cohen Greene . . . she leaned over and kissed his chest. The effect of this surpassingly normal lovemaking gesture was both immediate and profound. O’Brien started to cry, and Cohen Greene knew something powerful had occurred. He had always hated his chest, thought it unmanly in a world of buffed chests . . . . Now a person, an other, a woman, had kissed and nuzzled it, in a brief moment of basic affection and regard. (tra-ver-sing, February 27)
Andy Coate writes a thank-you note to all those who have helped him claim the fullness of who he is.
For all the femmes out there
who said, “oh honey, I love you exactly like you are,”
those fierce ass women who society loves to ignore
for all of you who told the people I’d date in the future
that it was okay to date the girl
in the button up
and the ill-fitting men’s pants
and the too big boots
and thus led to too many flings and lots of loving embraces.
Thank you (thoughts on blank, February 23)
The Rev. Naomi King, who suffers from chronic pain, rejects the idea that illness is God testing her.
Life is not a test, but a gift. What we do with that gift is the test.
The test of my faith is in every day, and pain or no pain, illness or health, the question is: how merciful, how generous, how kind, how loving, how just, how reverent—that is, how faithful—am I? (The Wonderment, February 24)
The Rev. James Ford admits that there’s “nothing like spending a couple of hours among the godly to bring out the atheist in me.”
My problem with most of god talk as we get it from the theistic community, is the ingrained assumption there is an entity that acts within history and in particular interferes with our individual lives. For the life of me I cannot figure out how people can look at their lives and think that. Or, think that and assume the deity involved is benign. . . .
This is too bad, because God is a perfectly good word to point to the great mess. (Monkey Mind, February 28)
When one of the first and second graders doesn’t seem to be interested in dressing up as a Bible character, Sara Lewis wonders why.
I asked if he didn’t want to be in the “play”, and he said: “No, I just don’t need a costume. I’m going to be God, and God just stands on the sidelines and doesn’t do much.” (The Children’s Chalice, February 27)The language of faith
The recent message of the Rev. James Forbes to the UU Ministers Association leads the Rev. Tom Schade to reflect that UUs “have [been] practicing the kind of multi-inter-no-faith . . . speech that will be needed in the days to come.”
Because we have had to speak for and to those who are allergic to such Christian-specific language, we have learned to speak of grace as “that strange bright luck it is to be the owner, for a few years, of this beating heart.” (the lively tradition, February 19)
For Terri Pahucki, birds of prey have been the metaphors of her faith for the past several seasons.
From barred owl sightings in summer to red tail hawk with snake dangling from talons in the October breeze. I’ve seen those hawks on the side of the highways, and heard the jealous crows in the winter cold. Terrifying and powerful, wise and majestic, they come as signifiers of transformation. Now is the time for the bald eagle’s return.
I write of these birds now on a day when my faith is shaken, when I’ve seen a little more of the darkness, and tasted a bit more of the fear of this world. (Walking the Journey, February 25)
The Rev. Marguerite Sheehan tells a story about the ancient word hesed, a word used in the Hebrew Scriptures to mean faithful lovingkindness.
Hesed is a rare bird to sight and when I witness that love, it moves me to tears. This time I saw Hesed in the parking lot of the nursing home. . . .
As I got out of my car I heard a quiet but steady singing. Sitting in the car next to me was a very old man. Slowly and in a labored fashion, he was getting out of the car and heading toward the front door of the home. I said to him “That is a beautiful song that you are singing.” He responded with “I come here 10 times a day to sing to my wife.” (Reverend Marguerite, February 27)Borders of belonging
John Beckett encourages us to seek out liminal places, borderlands that are full of both danger and opportunity.
These liminal zones, these in-between places and times, are magical. It is no coincidence that the most powerful holy days in the modern Pagan calendar are Beltane and Samhain, the transitions between Winter and Summer. . . . During these in-between times, normal rules break down—children do not dress in costumes and knock on doors asking for candy on normal days. Because rules break down, liminal zones are both times of great opportunity and times of great danger. (Under the Ancient Oaks, February 26)
Theresa Ines explores the question of being a seminarian of color in a white dominant culture.
I am called to listen to the voices that are not heard as loudly as white voices are by those who are accustomed to being dominant voices. I am called to act for love and justice in a way that holds daily life as sacred as times of worship or times of meditation or study. I am called to preserve my identity as a Latin@ and to support others in preserving their cultural and theological identities. (Inexplicable Beauty, February 26)
When she receives a form letter from UU World magazine, Jacqueline Wolven learns that her local UU congregation no longer considers her a member.
