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There is a persistent anti-authoritarianism in UU culture (I hereby dub it “PopUUlism”) that believes that an elite manipulates our process somewhere inside that black box of confidentiality, no matter how transparent the rest of the process is.
While knowing nothing about the particulars of this case, I suspect that the larger issue involved is the conflict between transparency and confidentiality in the poisonous UU atmosphere of distrust. (The Lively Tradition, June 5)
Theresa Novak, a SKSM graduate, believes that three important points have been lost in the discussion.
1. The underlying racism of the reaction to the selection of the Reverend Rosemary Bray McNatt as SKSM’s next president
2. Ignorance of the power dynamics of institutions, including those of small religiously liberal seminaries
3. Hubris and confusion about what the “empowerment” of students actually means. (Sermons, Poetry and Other Musings, June 5)
Acknowledging that Unitarian Universalism often breaks our hearts, the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum advises, “Carry on. Love on.”
If you stay in this faith long enough, your heart will be broken. Somebody you loved and trusted in this faith will do something you think is so hurtful and incomprehensible, so wrong-headed, that it will break your heart. Or something will be decided that you just can’t agree with, and it will break your heart. And then, if you stay long enough, it will happen again and again. (Rev. Cyn, June 5)
The Rev. Scott Wells expresses a similar take on UU “mishigas,” with a sharper edge.
There’s a Yiddish word you should learn if you don’t know it. Mishigas. Crazy-nonsense. Boy, do we have it. Good, self-differentiated people smell it and they stay away or leave. Remember that the next time you hear someone mew about the Millenials being our future. (Boy in the Bands, June 2)Marketing UUism
A blogger attends First UU of San Antonio, and reviews her experience.
I’m not sure what to think of this service. I expected something a bit more like Unity, Church of Religious Science or Divine Science. I didn’t hear any mention of Jesus Christ and only found the word “God” in a few of the hymns. Most songs were about the clouds, community and beauty, etc. . . . I’d call this church a true “feel good” church. While I didn’t get much from it, I’m glad there are denominations like this that are welcoming to gay, lesbian and transgender people, who often find it difficult to worship openly with their partner in an environment filled with judgment. (Steeple Stretch, June 2)
After two young adults mention valuing Christmas Eve traditions, the Rev. Elizabeth Curtiss asks, “Why do we assume that what attracts young adults is novelty, the unexpected—which it often is—without remembering that in the ever-more-violent fluctuations of their emerging years, they also yearn for anchors?” (Politywonk, June 3)
Church needs a reboot in many ways. . . . But if we beg every young adult who comes through our doors to tell us how we should be, we are serving neither the Millennials nor Unitarian Universalism well.
Are we inviting Millennials to learn from us as well as to adapt our faith to their tastes? Are we inviting them into transformative community with us, or asking them how to build monuments to Millennial identity? (Just Wondering, June 4)
The Rev. Elizabeth Stevens wishes we’d worry less about “Selling God.”
Here’s the thing. I am an institutionalist, and will likely embrace whatever logo, slogan or ‘branding’ they come up with—mostly because I don’t think it’s going to make that much difference one way or the other. What drives growth isn’t advertising, or slogans, or cool logos. That might get people through the doors, but it doesn’t lead them to stay.
People stay when they find what they need. (revehstevens, June 4)Teaching men and boys
Liz James writes about what she and her husband teach their sons about living in a culture of violence.
I taught my sons to scream “no”, too. I taught them to run fast. I taught them about the risk of attack when walking alone at night (men are more likely to be victims of stranger-perpetrated violence than women are). I taught them about the nuances of consent . . . both for when they are giving consent and when they are receiving it.
And I taught them about privilege, and expectations of masculinity, and hard choices. And then I listened. (Rebel With a Labelmaker, May 30)
For Doug Muder, the #YesAlllWomen discussion was an eye-opener, as it was for many men.
YesAllWomen is at its best when women simply tell their stories, one after another. Read enough stories and the bigger reality starts to break through: The meaning of Isla Vista isn’t that shit happens, it’s that the same kinds of shit keep happening day after day all over the country. (The Weekly Sift, June 2)And more UU content
Kim Hampton continues her series examining the connection between White flight and the Fellowship Movement.
