Crossing borders, the words we use, generosity, and more UU blogging

Crossing borders

The Rev. Dawn Cooley attended Meadville-Lombard’s January convocation, and found its “Crossing Borders” theme troubling.

When we cross a border, rather than dissolve it or transcend it, we are reinforcing the borders existence. We are recognizing it as valid. If you can cross a border without dissolving or transcending it, that means you can cross BACK to where you came from, because the border still exists. Which continues to perpetuate “us” vs “them.” (Speaking of, January 5)

Walter Clark, who also attended the convocation, suggests that many UUs live so far from the borders that they don’t realize the borders even exist.

As Unitarian Universalists, we pride ourselves on breaking down borders. . . . But as someone who grew up poor in a trailer park, whose mother had to drop out of college to raise not only her son, but to raise her two youngest siblings, as someone who fell asleep to police sirens until age ten, I can tell you that there are so many more borders our congregations need to cross, so many more borders that we “never thought about.” (Lack of a Clever Title, January 5)

The words we use

The Rev. Naomi King reminds us that what we say matters, and how we say it matters.

As faithful people, we have to risk faithfully. That means also attending to our speech, and inviting each other into conversations that matter, build relationship, and change our world for the better. We all have that power—however we communicate. (The Wonderment, January 6)

“Raising Faith” calls us to be a community that listens with respect to the deeply held beliefs of all of its members.

The reality is, those who disagree with us are, in general, not crazy.  They are people, often people who care deeply about the same sorts of things that we care about, who have arrived at different conclusions.  But a common reaction—perhaps even our default reaction, these days—is to view those people as “the other,” and to see them only through the lens of our disagreement on an issue. (Raising Faith, January 8)

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein draws attention to our choice of words about people who die of cancer. Do they “lose their battle” with cancer?

I am generally not in favor of any metaphors that indicate that we are ever at war with our own bodies. . . . but I have not experienced having cancer cells (that I know of) and don’t know how I would feel about battle metaphors if I did have cancer. Maybe they help. I feel like those of us who haven’t endured the ravages of a wasting illness don’t get to make that call. (PeaceBang, January 10)

What do we owe?

The Rev. Lynn Ungar suggests a “joy test” when deciding how much to spend on ourselves, and how much to give away.

If you have $50 to spare, make a deliberate choice on how to spend it: a shelter for the homeless, a pair of shoes, an arts organization, a nice dinner out, your retirement account. Commit the money, and then ask yourself how you feel about that choice. Does it bring you joy? (UU Collective, January 10).

Aware of her deep connection to those whose work is inadequately compensated, the Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell writes that she wants to pay higher taxes.

There’s a worm at the moral core of our country. It’s called “individualism,” or “self-sufficiency, or “independence,” and it masquerades as a positive attribute. Those who believe they deserve their bounty, while others are undeserving, are simply out of touch. They are out of touch with their inherent connectedness, their own need for the many who serve and give, but get little monetary reward. They are out of touch with their humanity. (HuffPost Religion, January 8)

Rational and reverent

Sarah MacLeod considers a recent sermon, which has her wondering, “Can the rational and the reverent co-exist?”

Our rational mind wonders and weighs, while our reverent mind celebrates the mystery, respecting what has been wondered and weighed and what remains unknown. It is the act of being reverent of the child, the community, the beloved, the stars, and humanity while understanding the rational underpinnings of it all that makes us more fully human than with either sentiment alone. (Finding My Ground, January 9)

Ann Woldt does not believe in God, but imagines a God she could believe in.

She would have to be like a kindly grandmother, smelling faintly of lavender and talcum. And, having created the heavens and the earth and all the planets and stars and all of infinity, she would be sitting back in her comfortable chair, watching over it, from a distance. She has arms and a lap large enough, wide enough, to take in all her creation, to embrace us, comfort us, console us, to love us totally and wholly, without reservation, without condition, without consideration of who we are or what we look like or what we’ve done or not done while on her beloved earth. (Quest for Meaning, January 9)

Around the blogosphere

In a thorough and thoughtful post, the Rev. Dan Harper explains “why UU youth programs suck.”

The reasons why it sucks begin in our recent history, and in our current responses to the social changes going on all around us. . . . We may save lives in our UU youth programs, but only by accident, and not because we really mean to do so. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, January 7)

The Rev. Tony Lorenzen resists a “growth for growth’s sake” emphasis in the UUA.

The fascination with congregational growth in Unitarian Universalism tends to exclusively pay attention to member count and financial budget. A missional focus looks for organic growth, which is the congregational development of qualities needed to fulfill its essential purpose or mission. (Sunflower Chalice, January 7)

Vance Bass share suggestions about how to encourage singing.

I believe everyone can sing—can make a joyful noise—even if they don’t believe it themselves. . . . People who, for whatever reason, can’t carry a tune in a bucket can still convey emotion, make people stop and think, etc. I mean, why is Bob Dylan still touring? It ain’t his lovely singing voice, that’s for sure! (Liberal Religion Gets Loud, January 10)

The Rev. Dr. Andy Pakula tells a wisdom story about how a cautious gosling finds the courage to fly.  (Throw yourself like seed, January 7)