Observing holy days, UU activism and identity, and more

Observing holy days

Preparing for Passover, the Rev. Bill Sinkford shares an alternative telling of Israel’s safe passage through the Red Sea.

In one important midrash of this story, Moses does raise his staff and pass his hand over the sea, but the sea does not part. What were the Israelites to do? Finally Nachson, a tribal prince of Judah, strode into the sea. Wading through the rising tide, the waters first reached his waist, then his chest and shoulders. At the very last moment, as the waters reached his nostrils, the Red Sea parted and the children of Israel followed him across. (Rev. Sinkford’s Blog, April 5)

With Good Friday approaching, the Rev. Sam Trumbore rejects the idea of redemptive violence.

Most Unitarian Universalists find value in Jesus’ life and teachings not in his death. His death cut short his prophetic ministry preaching the redemptive power of love and advocating for a just society he called the realm of God.

It dishonors and destroys the message we receive from Jesus to warp it into one of redemptive violence. (Rev. Sam Trumbore, April 3)

UU activism

Laura Wagner’s congregation supports a local immigrant community—but only after listening carefully to its needs.

An effective ally knows that it’s important to get to know our brothers and sisters who live in our communities and that we come to understand the unique challenges faced by all. Those of us in the majority do not have all the answers and should not try to be a “helper” who “fixes” problems.  Rather, we should strive to be allies who listen to those who are experiencing injustice and know that what affects one person, affects the whole community.  (Cooking Together, April 4)

The Rev. Kathy Schmitz, who serves a congregation thirty minutes from Sanford, Florida, reflects on her actions in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin.

[Two] of my UU colleagues and I answered a clergy call to come to Sanford. . . . We gathered with many other clergy (black and white, though clearly more black) and together prayed before leading the half mile march to the convention center, where Trayvon’s parents spoke before the Sanford City Commission. (Growing in Place, April 4)

Providing helpful background on the so-called “curse of Ham,” Kim Hampton asks, “Why do black bodies scare non-black people?”

I believe there is a theological issue at play here. And we ignore it at our peril. Everybody mouths the words that “we are all God’s children.” Yet on the other hand collective actions say that God is a respecter of persons. Has the curse of Ham been lifted? If we’re looking at the Trayvon Martin case, it would seem that the answer is no. (East of Midnight, March 29)

The Rev. Tom Schade celebrates the power of social media to draw attention to previously hidden outrages.

Once they ‘go viral’ information about these outrages explode across the national consciousness. They travel as petitions, as posters, as jokes, as serious articles, as cartoons, as calls to action. They cannot be stopped. There are many sources, many versions of the same message, many information pathways. . . . [They] are fast and cheap. . . . [and] they get results. (The Lively Tradition, March 30)

UU identity

The Rev. Meredith Garmon identifies the reasons why someone might choose to be a Unitarian Universalist.

If . . . your spirit hankers for . . . a community of faith to grow your spirit amidst religious diversity; if you want a place where people of different beliefs worship together as one faith . . . if you need a place to do the work of learning how to be the deeply caring, calmly loving person that you want to be, a place where you can be helped in that work by people whose preferred metaphors for alluding to that which is beyond words are highly varying––well, welcome home. (Lake Chalice, April 2)

The Rev. David Owen-O’Quill rejects “believewhateveryouwantism,” choosing missional Universalism instead.

The missional point of this being that the practice of telling people they have a million spiritual options available to them is redundant for our contemporary culture. As a Universalist I’m called by a particular theological interpretation, practice, and experience. Witnessing people discover the reality of God in their life is powerful and transformational. Like I said, I’m a grace guy. (news from the spiritual underground, April 3)

Around the blogosphere

The Rev. Debra Haffner reports on the status of the Religious Institute after its recent “financial tsunami.”

People and organizations have been supportive beyond words and expectations. Within 2 days, I had raised $40,000 to cover the debts we were left and staff salary for two payrolls. By the time I’m writing this, in just five weeks, we have commitments for more than two thirds of a scaled down 2012 budget. (Sexuality and Religion, March 30)

After recounting some of her own history, Kathleen MacGregor asks, “How does your social location inform your own spirituality?”

As I’ve journeyed through seminary, one of the most important lessons is on knowing one’s “social location.” By knowing where I come from, I will continue to know why I must speak out in the face of injustice. (Both/And, April 3)

Christine Slocum engages “the cable guy” in conversation, and finds out he’s been trying to help people save money.

He told me that he’s trying to save people money because his other job with the company is as a debt collector. He . . . sees how the company’s nickel and dime’ing model adds up. He attributed it to how people become late on their bills. He described how he hates seeing people in debt. “I mean, I feel for them, I really do.” (Seattleite from Syracuse, March 30)