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Shareholder activism continues as part of resolution
In an overwhelming vote, UUs at the 2014 General Assembly in Providence, R.I., passed a resolution to divest the UUA’s Common Endowment Fund of shares in fossil fuel companies, while still maintaining ownership of enough shares to continue their work of shareholder advocacy. (Providence Journal – 6.29.14)
A delegate who participated in the vote for divestment during General Assembly noted that this move was one tactic in a larger strategy to work against our overdependence on fossil fuels. Well-known climate activist Bill McKibben also applauded the vote. (MintPressNews.com – 6.30.14)
Other articles on UUA divestment include:
“Unitarians Go Fossil Fuel Free With Divestment Resolution” (EcoWatch - 6.30.14)
“Unitarian Universalists Divest from Fossil Fuels!” (Eden Keeper – 7.2.14)
“Unitarian Universalists divest from fossil fuels” (Fairfield Citizen – 6.30.14)
Hobby Lobby case is politically motivated
In response to the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of the religious freedom of corporations, the Rev. Marlin Lavanhar of All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Okla., observes that this ruling now makes it possible for corporations to use religion as a pretext for other political aims. (Tulsa World – 7.1.14)
Even Millennials will eventually need a religious community
Beacon Press author Chris Stedman interviews the Rev. Galen Guengerich, senior minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City, on the necessary balance of science and reason and the importance of belonging to a specifically religious community. (Religion News Service – 7.2.14)
UUs support their local LGBT communities
The Rev. Jeff Liebmann, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland, Mich., received the Champion of Pride award from Perceptions Saginaw Valley, a local LGBT rights organization. Liebmann was honored for his active and public support of the LGBT community as a faith leader. (mlive.com – 6.26.14)
Two Unitarian Universalist ministers in Pennsylvania applaud recent legal changes making same-sex marriage legal in the Commonwealth. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 6.30.14)
Members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers, Fla., held a public witness event to show their support for same-sex marriage lawsuits in the state. (Fox 4 – 6.29.14)
Inviting us to draw our own conclusions, the Rev. Meg Riley prays for Dr. Ersula Ore, assaulted by the police for the minor offense of jaywalking.
Dr. Ore, you are in my prayers today. You and the thousands of other people of color who are forced to prove that you have a right to walk home, and upon whom the burden of proof always rests. Please know that you are not alone—that tens of thousands of white people, as well as the people of color who share your experience of being told you don’t matter—are with you and will be with you as you ask for what everyone wants: Respect for your worth and dignity. (Quest for Meaning, June 30)Supreme Court decisions
Patrick Murfin agrees with the Supreme Court’s recent decision about buffer zones around abortion clinics.
To protect our own rights of dissent, we must unfortunately defend someone else’s right to be an asshole.
That does not mean we have to step back and let wolves lose upon the sheep. It means we have to take action to confront the wolves ourselves, to offer our bodies, if necessary, in their protection. It demands a lot from us. Giving up comfort, giving up safety. It means, as the theme of this year’s GA says, Reaching Out in Love. (Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout, June 27)
The Rev. Elz Curtiss suggests that William Ellery Channing’s book, Slavery, is useful for countering the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.
Much of today’s political breakdown rests on the inability of secular and free-range left wing leaders to articulate a comprehensive philosophical counter to conservative religious arguments. Happily, William Ellery Channing has provided here, in one document, everything we need to lift our stature in current debates. (Politywonk, July 1)Loved for who you are
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum believes that whether or not God exists, we are loved.
If God exists, quite frankly, I am loved. And you are, too.
But if God doesn’t exist, is the world cold and cruel? Is human life meaningless? Is love absent? Is there no reason to do good?
Of course not.
We are still precious and loved. (Loved for Who You Are, June 27)
Suzyn Smitth Webb argues for a mix-and-match approach to finding our life’s purpose.
We are so quick to define ourselves by our jobs alone in this world, when our respective purposes aren’t at all limited by what we do 9 to 5. . . . [What] the world needs . . . is garbage collectors who are great Moms who also lead scout troops and sing in choirs.
That is a life with purpose. (Loved for Who You Are, July 2)Brave souls, thoughtless choices
The Rev. Tom Schade looked for stories of courage at General Assembly—ones that didn’t involve heights, fast-moving rivers, or fire.
