Interrupting waves of violence
After this week’s attacks on American diplomats, the Rev. David Pyle writes that “violence begets violence.”
When one violence is perpetrated, it created a continuing cycle that creates more and different forms of violence, spreading out in a wave from the initial point. In fact, I wonder if there really are very many new initial points of violence, and if rather our reality is made up of a continuing harmonic of violence stretching back to the dawn of human time. . . .
It is a spiritual practice to intentionally seek to interrupt these waves of violence when they come our way. It is a spiritual practice to notice the wave, the form of violence that is perpetrated upon you, and respond with loving kindness. It is a spiritual practice to transform that violence within your spirit. (Quest for Meaning, September 13)
“UU pew sitter” discusses the violence of political and religious partisanship.
In today’s partisan climate, intolerance and divisiveness run deep. All sides entrenched in their own righteousness—their own truth. Each side vilifies the other. Neither side is respectful. Neither side is willing to work with the other. Neither side is willing to see the other as anything but the enemy. The self-righteous rhetoric that flies back and forth takes no prisoners. The world is black and white—with no shades of gray. Always highlighting their differing viewpoints, they ignore the areas where they are in agreement or in areas that they have similar beliefs. (Thoughts from a UU Pew Sitter, September 12)
The Rev. Meg Riley shares ten practical pointers for remaining centered and loving while wearing a political T-shirt. Here are the first three:
Wear the shirt with love and kindness. Put it on as an act of courage, but also as an act of connection to people. . . .
Smile at people when you wear it. Expect them to offer you support. Occasionally people will glare at you, or worse. Keep smiling. Don’t fight with them.
Wear it places where people have a chance to talk to you: at the dog park, waiting in line, at PTA meetings, at the gym. Allow time for conversations about it. (Rev. Meg Riley, September 11)
After September 11
Terri Pahucki remembers where she was eleven years ago, on the morning of September 11.
It was a morning much like this, with clear blue skies, when I awoke in the Black Hills of South Dakota, on retreat with my twelfth-grade World Lit students, Lakota high schoolers from Pine Ridge. . . . I remember the dumbfounded numbness, the shock and the pain, as we all walked in silence to hang tobacco prayer ties in that sacred ancestral land. . . .
So, yes, it matters where we were . . . because we carry the stories with us. And it is these stories that help to shape what it is that we do now. (Walking the Journey, September 11)
Kari Kopnick considers the shockwaves of destruction that followed September 11.
[The] pain has spread and fanned out to the thousands of military families who have suffered losses from the wars that were my country’s response. And sadly, the thousands and thousands of innocent people who were just living their lives, raising their children, working, and dancing, getting through the days as we all do until their country held someone’s enemy and war came. And war stayed. (chalice spark, September 11)
Sharing good news
The Rev. James Ford notes that both of his religious communities—Unitarian Universalism and Zen Buddhism—tend to avoid sharing their “good news.”
[To] borrow a line from the sacred texts of the west, why should we hide our light under a bushel? This might be just the light someone has been seeking all their lives. And we hold the key to the door.
We don’t have to stand on street corners yelling at passersby, we don’t have to be obnoxious, or hectoring. But, when appropriate, a mention of our spiritual tradition seems appropriate. (Monkey Mind, September 8)
Kenny Wiley echoes Ford’s suggestion, encouraging UUs to “say out loud” how much our faith means to us.
We belong to a faith that, at its best, teaches love, compassion and that human connection is powerful. It teaches us to love the world of which we are a part, and it tells us that we do not need to believe the same things to love one another. So why are we so hesitant to share our faith? (Vive Le Flame, September 12)
Peter McDonald writes that Unitarian Universalists need to have “religious zeal.”
In order to do the real transformational work for which our faith calls, we need to, without adhering to a creed, without submitting to the power of a deity, without the easy fallback of accusing others of wickedness, find a way to give our work the same holy, and possibly righteous, significance that has marked the work of great religious efforts before. . . . We have to move away from Unitarian-Universalism being a world religions survey course, an intellectual exercise in religion and spirituality. (Vive Le Flame, September 7)
Polity debates continue
Kim Hampton writes a series of posts defending congregational polity, including one in which she says that vision is the problem, not polity.
[Growing] and vibrant churches understand . . . [that] vision does not come from the outside. It is homegrown and grounded in a tradition. So hear this: vision will not come from 25 Beacon St. It will not come from giving the MFC more power than it already has. Vision comes from 1 Memorial Drive or 2020 Sherwood Forest Lane or 13769 Columbia Blvd. Vision will come from churches that decide they want to be part of their communities and are grounded in a tradition and get about the business of bringing their vision into fruition. (East of Midnight, September 12)
Thomas Earthman, whose posts about polity sparked Hampton’s, restates his commitment to a common covenant, entered into by all who call themselves Unitarian Universalists.
If anything goes, then it means nothing at all to call myself a UU. There are many right ways, but if there is no wrong way, then there is no point in having the label; there is no point in gathering under the banner. . . . I want there to be covenant, but it has to be a real one. It has to have promises that go both ways, and it has to exist for us all. It has to let us know that we are part of something bigger. (A Material Sojourn, September 9)
[Whatever] else comes into the cultural expression of our religion, its root is covenanted living. That is the definer of Church or congregation, not any of the baggage that goes with it. Everything other than covenant is non-essential even if it may be of utility. (Inner Light, Radiant Life, September 8)
Around the blogosphere
In a series of posts, the Rev. Meredith Garmon examines the role of the strike-breaking industrialist, George Pullman, in creating Labor Day.
Six days after the 1894 Pullman strike ended, legislation was pushed through Congress declaring that the first Monday of September was a Federal holiday, Labor Day. So we have Labor Day as a consolation prize after the Feds sent in troops to protect corporate interests and break up a strike. . . .
The story of George Pullman is of particular salience to us Unitarian Universalists. This is our story, quite specifically. You see, George Pullman was one of us in a very direct sense. George Pullman was a Universalist: born, raised, and lifelong. (Lake Chalice, September 12)
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum shares the history of an old tradition, the “election sermon.”
At some point . . . the tradition of preaching the election sermon to the politicians themselves ended, for the most part, and we began to understand the term “election sermon” differently, as one preached to the congregation shortly before the election. (Rev. Cyn, September 14)