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Heartbroken in America, Blue Christmas, and human connections

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Sat, 2014-12-20 02:52
Heartbroken in America

Jim Foti challenges us to live up the the American ideal—extending to all the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We are a country of mass distraction, a country where the comfortable can decide not to look or see or do anything. But our country must look and see and listen, and acknowledge its realities.

That is where our work has begun, by looking, by seeing, by bringing reason and reality into the public square and onto the streets. By embodying love and making it visible. By listening with humility to those whose lives are different from our own. By finding ways to move from sympathy to solidarity. By knowing when to follow. (Quest for Meaning, December 18)

The Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons writes that the “forces of fear and ignorance are alive in Portland.”

The Portland State University Board has authorized arming security forces with weapons that can kill. . . . As our children of color face persistently experience threats of violence and disproportionately pay the ultimate price of #whitesupremacy, the choice to put more guns into our education learning environment demonstrates the corruption of leadership. (Radicalhapa, December 12)

Doug Muder lists five things to understand about the Senate’s report on torture.

When something this long and detailed comes out and says things a lot of people don’t want to hear, it’s easy to get drawn off into arguments that miss the point. So here are my “findings”, the main things that I think the average American needs to understand:

  1. We tortured people.
  2. A lot of people.
  3. We gained virtually nothing from it.
  4. It was illegal.
  5. No one has been held accountable for it.

(The Weekly Sift, December 15)

Sometimes it’s a Blue Christmas

The Rev. Mary Wellemeyer admits that some of us are having a Blue Christmas.

Maybe this is the first Winter Holiday season since a dear one in your family has died, when all the old traditions bring back memories of times when you were all together, sharing the special joys of the season. Or maybe there has been a separation, estrangement, divorce from someone living—a partner, a child, someone else—with whom you used to share these times. Or maybe you are living in a different place, at loose ends when the holiday comes around, missing everyone who used to be around to share the holidays. (Open Road, December 16)

John Beckett agrees that this has been a difficult season.

These seven weeks between Samhain and Yule have been the most difficult season I can remember. There have been great conflicts abroad and gross injustices at home. There have been natural disasters, untimely deaths, and personal misfortunes. . . .

The dark times we are experiencing now will not disappear when we light our Solstice candles. I cannot promise you a bright new calendar year. Yet we light our Solstice candles anyway. We do what we do not because it will make everything nice and easy but because this is who we are. (Under the Ancient Oaks, December 18)

The Rev. Nori Rost encourages us to embrace the beauty of darkness.

[It] is only when we can learn to love the beauty of the darkness that we can be fully alive and centered in our light. (sUbteXt, December 18)

At this time of year, many people find the ancient symbols of darkness and light meaningful. As Kenny Wiley notes, however, that language can be problematic: “I’ve long struggled, as a black man, with our society & world’s language around darkness as bad and light as good.” (Facebook, December 12) Wiley’s comments took place as part of a long conversation about a UU winter solstice event, in which participants wrestled honestly with these issues.

Human connections

Instead of being a homebody, Katy Carpman ventures out, and two encounters remind her that “We are all connected and have so very much in common.” (Remembering Attention, December 11)

Diana McLean is grateful for people who push her to be her best self.

Sometimes being pushed to be my best self feels a little like having my feet off the ground while someone asks me to trust them while they run me off a cliff.

But oh my goodness, when you realize that the push you just got launched you toward your goal faster than you’d have gotten there alone, that’s worth it. And maybe the push actually sends you flying right past a goal that you thought was pretty lofty, but in hindsight, it was settling for good enough. And then you thank God or the Universe or fate for bringing someone a little pushy into your life. (Poetic Justice, December 14)

The Interdependent Web will return January 9, after a break for the holidays. We hope your celebrations are joyful!

