Praying, preaching and giving thanks
The Rev. Dr. Kelly Murphy Mason has “gotten out of the business of having opinions about anyone’s prayer life, petitionary or otherwise.”
At long last, I have recused myself from standing in theological judgment of people’s most reflexive prayers, including their seasonal prayers for good weather. The heart wants what the heart wants and our lips are wont to give it voice. (The Reverend Dr., May 24)
The Rev. Meredith Garmon reviews the Festival of Homiletics, beginning with a message to Christians and atheists.
To my Christian friends and parishioners: I’m on your side. To my atheist friends and parishioners: I’m on your side. Aside from a few quibbles here and there that I think turn out to be largely or wholly semantic, the only significant point on which I disagree with either of you is the one point on which you both seem to agree—to wit, that it’s not possible to be on both sides at once.
It is, and I am.
The tribal Christians, who would like to defeat atheism, and the tribal atheists, who would like to defeat Christianity, will both be disappointed in me for my report on my experience at the 2012 Festival of Homiletics. Let us all pray, and/or meditate, and/or go to therapy to get over ourselves. (Lake Chalice, May 22)
Beginning with thoughts about giving thanks for meals, the Rev. Peter Boullata explores the ways in which “grace notes” of gratitude appear in our lives.
There are moments when we survey the banquet of our lives and are thankful. . . . We cannot command them or produce them, but there are moments of pleasure and delight that grace our days unexpectedly. A sense of serenity, that all is well; the comforting silence between companions. The special quality of such moments is that we don’t bring them about by overachieving or being perfect. We don’t bring them about at all. They are given freely, gratuitously. In such moments of clarity, we understand that all of life is a gift. (Held in the Light, May 23)
On her daughter’s seventh birthday, Lizard Eater considers the ways in which each member of her family has been changed by childhood cancer.
I don’t like the phrase “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I don’t feel it to be necessarily true.
But I do think that what doesn’t kill you often makes you different. And if you look hard enough, some of that different might be good. (The Journey, May 24)
Amy Peterson Derrick loves to write, but her busy life leaves her mind cluttered with mental notes for future writing.
[Picture] a section of my brain covered with Post-It notes about big “Ah-ha” moments and earth-shattering paradigm shifts. . . . The more days go by the more Post-Its seem to litter my brain, leaving little room for other new, time-sensitive, important information, and my daughter shows up for a beloved school Pajama Day in her regular play clothes. (UU@Home, May 22)
A UU World article about the church in which she discovered Unitarian Universalism prompts Christine Leigh Slocum to think back on the beginnings of her UU journey.
I eventually joined the Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst. . . . The decision of which church was made by proximity: I could ride my bike to UUCA because I lived down the road. Between the wonderful communities at University Unitarian Church and UUCA, proximity is working well for me as the decision-making criteria. (Seattleite from Syracuse, May 23)
Eddie Proulx wishes that communities of social progressives were more tolerant of dissenting voices in their midst.
Within a group of self-described socially progressive individuals, I commented that their understanding of an issue was inaccurate—wrong on the facts. This group summarily shut me down, effectively ending a conversation that so desperately needs to be had at this time and in this place.
This group, who considers themselves “voices of dissent” were very uncomfortable with the appearance of “dissenting voices” within their ranks. (Enso Peace, May 20)
One of Thomas Earthman’s central complaints about UUism is the tendency of some congregations to belittle one or more of our sources.
We must see ourselves as one faith, with many sources, and not many faiths merely tolerating each other for the sake of political impact and the respectability of numbers.
There is no means to respond to a congregation that is getting this wrong. The UUA has little authority to question, much less rebuke, a congregation that is ostracizing those who come seeking truth. All we can do, for now, is try to get out the message that this is not how we want our religion portrayed or practiced. We have to make it known that we are one faith, and that what we believe not only matters, but can change lives and communities. (A Material Sojourn, May 24)
Happy Birthday, PNWD!
The Pacific Northwest District celebrated its 50th birthday at a District Assembly in Anchorage, Alaska—the first District Assembly ever held in Alaska.
Strange Attractor shares the lessons she learned from serving on the planning team for District Assembly.
I have never been much of a joiner. While it might be very nice to believe that I have such a charismatic personality that people are just dying to get to know me, the truth is it is very easy to attend and even join a church, and stay a stranger to most. . . . There is no doubt that I over-extended myself this spring, but I am finding that the best way to get to know people is to get involved and do some work. This is probably not a news flash to you, but it is progress for me. (Strange Attractor, May 24)
During the District Assembly’s closing worship service, young adult Chris Jenkins and youth Elizabeth Hitchcock shared what they believe Unitarian Universalism will be celebrating in another fifty years.
Spirituality and intellectualism are no longer mutually exclusive.
Our congregations are fully multicultural, multigenerational, and integrated.
Not only do Unitarian Universalists know what Unitarian Universalism is, so does the general public. . . .
The youth to young adult “bridge to nowhere” has been rebuilt with strong programs and systems to support and sustain vibrant faith, integration, and community for our young adults. (Growing Unitarian Universalism, May 22)
Around the blogosphere
Crystal St. Marie Lewis wishes Christians would start interpreting the Scripture like Jesus did.
[Have] you ever noticed that when those in power used their influence to entrap people with doctrine, Jesus used compassion to release them from it? . . . Christianity has a reputation among the non-religious for being a hatred-producing propaganda machine because we have yet to master the art of using scripture in the way that Jesus used it. I hope this changes in my lifetime. (Crystal St. Marie Lewis, May 22)
The Rev. Chip Roush and his Labrador, Lilly, discuss displays of affection in men’s basketball.
I’m tickled that they’re showing all the players hugging. Look—players and coaches from both teams are hugging each other, unabashedly. This never would have happened, even five years ago. (So May We Be, May 22)