Obama’s religious roots, looking for happiness, thinking theologically, and more

Obama’s religious roots

Responding to UU World’s article about Obama’s religious roots, Kim Hampton writes about why UU youth, like Obama, leave Unitarian Universalism as adults.

Let’s start noticing the log that’s in our eye. . . . If you want to understand why President Obama is not a UU, answer this question honestly—can you name a UU congregation on the South Side of Chicago? (East of Midnight, October 9)

Kari Kopnick provides a religious educator’s perspective on “lost youth.”

Why did Barack Obama attend a Unitarian Universalist church as a child but settle in a United Church of Christ congregation as an adult? Why do many children follow the same path, or follow no path at all? There are many reasons, many influences, but if the question is to be asked, it should be asked of those who are the closest to the question. The religious educators. (Chalice Spark, October 9)

Looking for happiness

As she considers purchasing an iPad, Alison Rittger explores the way desire works for consumers.

I want this iPad with the same passion I wanted a juice extractor, a large messy piece of machinery I imagined would make me healthy because of the carrots and kale I would be swilling. . . . Hope for changing one’s life attaches to an object, but my domicile and my past are cluttered with cast-offs that lost their luster soon after being acquired. (spirit flows thru, October 8)

“UU pew sitter” writes that happiness is found, not in buying and busyness, but in stopping, and in being still.

Still your body, quiet your mind. Breathe.  Breathe.  Let the sounds around you fade into the background.  Let the tension drain away.  Just be.  Remember what makes you happy.  Remember what brings you joy.  Seek it out.  (thoughts from a UU pew, October 11)

Thinking theologically

The Rev. James Ford suggests that the first and seventh principles might serve as a basis for defining a UU theological identity.

The first speaks to the “worth and dignity” of each person. Many, maybe most of us would speak of the preciousness of everything that births into the world. But this observation, assertion can only be understood within the context of the seventh Principle, which is an observation or assertion of an interdependent web of which we in our precious individuality are all a part. (Monkey Mind, October 8)

The Rev. Dan Harper points out that egalitarianism is one of the consequences of our Universalism.

[All] Universalists—humanist Universalists, traditional Universalists, compost Universalists—come down on the side of a more radical egalitarianism than the vast majority of U.S. Christians. (This may be what really annoys U.S. Christians about us Universalists: they like to think they’re better than we are, and we’re so very sure that they are not.) (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, October 8)

Whence cometh my hope?

Doug Muder summarizes two recent sermons about finding meaning in life, without belief in an afterlife.

Every solution to the problem of meaninglessness requires some kind of faith. But I would rather look into my soul, find the faith I have, and build on that, rather than accept some external authority’s description of the faith I’m supposed to have, and try to talk myself into it. (Free and Responsible Search, October 11)

For the Rev. Marguerite Sheehan, a household accident leads to reflections about brokenness and healing.

I trust deeply that fractures can be healed and made whole. My faith is built on a God whose calling was and is, to bring together what has been sundered. . . . I am not saying that fracturing is a good thing, but that it is a common thing and a thing that has hope attached to it. We may be less perfect, and even less beautiful, but not less functional. (Reverend Marguerite, October 6)

Responding to the shooting of Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani girl, the Rev. Bill Sinkford wonders if people of different faiths might find common ground in shared grief.

How do we fashion a religiously pluralistic but un-homogenized vision? . . . These complex issues deserve thought, but this week I find myself in the simple place of sadness. . . . I know that the way forward is not clear, either abroad or here at home. But if we begin at the most human level, with our shared grief, perhaps common ground is more available than it may seem. (Rev. Sinkford’s Blog, October 10)

The Rev. Meg Riley tells the story of receiving a message from a dying woman’s spirit.

Last night, as I lay dozing on the couch, I awakened with a start at 10:30 and jumped up. It was time, I suddenly knew, to make a pan of lasagna for a family where a death was imminent. Right now. Not in the morning, as I had planned. Now. . . .

This morning I learned that the woman had indeed died last night, at 10:31 p.m. (Quest for Meaning, October 7)

Around the blogosphere

For Matt Kinsi, a good friend’s wedding is a painful reminder of inequity.

But, can we say that it’s depressingly ironic that the guy in the room whose minister performed the ceremony and the guy that the family wants to talk to for spiritual matters can’t go up and get married too? (Spirituality and Sunflowers, October 8)

The Rev. Susan Karlson begins a series of posts chronicling her experiences with the UU Living Legacy Civil Rights Pilgrimage.

I have no idea how this trip will change me but even considering the questions brings tears to my eyes. I am on this journey; there is only forward into the past. (Minister’s Musings, October 6)

The Rev. Tom Schade suggests that political polarization is “a sign of our growing political maturity.”

If you look at this situation from above, from the lofty heights of the elite, you worry about these “epistemic bubbles”—two separate intellectual universes. . . . But viewed from the bottom up, more people than ever in history are politically engaged, and informed. (the lively tradition, October 9)