Categories: UU News

Justice march draws thousands, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-12-19 16:43

D.C.-area UUs join giant ‘Justice for All’ march

Washington, D.C.-area Unitarian Universalists joined thousands of people in a ‘Justice for All’ march organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. The UUs carried a large Standing on the Side of Love banner and told reporters that they were at the rally, in part, to say that killing minority teenagers has to stop. (The Washington Post - 12.13.14)

Another ‘Justice for All’ march story:

“Marc Morial: Michael Brown, Eric Garner protesters want accountability” (Face the Nation - 12.14.14)

UUs demonstrate for racial justice 

In a show a solidarity, local police in Arlington, Mass., brought demonstrators at a Black Lives Matter event outside First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Arlington coffee and muffins as they gathered for their peaceful rally. (The Arlington Advocate - 12.15.14)

The Rev. Kathleen Rolenz, a minister at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, joined members of her congregation to protest the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. (Cleveland.com - 12.12.14)

Minister killed in Selma portrayed in upcoming film

A recent screening of the new film Selma triggered memories for one reporter of the first time she wrote about Unitarian Universalist minister the Rev. James Reeb’s tragic death in March 1965, when she was a reporter for her college paper. (Boston Herald - 12.12.14)

An early review of the film Selma takes issue with the way the filmmakers chose to gloss over the negative depictions of whites, including residents of Selma, Ala., who violently attacked the Rev. James Reeb (misidentified in the article as a priest) after he left a local restaurant with fellow clergy. (The Boston Globe - 12.18.14)

Boxing helps minister ‘recalibrate’

The Rev. Ann Schranz, minister of the Monte Vista Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Montclair, Cal., finds spiritual meaning and growth in boxing because it helps her reframe pain and let go of an attachment to outcomes. (LA Times - 12.17.14)

NGO reports on thefts by U.S. border patrol

A recent report released by the humanitarian organization No More Deaths, a ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, Ariz., highlights the common occurrence of undocumented migrants losing their money or belongings during deportation due to negligence or outright theft by U.S. authorities. (PanAm Post - 12.15.14)

More holidays, UU style

In addition to lighting a menorah to acknowledge Jewish holiday traditions, and setting up a nativity scene for Christian traditions, members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Farmington in Farmington Hills, Mich., will perform a solstice ritual. (hometownlife.com - 12.12.14)

As a way of reaching out beyond their congregation’s walls, members of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley Hills, Mass., undecorated a Christmas tree and collected more than 60 gifts for local homeless people. (The Wellesley Townsman - 12.17.14)

We will take the next two weeks off from posting UUs in the Media to take time to enjoy the winter holidays. We will be back in full swing in the new year.

Categories: UU News

Nominees for 2015 Elections Available Now

UUA Top Stories - Thu, 2014-12-18 01:00
The slate of nominees for the 2015 elections to be held at General Assembly in Portland, OR, is now available. Please take this opportunity to learn more about the positions and the process for running by petition. People interested in running by petition have until February 1 to submit a completed petition.
Categories: UU News

Nominees for 2015 Elections Available Now

UUA Top Stories - Thu, 2014-12-18 01:00
The slate of nominees for the 2015 elections to be held at General Assembly in Portland, OR, is now available. Please take this opportunity to learn more about the positions and the process for running by petition. People interested in running by petition have until February 1 to submit a completed petition.
Categories: UU News

Seeing your sanctuary in a different light

UU World - Tue, 2014-12-16 01:00
LIFE: Candlelight transforms a meetinghouse for Christmas Eve.
Categories: UU News

UUA's new HQ gets top green building designation

UU World - Mon, 2014-12-15 01:00
NEWS: 24 Farnsworth Street office building awarded LEED platinum certification.
Categories: UU News

James Lord Pierpont and the mystery of 'Jingle Bells'

UU World - Mon, 2014-12-15 01:00
IDEAS: The debate over where the Unitarian wrote the holiday favorite rages on.
Categories: UU News

Seminarian's injury inspires coordination in Berkeley protests

UU World - Sat, 2014-12-13 01:00
NEWS: Unitarian Universalist ministry students work together in #BlackLivesMatter protests after one was bloodied by a police baton.
Categories: UU News

Stories, strategies—and everything else

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2014-12-12 19:21
Stories

The Rev. Shelley Page inspires a march for peace in Ogden, Utah.

