A bushel of peaches
Sarah MacLeod learns a few life lessons when she buys well-behaved blueberries and unpredictable peaches from a farmer’s market.
I’m more comfortable with the blueberries of life. . . . The parts of life that are exactly as they seem upon receipt. The parts that can be dealt with cleanly, with no surprises. And, admittedly, the parts that are not as much work. . . . Little in life is blueberries, but I’ll take those parts when they come.
Most of life is peaches, however. Uncertain. A waiting game, filled with chance. Defying planning and rejecting urgency, yielding its best when it is not expected. Unpleasant surprises in the middle of the sweetness. Effort rewarded, but not consistently. An element of risk with no guarantees. (Finding My Ground, August 1)
When sexism, racism, homophobia, and a hit-and-run combine to create “one pissed off Matt Kinsi,” a blogging rant helps clear his mind.
[On] this homophobia front, turns out one of my students? Fan of Santorum. And Bachman because her parents are. And it’s clearly because of social issues. . . . I had to bite my tongue since it’s most likely anti-gay at play. I hate not being able to be out at my job. It’s not like I want to march through my company in a tutu, I just want to be able to Not. Be. Afraid. Of. Being. Fired. Please, can we pass a national ENDA somehow? (Spirituality and Sunflowers, August 1)
Eating less chicken
Weighing in on the controversy about Chick-fil-A and marriage equality, the Rev. Michael Tino reminds us that we spend our values.
I learned a long time ago that each time I spend money, I make a choice. I can make that choice intentionally—to support the things I care about—or not. If my choices are made in ignorance, I might just wind up supporting things I oppose. When I take the time to examine my actions, I can decide which values are most important to me, and how I want to support those values in the world. (Quest for Meaning, July 31)
Paul Oakley places the Chick-fil-A controversy in the context of an ongoing conversation with a Roman Catholic friend about whether it is bigotry to believe homosexuality is sinful.
I believe that a person has a right to not be economically destroyed because of his or her political, religious, and other positions and their expression, but no one has a right to have people make market choices that favor them, and everyone has a right to make economic decisions based on their political, religious, and other positions. This is a fundamental conflict of rights. . . .
The simple fact is, living in the conservative county that I do, if I refused to do business with everyone who thought I was going to hell and didn’t mind telling me so, I would do almost no business without driving 50 miles or more. If I refused to have dinner with people who knowingly send their money to causes that actively intend to undermine my equality in our society, I would never ever be able to go to a family dinner. So the question always is, how to balance all the pieces. (Inner Light, Radiant Life, August 1)
Thoughts on liberal religion
Asked if he “writes off Christianity,” the Rev. Tom Schade responds:
Understand that my basic theological approach is Christian. I do think that Christianity is a busted brand in the west and largely unconnected with any liberatory impulse. Too many people have justified too many systems of oppression in the name of Jesus for too long. . . .
I cannot see the purpose in devoting my preaching and teaching to trying to persuade people that despite all that they can see, that there is a warm, humane, liberating Christianity, now hidden and suppressed, and slowly emerging from the church they have walked away from.
You can call it “writing it off.” I call it “letting it go.” (thelivelytradition, August 1)
The Rev. Peter Boullata would like to see Unitarian Universalism be “more than a rest stop on the way to the golf course.”
What would have to change if we understood our mission and ministry as giving people the gift of their most authentic spiritual self? What would we have to do differently if one of our great purposes as Unitarian Universalist faith communities was to help people discern their spiritual path?
I’m betting that in the answers we give to these questions are the seeds of flourishing liberal religious communities of the twenty-first century. The zeitgeist currently seems to feature an interest in—and a longing for—what Unitarian Universalists offer when we are at our best. Can we offer our times and our world our very best? (Held in the Light, August 1)
The Rev. Dan Harper redefines what it means to be religiously liberal or conservative.
A religious liberal is someone who is flexible about theological or ideological matters, who instead is more concerned with living out his or her values in the wider world, and who is willing to make adjustments to his or her theology in order to make the world a better place. By contrast, a religious conservative is someone who is most concerned with theological purity or purity of religious ideology, and not social justice.
By this definition, evangelical Christian Richard Ciszik, former staffer for the National Association of Evangelicals, is a religious liberal because he is more committed to “creation care” or environmentalism than he is to religious ideology. Richard Dawkins, by contrast, comes across as a religious conservative, a humanist who demands ideological purity even if he alienates other religious groups to the extent that he greatly reduces his chances of working with them to solve real-world problems. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, July 30)
Around the blogosphere
The Rev. Dan Harper also provides a brief overview of the life and work of the Rev. Dr. William R. Jones, “the preeminent Unitarian Universalist humanist theologian of the past fifty years, one of the handful of truly important Unitarian Universalist theologians of any kind from the past half century, and arguably the best Unitarian Universalist thinker on antiracism.” (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, August 1)
Desmond Ravenstone writes that individual grievances fall through the cracks of our congregational polity, and suggests that the UUA needs an ombuds office to respond to these situations.
We need someone who can cut through the red tape, listen and respond effectively to individuals, and hold us all to account. We need someone who takes seriously that every soul who comes through our door is important to us. (Ravenstone’s Reflections, August 1)
Ellen Snoeyenbos suggests that “multimedia is the new stained glass window.”
Adding an image can allow people to bring their imagination to bear on what is being said or experienced musically. Obviously, it’s possible to hit people over the head with a message, but, if done tastefully and with respect to the intelligence of the congregation, visuals can involve people on a more visceral level and bring art and symbolism to the discussion. (worship changes lives, August 2)
The Rev. Scott Wells wonders about shrinking commute times, and what they tell us about distances people are willing to drive to get to church.
Unitarian Universalists too often have regional congregations—and many of these are small—that I wonder if many “covered areas” are in fact unevangelized. This also suggests that some in-town neighborhoods in major cities are completely unserved. (Boy in the Bands, July 29)