I heard of a minister who changed the Christmas Eve order of service.
Another recently settled minister told the largest donor that no, they did not get to veto decisions of the Board.
Someone told a UU Republican that just because no one agreed with them, it didn’t mean they were oppressed. (The Lively Tradition, June 30)
For Adam Dyer, too many UUs at the General Assembly WaterFire event failed to live up to their promise to live “on the side of love.”
I watched yellow shirts push past, walk around and yes, even climb over residents who had been waiting for up to 2 hours to see this event. From my vantage point among the local crowd, what was intended to be a “witness” turned into more of a “display” and somewhat of a distraction. (Spirituwellness, June 29)Religion, spirituality, and philosophy
Andrew Mackay responds to a recent article in Atlantic magazine, which criticizes the casual syncretism of contemporary spirituality.
Mobility in the spiritual realm should not be viewed as intrinsically bad. . . . The dynamic behavior of the newest generation may be a move past the sense of obligation and communal pressure to conform and stay in one religious institution.
To end, it is important to not oversell traditional religious practice, and to dismiss 21st century spirituality. The two have much to teach each other, if they will listen. (Unspoken Politics, June 29)
Alix answers her friends’ skeptical questions about Unitarian Universalism and ministry.
For me, Unitarian Universalism is a philosophy, a way of thinking about and organizing reality, the nature of knowledge, and existence. . . . AND yes, Unitarian Universalism is a religion because it’s not just a way of thinking about the world, but also a way of acting in it. (Doubled Up in Love, July 2)Declaring independence
We’re publishing early this week because of Independence Day. Here’s some advice from Jacqueline Wolven to help you enjoy your weekend.
Get offline and start doing something. Anything. Take walks. Get a hobby that you love. Learn something new. Cook real meals. Dance badly in your living room. Really, anything would work to allow you to experience life in the way that you want to and not transfer all of the millions of emotions that you are experiencing from others online. (Jacqueline Wolven, June 28)
During its annual General Assembly (GA), held this year in Providence, R.I., the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) joined the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee at a rally outside the Renaissance Hotel to show low-wage workers some love. The crowd swelled to 250 people at one point, the majority of whom were GA attendees. (Providence Journal – 6.26.14)
Local Unitarian Universalist ministers, the Rev. Ellen Quadgraas and the Rev. James Ford, spoke at the rally outside the Renaissance Hotel on Thursday. Ford’s leadership on this issue helped guide the UUA to cancel its contract with the Renaissance prior to GA because of the hotel’s refusal to engage with workers over pay and union issues. (rifuture.org – 6.26.14)
The Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau was happy to report that attendance by 4,600 Unitarian Universalists at their General Assembly in downtown Providence would likely bring more than $4 million dollars in revenue to their city. (Providence Journal – 6.26.14)
The UUA will be the first ever faith sponsor of Providence’s downtown community and arts festival, WaterFire. The event will serve as the public witness component that is included each year at GA. Alex Kapitan, the UUA staff member organizing the event, joined WaterFire spokesperson Brownwyn Dannenfelser to discuss the Love Reaches Out theme. (wpri.com – 6.27.14)
Lena Gardner, a first-time General Assembly attendee, can hardly stop weeping during a worship service.
I wept for my ancestors who didn’t make it, and for the ones who persevered, who escaped, who endured, for the ones whose land was stolen away and who watched—and fought—as genocide and torture was called nation building and progress. . . .
Meg Riley and the rest of the worship committee put together an incredible service that intricately, delicately, and powerfully weaved together the complexity of African American identity, the historical legacy of this place we have gathered with its historical legacy of slave trade and racial justice and UU theology. Somehow grounded in the love of UU theology they delivered a message of hope, endurance, perseverance, and wisdom without sugar coating the past. (Spirit, Self, and Journeying, June 26)
Katy Schmidt Karpman speaks for those of us at home, who would like cheese with our whine! (Remembering Attention, June 23)Open windows
At its best, blogging opens windows into human experience. In this unflinching post, the Rev. Alane Cameron Miles shows us her life with a neurological disorder that is stealing her ability to remember.
