Intimacy with the sacred
While singing shape note music, the Rev. Dan Harper notices a facial expression he’s never seen during a UU Sunday service.
[The] leader’s facial expression caught my eye—eyes rolled slightly upward, lids slightly lowered, cheeks slack, head tilted slightly back—it was subtle, but I recognized that facial expression. It was the expression that comes at peak experiences, at moments of religious ecstasy. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, April 23)
The Rev. Sam Trumbore wonders what UUs can learn from an evangelical approach to developing a personal relationship with God.
Our constructed sense of self and of God as separated from each other and in conflict with each other interfere with the direct experience of the unity of being. Imagining oneness and unity create the possibility for experiencing that reality. (Rev. Sam Trumbore, April 21)
Celebrating Earth Day
Jason Pitzl-Waters offers a Pagan perspective on Earth Day.
Modern Pagan and Heathen faiths, whether they identify as “nature religions” or not, have a special sacral relationship with the natural world. Our gods and goddesses can be found in oceans, rivers, forests, and mountains. . . . Our rites often mark the changing seasons, and once tracked the progress of crops essential to our survival. . . . So it isn’t surprising that many Pagans feel a special urging to advocate for the environment and the protection of the natural world. (The Wild Hunt, April 22)
The Rev. Tony Lorenzen celebrates a Franciscan Earth Day.
I celebrated Earth Day by picking up large rocks, hauling bricks in a wheelbarrow, shoveling and spreading loam, shoveling and spreading mulch, hauling rocks to line the herb and strawberry spiral, and ripping open and pouring bags of concrete into post holes for the posts of bird houses. . . . I preached the gospel all day long Saturday and rarely did I use any words. I worked with about four dozen brothers and sisters and we preached by our deeds. (Sunflower Chalice, April 22)
The shape of justice
The Rev. Susan Karlson participates in a “Jericho Walk,” a vigil for immigration justice outside the Supreme Court as it considers Arizona’s SB1070.
After the seventh circle around the Supreme Court, we raised our arms again and Father Fabian read the Jericho Prayer in Spanish while I read it in English. And then we began the lament—the shout of all the sorrow and pain accompanying those who came from Arizona, those who have long been working to bring greater justice, love, fairness and dignity to people’s lives. Without words, the cry continued, bursting from our hearts and lungs, spilling onto the steps. (Minister’s Musings, April 25)
The Rev. Jude Geiger explores the “white rage” that fuels violence and prejudice.
I believe it’s in part sourced in the crossroads between the myth of the American Dream, and the pain we feel when things that used to go our way stop seeming to go our way. . . . The American Dream says that if you work hard enough, you’ll achieve financial success, a house, and 2-point-something children. For some people that’s still true. But it seems like it’s true for less and less of us. (Rev. G. Jude Geiger, April 25)
The Rev. Fred Hammond responds to Alabama’s anti-immigration HB658.
Rep. Micky Hammon stated before voting to move the revision bill HB 658 out of committee that “Churches need something written in crayon because they exaggerate.” Exaggerate? . . . It is also not an exaggeration to state that Rep. Micky Hammon’s statement reflects a disdain for religious values that guide humane behavior. (A Unitarian Universalist Minister in the South, April 24)
Speaking from her own experience, the Rev. Elz Curtiss weighs in on the issue of providing payment for caregivers.
Money is how we demonstrate that something has value, how we honor an action or output across different subcultures, languages, races, even state boundaries. . . . Unless I’m a total freak, I believe that paying other caregivers as I am paid will release huge waves of tension throughout our national body politic. (Politywonk, April 25)
Access, worth, and dignity
Theresa Ines draws attention to gap between our commitment to inherent worth and dignity, and the reality of physically inaccessible spaces.
If I start with the premise that a place that is not accessible to me is tacitly refusing my patronage, I arrive at the conclusion that all the places that are not accessible are places I am not welcome or wanted: the platform at the chapel of my church; the supply room of the religious education wing; seminaries with inaccessible facilities. (Inexplicable Beauty, March 26)
In her series of posts about the recent UUA Board meeting, trustee Linda Laskowski notes that accessibility is among the reasons for UUA headquarters to leave Beacon Hill.
Last week the UUA Board cleared the UUA Administration to sell [25 Beacon Street], plus two other buildings on Beacon Hill, and move to another location. . . . Over the past year the Board and Administration have been looking at whether or not these properties fit our values. . . . First there is the issue of accessibility: there is an elevator, but there are also ramps that are very difficult for physically challenged people to navigate. . . . Between the cost to maintain and do significant (needed) repairs to old buildings, and the difference between what we could get for selling the building and moving to a different one that fit our values around people and our environment, we could add a significant amount of money for programming each year––programming that goes directly to supporting our congregations. (UUA View from Berkeley, April 26)
Around the blogosphere
Christine Slocum admits that she is no longer a strict vegetarian, and is, instead, a “conflicted, relaxed, maybe-not-a-vegetarian.”
I am torn up over this choice. It is not that my beliefs changed. I do not believe it is ethical to kill needlessly. I do believe that the best course of action is to minimize harm. My country eats too much meat, and suffers for it. Unfortunately, I have been suffering from health issues that I highly suspect are diet-related. The conflict is that I have an ethical imperative which I can no longer maintain without cost to my body. (Seattleite from Syracuse, April 23)
Searching for a new religious home, Hafidha Sofia visits another Seattle UU congregation.
My initial impression . . . is that it is down-to-earth, a good balance of intellect and heart, youth friendly (youth have voting rights, and some actually attend services, adults spoke of them as fellow congregants), and possesses a strong spirit of fellowship. There seems to be a tight-knit community, but it didn’t feel exclusive. There was a prevailing sense of expansion and openness. As I looked around the sanctuary and the grounds . . . it felt like there was space for me and Kidlet there. (Never Say Never to Your Traveling Self, April 23)
The Rev. Brian Kiely looks for a happy medium that combines online community with face-to-face meetings.
Lots of people like to talk about “on-line communities” and sing their praises. Just about as many people like to disparage them for not being “real.” Like a lot of things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle—and perhaps involves a more fluid concept of ‘community.’ (Divining the Digital Reformation, April 23)
The Rev. Peter Boullata reviews—and recommends—Dan McKanan’s book, Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition.
Prophetic Encounters is a good antidote to contemporary progressive activists’ antipathy toward organized religion and spiritual movements. Anyone whose view is that religion’s role in public life is necessarily conservative needs to read this book. (Held in the Light, April 25)