Public witness at Tent City
For the Rev. Meg Riley, the General Assembly vigil at Tent City raises a variety of emotions.
I’m afraid because I’ve heard there will be counter-protestors, militia folks maybe, perhaps with the weapons which are legal to carry in Arizona. I’m afraid because it’s so hot, because I’m not exactly Olympics material in my physical fitness, because I am taking a teenaged child whose safety means everything to me.
And then, as we sit in worship and prayer, preparing to go, speakers from the local Latino community speak. . . . And I begin to feel embarrassed by my fear. Not ashamed, not guilty, just embarrassed. As if I am a kid who grabbed too many cookies off the plate. And I think, this fear that binds us all, this fear of being arrested and humiliated and tortured in our own country: How does that hold us back? How does that diminish us? (Quest for Meaning, June 24)
The callousness of those who defend Tent City chills the Rev. James Ford’s blood—even standing in Arizona’s heat.
In the Christian Gospel as recounted by Matthew, the good rabbi is said to have said, “whatsoever you do to the least, you do to me.” . . . As a Buddhist and a Unitarian Universalist I am deeply aware that what is done to one, is indeed, done to all.
[This] tent jail is a canary in the mine. Our communal sense of our connections seem to be fraying. Our communal sense of obligation to each other appears to be disintegrating. (Monkey Mind, June 27)
Inspired in part by his experience outside the Tent City jail, the Rev. David Pyle writes a lament to share with more conservative Christian military colleagues.
Is this where we are?
Will we never come out of the desert of racism, of oppression,
Of the idol of wealth, of misogyny, of hatred, of fear.
And into the Canaan of Beloved Community,
That Jesus called the Kingdom of God . . .
And if this is where we are, oh Lord,
Then where will I find the strength to stay on the road,
And not to just throw up my hands and give over the work? (Celestial Lands, June 27)
The Rev. Dan Harper raises questions about the effectiveness of this form of protest.
I hope our presence heartens our local allies; I hope it makes us feel less powerless ourselves. But on the other hand, Joe Arpaio loves this kind of controversy: it gets him press coverage, and gives him additional publicity for his nasty agenda. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, June 23)
Bloggers respond to General Assembly
The Rev. Sharon Wylie lists six reasons why “Justice GA” was a success.
We turned outward rather than inward. Our incredible Unitarian Universalist gifts for reflection and analysis can veer into self-absorption, and G.A. can sometimes be the place where that self-absorption is at its height. But here, the emphasis on justice work kept us thinking about hope, transformation, and the world around us. (Ministry in Steel Toe Shoes, June 25)
The Rev. Michael Tino, a UUA trustee, describes the web of relationships being built by the UUA’s repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery.
It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the Board and the General Assembly to pass this historic resolution. It will be more of an honor to take the next steps, side by side, with our new partners and those still to be identified—in Hawai’i, in Arizona, and here in New York as well. Will you take up the call to partnership in your home? If you do, I trust that you will find that our resolution was not just about the injustices of history, but about ongoing injustice affecting all of humanity. (UUA View from Berkeley, June 28)
After hearing quite a bit about framing and activism at General Assembly, Doug Muder suggests that choosing language is like a martial art.
I began to picture the ideal activist having the adaptability of water, able to flow into the available spaces in the worldviews of the people s/he needs to convince. And I thought: People who can adapt and flow like this must have a tremendously strong sense of their own identity. Otherwise they will enter into other people’s worldviews and get lost there.
And that leads to this question: We can teach techniques of framing and reframing. But what are we doing to help UUs build a correspondingly strong sense of their own identity? (Free and Responsible Search, June 23)
After a GA music leader talks about the need for non-ablist lyrics, the Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern doubts we can “find, create, or rework lyrics that include everyone.”
I suggest that instead of walling ourselves into that corner, we take a different approach. . . . First, we use a wide variety of images to portray human experience. They won’t all fit mine, but because we’re using a variety, many of them will, and it will be okay. Second, and by far the more important: we make our communities places that welcome and celebrate all people, regardless of their abilities in all of these areas. In my experience, songs touch on a nerve of mine when the nerve has already been stomped on by the community. (Sermons in Stones, June 27)
The Rev. Cynthia Landrum purchases a pendant at General Assembly—and learns the poignant story behind “No mas muertes.”
The woman pictured is Antonia. She was a young woman, and the mother of a young son. . . . She was from Central America . . . and walked across all of Mexico and into the Arizona desert. At some point, she couldn’t keep up, and was left behind by the “coyote,” the guide. When they found her body, her son was still alive, staying alive by licking the last of her tears. And this is all I know of Antonia’s short story—all I know is this and her image on the medallion. (Rev. Cyn, June 24)
Around the blogosphere
The Rev. Bill Sinkford’s hopeful celebration of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act is based in the UU first and seventh principles.
There is no doubt that part of what I feel today is relief. We could have been dealing with a disaster. But I also do feel hope. At least we will not, for now, be returned to a vision so centered on individual rights and privileges that we leave many millions of us behind. My hope is grounded in the possibility that we can imagine a “we” that is as compelling as our affirmation of “I”. (Rev. Sinkford’s Blog, June 28)
Thomas Earthman struggles to live the UU principles—while at the same time building “a life from rags.”
It is times like this when I doubt my inherent worth. It is times like this when it feels like the Universe expects too much. I find myself feeling like I give everything I’ve got almost every day, and I still don’t see where I am supposed to find my own fulfillment. (A Material Sojourn, June 27)
A Monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis makes the Rev. Justin Schroeder’s heart sing.
It’s stunning. But what’s even more stunning is how the caterpillar turns into “goo” inside the chrysalis, essentially disintegrating; in the middle of that “goo” the sleeping “imaginal cells” awaken and over a few weeks turn the “goo” into a butterfly. . . .
I was reminded that there’s a lot of “goo” in the world, a lot of brokenness, heartbreak, injustice, and despair. Our sacred task, our imaginative task, is to wake up, to see differently, to begin to organize our compassion, empathy, commitment and love—so that together, we might create a new world. Justice is love in action. (The Well, June 24)