The New Zion Baptist minister told the crowd that he was inspired to do the march because an unknown clergy colleague had called him expressing solidarity. He felt it was a sign from God that now was a time to stand together, as a new beginning, to address these issues. When I met him for the first time in person today, he embraced me like a long lost friend, and told me that my call made the difference, gave him heart. (The Lively Tradition, December 6)

Karen Johnston tells the story of arriving, with an elderly fellow protester, in the back of a state police cruiser at a “rally about too many Black and Brown men dying at the hands of police officers.” (irrevspeckay, December 8)

At a different protest, Cindy Pincus has a different experience with the police—a nasty head wound—but plans to continue protesting..

I’m returning to the protests tonight (Monday night, as I write). Every life is made in the image of the Divine and violence to any body is violence to everybody. Just because I was hit, doesn’t mean I will be the last one and I certainly wasn’t the first. Police brutality and indiscriminate violence is a blight on the great American experiment of freedom. As Unitarian Universalists, we are called to participate in that experiment time and again and we have and will always be warriors of peace and justice for all. (UUSF, December 10)

The Rev. Meg Riley tells the story of her “guerilla grandma” protest strategies, and concludes that “too many White people are simply stewing in blogs and news accounts and Facebook updates and feeling helpless.”

If that’s you, Grandma is speaking now, so listen up: This isn’t a time to sit home with your feelings. This is a movement! With the reins securely in the hand of young Black leaders, in Minneapolis and in Ferguson and in countless other cities, do what you can to support whatever they’re doing—go to their events, give them bail money if you have it, tell them how inspiring they are—and meanwhile deploy your own identities and skills, whatever they are.

You’ve read enough; you know what happened. Now act. Find a buddy to support you. Think creatively about how to speak out in unlikely places. (Huffington Post, December 9)

Strategies

The Rev. Scott Wells pushes back against UU preferences for protests over policy-making.

What do we have to gain by (what amounts to) an exercise in collective holiness? Less, I contend, than we have to offer by participating constantly in the nitty-gritty of public policy.

And I think we avoid this opportunity because we have grown unaccustomed to political power, and perhaps find it awkward or distasteful as a religious people. And if that’s the case, we need to get over that. So many people view governance and public policy with suspicion, but in doing so surrender their power to those who are left claim it. (Boy in the Bands, December 10)

Kenny Wiley is a moderate protester, marching “with ‘radicals’ as well as (relative) conservatives.”

It is often said that we have to work together for this movement to work. Indeed. But “working together” doesn’t mean silencing anyone who disagrees with us. Working together doesn’t mean men silencing women. Working together doesn’t mean older civil rights activists running over younger ones. Working together doesn’t mean white people taking the mic or otherwise telling black folks how to respond.

Working together means understanding not just how each of us is disadvantaged but also how we are privileged. Working togethermeans knowing when to talk, and when to listen. Working together means having hard conversations. (A Full Day, December 11)

Crystal St. Marie Lewis has a message: Stop derailing the discussion.

I suppose if I could say something to a large group of people about the current outcry against police brutality towards Black people, I’d say that this issue is not to be conflated with other challenges in the Black community. The issue of violence against Black people by the police is an epidemic unto itself and deserves the undivided attention it’s receiving now. (Window on Religion, December 8)

Responding to pushback some UU ministers have received about speaking out about racism, the Rev. Tom Schade writes an imaginary newsletter column.

It is not the duty of a UU minister to represent all views in the congregation. It is not the duty of a UU minister to facilitate the discussions between opposing views in the congregation on the vital issues of the day. It is not the duty of a UU minister to argue every point with every congregant. It is not the duty of a UU minister to be above the fray. . . .

In today’s context, it is the duty of UU ministers to lead congregations into the social movements against racism, even if it makes some members of those congregations angry or uncomfortable. The call of conscience and the demands of religious conviction are often disruptive of our comfortable opinions. That’s the point of having them. (The Lively Tradition, December 5)

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum explains why we are not waiting for Rosa Parks.

Michael Brown’s tragedy isn’t the wrong tragedy to wake this country up—it’s exactly the right tragedy, because for whatever reason, it did wake people up. We don’t need more unarmed black men to die, and we don’t need to wait for Rosa. (The Lively Tradition, December 9)

Kim Hampton writes, “While we are talking about #blacklivesmatters, we need to expand that to also include #blackbodiesmatter too.”

The treatment of these black men’s bodies by those in authority/positions of power is shameful and is just another manifestation of this society’s thinking about black people.

