Saying ‘no’ to oppression, raising children in a violent world, and more

Saying ‘no’ to oppression

Crystal St. Marie Lewis decides she cannot “agree to disagree” with her seminary classmates about same-sex relationships.

“Agreeing to disagree” is not the helpful or peaceful thing to do in a situation where oppression is the problem. The helpful and peaceful thing to do is to call oppression what it is: Bigotry. Socially violent. Absolutely and totally wrong. (Crystal St. Marie Lewis, January 17)

Andy Coate remembers PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford, who died recently.

In 1972 she marched in the New York City Pride Parade carrying a sign in support of her gay son, Morty. Morty’s life was cut short, as so many of my queer parents and siblings lives’ were, by AIDS. Jeanne Manford continued to fight for acceptance of LGBTQ people; she evolved with the times, moved with the movements, and was an ally and a presence for her entire life. (thoughts ON, January 12)

Raising children in a violent world

Deb, writing at Small House, Big Picture, describes how she talks with her son about rape.

The next ten years of his life could find him in some dicey situations. I’m glad that we’ve talked about some of the possibilities so that he might have the benefit of a little forethought—and the naggy voice of his mother in his ear.

I know I’ve hardly solved the problem, but I’m doing my best to send this one young man out into the world with the idea that women are not toys—even (or especially) when they’ve been drinking. (Small House, Big Picture, January 17)

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern reflects on what seemed at first like an irrational impulse to leave work early to be with her young daughter the day of the Newtown shootings.

I had just the fraction of a sense of what it would be like to know that I would never see my daughter alive again, and it was that feeling that had made me want to go find her, just to wrap my arms around her and breathe the smell of her hair. The way, after waking from a bad dream in which I’d had a bad conflict with someone I loved, I needed to talk to the person and let something good and sweet rinse away that awful feeling. (Mookie’s Mama, January 16)

Thoughts about gun safety

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum begins a series about gun safety with a post about how the issue plays out in the relatively conservative congregation she serves.

[There’s] a lot of room for compromise between the perspectives of our most extreme members on the right and left of the gun debate. I see a willingness among our gun owners and second amendment believers to put in sensible reforms. And I see a willingness among our reform advocates to leave room for gun ownership for our avid hunters. (Rev. Cyn, January 17)

Acknowledging President Obama’s desire to reduce the stigma of mental illness, the Rev. Katie Norris believes that new regulations cannot help but increase that stigma.

[Even] if you do not want a firearm and will never apply for one, you will now be added to the criminal background check database which could seriously affect your ability to get a job if this part of the background check that is accessible to employers. (Bipolar Spirit, January 16)

Deb Weiner writes that we won’t make progress on gun safety without dealing with “the paranoia people.”

When people get caught up in the idea that the government is there to work against them, not for them; when individuals start arguing that this president, or any president, is going to take away their rights and so they have to stock an arsenal of weaponry to defend their homes, we’re into dangerous territory. (Morning Stars Rising, January 16)

What’s happening at church?

The Rev. Justin Schroeder shares how the congregation he serves is “growing into Love’s people.”

[Slowly] we began to believe that as a church we were called to “give” out of a sense of gratitude for all we’ve been given, to learn to “receive” the gifts and blessings of this life with an open heart, and to “grow” into Love’s people. (The Well, January 16)

The Rev. David Owen-O’Quill suggests asking the question “What’s happening at Church?” can help congregations adjust to new reasons why people attend.

People won’t go to church to belong to an institution, but they will become of a part of a community where something compelling is “happening.” In the world we live in, the more blatantly obvious and explicit this happening is the more attractive it will become. (news from the underground, January 15)

The Rev. Brian McLaren, an Emergent Christian leader, responds to the question, “What about the Unitarians?” as a home for the religiously unaffiliated.

[The] degree to which a religious community deconstructs without reconstructing will put it at a disadvantage. It not only must remove negatives that other communities have: it must have positives that other communities lack. . . . Unitarians have set an admirable example in promoting an un-hostile faith. . . . Perhaps . . . the best contributions of Unitarians are in their future, and what they can be has not yet been fully manifested. (brian d. mclaren, January 17)

Looking back, looking forward

As the nation remembers the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and inaugurates Barack Obama for a second term as president, the Rev. Bill Sinkford asks, “What would Dr. King do?”

Today, Dr. King would be urging support for sensible gun control. He would, I think, be pointing out that, though the face of gun violence in America is overwhelmingly white (just like the face of poverty), African American men are six times as likely to die from gun violence as whites. (Rev. Sinkford’s Blog, January 17)

Also linking King and Obama, UUA President Peter Morales suggests action items for the president’s second term. (HuffPost Religion, January 16)

Around the blogosphere

The Rev. Andy Pakula’s newest “wisdom story” tells how a bullfrog learned to make friends.

Alone again in the pond, the bullfrog felt dejected. “I don’t think I’ll ever have a friend at this rate” he thought. He realised that he actually knew nothing at all about how to get a friend or about how to be one.

In desperation, he decided he would try something different. Instead of trying to get a friend, he’d just listen to everyone he could to learn about them and try to see what they wanted. (Throw yourself like seed, January 14)

With the family’s fiercest foodie away at seminary, the remaining farmhands at High Hopes Gardens indulge in Lucky Charms for breakfast—and are rewarded with a miraculous UU symbol.

You never know when the universe will reveal a miracle. Like the image of Jesus in a piece of toast, now Unitarians have their own foodstuff symbol—this image of a chalice made of Lucky Charm marshmallows! (high hopes gardens, January 12)

UUA trustee Linda Laskowski begins a series of posts about the Board of Trustees’s January 2013 meeting. (UUA View from Berkeley, January 16)  Also, UUA Moderator candidates Tamara Payne-Alex and Jim Key have created blogs for communicating their vision for the UUA.