At first I was angry. . . . Then my husband said something that was extremely liberating. He said that you can leave a church when it no longer fits your needs. . . .
I was raised a Unitarian. A secular humanist Unitarian. It is who I am, but maybe the UUA isn’t that anymore. In fact, they aren’t that anymore. . . .
Right now I’m not sure what I am going to do, but I am opening myself up to the possibilities. I am allowing my thinking to shift. (Jacqueline Wolven, February 25)Spinning in new directions
Over the next few months, The Interdependent Web plans to become a broader reflection of UU conversation on the web, expanding beyond our original focus on blogging to include social media, graphic design, videos, podcasts, and more.
Are we abandoning blogging? Absolutely not. One of the Rev. Dan Harper’s posts this week addresses changes in blogging, and alludes to its ongoing mission. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, February 26). Like Harper, we believe that blogging is an important platform for writers skillfully using words to address issues of interest to Unitarian Universalists; it is one of many ways UUs are making public witness to their faith.
In the spirit of social media, we’d like to enlist your help. If you see something particularly well done, or that is generating significant conversation, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s a taste of what we’re hoping to include, from the UU Media Collaborative on Tumblr—a beautiful graphic designed by Jessica Ferguson (which we have not yet decided/discovered how to embed here!). (February 28)
Two Who Dared, a documentary about UUSC founders Martha Sharp and the Rev. Waitstill Sharp, who helped European refugees escape the Nazis during World War II, is being screened at the UU Church of Chattanooga, Tenn. This will be the first time the film—produced by the Sharps’ grandson, Artemis Joukowsky III, and Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker Matthew Justus—has been screened in Tennessee. (Times Free Press – 2.16.13)
On Valentine’s Day, same-sex couples, activists, and church leaders gathered across the country at “Standing on the Side of Love” marriage equality rallies. More than a dozen Salt Lake City couples applied for marriage licenses and were rejected in an event designed to draw attention to issues of marriage equality. (Salt Lake Tribune – 2.14.13)
Members of several UU congregations, including the UU Fellowship of Marion County in Summerfield, Fla., protested the school board’s response to a proposed gay-straight alliance club at a local middle school. (Ocala – 2.20.13)
Theresa Ines is tired of the inherent ableism in the Standing on the Side of Love campaign’s name.
It’s probably too late to change the slogan all together. What if Standing on the Side of Love had at least one piece of art that had people standing and people in wheelchairs and walkers. or all the people sitting, some in chairs and some in wheelchairs and some with walkers? We would begin to create a visual association that would expand the metaphor of standing to include more people. (inexplicable beauty, February 20)
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum points out the anti-democratic effects of Michigan’s “Emergency Financial Manager” legislation.
Right now the Michigan governor is deciding whether or not to appoint an “Emergency Financial Manager” (EFM) for the city of Detroit. A Michigan political blog, the Electablog, points out that if the governor does so, 49% of African-Americans in the state of Michigan will be residing in places under EFM rule.
Why this is such a big deal, and why the EFM law is such a big deal to begin with, is that an EFM replaces local democratically-elected government with a person appointed by the governor. (Rev. Cyn, February 20)Unseen struggles
Christine Organ urges us to look more closely at the people around us.
On closer inspection, we learn that a lazy co-worker is actually struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia. That the aloof mom who avoids making eye contact at PTA meetings is struggling to find the right medication to treat her post-partum depression. That the beautiful, happy couple living in the big house down the street is sinking further into debt and haven’t slept in the same room for more than a year. (Random Reflectionz, February 21)
As she works out at the Y, the Rev. Parisa Parsa prays for those around her, for their hidden strivings for “things deeper than weight loss or heart health, physical strength or beach bodies.”
For all of the unseen, unspoken struggles we share as we sweat and grunt and groan, as we listen to iPods and chat with companions, may there be ears to hear and eyes to see our earnest work for relief. May our strivings not go unnoticed, in this life or beyond. May we find the deeper realms of wellness we dream of, and that we all deserve. (pastor prayers, February 19)A new UU congregation in Kandahar
The Rev. Chris Antal. . . . served my small congregation as the consulting minister this past year before he was deployed, so I know firsthand that he is a minister who can and does make a difference. It’s exciting to see the work he is doing in Afghanistan shared and celebrated! But beyond celebration, I sense both challenge and call that exists for UU’s everywhere as we unite our own congregations in supporting this work of sharing our faith in war zones abroad. (Walking the Journey, February 19)
The article also sparks a blog post from the Rev. Scott Wells about church growth and UU responses to the surrounding culture.
