Sexuality, theology, language, and more from the UU web

Our whole lives

Andrew Hidas reviews the movie, The Sessions, which tells the story of Mark O’Brien, left mostly paralyzed after contracting polio as a child; the movie focuses on the relationship between the adult O’Brien and sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen Greene.

[At] one point during a session with Cohen Greene . . . she leaned over and kissed his chest. The effect of this surpassingly normal lovemaking gesture was both immediate and profound. O’Brien started to cry, and Cohen Greene knew something powerful had occurred. He had always hated his chest, thought it unmanly in a world of buffed chests . . . . Now a person, an other, a woman, had kissed and nuzzled it, in a brief moment of basic affection and regard. (tra-ver-sing, February 27)

Andy Coate writes a thank-you note to all those who have helped him claim the fullness of who he is.

For all the femmes out there
who said, “oh honey, I love you exactly like you are,”
those fierce ass women who society loves to ignore
or fetishize,
for all of you who told the people I’d date in the future
that it was okay to date the girl
in the button up
and the ill-fitting men’s pants
and the too big boots
and thus led to too many flings and lots of loving embraces.
Thank you  (thoughts on blank, February 23)

Thoughts on God

The Rev. Naomi King, who suffers from chronic pain, rejects the idea that illness is God testing her.

Life is not a test, but a gift. What we do with that gift is the test.

The test of my faith is in every day, and pain or no pain, illness or health, the question is: how merciful, how generous, how kind, how loving, how just, how reverent—that is, how faithful—am I? (The Wonderment, February 24)

The Rev. James Ford admits that there’s “nothing like spending a couple of hours among the godly to bring out the atheist in me.”

My problem with most of god talk as we get it from the theistic community, is the ingrained assumption there is an entity that acts within history and in particular interferes with our individual lives. For the life of me I cannot figure out how people can look at their lives and think that. Or, think that and assume the deity involved is benign. . . .

This is too bad, because God is a perfectly good word to point to the great mess. (Monkey Mind, February 28)

When one of the first and second graders doesn’t seem to be interested in dressing up as a Bible character, Sara Lewis wonders why.

I asked if he didn’t want to be in the “play”, and he said: “No, I just don’t need a costume. I’m going to be God, and God just stands on the sidelines and doesn’t do much.” (The Children’s Chalice, February 27)

The language of faith

The recent message of the Rev. James Forbes to the UU Ministers Association leads the Rev. Tom Schade to reflect that UUs “have [been] practicing the kind of multi-inter-no-faith . . . speech that will be needed in the days to come.”

Because we have had to speak for and to those who are allergic to such Christian-specific language, we  have learned to speak of grace as “that strange bright luck it is to be the owner, for a few years, of this beating heart.” (the lively tradition, February 19)

For Terri Pahucki, birds of prey have been the metaphors of her faith for the past several seasons.

From barred owl sightings in summer to red tail hawk with snake dangling from talons in the October breeze. I’ve seen those hawks on the side of the highways, and heard the jealous crows in the winter cold. Terrifying and powerful, wise and majestic, they come as signifiers of transformation. Now is the time for the bald eagle’s return.

I write of these birds now on a day when my faith is shaken, when I’ve seen a little more of the darkness, and tasted a bit more of the fear of this world. (Walking the Journey, February 25)

The Rev.  Marguerite Sheehan tells a story about the ancient word hesed, a word used in the Hebrew Scriptures to mean faithful lovingkindness.

Hesed is a rare bird to sight and when I witness that love,  it moves me to tears. This time I saw Hesed in the parking lot of the nursing home. . . .

As I got out of my car I heard a quiet but steady singing. Sitting in the car next to me was a very old man. Slowly and in a labored fashion, he was getting out of the car and heading toward the front door of the home. I said to him “That is a beautiful song that you are singing.” He responded with “I come here 10 times a day to sing to my wife.” (Reverend Marguerite, February 27)

Borders of belonging

John Beckett encourages us to seek out liminal places, borderlands that are full of both danger and opportunity.

These liminal zones, these in-between places and times, are magical. It is no coincidence that the most powerful holy days in the modern Pagan calendar are Beltane and Samhain, the transitions between Winter and Summer. . . . During these in-between times, normal rules break down—children do not dress in costumes and knock on doors asking for candy on normal days. Because rules break down, liminal zones are both times of great opportunity and times of great danger. (Under the Ancient Oaks, February 26)

Theresa Ines explores the question of being a seminarian of color in a white dominant culture.

I am called to listen to the voices that are not heard as loudly as white voices are by those who are accustomed to being dominant voices. I am called to act for love and justice in a way that holds daily life as sacred as times of worship or times of meditation or study. I am called to preserve my identity as a Latin@ and to support others in preserving their cultural and theological identities. (Inexplicable Beauty, February 26)

When she receives a form letter from UU World magazine, Jacqueline Wolven learns that her local UU congregation no longer considers her a member.

At first I was angry. . . . Then my husband said something that was extremely liberating. He said that you can leave a church when it no longer fits your needs. . . .

I was raised a Unitarian. A secular humanist Unitarian. It is who I am, but maybe the UUA isn’t that anymore. In fact, they aren’t that anymore. . . .

Right now I’m not sure what I am going to do, but I am opening myself up to the possibilities. I am allowing my thinking to shift. (Jacqueline Wolven, February 25)

Spinning in new directions

Over the next few months, The Interdependent Web plans to become a broader reflection of UU conversation on the web, expanding beyond our original focus on blogging to include social media, graphic design, videos, podcasts, and more.

Are we abandoning blogging? Absolutely not. One of the Rev. Dan Harper’s posts this week addresses changes in blogging, and alludes to its ongoing mission. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, February 26). Like Harper, we believe that blogging is an important platform for writers skillfully using words to address issues of interest to Unitarian Universalists; it is one of many ways UUs are making public witness to their faith.

In the spirit of social media, we’d like to enlist your help. If you see something particularly well done, or that is generating significant conversation, please let us know at

Here’s a taste of what we’re hoping to include, from the UU Media Collaborative on Tumblr—a beautiful graphic designed by Jessica Ferguson (which we have not yet decided/discovered how to embed here!). (February 28)