Journeys of faith, pluralist conversations, and other UU blogging

Rethinking Christianity

The Rev. G. Jude Geiger writes that “there is a war on Christianity in this country.”

It’s not about prayer in schools, or soccer trumping Sunday school. It’s about groups of pundits, politicians and “American”-centric groups redefining the teachings of Jesus to suit their economic, social or political agenda. (Rev. G. Jude Geiger, January 31)

The Rev. Sam Trumbore takes on another distortion of Christianity—the message of death instead of life, a gospel of suffering rather than of paradise.

The primary focus of the early church was not on the way Jesus died but their belief that he returned to life. His return sealed the promise for them they had nothing to fear in death. . . . This picture of Jesus in a worldly paradise has resonance with how we do religion here. The image of a bloody Jesus dying, nailed to a cross, does not. (Rev. Sam Trumbore, February 5)

Journeys of faith

Anna Snoeyenbos, who has found a new home in a United Church of Christ congregation, shares the baptismal testimony she delivered to her new faith community.

I’m keenly aware that we live in an age when more people claim to be spiritual but not religious—and I’m standing if front of you now to say that yes I have spirit, always have really, but what I crave is religion. . . . I believe that together we can root ourselves in this giant oak of Christianity—with all its many branches – we can root ourselves in this ancient faith together so that we may have the strength ourselves to grow. (Deep River, February 6)

A friend’s loss leads Christine Leigh Slocum to think about the transient nature of life.

[Forrest Church writes] about how death is the price one pays for this great opportunity to be alive. . . . that grief is the evidence you have loved. It may be accurate, though it is not consoling. I study social problems for a living, and every time I read or hear of some tragedy, all I can think of is that it was that person’s only chance on this earth. It always seems so brief. (Seattleite from Syracuse, February 7)

Pavarti Tyler introduces a series of guest posts about spiritual journeys, and begins by telling her own story of faith.

I think I was the first person to ever go through confirmation class and not be confirmed. . . . My mother cried and the pastor pulled me into her office for private discussions where she tried to dissuade me from my decision. But I knew, the God I believed in, the God who loved me, didn’t care if you were gay or Buddhist. I knew that was wrong. (Fighting Monkey Press, February 3)

Pluralist conversations

Reading about the Hindu festival of Thaipusam prompts Crystal St. Marie Lewis to think more deeply about interfaith commonalities.

[Religious] people in other cultures are not really “otherly” or “beyond our understanding.” We are all people who are responding to an inner urge for contact with God. . . . Whether Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslim or otherwise, we are all reaching beyond the human condition in an effort to touch the Greater. I find those commonalities both humbling and beautiful. (Diary of a Christian Universagnosticostal, February 9)

Liz James considers the challenges of language among Unitarian Universalists, using the word “church” as an example.

For me, “Church” refers to community, connecting to what’s meaningful, living with intention, and caring for the world. For some people, not so much. So, I’m reluctant to use the term “Church” as an exclusive label for the stuff I do, because I want the people looking to be able to find me. (Sacred Lego, February 9)

John Beckett offers practical advice for dealing with Pagan-phobic UUs.

Go around them. Or go over them. Or go through them. Don’t let them be a roadblock on your search for truth and meaning and on your congregation’s path to growth and maturity. And if they’re too entrenched and too powerful and too dead-set on keeping things the way they’ve always been, take your time and your effort and your money some place that’s interested in being a religious community and not a social club. (Under the Ancient Oaks, February 9)

Politics, religion, and women’s health

Sarah MacLeod, a physician’s assistant, weighs in on the Susan G. Komen controversy.

Playing on sympathies to buy products that are of dubious health benefit to support an organization that’s mission is to eradicate breast cancer gives me a headache. . . . Pink isn’t the answer to ending breast cancer. If we truly care about breasts, breast cancer, women, and women’s health, we’ll think twice before we act. We’ll research carefully where we send our donations and to what we commit our time. (Finding My Ground, February 4)

The Rev. Debra Haffner can’t believe that contraception has become a political football.

[The] U.S. Catholic Bishops have called an all out attack on birth control coverage in health care reform—and each of the GOP contenders have joined them. Their anti-women, anti-sexuality positions are being cloaked in a “religious liberty” argument that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. (Sexuality and Religion, February 8; see media coverage of Haffner’s response at this week’s UUs in the Media)

Around the blogosphere

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern provides the text of her presentation on race and liberal religion.

If we’re going to hold tight to it and say that we (white European-Americans) own it, liberal religion will dwindle. But if we allow it to change as it encounters other cultures, it can grow. . . . So yes, if Unitarian Universalism becomes more truly multiracial and multicultural here in the US, as it already is around the world, it will change. Let’s embrace this as good news! (Sermons in Stones, February 9)

The Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley offers an overview of last week’s consultation about “Congregations and Beyond.” (Learn Out Loud, February 7)

The Rev. Naomi King asks, “How are you caring for your neighbor’s dreams?” (Digital City of Refuge, February 5)

Christian Schmidt plays tour guide for ministerial candidates planning to come to Boston to meet with the Ministerial Fellowship Committee. (A Free Faith, February 8)