[It] seems to me that Unitarian Universalists have followed the cultural rising tide with respect to the military, and with hardly a peep of introspection. More fodder to consider if Unitarian Universalism closely follows culture rather than speaking to it. (Boy in the Bands, February 20)A place to call home
The Rev. Tom Schade proposes an alternative model for growth—one based, not on worship, but on a network of life-enriching connections.
1. Start with your present UU people.
2. Encourage and empower them to connect to the networks of people in your community who seem to living our values and virtues in ways that match their own. Their work is to strengthen and deepen those networks and connections.
3. Put on the bestest worship services that you can—but services that are not just events to attract people to join the church and become active in the church’s programs. Our services should be a service—a gift given by Unitarian Universalists to the community at large: a weekly opportunity to orient yourself to the virtues and values that are most life-giving.
4. Take it up a notch: do it better, with more people and for more people. (the lively tradition, February 20)
For “Raising Faith,” a grumpy evening in her church’s basement gives way to gratitude for the sense of home she feels there.
When we talk about finding a church home, a place to connect around spirituality is probably what we’re thinking about first . . . but is that ultimately why we decide to stay? Maybe finding a church home has something to do with experiencing comfort—and perhaps it’s not just the church part we should focus on, then, when we talk about growth, but on how we offer those who find us a piece of home. (Raising Faith, February 21)
While away from home, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein finds a model of life-enriching connections in Steam and Chill, a coffee shop and tapas bar.
“Breakfast all day. Free wi-fi. Open late.” Doesn’t that feel so much different than “Hours of Operation” or “No shirt, no shoes, no service” or “Please use the other door?” What does the front door of your building say?
. . . Steam and Chill became my home away from home for the few days I was in Florida. I ate every meal there. Isn’t that what you want people to feel about your church? (PeaceBang, February 19)Around the blogosphere
Christine Leigh Slocum, a resident of the second most child-free city in the U.S., considers the question of having or not having children.
I’ve noticed that everyone is considered selfish for whatever choice they make. Parents are selfish for creating children, and non-parents are selfish for choosing to spend their efforts and resources on their selves. This seems more to be commentary on the stigma of being selfish rather than what constitutes the practice of selfishness. (Seattleite from Syracuse, February 18)
The Rev. Matt Tittle admits to considerable anxiety about “the adventure of a lifetime,” a new ministry in New Zealand.
Fear is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that we care—that we want to do well. If it weren’t for this most basic animal instinct and human emotion—the ability to be fearful—then not only wouldn’t we survive (because we wouldn’t think to protect ourselves), but we wouldn’t know courage. Courage is acting in the face of fear. (godzonepreacher, February 15)
Sara Lewis and her family have raised two winter pigs, and Sara struggles with other people’s judgmental attitudes.
Even knowing what so many of us know about factory farming models, people continue to buy meat that comes from animals raised that way. So it is confusing to me that people who can be comfortable doing that are uncomfortable with the notion of eating an animal that you raised yourself. . . .
For the last six months I’ve felt more than a bit judged, even a bit ashamed. In front of many people, we can’t talk about having the pigs. (The Curriculum of Love, February 21)
We commend the public conversation the Rev. Tom Schade has begun on his blog about UUA history and its position relative to American political and theological currents over the last 50 years.
I plan to blog regularly about modern UU history and our public theologies. I believe that we in a changing social and political situation and that our thinking about the world around us is dangerously outdated. I believe that UUs are internally focused, anxious, and timid.
I want to build up a collaborative conversation about these issues. I welcome your comments, and will respond to them as they pique my interest. (The Lively Tradition, February 15)Life and death
Kim Hampton asks how to eulogize Hadiya Pendleton.
How do you talk about the “good news” of a 15-year-old’s life when the only reason she is dead is because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time? How do you talk about the fact that, more than likely, she was shot to death by someone who was near to her in age? How do you talk about the fact that this is an all-too frequent occurrence in urban America? How do you talk about the fact that there are millions of parents, siblings, other relatives, and friends who pray every time their partner/child/sibling/relative/friend walks out the door that they will come back unharmed? (east of midnight, February 9)
The Rev. Lee Richards is not who he used to be.