I stand by my assertion that federal housing policy benefited the growth of Unitarianism (and later Unitarian Universalism) in both good and not-so-good ways. This is not an indictment (ok, maybe it is). But I think to ignore this when talking about how and why Unitarian Universalism is the way it is and WHERE Unitarian Universalism is where it is does us all a disservice. (East of Midnight, May 30)
Justin Almeida answers a friend’s question, “Why would you want to be a chaplain?”
I feel like I can be the person who holds a dying person’s hand as they take their last breath. I want to be the person who can sit and weep with the mother who just lost her child. I need to be the person who can be present with the man who has lost his faith. I can be available to my fellow human being who is hurting, share that dark tunnel journey with them, and walk out out the other end with them into the light again. (What’s My Age Again?, June 1)
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern hopes that UUs in Portland and Columbus think seriously about planning UU day camps during upcoming General Assemblies. (Mookie’s Mama, June 4)Reading online UU content
One challenge of reading UU online content is finding your personal Goldilocks zone—enough, but not too much.
Since its beginning, the Interdependent Web has been the amuse-bouche of blog coverage—just a taste, carefully arranged. At the other end of the spectrum has been the bountiful buffet at UUpdates.net.
This past week I started playing with a middle range, promoting more online content on the Interdependent Web’s Facebook Page than I can in the weekly column. If you’re looking for more than the Friday column, but not quite as much as UUpdates, try the Interdependent Web on Facebook.
DeChristopher expresses frustration with older generation of liberals
Unitarian Universalist divinity school student and prominent climate change activist Tim DeChristopher shares his view of the generational rift within the environmental justice movement and his thoughts on how he connects his faith to his activism work. (truthout.org – 6.4.14)
For more on DeChristopher: “Tim DeChristopher’s path” (UU World – Winter 2012)
UUs call for changes in sentencing, wages, more
Over 1,000 faith leaders, including Unitarian Universalist Association President the Rev. Peter Morales, have signed a letter urging the U.S. Congress to support a smarter sentencing reform bill to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug offenses. (eNews Park Forest – 6.3.14)
The Rev. Jeff Liebmann, of the UU Fellowship of Midland, Mich., adds his voice to the growing number of religious leaders calling for a raise in the minimum wage. Liebmann argues that in a world where there is enough for all, why should one person experience want? (Midland Daily News – 6.2.14)
At a recent demonstration outside of U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent’s office in Lehigh Valley, Pa., Unitarian Universalist Pat Uribe-Lichty joined other activists calling for legislative action for humane immigration reform as a pressing human rights issue. (The Express-Times – 6.4.14)
The Rev. Nina Grey of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bozeman, Mont., joined clergy of other faiths at City Hall in Bozeman to support the passage of a non-discrimination ordinance that protects people based on their sexual orientation. (Bozeman Daily Chronicle – 6.2.14)
Religious educator shows support for Nigerian abductees
As part of a campaign to keep the more than 200 Nigerian girls abducted by an extremist Muslim group in the hearts and minds of people, Thea Shapiro, director of religious education at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, Mass., has created nearly 300 folded origami dresses. (Eagle Tribune – 6.1.14)
More news from UU congregations
The Boston Globe profiles a growing number of scouting groups that are being created as inclusive alternatives to the Boys Scouts. They highlight the thriving Chapter 404 of the Navigators USA group formed through First Church in Belmont, Mass. (The Boston Globe – 6.1.14)
As part of their mission to engage with the larger world, Bank Street Unitarian Chapel in Bolton, England, has offered the use of its building to local Street Angels volunteers who serve the community through individual foot patrols on the streets each weekend. (ThisisLancashire.co.uk – 5.29.14)
In an effort to bridge the gap between the Albuquerque police department and the community, an interfaith group has formed. The Rev. Angela Herrera of First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, N.Mex., joined the group because of her commitment to non-violence. (KRQE.com – 6.5.14)
UUA rebranding is part of larger effort to grow
Boston Magazine interviews Unitarian Universalist Association President the Rev. Peter Morales and other UU leaders about the UUA’s recent rebranding efforts and how to reach the growing numbers of people who are not interested in attending church. (Boston Magazine - 6.2014)
Pennsylvania UUs get marriage equality, and more LGBTQ justice work
The Rev. Robert F. Renjilian of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, Pa., calls the ruling that overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage “a win for love.” He looks forward to helping plan wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples in his community. (York Daily Record - 5.25.14)
