What should churches do?
In a brief post, the Rev. Scott Wells asks, “What do you think churches should do?”
[Let] me ask a question that has been bothering me since the UUA General Assembly: just what do you think the purpose of a church is? Not the UUA, but the particular church. Opinions requested. (Boy in the Bands, June 30)
Matt Kinsi writes: “I didn’t become a UU to change the world. I became a UU to change my life.”
I can change the world outside of my church through other means, but I can’t get that same community anywhere else. That community that welcomed me with open arms when I was lost, that helped me get plugged in to my soul, that helped me in more ways than I can count, and loved me for who I was and who I am and who I will be. (Spirituality and Sunflowers, June 29)
For Christine Leigh Slocum, a focus on social justice is not without risks.
It’s not that pursuing social justice . . . is a terrible thing for a UU church to do, or that it’s inherently inappropriate. Quite the opposite. I think we are obligated as human beings to operate with moral courage. I worry that our moral courage too easily lines up with pre-existing discourses. . . .
In my opinion, our churches are properly contributing to social justice when they are the prophetic voices; when they create spaces that inspire discernment, creativity, boldness, and compassion. (Seattleite from Syracuse, July 2)
After reading Slocum’s post, Matt Kinsi wonders if social justice might strengthen his faith, while killing his religion.
I’m left wondering if there’s an inherent tension between welcoming and social justice. If we focus on welcoming, it will come at a cost of taking strong social justice stands, and if we focus on social justice, we’ll naturally put off people who might otherwise walk through our doors.
Taking a strong social justice stand on an issue is probably more likely to turn someone off than it is to turn someone on to a congregation. You’ll be putting off people who don’t want politics and religion intertwined, and you’ll be putting off people who disagree with the stand. (Spirituality and Sunflowers, July 3)
Eddie Proulx’s July 4 post wishes everyone a Happy In(ter)dependence Day.
Complete and total independence is a myth. You are never independent. Sure, on this day, we declared our independence from Great Britain, who for nearly a century thereafter remained our largest trading partner and even today stands as our 6th largest.
Independent? I hardly think so. (Enso Peace, July 4)
A young member of a congregation comes to church on Sunday morning with purple hair, multiple facial piercings, and wearing a very short skirt. She sits next to an older lady wearing much more conservative clothing—and this is all appropriate because we can each express our individuality.
That same young member of the congregation refuses to wear the coffee service apron during her volunteer shift, despite the fact that these aprons are supposed to help newcomers identify who is providing the hospitality, because she is “not an apron person.” That would be individualism. (The Curriculum of Love, July 3)
Still thinking about General Assembly
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern, inspired by General Assembly’s vibrant music, shares her thoughts on effective worship music.
Don’t surprise the congregation. If you teach them a song, lead it the way you taught it to them. Small variations are okay—key changes, harmonies, etc.—but if you suddenly throw in a bridge, you have to warn us or we get confused and discouraged, and we don’t sing with the same abandon because we’re watching for further curveballs. (Sermons in Stones, July 1)
Doug Muder traveled—by air—to General Assembly in Phoenix, without his driver’s licence.
I wandered around Arizona for a week with no proof that I’m a US citizen other than my white skin, my Illinois accent, and a nice pair of khakis. Nobody cared. I never had to explain myself and I never had cause to be afraid. . . . But if I’d been brown, poor, and speaking with a heavy Hispanic accent, the story might not have been so entertaining.
So I was undocumented in Arizona and nothing happened. No drama, no excitement.
That’s how white privilege usually shows up: Nothing happens. Think about that the next time you’re out in public and nothing is happening. (The Weekly Sift, July 2)
The Rev. Dan Harper provides a helpful overview of “Justice GA,” including a few thoughts about the future of General Assembly.
I suspect [UUA Moderator Gini] Courter is correct: the Unitarian Universalists who tend to attend General Assembly will now expect social justice work to be a part of their experience. This being the case. . . . we must avoid the tendency of Unitarian Universalists to be social justice butterflies who flit from one social justice cause to the next, without making much of an impact on any of the causes; social justice butterflies are attractive, but pretty ineffectual. Because of this, I think it would be best if we spent the next five General Assemblies addressing immigration issues. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, June 27)
Around the blogosphere
The Rev. Meredith Garmon discusses the religious significance of the Higgs boson discovery.
The sense of mystery and wonder is central to religious and spiritual experience. For millenia of human history, it has been the role of priests and shamans to say, “There is a world beyond the world of our ordinary experience—very different, yet more real. There’s something fundamentally illusory about the world of our senses.” Now it is the role of scientists to (also) tell us that. (Lake Chalice, July 5)
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum review’s Pixar’s new movie, Brave, calling it the first princess tale that’s good for mothers.
Brave . . . tells the story of a girl asserting her independence and developing her own identity, but it does so while having her deal with a loving, caring, and living mother. And, even more unusual, the heart of the story is really about the relationship between Merida, the daughter, and Elinor, her mother. (Rev. Cyn, June 30)
The Rev. Dan Harper remembers two pioneers of the migrant farm workers movement.
After services this morning, a visiting Unitarian Universalist from St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, told me while he was in California he was going to visit Rosemary Matson. He told me that Rosemary Matson’s husband, Rev. Howard G. Matson, had been a chaplain to Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, and Rosemary herself continued to be involved. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, July 1)