I am not who I used to be in so many ways. As a teen I was deeply depressed—to the point of having suicidal ideation. I was miserable and could not imagine ever being happy, so why live? I’ve changed every cell in my body about seven times since that dark period. I’m grateful for having left the cells with those morose thoughts far behind. (Pullman Memorial Pastor’s Blog, February 11)
The Rev. Tom Schade remembers his mother on her birthday.
She died when she was just 64. I will be 64 in a few months. I now know how much too soon her death was.
Love between parents and children is a complicated thing. It can be hard, and there can be seasons in which it seems to lie fallow. The changes we go through can make it seem like we are visitors from other planets.
Try harder, friends. Try harder than I did. (The Lively Tradition, February 12)Ash Wednesday and Lent
For Terri Pahucki, Ash Wednesday is an opportunity to reflect on spiritual practices.
I have spoken to so many people in our congregation who are seeking a deeper spirituality. And though we may crave an experience of wonder and awe during our worship services, it is also what we bring into that space which creates the spiritual experience…and so we must work to discipline ourselves, rather than to come empty-handed, expectant of the feast. This is the work of our gatherings—and our commitments in between. (Walking the Journey, February 13)
Shawna Foster is putting her conversations through three gates.
Is it kind?
Is it true?
Is it necessary? (Vessel, February 13)
“momforpeaceuu” is asking herself three questions every (most!) days.
What am I thankful for?
What do I fear?
What do I hope for? (Finding My Ground, February 12)
“Angolathree” volunteers with a Boys and Girls Club just across an overpass from his own neighborhood, where he becomes a minority.
It transcends just being a minority. I am the sole representative—the only white male they see during their hours at our program. So I am not just a fellow with a rarely-seen skin tone; I represent white society. I carry all the stereotypes, culture, and history of millions of people. It’s a strange burden. (I Am a UU Occupier, February 8)
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern has started a stimulating conversation about Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel The Dispossessed in preparation for an eventual adult religious education class at the UUs of Palo Alto. (Unitarian Universalists of Palo Alto, February 8)
Linda Laskowski’s fourth post about the January meeting of the UUA Board of Trustees addresses “Why the UUA exists.”
A significant shift in the Board’s thinking about the Association’s outcomes (“ends”) was in focusing on the value added by the Association, not the differences made by its member congregations. (UUA View from Berkeley, January 9)
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum’s posts about guns continue with a sermon that’s “probably the longest sermon I’ve ever preached, and it’s way too long for a blog post, but I’m posting it all as one anyway.”
I think I’ve never given a sermon that was as controversial in this church as the one I’m about to give today. I hope it will be received with love and understanding knowing that my goal here today is to build bridges between us so that we might further the dialogue on this issue. We come together here with many different viewpoints, but as one covenanted community, dedicated to coming together in our diversity and worshiping together, and dedicated to love and justice. (Rev. Cyn, February 13)
The Rev. Kit Ketcham found herself stepping into a gap at the new fellowship where she has been worshiping after her retirement from active ministry.
It made me think. It made me wonder how long I was going to try to suppress the ministry seed, because it was clear from that moment on that it wasn’t dormant any longer. (Ms. Kitty’s Saloon and Road Show, February 12)
The Rev. Debra Haffner, a sexologist and community minister with the Unitarian Church in Westport, Conn., gave a worship service via Twitter during the recent blizzard that shut down parts of the East Coast. The local NPR station interviewed Haffner about the service. (WSHU.org – 2.11.13)
Members of the Orange Coast UU Church in Costa Mesa, Calif., gathered one final time at their old church before walking the 2.6 miles to their new building. (OCRegister – 2.14.13)
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford, Mass., is celebrating its 300th birthday with a special musical service in March. (Wicked Local-Medford – 2.15.13)
Two bloggers wrote about what makes for feelings of success rather than true achievement. Doug Stowe responded to a National Public Radio story about the “IKEA effect,” the feelings one can get from putting something together.
Sadly, the naming of this phenomenon the “Ikea effect” will normalize the consumer relationship with boxed furniture, rather than reminding us that there are even greater rewards available in true craftsmanship, in which a solo craftsman has built something useful, beautiful and real from his or her OWN creative inclinations and skill. (Wisdom of the Hands, February 7)
Laura Lee approaches the subject as an independent author struggling to find effective ways of promoting her books.
