Our work in the world
When violence breaks out in Seattle, Kari Kopnick feels like she needs a sling to carry her heart.
There have been so many tragic things happening so close to us, I had to physically restrain myself from blocking the door to keep everyone home. . . . What do I do? How do I move forward? I think this is the answer: we take care of what’s in front of us. We care for the helpless and vulnerable. We make granola. We slow down a little and we just . . . well we just go on. (Chalice Spark, May 31)
The Rev. Tony Lorenzen writes that poverty means navigating a world with few good options.
Sometimes cynical and overburdened ministers and caseworkers . . . argue that too many people living in poverty are just gaming the system, playing it for whatever handouts are available. This is true, they are. . . . Many of the people doing this are only doing what they need to survive—they are hunting and gathering resources. This is the way our species has survived for millions of years. When there is poverty—lack of options—you hunt and gather whatever resources are available. It is not gaming the system. It is staying alive. (Sunflower Chalice, June 4)
When he forgets to bring recycling bins to an event, Eddie Proulx re-examines the truism that “every little bit helps.”
Now that we are aware of recycling and the adverse effects of non-recycling, it’s not that everything we recycle moves the needle in the right direction, it’s that everything we don’t recycle continues our self-destructive preference for convenience over sustainability. (Enso Peace, May 31)
After hearing a reprise of the Rev. Lillian Daniel’s “spiritual but not religious” rant, the Rev. Meredith Garmon shares his take on SBNR.
You’re right to recognize that truth is within us. You’re right to reject anything that would turn over the authority of your individual conscience to an external source.
But that’s only half the story. The truth is within you all right. It’s in all of us. And so is a lot of self-deceived ego. (Lake Chalice, May 31)
The Holy Spirit is the only part of the traditional Trinity that the Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern considers to be divine.
A force, invisible but palpable, that moves us to create beauty and goodness? That’s what moves me to deep reverence. One strand of historical Unitarianism rejected the Trinity because the Biblical evidence of a Holy Spirit was thin. But if, as the old joke has it, Unitarians are those who believe in “at most one god,” then for me the Holy Spirit—elsewhere known as the Ruach HaKodesh, which translates “the Breath/Spirit of the Holy,” or the Shekhinah—is a good candidate. (Sermons in Stones, June 1)
Thomas Earthman writes that science is too hard on God.
Science is constantly expanding the horizons of what we know about the universe. It has found that particles can exist in 2 (or more) places at once and that things both cannot, and do in fact, move faster than the speed of light. We live in a strange universe. A supernatural entity really isn’t that much of a logical leap compared to what we already think we know. (A Material Sojourn, June 5)
Connections and transitions
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum considers the importance of friendship for keeping UU youth connected to their faith.
There’s simply no magic formula to making friendships happen so that children will want to come to church. The best answer I have is this: One of the primary reasons someone comes to a UU church for the first time is because the person has been invited by someone that person knows. What better person to invite than the parent(s) of your child’s best friend? (Rev. Cyn, June 5)
Deb Weiner prepares for her daughter’s high school graduation, feeling that the years have gone by in the blink of an eye.
We raise children with all the love and care we can muster, hoping that, in the end, they will try their wings and fly off on their own paths. Like the pages in the Book of Life that we consider during Rosh Hashanah, there’s a new chapter about to start. In three months, this little girl we’ve loved and adored will be gone, off to new adventures, new friends, and the next part of her life. (Morning Stars Rising, June 1)
Around the blogosphere
The Rev. David Owen-O’Quill offers six things for prospective seminarians to consider.
The standard financial model of one minister serving one congregation and living a middle class lifestyle has a questionable future. This has enormous ramifications given the rising costs of seminary education and student debt. The future of ministry will require a much higher level of entrepreneurial leadership and evangelistic skill. (news from the underground, June 7)
The Rev. Sharon Wylie visited Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, and shares what she learned from her visit.
[It was] a powerful reminder to me that although we talk a lot about the desire for worship to be powerful and transformative, that’s actually a misplaced focus. It’s not the worship that empowers and transforms. It’s the work of the congregation, the living of mission, that empowers and transforms. (Ministry in Steel-Toed Shoes, June 5)
The Rev. Dan Harper writes a brief appreciation of Ray Bradbury.
Even at eleven or twelve years old, I figured out that this story was about religion, about a Jesus-like figure. Later, I figured out that this story was criticizing literalism in religion; it is futile to try to find the “real” Jesus, the “real” prophet, because you will never catch up with him (or her). (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, June 6)
The Rev. Chip Roush finds the phrase “sermon bingo” offensive, and seeing it featured in UU World magazine made him angry and sad.
Part of this is surely defensiveness around my profession (and my self-identity as a preacher). I also think it is more. If people perceive that our sermons are merely empty words, then there is something wrong—with the people speaking, and with the people who accept the meaningless blather without demanding something better. (So May We Be, June 6)