Unitarian Universalist bloggers respond to Sandy Hook massacre

Responding to Sandy Hook

The heartbreaking shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, were the focus of many UU blogs this week.

Deb Weiner writes about the moment when “life as we know it” changes forever, when illusions of safety are shattered.

How in the world could you have been planning for the holidays with your five- or eight-year-old one minute and find out, in the next, that the child has been blown away by a gunman? What do we say, collectively, to those parents?  (Morning Stars Rising, December 15)

The Rev. Peter Boullata points to an often-neglected part of the Christmas story—the slaughter of the Holy Innocents.

The vulnerability to accident or cruelty, the caution and anxiety of exposure to harm, is written into the story of the birth of a child so many are celebrating this time of year. The urge to shield these precious, innocent lives that are in mortal danger without our protection is part of the Christmas story. Weeping and fear are mixed in with joy and laughter at the arrival of a child. (Held in the Light, December 18)

The Rev. Dan Schatz offers a prayer for the nation after Sandy Hook. (The Song and the Sigh, December 16)

Helping children through difficult times

Drawing on her experience as a religious educator, Kari Kopnick shares her advice for helping children “when something awful has happened.”

There is no easy way to approach how to help children in times of trauma, and there’s not one answer. It’s all hard. This is a time to be gentle with ourselves and with each other. (Chalice Spark, December 14)

The Rev. Marguerite Sheehan writes about talking with her grandchildren about the tragedy in Newtown—and her granddaughter’s response.

Yesterday Kiara came to our house singing a song which I imagine was inspired by what she had heard and took in about the tragedy and about how all of us, no matter who we are, are loved beyond imagination: . . . “I am loved! There are many adults who love me! I am loved! Everyone knows my  name! At Quaker meeting I have a name tag and everyone knows my name. I am loved! Everybody loves me! I have a family and everybody loves me! I am loved! Everyone knows my name…”  (Reverend Marguerite, December 18)

The UUA assembled a range of resources for individuals and congregations in response to the massacre: “Newtown Tragedy: Responding to Trauma.” (UUA.org, December 14)

Trying to make sense

The Rev. Dan Harper provides several responses to the question, “How do we make sense of the recent school shootings?”

Thoreau would tell us to turn away from the television news, the Twitter feeds, and this blog. Spend time with your friends and people you love. Spend one day as deliberately as Nature, not allowing yourself to be thrown off track by every Facebook discussion and blog post that to derail you. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, December 15)

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum shares what she believes God’s role in this tragedy is—and what it is not.

God was present in Victoria Soto when she died trying to shield her students.  God was there in Anne Murphy as she died cradling 6-year-old Dylan Hockley in her arms, dying in an embodiment of a pietà. . . . God is there in the lights we light in the darkness.  God is there in the touch of a friendly hand.  God is in the love we create.  God is in our response.  (Rev. Cyn, December 20)

How we talk about violence

The Rev. Ellen Cooper-Davis asks, “How long, O Lord?”

Already, it is being said, “Too soon, too soon to speak of gun control and regulation. Now is not the time.” This should enrage you. It is never the right time. Now is not the time. Yesterday was the time. The first time children were killed in a school was the time. Now is too late. (Keep the Faith, December 14)

In a number of posts, the Rev. Katie Norris speaks against conflating mental illness and violence.

This assumption of mental illness is extremely detrimental to people with mental illness, but especially so to children with mental illness. I have had mental illness since I was a child and this belief that only people with mental illness do bad things is extremely terrifying.  (Bipolar Spirit, December 15)

Kim Hampton’s series of brief posts challenge us to look at the media’s coverage of the Newtown tragedy, and our own reactions as well.

[Imagine] what the media coverage would sound like if this shooting had happened on the South- or West- side of Chicago. When the conversation about guns begins (if it ever does), that conversation needs to include a tangent on whose children matter. (East of Midnight, December 14)

Walter Clark suggests a simple way we can honor the Sandy Hook victims:  listen to one another.

When someone has an opinion different than yours, just listen. Do your best to understand that they came to their point of view by their own path and to them it is good. Try to see their perspective and be open to it. We all just want to be heard. (Lack of a Clever Title, December 17)

Around the blogosphere

UU bloggers also discussed other topics this week. Jacqueline Wolven answers some of the questions she’s often asked about how an atheist celebrates the winter holidays.

I was raised celebrating Christmas in the Santa way, not in the Christ is the Reason way. It is a totally commercial holiday for us, but we enjoy the moment to be with family, share traditions, and give easily to others. . . . We celebrate Hanukkah to some extent, at least we put up our little menorah and we celebrate solstice, the first day of winter.  (MoxieLife, December 18)

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern celebrates children’s book author Richard Scarry, who was willing to learn from everyone.

Scarry’s books were beloved by generations of children, but as many readers noted in frustration, their implicit message to girls was that they could be moms, nurses, dental hygienists whose job was apparently to be redundant instrument trays, or teachers. Just about everything else in Busytown was done by men: that is, male cats, rabbits, raccoons, etc. When Scarry heard the criticisms, he took them to heart. He changed many of the drawings and words in editions re-drawn just a few years before he died. (Mookie’s Mama, December 13)

“Raising Faith” explores the complicated emotions surrounding ministerial transitions.

One thing we might learn from the knowledge that our minister will leave—and that our particular relationships with her will end—is that as congregants, we must focus our efforts in what we can do for each other.  In the end, the work we do to build an intentional community, or to intentionally build ourselves and grow spiritually, isn’t between ourselves and our minister.  It’s between ourselves and . . . us.  (Raising Faith, December 19)

The Interdependent Web will be on vacation next week, and will be back with new content January 4.