Magical moments, new religion, and more UU blogging

Imagining new religion

John Beckett, responding to a recent essay in The New York Times, imagines a new religion through the lens of Apple.

First, a new religion for the 21st century will be like Apple because it will be intuitive. . . . A new religion will be like Apple because it will be interactive. . . . A new religion will be like Apple because it will be expensive. . . . Unlike Apple, though, a new religion for the 21st century will be humble. (Under the Ancient Oaks, January 5)

Lizard Eater gives voice to the needs of newcomers who walk through the doors of our churches.

I want to be around people who . . . . motivate me to set aside my smartphone and join them in transforming our little corner of the world into a better place. Which will help transform me into a better person. I want to change my life in a big way, I want to give myself to something big. But I need help. I need tools so that I can manage my money, my time, my ideas. I need to feel I’m not doing it alone, that I’m a part of something important. (The Journey, January 5)

The Rev. Christana Wille McKnight celebrates her re-starting congregation’s first public worship service.

It was an amazing thing, to be leading worship for a congregation that has such a history and yet is so entirely new. We learned some important things about our historic building—for example, that the current electrical circuits cannot carry both lights and a coffee pot simultaneously on the same breaker—and that the church decorates beautifully for Christmas. We also learned that the creation of community is magical. (Ordinary Days, January 4)

Liberal religion’s mission

The Rev. Peter Boullata sets off a cascade of blogging and Facebook sharing with his post about the liberal church finding its mission.

Inasmuch as Unitarian Universalist communities continue to neglect discernment, theology, discipline, spiritual practice, faith formation, vocation and engagement with our historic testimonies and tradition . . . . we will never have the kind of impact that a missional religion has on transforming the world. (Held in the Light, December 29)

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein applauds Boullata’s post, and adds her own thoughts on the missional church and Unitarian Universalism.

What I hope for, wish for, and work for, is a Unitarian Universalism that more intentionally makes a place for unexamined reverence, love, humility, deep listening, crying, grieving, laying down the burden of trying to know and understand and explain and control everything, acceptance at the heart level, solidarity rather than paternalism and dominance, and faith. (PeaceBang, January 4, 5)

The Rev. Tony Lorenzen writes that UU attitudes toward Christianity are “aversion addictions,” and that the UUA is “one big codependent system.”

We do verbal gymnastics in Unitarian Universalism to avoid words like God, spirit, covenant, and faith. Why? Because some people have an aversion addiction to them. (Sunflower Chalice, January 3, 4)

Judgment and humility

The Rev. Kristin Grassel Schmidt reflects on the ways “finger-pointing, laying blame on others, and passing judgment is the name of the game in our national discourse about the challenges we face.”

In passing judgment we can relegate a part of our hearts inaccessible to those whose ideas and opinions don’t match exactly with ours, we rope off a portion of our respect as off-limits for the “other.” In doing this, we make it impossible to bring our whole selves into relationship with those with whom we disagree, those who also happen to be the very neighbors we as people of faith are called to love as we love ourselves. (wanderingfollower, January 5)

The Rev. Fred Hammond considers what it might mean for UUs to “walk humbly with their God.”

Can we as Unitarian Universalists embrace the idea that there are unknown forces at play? These forces need not be supernatural but may simply be the words and actions of others that we are not privy to but have been said and done and are bending the arc towards justice and liberty even while we ponder our next move. . . . For me, walking humbly with my god means to feel the direction of the current of change, to sniff the wind of justice and follow it where it leads. It means being willing to change how I live if it will ensure that others will find freedom. (A Unitarian Universalist Minister in the South, January 3)

Magical moments

Driving home on New Year’s Eve, Leslie Mills sees flickering, floating lights in the night sky.

The first thing I could think of was a fairy. High up in that cold, rainy sky, there was a fairy floating over my car. Or a will-o-the-wisp. Or an angel. Call it what you will, but it was ethereal and magical, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. (Leaping Loon, January 3)

In an unexpected encounter, Deb Weiner recognizes echoes of an ancient dance.

It lasted only a moment, and was so fleeting a vision I wondered if I could believe my eyes. But there they were—quietly walking out of the dark, four deer, crossing in front of me. . . . Softly, moving with caution and watchfulness, the beautiful animals were headed toward the conservation land across the road, no doubt. I saw a couple of adults followed by juveniles with gentle spots on their bodies. (Morning Stars Rising, January 5)

The Rev. Dr. Nori J. Rost steps out of a perfectly good airplane.

My instructor open the door and I did as I had been instructed, following his left foot with mine, placed on the step there; next was my right foot. That was the most terrifying moment and I barely had time to feel it before we were out; tumbling over and over in an incredible bullet-fast rush through the skies. After about 30 seconds, my instructor pulled the chute cord and there we were: gracefully wafting down, the silence even more noticeable after the rushing of air during free fall. It was an amazing experience. (sUbteXt, December 30)

Sit and be with this day

The Rev. John Morehouse remembers a story told by his Buddhist teacher about perseverance.

When I was in Vietnam, [the teacher said], the Vietcong came to our village. They raped the women, and shot the old men. My mother and father disappeared. Only my grandmother survived holding me in her lap inside of a large basket. We survived because she had taught me to be very still––to sit. We sat for our lives. My grandmother brought me to a monastery and they took me. I was scared and angry. It took me 30 years to learn to let go of the images of that day in the village. Each day I reminded myself, today is a new beginning. Sit and be with this day. Keep that promise. (Facing Grace, December 29)

Around the blogosphere

Kelly Kilmer Hall processes her daughter’s suicide attempt.

Why do I speak of such things? Because I must. Because families lose children and teens to suicide at an alarming rate, and it is frightening to speak of it. (Seeking Divinity, December 30)

Strange Attractor defends something she never thought she would: the color pink.

I have come to realize in the past year . . . that my dislike of the color pink, and various other traditional feminine traits and activities are really my own unconscious internalized misogyny. (Strange Attractor, January 4)

The Rev. Dan Harper makes three safe—and gloomy—predictions for liberal religion in 2012, and begins a series about how we can change these trends. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, January 3, 4)