Justice, unseen struggles, a place to call home, and more UU blogging

Speaking out about justice

Theresa Ines is tired of the inherent ableism in the Standing on the Side of Love campaign’s name.

It’s probably too late to change the slogan all together. What if Standing on the Side of Love had at least one piece of art that had people standing and people in wheelchairs and walkers. or all the people sitting, some in chairs and some in wheelchairs and some with walkers? We would begin to create a visual association that would expand the metaphor of standing to include more people. (inexplicable beauty, February 20)

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum points out the anti-democratic effects of Michigan’s “Emergency Financial Manager” legislation.

Right now the Michigan governor is deciding whether or not to appoint an “Emergency Financial Manager” (EFM) for the city of Detroit.  A Michigan political blog, the Electablog, points out that if the governor does so, 49% of African-Americans in the state of Michigan will be residing in places under EFM rule.

Why this is such a big deal, and why the EFM law is such a big deal to begin with, is that an EFM replaces local democratically-elected government with a person appointed by the governor.  (Rev. Cyn, February 20)

Unseen struggles

Christine Organ urges us to look more closely at the people around us.

On closer inspection, we learn that a lazy co-worker is actually struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia. That the aloof mom who avoids making eye contact at PTA meetings is struggling to find the right medication to treat her post-partum depression. That the beautiful, happy couple living in the big house down the street is sinking further into debt and haven’t slept in the same room for more than a year. (Random Reflectionz, February 21)

As she works out at the Y, the Rev. Parisa Parsa prays for those around her, for their hidden strivings for “things deeper than weight loss or heart health, physical strength or beach bodies.”

For all of the unseen, unspoken struggles we share as we sweat and grunt and groan, as we listen to iPods and chat with companions, may there be ears to hear and eyes to see our earnest work for relief.  May our strivings not go unnoticed, in this life or beyond.  May we find the deeper realms of wellness we dream of, and that we all deserve. (pastor prayers, February 19)

A new UU congregation in Kandahar

Terri Pahuki responds to UU World’s article about a new congregation in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The Rev. Chris Antal. . . . served my small congregation as the consulting minister this past year before he was deployed, so I know firsthand that he is a minister who can and does make a difference. It’s exciting to see the work he is doing in Afghanistan shared and celebrated! But beyond celebration, I sense both challenge and call that exists for UU’s everywhere as we unite our own congregations in supporting this work of sharing our faith in war zones abroad. (Walking the Journey, February 19)

The article also sparks a blog post from the Rev. Scott Wells about church growth and UU responses to the surrounding culture.

[It] seems to me that Unitarian Universalists have followed the cultural rising tide with respect to the military, and with hardly a peep of introspection. More fodder to consider if Unitarian Universalism closely follows culture rather than speaking to it. (Boy in the Bands, February 20)

A place to call home

The Rev. Tom Schade proposes an alternative model for growth—one based, not on worship, but on a network of life-enriching connections.

1. Start with your present UU people.
2. Encourage and empower them to connect to the networks of people in your community who seem to living our values and virtues in ways that match their own. Their work is to strengthen and deepen those networks and connections.
3. Put on the bestest worship services that you can—but services that are not just events to attract people to join the church and become active in the church’s programs. Our services should be a service—a gift given by Unitarian Universalists to the community at large: a weekly opportunity to orient yourself to the virtues and values that are most life-giving.
4. Take it up a notch: do it better, with more people and for more people. (the lively tradition, February 20)

For “Raising Faith,” a grumpy evening in her church’s basement gives way to gratitude for the sense of home she feels there.

When we talk about finding a church home, a place to connect around spirituality is probably what we’re thinking about first . . . but is that ultimately why we decide to stay? Maybe finding a church home has something to do with experiencing comfort—and perhaps it’s not just the church part we should focus on, then, when we talk about growth, but on how we offer those who find us a piece of home.  (Raising Faith, February 21)

While away from home, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein finds a model of life-enriching connections in Steam and Chill, a coffee shop and tapas bar.

“Breakfast all day. Free wi-fi. Open late.” Doesn’t that feel so much different than “Hours of Operation” or “No shirt, no shoes, no service” or “Please use the other door?” What does the front door of your building say?

. . . Steam and Chill became my home away from home for the few days I was in Florida. I ate every meal there. Isn’t that what you want people to feel about your church? (PeaceBang, February 19)

Around the blogosphere

Christine Leigh Slocum, a resident of the second most child-free city in the U.S., considers the question of having or not having children.

I’ve noticed that everyone is considered selfish for whatever choice they make. Parents are selfish for creating children, and non-parents are selfish for choosing to spend their efforts and resources on their selves. This seems more to be commentary on the stigma of being selfish rather than what constitutes the practice of selfishness. (Seattleite from Syracuse, February 18)

The Rev. Matt Tittle admits to considerable anxiety about “the adventure of a lifetime,” a new ministry in New Zealand.

Fear is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that we care—that we want to do well. If it weren’t for this most basic animal instinct and human emotion—the ability to be fearful—then not only wouldn’t we survive (because we wouldn’t think to protect ourselves), but we wouldn’t know courage. Courage is acting in the face of fear. (godzonepreacher, February 15)

Sara Lewis and her family have raised two winter pigs, and Sara struggles with other people’s judgmental attitudes.

Even knowing what so many of us know about factory farming models, people continue to buy meat that comes from animals raised that way. So it is confusing to me that people who can be comfortable doing that are uncomfortable with the notion of eating an animal that you raised yourself. . . .

For the last six months I’ve felt more than a bit judged, even a bit ashamed.  In front of many people, we can’t talk about having the pigs.  (The Curriculum of Love, February 21)