The Rev. Eric Posa, of the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, Pa., and the Rev. Ann Mason, of the UU Church of Lancaster, performed several same-sex wedding ceremonies after the state’s ban was struck down. (The Patriot News - 5.25.14)
Other Pennsylvania marriage-equality celebration stories include:
“Midstate Unitarian churches look forward to same-sex marriage services” (The Patriot News - 5.22.14)
“Main Line Unitarian Church offers free same-sex weddings” (Main Line Media News - 5.22.14)
“Gay marriage: Seven couples wed at Unitarian church in Lancaster” (Lancaster Online - 5.24.14)
The UU Fellowship of Door County in Ephraim, Wisc., will show an exhibit called, “Shall Not Be Recognized,” during the month of June. It includes photographs of Milwaukee-area same-sex couples in long-term relationships and was created to show opposition to the state’s ban on same-sex marriages. (Door County Advocate - 5.23.14)
Members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka, Kans., have played a prominent role in speaking out in support of LGBTQ people and helping to make their city—also the hometown of Westboro Baptist church—much more inclusive to all. (Huffington Post - 5.23.14)
UUA shareholder activism calls for greater transparency
Chevron Corp. rejected a proposal sponsored by the UUA to split the roles of chairman and chief executive officer. Such a split is part of a long-running campaign by the UUA and other shareholder activists to increase oversight and transparency in these large corporations. (Reuters - 5.28.14)
A ‘catastrophe’ for Texas women and families
The Rev. Daniel Kanter, of the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, Tex., writes about the crisis in women’s health care in his state, created by politicians who wish to attack Planned Parenthood and other vital health care service providers to women and families in the state. (RH Reality Check - 5.29.14)
In this week’s most hair-raising blog post, Jordinn Nelson Long recounts her experience as the first person to arrive at the scene of a motorcycle accident.
And now, at this moment, amid blood and broken pieces and things out of place, you will struggle to understand anything at all.
It will be surprisingly quiet.
There will not be a sign that flashes THIS IS WHAT AN EMERGENCY LOOKS LIKE. There will not be background music from ER or Law & Order. There will not be someone to give you instructions.
And so, you will wing it. (Raising Faith, May 26)
The Rev. Jake Morrill has begun a series of posts as he attends the Army’s three-month Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course; in the first post, he writes about a going out to dinner with another student chaplain.
He started to get the idea that he and I might not use the same hymnals, and by the end of the dinner, he was peppering me with reasons why God will send some people to hell. I did like my one cogent line—”I think God’s love is more powerful than even Hitler’s hate”—but mostly, I was shoving eggrolls into my mouth as he told me that people who have heard the gospel and still don’t accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior are denying their single chance for redemption. The friendship that had been formed by our shared housing grievance seemed to have greatly dimmed by the time we rounded on the buffet the third time. (Quest for Meaning, May 19)
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum challenges herself—and others—to “stand like a fat superhero.”
I’ve thought a lot over the years as I’ve become a fat person about the way that fat people are shamed by society, and how that makes us alter our stance. If it’s rare to see a woman in a power pose, it’s even more rare to see a fat person in one. We’re taught, I think, that we take up so much space already that we must put our body into “closed” positions to minimize the effect, rather than taking up even more space in an “open” position. What I hadn’t realized was that the way we alter our stance not only changes how people see us, it alters ourselves, as well. (Rev. Cyn, May 22)Yes, All Women
In response to the murders committed by Elliot Rodger, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein speaks her truth about her experience of rape culture as a single, middle-aged woman.
This murder triggered me and millions of other women who live daily with same kind of violence-tinged sexual entitlement Elliot Rodger took to a horrific extreme by turning a gun on young women who represented all those who denied him their bodies. . . .
I am a strong feminist who loves men and cares deeply about boys. But I notice that my respect and trust in men in what we might call “the dating scene” has plummeted over the past five to ten years as I have been constantly subject to the simmering rage of male frustration in an age of unprecedented female independence and choice. (PeaceBang, May 26)
The Rev. Marti Keller hopes that Unitarian Universalists will make a formal statement of conscience against misogyny.
Elliot Rodger was a person with a long history of mental unbalance, just as many of the racists, homophobes and anti-Semites have been. But his mindset and his acts also arose out of a deep and longstanding culture of permission around cruelty towards women and girls.