I have become Lucy from “50 First Dates” or the scary tattoo-covered dude from “Memento”, two of the most famous memory loss movie characters. I prefer to think I am Lucy. She at least can remember for a whole day. I can’t, but it is something to strive for. I’m realizing that Lucy isn’t played with nearly enough rage. The lack of memory isn’t as upsetting as the times when I have an inkling of everything I am forgetting. (Auspicious Jots, June 22)Known issues
Suzynn Smith Webb compares personal flaws to “known issues”—things known to be broken in a complicated web application, which the developers can’t yet fix.
Treating my flaws as known issues makes the process of self improvement a lot easier. If you know you make everything about you, it makes it a lot easier to catch yourself doing that. You’re looking for the pattern. . . .
[We’re] flawed but functional, and improvement takes ingenuity and work, but is always within reach. . . . We’re all OK, and we’re all loved. Now where will you go from there? (Loved for Who You Are, June 20)
Andrew Hidas asks how we, as privileged Americans, should respond to global inequality.
Should it shame us that so many of our brothers and sisters have it bad? Spur us to give away all that we have, as the Book of Mark urges us, to help the poor? Or live somewhere in between those poles of shame and ultimate charity, in an uneasy truce between the debilitation of shame, the glow of charity, and the satisfaction of creature comforts that are now deeply ingrained in our culture and personal history?
Can we settle into that truce with a sense of integrity, knowing the world is tilted on a strange axis indeed, accepting it as we can, making an honest (if less than total) effort at redress, while knowing that no matter what we do, life, as our parents reminded us so directly, just isn’t fair and never will be? (Traversing, June 26)
Claire points to systemic problems behind an internet hoax.
At the end of the day, there is still a little child with a disfiguring injury that would benefit from continuing care, and she lives—as do we all—in a system whose structure makes that care seem more attainable through deceit and manipulation than through honest vulnerability.
What does that say about the system? What does that say about us? (Sand Hill Diary, June 24)
The Rev. James Ford hopes humanism will focus its energy on engaging the world’s problems.
I hope as we go forward into the Twenty-first century a new humanism will emerge, one that isn’t particularly concerned with disproving a deity, but that is wildly, gloriously, engaged, bringing those most wonderful tools of reason and the scientific method into the great project of life. (Monkey Mind, June 21)
The Rev. Meredith Garmon reminds us that “We must be in touch with the world’s pain, hold it ever in awareness, never grow callous or oblivious.” (The Liberal Pulpit, June 21)How to be alive
Like many parents before her, Christine Leigh Slocum discovers that parenting is teaching her important life lessons.
I am approaching the tasks of parenthood with the orientation that my job is to show her how to be alive. . . .
In order to show my daughter how to love life, I need to be loving life. If I want to teach her to appreciate the nature, or know how to be loving to others, I need to appreciate nature, and be loving to others. (Many Words, June 26)
The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein remembers a childhood vacation with her workaholic father, and passes along advice to parents.
On behalf of the child I was who remembers how good and right and whole the world felt when I received my parents’ full, sober attention, please consider not answering that phone. Please consider a vacation with your children with no distractions, when you can have lazy days for conversations that unfold in no hurry, when a daughter can pretend to read a book while sitting by the pool, when she is actually not reading at all but only savoring the sound of her father turning pages in the deck chair next to her.
These are the only days we get. Don’t miss one. (PeaceBang, June 26)Bringing in porch cats
After a winter of encouraging a “porch cat” to consider indoor life, the Rev. Elizabeth Curtiss sees connections between him and the religiously unaffiliated.
If a majority of potentially religious folk now consider themselves “free range,” then bringing them into covenant with us—making available to them the refuge of our faith messages in hard times—is going to be slow and tedious. It will require sustained membership mentors who themselves require ministerial and personal support. Encouragement. Tactical advice. Money for supplies. And lots of food. (Politywonk, June 20)
The Rev. Heather Rion Starr wishes we were asking bigger questions than, “How do we bring young adults back?”
We all seem to get so focused on our particular setting or context or denomination and how to keep it alive, make it thrive. Too easily it seems we lose sight of the larger purpose that got us wanting to be a part of a community in the first place–to be there for one another, to be challenged and held and transformed ourselves and to be a part of that transformative experience for others. (Quest for Meaning, June 22)
The Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford challenges us to identify our congregation’s implicit mission—and if it’s not what we mean to be doing, kill it. (Boots and Blessings, June 21)