Putting relationships first
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum makes an effort to balance political commentary and Facebook friendships.
[For] right now, I’m trying to put relationship-building ahead of politics with my Facebook friends, while still being true to who I am at all times. Not everyone will be willing to build relationships with a LGBT-friendly agnostic Unitarian Universalist minister. So that’s all the more reason to be gentle and kind with those conservatives who are. (Rev. Cyn, September 4)
When church relationships go awry, June Herold listens to the pain behind the anger.
The he-said, she-saids accounts of angry email communications boggle me. . . .
My two friends who are normally calm, thoughtful, patient, caring people needed people to give them a break. I felt terrible for them and spent some time just listening to their woes.
Are we not called to run toward each other and not away when a friend doesn’t seem right? (The New UU, September 5)
“UU Pew Sitter” offers a prayer for right speech and right action for life in community. (thoughts from a uu pew, September 4)
Not our native land
Sarah MacLeod celebrates the lessons she learned about religious community from her Roman Catholic upbringing.
[Decades] of Catholicism . . . . showed me what a faith community could be, illustrating the support, compassion, and quest for meaning and knowledge a spiritual home could provide. Without that upbringing, I’m not sure I’d have bothered to search for church after leaving theist traditions. I’d likely have been happy to stay home in my jammies with a paper and coffee. (Finding My Ground, September 4)
Christine Leigh Slocum, another UU transplant from Roman Catholicism, writes about differences between her experiences and those of “native” Unitarian Universalists.
The irony is that Catholic education taught me the skills and values to partake in UU congregational life. . . . The additional irony is that the UU religious education, what you may presume to be more authentic, seems to inspire most to leave the community. I often feel marginalized in these conversations [about attrition rates among raised-UU young adults], like I am somehow less UU for not having that experience and not “getting it.” This is despite the fact that I actually participate in the only unifying thing we have: our congregations. (Seattleite from Syracuse, September 4).
Children’s worth and dignity
A friend talks the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein into watching the TV show, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”
Not that you didn’t know this already, but [it] is mostly just class prejudice and humiliation served up as entertainment. . . . Somewhere along the second or third episode of the show I viewed, I stopped laughing so easily and became queasy and guilty for enjoying the show. . . . . If it makes you feel good to rip on the HBB, be my guest. But don’t be surprised when I walk out of the room. Alana Thompson and June Shannon are children of God, not pigs or “its.” (PeaceBang, September 5)
The Rev. A.C. Miles spends the summer praying to be delivered from her children—“I think what got me was the intensity of focus. Those kids spend way too much time staring at me”—but when school starts again, she remembers just how much she loves them. (Auspicious Jots, September 6)
Fluid polity in a living tradition
Arguing for a stronger, more consolidated UU identity, Thomas Earthman suggests that applying strict congregational polity to ordination may not be in our best interest.
I don’t want to take away the power of the congregation to choose their leadership, including their minister, DRE, ect. I don’t want everyone to be in lock-step. Locally, we have very spiritual congregations, very humanist, and one that focuses on Earth-based spirituality. I love that. I just want to make sure that they are all still being UU at their core. (A Material Sojourn, September 5)
In defense of a traditional, congregational polity regarding ordination, Kim Hampton highlights relevant sections of the Cambridge Platform, and asks a series of questions about power in non-congregational polities.
If you want somebody from the outside choosing your congregational leaders, then you need to find a church that is Presbyterian or Episcopal in polity. . . .
Congregationalism requires trust. Trust in the individual congregations to know what is best for their locality. I have that trust. Do you? (East of Midnight, September 6)
The Rev. Elz Curtiss unpacks the “free-range UU” label.
Genuine free-rangers just don’t resonate to weekly, even twice monthly, attendance at congregational worship. . . . Not to be confused with free-rangers are the folks taking fallow time to renew themselves, after tons of time teaching RE, chairing some committee, serving on the board. . . . And then there’s the group in which I put myself yesterday, the “pissed off.” Sometimes we’re just disappointed, but we’re alienated. . . . [In] the end, there’s no substitute for ministering to the various groups currently sheltering under the “Free Range Label.” (Politywonk, September 5)
Love and devotion
After wrestling for a week with the question of right and wrong ways to follow tradition, the Rev. Marguerite Sheehan finds an answer in the daily lectionary’s combination of biblical texts.
The commandment of God is to turn toward God, to knock on that window and to respond by throwing open the window when love knocks for us. Wash your hands and your food and your pots and your cups and your kettles if in washing you are deeply and thoroughly readying yourself to have God bound into your life. But when washing, or following any human tradition (and we have thousands of traditions that all seem so important) becomes the object of your affection it is better to abandon it and to hold on to desire. (ReverendMarguerite, September 2)
The Rev. Dr. Kelly Murphy Mason tells her story of learning from a yoga instructor, rather than following a guru.
Even relatively holy men are men, men with feet of clay and sundry other flaws more and less damning. So I’m not now nor have I been looking for a guru in their midst. As a flailing yogini with a personal devotion to Jesus, I believe our reach should be directed to something higher, wider, greater than the feet of the master nearby. (The Reverend Dr., August 31)
Around the blogosphere
The Rev. Scott Wells wonders if changes for academic professionals are mirrored by changes for clergy.
It’s almost the new conventional wisdom that colleges and universities keep their masses of untenured faculty underpaid, unsteady and overworked. How much life of the mind is there when you’re too busy keeping body and soul together[?] . . . I can’t but think that this new reality colors how we see ministers, particularly since there are so many compared to open placements, and the cost of formation is so weighted to them and not the churches they serve. (Boy in the Bands, September 5)
The Rev. Dan Harper asks why Unitarian Universalists do social justice work, and shares his own reasons.
My reasons come partly from classic Universalism: we don’t have to worry about whether or not we’re going to heaven, but it is our job to make this present world a better world. . . . I do social justice work to try to bring about what Jesus called the “kingdom of God,” where “God” is understood in an egalitarian, naturalistic way. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, September 2)