May the twitter feeds and more important frank and urgent conversations continue within UU.
It is past time. (Leaping from Our Spheres, May 29)
For the Rev. Theresa Novak, the Rodger murders connect with a local story in Utah.
[Yesterday] a story broke here in Utah about how a local high school photoshopped some of the pictures of young women to cover up their shoulders and necklines. . . .
This is another aspect of rape culture. Women’s bodies are seen as merely sexual objects. They need to keep them covered in order not to incite men to rape them. Like men simply can’t help themselves if they see a bare shoulder. What a lie. What an outrage. (Sermons, Poetry, and other Musings, May 29)
Tina Porter remembers preparing her daughters for the world as it is, and hopes for a better world for them.
I remember when my daughters were too little to know about such things—or so I thought—and I taught them to scream “No” as loud as they could as I pushed them on the swings in our backyard. Was I indoctrinating them too early? I don’t know. But I was teaching them to use their voices because I knew not “if” but “when” they needed it, they needed it to be a part of their DNA. It needed to be an instinctive reaction. (Long Thoughts, May 28)
John Becket has something to say to women-hating men: “Dude, it’s you.”
There are some seriously screwed up men out there spreading some seriously screwed up ideas—ideas that have dangerous consequences for women, ideas that are unhelpful for men, and ideas that quite frankly piss me off.
If any of those ideas resonate with you in the least, or if you feel the slightest bit of kinship with this murderer, I have a few things to say to you. (Under the Ancient Oaks, May 26)
Kimberley Debus names the struggles women face in Unitarian Universalist ministry.
They face criticism over their clothing, their hair, their accents, their child-bearing responsibilities. They struggle with challenges to their ministerial authority. They bring the same truths that #YesAllWomen speaks to their pulpits, but if they talk about women’s issues more than three times in a year, they are condemned for being one-issue preachers. And frankly, as a woman going into ordained ministry, I fear that the shift of ministry into a “helping” profession will allow boards to reduce pay, lumping them into the same category as teachers and nurses, whose work is vital and whose pay is consistently too low. (Notes from the Far Fringe, May 26)Making meaning
The Rev. Dr. David Breeden celebrates meaning-making through conversation.
I believe in community. A place where people talk with each other. In coffee houses. In bars. In streets and market squares—public spaces and the din of conversation—this is the meaning of meaning. . . .
Yes, the din of your conversation is as much meaning as we shall ever have—but it is enough.
Keep talking. Increase the din. Converse. Remake the human reality. (Quest for Meaning, May 29)
Christine Slocum’s search for meaning within Unitarian Universalism has hit a wall.
UUism is trying so hard to be inclusive, it misses potential meaning-making moments for fear of drawing boundaries around something and excluding others. Sometimes when I am seeking depth, I find only platitudes. I travel elsewhere again. . . I suspect that I will always consider myself a UU, but being part of a church does not facilitate my spiritual development more than reading wise words, or playing with my daughter, or staring at the sun setting over Lake Erie. Every moment is holy; what will Unitarian Universalism contribute beyond that? (Many Words, May 27)Selling God?
Coverage in Boston magazine—an article called “Selling God“—sparked a new round of discussion about the UUA’s branding project; for the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum, the article was another example of the UUA’s communication difficulties.
UUA, I love you and I think you’re doing the right thing—but when we’re asking for the roadmap, even scouring the UUA webpage, the UUA board meeting minutes, the UUA world, and the VUU and blogosphere looking for the signposts (yeah, I have), as well as asking in independent conversations, give it to the stakeholders before Boston Magazine sometimes? Mmkay? That’s all. No feelings hurt. Enough said. Love ya. (Rev. Cyn, May 29)Preparing for General Assembly
If you’re planning to attend General Assembly for the first time this year—and even if you’re a GA veteran—Peter Bowden’s “Tips for Your First General Assembly” is full of helpful information. (UU Planet, May 25)
The Rev. Scott Wells suggests Amtrak as an affordable option for travel to General Assembly, and reminds us that ticket prices increase within 21 days of travel. (Boy in the Bands, May 29)
As we reported this week, the UUA’s Boston staff were unable to move into our new headquarters until Thursday. And our intrepid Interdependent Web author, Heather Christensen, is midway home on the Alaska-Canadian Highway.
We’ll be back next week, and in the meantime, check out UUpdates.net!