Our true religion in America is the one that says that success in any venture is possible if you have enough optimism and marketing savvy. If you fail, therefore, it can only mean you did not have enough of one or the other. That is why you find so many blogs by writers speaking with tremendous enthusiasm about novels that have, in reality, sold about 20 copies. (Author Laura Lee, February 7)Claiming popular music
David G. Markham points to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” asking “Madonna sings that life is a mystery and when people speak to us and we hear their voice sometimes it is like an angel sighing. Have you ever had that experience?” (UU A Way of Life, February 4)
Tandi Rogers shared a favorite song from an American Idol winner that was used at the UU Ministers Association Institute for Excellence, “Home” by Phillip Phillips. (Growing Unitarian Universalism, February 6)
The Rev. Lynn Ungar’s 14-year-old daughter was “aglow” after watching Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance, and asked Ungar to watch it online.
There the singer was onstage at the biggest homage to testosterone in the nation. She was up there with her all-female band and women dancers and the gal with flames shooting out of her guitar, having, as far as anyone could tell, the time of her life. Yes, she was powerful, receiving the homage of all those roaring fans, all those hands reaching out to her. And yes, she couldn’t have been more obviously, writhingly sexual. Which was, at moments, a bit jaw-dropping as something to watch with my teenage daughter. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder what exactly there is to object to about her hip-swinging, hair-flinging sexiness. (Quest for Meaning, February 6)
Meanwhile, Gary Lerude recommends “Benedictus” by 2CELLOS for meditation. (Be Spiritual, February 3)Family matters
Deb Werrlein contemplates taking her husband’s surname.
When I got married nearly twenty years ago, I . . . didn’t realize how uncomfortable my new name would be until I took it. My primary regret, however, is that I didn’t set a different example for my kids. I think it’s important they understand that the tradition of marriage originated as a means of trading in women. Love, and eventually partnership, came in time. These things have changed marriage and should change its tenets accordingly. Consequently, I hope my kids will see the traditions around marriage as in flux and subject to their invention. (small house, big picture, February 4)
Sarah Macleod is raising (and homeschooling) two introverts.
Our introversion isn’t something to be fixed. It’s a good part of who we are, and for that, no apologies are needed. By respecting our needs (yet still meeting our commitments), we’re learning important lessons in self-regulation. I’ve often told my kids to recognize that rising feeling of discomfort that can occur when one is overloaded with the sound and fury of an extroverted world. I’ve encouraged them to listen to their bodies and brains and to plan for time for solitude around points that demand being in a crowd. (Quarks and Quirks, February 4)
Jacqueline Wolven describes three simple practices that improve her life.
Even when I think I don’t have time I know that doing at least 10 minutes of mediation practice, writing 3 pages, and exercising for 20 minutes changes my entire day. I’m not exactly sure why it works? I just know it does. (Jacqueline Wolven, February 2)Around the blogosphere
The Rev. Tom Schade continues his posts on the relationship between Unitarian Universalism and the current U.S. political situation.
Having spent most of its institutional history (1968 to 2008) in a culture where all forms of liberalism were actively demonized, mocked, and vilified, Unitarian Universalism is paralyzed in a defensive crouch. (The Lively Tradition, February 7)
I have come to believe that antiquated polity is the greatest danger to ourselves and to what we care about. . . .There’s a role for history, there’s a role for debate. But Tom has achieved the fundamental first step: he has pointed out we stand at a moment of existential crisis, and asked us where we want to go from here. (Politywonk, February 7)
Bruce Knotts, director of the UU United Nations Office, and Mordechai Levovitz, the LGBT advocacy coordinator there, organized a panel at the United Nations Church Center to discuss the harmful effects of gay “conversion therapy.” The panel, the first at the UN to directly address this issue, included mental health experts, human rights advocates, religious leaders, and a former patient. (Huffington Post – 2.1.13)Scouting alternative continues to grow
FOX 13 has a news video about the first meeting of Navigators USA Chapter 37 at the UU Church of Ogden, Utah. Navigators is a co-ed scouting alternative that emphasizes respect for one another and the environment. (FOX 13 News – 2.5.13)
See related: Alternative scouting group starts to grow (uuworld.og – 3.14.11)In the congregations
The Unitarian Church of Staten Island, N.Y., has opened the borough’s first Little Free Library, a free-standing book-lending structure located outside of the church that invites people to “take a book, return a book, or keep it forever.” (SILive.com – 2.4.13)
The Huntersville Herald has a profile of the three-year-old UU Fellowship of Lake Norman in Mooresville, N.C. (Huntersville Herald – 2.7.13)
Members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of West Lafayette, Ind., have made immigration as a moral issue a priority, hosting book discussions, films screenings, and forums on the topic. (Journal & Courier – 2.1.13)