Interdependent communities of faith, liberal religion, and more

Interdependent communities of faith

Several bloggers wrote this week about relationships between Unitarian Universalism and other faith communities.

Christian Schmidt thinks “the church” is one body, one faith—and he includes Unitarian Universalists.

I’m writing to ask something important: Can we work on really being one church? . . . We so often talk about [our] differences, instead of what unite us: our faith. Our faith that there is something greater than any of us, and that we are called to help make a better world, both here and now and on some future day beyond what we can know. (guest blogging at Bruce Reyes-Chow, March 11)

The Rev. Ed Searl believes that UUism is “the most liberal faith tradition of the conservative tradition.”

Our roots are in the New England Pilgrim/Puritan Congregational Church. We are independent congregations joined into an association. We have ministers trained in traditional seminaries, including Harvard Divinity School, the first in America and once Unitarian. We meet on Sundays and listen to sermons and sing hymns. And so on. (Ed Searl’s Journal, March 9)

The Rev. Krista Taves has been visiting other faith communities during her sabbatical; this week she writes about the Hare Krishna and Hindu temples in St. Louis.

I was blessed to be the guest of Harry Shukla, a long time friend of Emerson Chapel, who agreed to take me to visit these temples. Harry Shulka is a first generation immigrant from India. I asked to be his guest as I felt uncomfortable simply going by myself. I do not know the customs and I did not wish to intrude in any way. I am so glad I made this choice because Harry could give me insights that I would have never been able to see on my own. (And the stones shall cry, March 9)

The Rev. Peter Boullatta acknowledges the cultural losses he incurred when he left his family’s Arabic-speaking Orthodox Church.

The “universal” culture of Unitarian Universalism is Protestant and Anglo. . . . Because I assumed this false universal, it took me a long time to even realize the translation that had taken place in my religious life, from a Mediterranean medium to an Anglo one. It just took me a while to recognize that . . . I had lost something in that translation.

UUs are my people. And at the same time, UUs are not my people. My people . . . revere icons and put out saucers for the saints and eat lentils during Lent. (Held in the Light, March 14)

A UU mom blogging at mythankfulboy writes about bedtime chalice lightings with her son.

B asked a question I had been dreading: “Do you think we could stop doing the chalice when I have sleepovers?” I hesitated in responding, and he continued “Or is it just part of our religion?” I said “It’s our religious practice, so we need to do it. I think most of your friends have been comfortable with it so far, don’t you?” He agreed, but I thought I knew a kid or two he might be thinking of who haven’t yet been over for a sleepover and who might think otherwise. (mythankfulboy, March 15)

Living liberal religion

The Rev. Bill Sinkford explores the agnostic quality of Unitarian Universalist faith.

Religious liberals accept and, on good days, embrace the knowledge that “revelation is not sealed.” . . . It is no easy spiritual discipline to live without certainty, but it is possible. It requires an intentionality, an understanding that we are creating our lives with each decision we make. It also requires an open heart. There is in us that call to the good, that knowing when injustice is taking place, that recognition when we feel the power of love in our lives. (Rev. Sinkford’s Blog, March 15)

Sara of The Curriculum of Love writes that Unitarian Universalists “may be of differing opinions about what will happen after death, but we know what to do in this life.”

We are the people who uphold the worth of all, believing that all are born with the possibility of good. We are the people who believe that if we come together in community and covenant, we can create a better world, in this life, on this beloved planet. (The Curriculum of Love, March 10)

Feminism and Unitarian Universalism

The Rev. Dan Harper believes that feminism has stalled in Unitarian Universalism.

While most of our ministers are now women, men still get the majority of the prestigious, well-paid jobs in the biggest congregations; and while I can’t find any hard data to back this up, I’m inclined to believe the average female minister makes less than the average male minister. Furthermore, the vast majority of professional religious educators are women, who are most often part-time and poorly paid. I think it would be wise for us to correct the existing gender inequities within Unitarian Universalism before we start alienating Unitarian Universalist women and men. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, March 12)

Christine Leigh Slocum is grateful to be a UU woman in Seattle, even though she is aware that things are different outside these feminist havens.

[If] I never read Facebook, the New York Times, Twitter or the rest of the Internet, if I never leave Seattle or Washington state, if I keep my faith exposure restricted to UUs, then I will continue to exist this way unthreatened. I cannot vote in most of these contested grounds. UU’s have little to no influence in right wing Christian circles, and Washingtonians have little influence in Alabama. I feel powerful in my circles, but powerless to broaden them. (Seattleite from Syracuse, March 15)

Around the blogosphere

The Rev. Amy Freedman shares an intergenerational invocation.

Spirit of Infancy, be with us now.
Bring all of your vulnerability and softness.
Bless us with loud cries and captivating smiles.
Teach us to trust. (Amy Freedman, March 13)

While emptying the inbox of her work email, Kari Kopnick opens an old email from a church member who has since died.

A simple little task. Emptying a long neglected inbox. But you fall in the chasm of this thing, this human condition. So hard, but really it is nothing at all. Really. Nothing at all.

I am grateful to be having a bad day, because I am blessed to be here and aware and crabby and unjustly accused and unappreciated and thank God, it’s a day. (Chalice Spark, March 13)

Liz James reminds us that life in religious community is a dance, not a boxing match.

[We’re] going to need a solid understanding of one another’s perspectives. Because when some people are boxing and some people are ballroom dancing, people are going to get bloody noses. Also, those heels really hurt if someone steps on your toes. (Sacred Lego, March 13)