Syncretism seeping under the door
When a member of the Sikh faith gives an invocation at the Republican convention in Tampa, one right-wing commentator worries that syncretism is “seeping under the door like a gas.” Jason Pitzl-Waters notes that soon it will be impossible to ignore non-Christian voters.
The longer you rely on a base that fears and distrusts non-Christian faiths, the more alienated growing populations of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims, and Pagans will become. Eventually a realignment will have to happen. (The Wild Hunt, August 30)
Paul Oakley suggests that the gas seeping under the door is oxygen.
The Right are . . . packed tightly into their shelter, fearing monsters of their own conjuring on the other side of the door. In their fortress, they are quickly using up the oxygen and are beginning to hallucinate.
On the other side of their door, the world has mobilized to save them. We speakers of other languages, prayers using other metaphors for the Good, the High, the Holy, we have stuck a sensor under the door and found that their oxygen supply is critically low.
So yes, we are forcing gas in under the door. Call it syncretism if you will, but it has another name: OXYGEN. (Inner Light, Radiant Life, August 30)
Life in spiritual community
The Rev. Meredith Garmon notes the ways in which our friends help us grow spiritually.
It doesn’t always require a great personal crisis to spur an adult to growth. Maybe you just have a small, nagging, uneasy sense of being stuck. Then a friend says, “read this book” . . . . Or maybe instead of “read this,” your friend says, “come with me on this week-long spiritual retreat” . . . . We adults can settle into developmental cul-de-sacs. When we do, a personal crisis, or something else, might reawaken us to the growing we did continuously as children. (Lake Chalice, August 30)
Jeanne Desy writes honestly about fallout from her angry blog post about events in her congregation.
At first, I . . . felt horrible, wished I hadn’t posted it, wished I could have addressed the issues privately face to face. I should have known better. But I was flailing around, drowning in hurt and outrage and, at the same time, the worst moodswings I’ve ever had. Before long, though, I realized that the post had led to bonding with people whose stories I had not known, who carried around the same kind of hurt as me. So it wasn’t bad or good to have posted as I did. You can’t say. (The Dalai Grandma, August 30)
The Rev. David Pyle explores the role that worship plays in helping members of a spiritual community experience and release emotion.
I dream of a space in the lives of congregants and in the life of a congregation where we can come together and not only express our emotional selves, but use the gift of our rational faculty to explore what those emotions mean for our understanding of and connection with life, the universe, and everything. . . .
Not alone. Not in a way that diagnoses what is wrong with us or makes us feel inadequate, but in a way that is simply about our learning to trust and care for our emotional souls, together. (Quest for Meaning, August 30)
The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein admits to obsessing about the words she uses to call the community to worship, and shares a few of her guidelines for choosing opening words.
Spare me the kitchen sink Invocation, with its endless, droning phrases and promises. Opening Words should have a rhythm and energy to them that draw the gathered community into something. Get it said, get it lifted up to God (the Highest) and get on with it! (PeaceBang, August 25)
Finding the right words
The Rev. Lynn Ungar wrestles with a common social media problem: coping with “friends” whose political views differ radically from our own.
[Is] it more important to preserve the human relationship and just let outrageous lies go past, or is it more important to stand up in a public forum and ask that people give some evidence for what they say? . . . Is it more respectful to call someone on behavior you think is inappropriate, or is it more respectful to make sure that feelings aren’t hurt, and relationships preserved? . . . What I do know is that I can choose to make the political statements that I put out there in the world scrupulously honest, identifying what is fact and what is conviction, never resorting to name-calling or stereotype. (Quest for Meaning, August 29)
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum has been so flummoxed by the “war on women” that it’s given her a case of writer’s block.
The problem is, when I think about opening up a page and writing, there’s one thing that’s been on my mind to write about. And when I think about that one thing, I’ve been so boggled and amazed by what’s going on that I can’t find a way to write coherently. . . .
[There] are whole other levels going on here which are not just about whether or not abortion is murder. That may be what they’re trying to express, but they’re also expressing a lot more. What’s going on is, at best, a complete lack of understanding of women from certain politicians, or just paternalism mixed with disregard for them, and, at worst and perhaps more likely, a deep misogyny. (Rev. Cyn, August 29)
Let us arise and rebuild
Justin Schroeder values the four-year partnership his congregation has entered into with Habitat for Humanity.
It was good to do this work and after a full day, it was clear to all of us: we are not simply building homes; we are building communities, and relationships; we are building up lives and neighborhoods. . . . One nail, one relationship, one house at a time—this is one way we do Love’s work in the world. (The Well, August 29)
As Hurricane Isaac pours rain on the Gulf Coast, Deb Weiner worries about her daughter, a first-year student at Tulane, but even more so about friends in Plaquemines Parish.
[More] than a foot of water has fallen in the area, the power is out, the levees in Plaquemines Parish have been overtopped, and everything that these folks—along with countless volunteers and hundreds of thousands of dollars—struggled for has been thrown into a cocked hat. . . .
Do we keep working at it till we ‘get it right’ or till the levees are so high that they can not be breached, even by a twelve foot storm surge? Do we politely suggest that the people who have lived on this land for generations just give it up and go somewhere else? (Morning Stars Rising, August 30)
Around the blogosphere
Andy Coate celebrates the beginning of his time in seminary.
Not everything was perfect. Almost nobody got my pronouns right, and while my name was correct on my nametag it was incorrect on my folder and my advisor letter. I am pretty sure there’s no gender neutral bathroom that’s easily accessible in the building. I was too scared to correct people much. I am incredibly dehydrated because, well, if you don’t think there’s a place to go to the bathroom you don’t drink enough water.
But I have arrived. I am home. It’s not perfect and there are going to be speed bumps and awful bits but, right now, in this moment, I’M THERE. That’s what matters right now. I am THERE. (thoughts ON, August 30)
Like the writer of a recent letter to the editor, Christine Leigh Slocum feels alienated from the Unitarian Universalism represented in UU World.
What I am trying to say is that it seems weird that the publication is so polished and unoffensive though the faith is so inherently messy. . . . Now, I am not advocating for copy-editing problems, ill-placed pictures, or a goofy font. I am saying that UU World’s relationship to UUism is akin to the relationship of women’s magazine cover photos to real women. . . . It often seem like it is the portrait of how we hope to be more so than how we are.
With that said, I do not know that I would change it. (Seattleite from Syracuse, August 28)