Anthony Pinn wrote: “Black bodies are complex signs that represent something both appealing and repulsive for the society in which we dwell.”

There’s something to that, I think. (East of Midnight, December 8)

And everything else

Responding to this week’s news about the United States’ use of torture, the Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern commits to a new practice.

Whenever I hear or read the term “waterboarding,” unless it’s clarified by “as the CIA calls it” and replaced in subsequent uses by an accurate term, I’m going to write to the source in question and tell them their job is to give us news, not Newspeak. (Sermon in Stones, December 10)

Drawing on the metaphor of childbirth, Liz James writes about “the blood-spattered pause.”

The moment when you are up to your neck in it and there’s no going back, but suddenly you stop. In life, it is too easy to mistake this moment for cowardice. You can’t quite finish coming out of the closet, or you can’t leave the job with the horrible boss even though you’ve set everything up, or you can’t quite speak all the truth to power you were hoping to, and you suddenly become . . . frozen.

It is not cowardice. You were not mistaken. You are not too tired, or not adequate to the task. This is not the beginning of self doubt or failure.

It is just the blood-spattered pause. (Rebel with a Labelmaker, December 11)

James also shares a personal update about her health—along with her physican husband’s advice about living with a difficult diagnosis:

Life is not a countdown to “dead.” It’s a count up from “born.” There’s only one real diagnosis, and we’ve all got it. And it’s not a license to wait. It’s the reason to stop waiting. (Rebel with a Labelmaker, December 8)

Christine Organ has a guest post in The New York Times, writing about why her family goes to church.

For our family, the right-decision-for-us-for-now means listening to a few grumbles from the back seat on the way to our liberal-in-a-suburban-kind-of-way Unitarian church. It means a family prayer before dinner, learning about other faiths and talking about what we might believe. (Motherlode, December 7)

Responding to The Lively Tradition‘s recent anonymous seminarian posts, Claire Curole speaks out about her experiences as a seminarian—and her hopes for a better way.

We could start from our deep shared values, and consider the question, “What will Unitarian Universalist ministry need to look like if it is to be relevant in the 21st century?” and then create a process that selects for and supports that vision instead of continually repainting the language and adding knobs and widgets (or milestones and competencies) to a model whose baseline assumptions about the people entering ministry are rooted in the wealthy Anglo-Saxon Protestant norms of the early 20th century. The world has changed. Can we? (The Sand Hill Diaries, December 8)

Categories: UU News

Choosing church on Sunday, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-12-12 16:14

Being spiritual and religious means going to church

A Unitarian Universalist parent describes why her family is bucking the broadening trend of religious people spending their Sundays doing other things besides going to church. For this mother, church is necessary to help her children develop a sense of spirituality. (The New York Times - 12.7.14)

Tim DeChristopher connects faith, activism

Environmental activist and Unitarian Universalist seminary student Tim DeChristopher talks about the vital role that spirituality plays in activism, especially in its power to connect people who have been alienated by the institutions they oppose. (truthout.org - 12.8.14)

UUs deeply involved in racial justice protests across country

The Rev. Cindy Pincus, intern minister at First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco, Calif., recounts the violent blow she says she received from a police offer while participating in a protest in Berkeley. (Huffington Post - 12.8.14)

Other stories of racial justice demonstrations:

“Ogden ‘peace march’ marks reaction to police shootings” (Standard Examiner - 12.7.14)

“Local protesters continue police-killings demonstrations” (The Philadelphia Tribune - 12.9.14)

Holidays, UU style

Members of the Common Ground Choir, affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff in Dallas, Tex., sing protest songs at various peaceful demonstrations. They joined others after Thanksgiving outside the local Walmart to support a Black Friday protest for better jobs. (Oak Cliff BubbleLife - 11.28.14)

Members of the lay-led San Juan Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Farmington, N.Mex., caught the attention of their local media when they introduced the Unitarian Universalist holiday tradition of Chalica in their congregation. (Daily Times - 12.7.14)

Minister led congregation through period of impressive growth

Although the members of Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Appleton, Wisc., will be sad to see the Rev. Roger Bertschausen go, they will remember the safe space he created for spiritual growth within the congregation. (Post-Crescent.com - 12.8.14)

Categories: UU News
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