Wholeheartedness, responding to changing times, and more

A litany of wholeheartedness

The Rev. Dawn Cooley shares a “Litany of Wholeheartedness,” based on the work of Brené Brown and inspired by Rev. Rob Eller Isaac’s “Litany of Atonement.”

Because there have been times when shame has crushed our ability to be wholehearted
We let go of who we ought to be and embrace who we are. . . .
Because we have struggled to have compassion for ourselves or others
We let go of who we ought to be and embrace who we are. (Speaking of, April 14)

Responding to changing times

The Rev. Dan Harper considers the “disruptive forces” affecting Unitarian Universalism—and what we should do about them.

Instead of succumbing to nostalgia or fantasy, I’d prefer to look at how we might innovate. What can we adopt and adapt from the disruptive forces that are destroying our current business model? How might we become a disruptive force ourselves? Are there theological advantages to new and innovative business models? Or, to use a traditional metaphor, what are the new wineskins into which we will put our new wine? (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, April 16)

Liz James objects to the argument that “our congregations have to adopt social media, or they won’t survive.”

“We must change to survive” is just not a good enough reason to make deep changes in how we do religious community. Institutional survival, after all, is not an end—it’s a means to an end. If adopting Social Media leads to survival but undermines what makes Church valuable, then we shouldn’t do it. The only good reason for a religious institution to change, in my mind, is to better serve its purpose. I believe that Social Media can help us better serve our purpose. (Sacred Lego, April 18)

Plaidshoes’ religious education committee has been discussing the pros and cons of having large, flat-screen monitors in each classroom.

I am torn on this. . . . We are also not a wealthy congregation and I am reluctant to use much of our RE budget towards this expense. I have heard, though, many UU congregations are jumping on the high-tech multi-media bandwagon and have some pretty snazzy RE rooms. I have also heard that a lot of UUA curriculum will be in this format. I would love to hear some of your thoughts on this. (Everyday Unitarian, April 18)

The Rev. Sean Dennison serves a congregation that gives its minister significant decision-making authority.

At my current congregation, we’ve done a lot of work to clarify who has the power to make decisions about particular things. For instance, under policy-style governance we use, the minister has the power to make decisions about almost everything that falls under “ministry.” Are we going to start a book group? I can decide. Is a program losing momentum and taking up a lot of resources? I can decide to end it. Are we going to add another service? Up to me. Do we need to hire a few singers to help round out the choir? Done. (ministrare, April 19)

In response to this trust, Dennison has developed a mnemonic that reminds him when to slow down and consult others.

When will you stand up?

When residents of his hometown protest a proposed mosque, Nicolas Cable asks, “When will you stand up?”

It is important that we help give voice to the other side of the debate by helping our brothers and sisters be heard. Islam is a religion of peace just as imperfectly as Christianity, Judaism, and the rest have been throughout history. . . . This is not an isolated event. These struggles are happening all over the country. Reach out to your congregations to look deep within their hearts and ask, “how can we be advocates of peace and freedom, this day?” (Spiritual RevolUUtions, April 17)

Kathleen McGregor is concerned about developments in her home state of Arizona, where Mexican and Native American history classes are being eliminated.

Only since the 1970s has the program to send Native American children off to boarding schools to “kill the Indian and save the man” discontinued. Many of those affected are are still living. I hope that the youth of today are not doomed to repeat history on the ordinary brown skinned men, the Vatos, as well as the women and children of the state who deserve respect because of their inherent worth. (Both/And: A Peculiar Mix, April 19)

Learning from Sabbath and sabbaticals

For the Rev. Naomi King, keeping a Sabbath helps her come to terms with “being without doing.”

For much of my life, I have connected being without doing as the state of being ill, trapped in bed, unable to participate in life. Sabbath gives me the gift of a different way of appreciating and understanding being without doing, a vibrant participation in life, access to a well of gratitude in dwelling in present blessing. (The Wonderment, April 13)

A sabbatical allows the Rev. Cynthia Cain to re-examine and reclaim her introversion.

It was not until this sabbatical that I truly accepted that I would always be “shy” (now I am reclaiming that word which has such a negative connotation) and realized that many of the challenges I faced came from my own and others’ unwillingness to adapt and accept that. I know that ministry was the “right” career choice for me because I could pursue the intellectual, spiritual and environmental goals about which I feel passionate. Still, it has been a challenge (the dominant personality type for clergy is ENFJ) because of the expectations of outgoingness and charisma that can create enormous stress for an introvert. (A Jersey Girl in Kentucky, April 16)

The Rev. Krista Taves’ sabbatical church-hopping leads her to All Souls in New York City, where she wrestles with feeling small in a large space.

Maybe it’s good to feel lost sometimes. Maybe it’s good to sing with a pipe organ and not be able to hear your own voice. Maybe my own voice needs to be drowned out once in a while. Maybe the truth needs to echo and I should struggle to hear it. Because really, it’s not all about us. (And the stones shall cry, April 14)

Around the blogosphere

For the Rev. Tess Baumberger, contra dancing provides a metaphor for a minister’s work

Ministry is a weighty profession. You need the people you serve to hold and give weight that counter-balances yours. In my tradition lay people and ministers need to connect in appropriate ways, then lean back a little so there’s some space between them. The space establishes a center of gravity you can both move around safely, and in ways that can be really fun. These are things I have learned from contra dancing. (Transformation Tree, April 16)

John Beckett suggests a few “defenses against the proselytizing arts” for Pagans and other members of minority religions.

The purpose of Defense Against the Proselytizing Arts is defensive—it’s not for winning arguments with fundamentalists and it’s certainly not for aggressively promoting your own religion. Its goal is to help you and your family stay safely and comfortably on the path to which you’ve been called. Its goal isn’t to change someone else’s mind—its goal is to keep someone else from changing your mind. (Under the Ancient Oaks, April 17)

The Rev. Andrew Pakula provides a series of testimonials from the Unitarian General Assembly meetings in Britain.

We’re living now on yesteryear’s fat—the legacy of the past
If we don’t increase our numbers, our movement will not last

So I implore you, delegates, to yourselves this aim apply
Because otherwise our movement will eventually die

We are the ones with power and the responsibility
There’s no one else can make us grow—only you and me.

So let’s make a pledge today—the focus of our lives
To ensure through our efforts Unitarianism thrives. (Throw Yourself Like Seed, April 17)