Glenn Beck, “ethnic UUs”, Easter, and other UU blog topics


The Rev. Daniel Harper has an Easter thought prompted by Elaine Pagels.

After Jesus was executed on trumped-up political charges, Jesus’s message was not silenced. Maybe it got seriously transmogrified by later philosophers (Augustine and Paul come to mind), but if we listen carefully we can still hear Jesus’s basic message of righteousness and humanity. Two thousand years later, that message is still very much alive; Easter is a good holiday to remember that message, and to remind ourselves to look for the strings by which many religious leaders are controlled by their puppet masters. (“Yet Another Unitarian Universalist,” April 4)

The Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle passes on to his readers a question raised by a “small, very young voice” at his church: “Why did Jesus die?

I believe one of the many reasons Jesus died was that he stuck to his principles which were more important to him than his own life. That’s how I interpret the claim that he died for others. He was a selfless martyr because he knew the likely outcome of his actions. (“Keep the Faith,” April 5)

“Strange Attractor” asks “What is a non-theist to do with Easter?

Easter is not secularized or separate from the sacred enough for me to kid myself into thinking I am doing anything other than celebrating the resurrection of Christ. I would be quite happy to let the day go completely un-differentiated, but canceling the Easter egg hunt and Easter dinner with my family would not make me highly regarded in their eyes. It might be fair to say it would make me a jerk. (“Strange Attractor,” April 7)


It started on a couple of posts about the UUA Commision on Appraisal (see last week’s summary), but has become a multi-blog conversation: How important are congregational and UUA bylaws?

Seminarian Kim Hampton rants about why it’s important to read the bylaws.

We’re CONGREGATIONAL in polity, people; not Episcopal or Presbyterian. This only works right if all members know how their church is supposed to work. This is why I think it’s important to read the UUA bylaws. While it’s dry reading, it’s fundamental to our associational life together. (“East of Midnight,” April 7)

“Kinsi” still doesn’t care about the bylaws.

I think church leadership would rather have a volunteer with fire lit under them and uber-motivated, rather than someone who knows the bylaws in and out. I know those two are not mutually exclusive, but if it came down to one or the other, I have a feeling I know which the leadership would choose. I have a feeling church leadership wouldn’t mind if I clone myself into about five people. I could whip out the “everything I’ve done for church” card, but I’ll leave it pocketed for now. (“Spirituality and Sunflowers,” April 7)

“Chutney” chimes in with a number of thoughts on bylaws.

Finally, bylaws are the legal foundation upon which our congregations are built. Without bylaws, there will be no community building, religious education, worship, or anything else, not for long. I dare you to run a congregation of any size without bylaws to rely on. At some point during the first major conflict, someone will say, “Hey, we should figure out how we’re going to deal with this in the future so this disaster doesn’t happen again.” Enter the bylaws. (“Making Chutney,” April 7)

“Kinsi” follows up with a critique of religion that focuses on the brain instead of the heart.

We have a brainy faith. We want you to know things, not feel them. We want you to have wisdom more than a great heart. We want you to know about Transcendentalism more than feel what they felt without knowing the name. We want you to know about our history rather than help write the next chapter. We want you to know those damn bylaws and not just experience church. (“Spirituality and Sunflowers,” April 8)

Around the blogosphere

A Glenn Beck program on Fox News discussed President Obama’s grandparents’ Unitarian church as the “little red church on the hill,” but only two UU bloggers (the Rev. Valerie Ackerman and the Rev. James Ishmael Ford) have noticed (and they only link to the video without comment).

The Rev. Thomas Perchlik wonders if there are “ethnic UUs” who are “on the edges but not on the fence. What does our connection to those people mean? What duty or responsibility do we have towards those persons? How do they change our own self-image?”

In my church we make a clear distinction between Members and Friends. We like our friends, we want them to be part of the church, they have permanent name tags and can even lead committees. In a sense all of our children in the RE program are Friends. Membership on the other hand takes commitment, a covenant, to follow our principles and struggle with them, and to fulfill to the church a pledge of one’s energy, time and money. (“Rev. Thomas Perchlik’s Weblog,” April 5)

“Mr. Crankypants,” who makes occasional appearances at the Rev. Daniel Harper’s blog, rants about proper use of “the Reverend.”

(1) Then the reverend married us.

A common error. “Reverend” is not a noun, it is an honorific that must modify a proper noun. This confusion probably arises from the honorific “Doctor” which sounds exactly like the noun “doctor.” The person who is addressed with the honorific “Reverend” may be a minister, pastor, rector, elder, etc.; but there is no such thing as a “reverend.” Similarly, the person who is addressed with the honorific “Honorable” may be a mayor or other political leader; but the holder of the executive office in a city is not an “honorable.” One also wonders why the clergyperson in the example would want to get involved in a polyamorous relationship with someone who uses such bad English style, but let it pass. The corrected sentence should read: “Then the minister officiated at our wedding ceremony.” (“Yet Another Unitarian Universalist,” April 4)

(For the record, UU World, although we follow the conservative usage outlined by Mr. Crankypants, uses as our house dictionary the American Heritage Fourth Edition, which allows “reverend” as a noun in informal usage. Mr. Crankypants, no doubt, would prefer that we use a less laissez-faire dictionary.)