Minns lectures, Pope Francis I, embracing unorthodoxies, and more

The age of collaboration

Social media was the focus of last Saturday’s Minns Lectures, entitled “Ministry in the Age of Collaboration,” given by Peter Bowden and the Rev. Naomi King.  Appropriately, many UUs participated in online conversation in response; King’s curation of these discussions is available via her Storify profile.

The lectures also inspired graphics, such as this one created by the Rev. Sean Dennison, based on a quote from King:  “As people of hope, we cannot be called back; we are called to help, and we will keep doing so.”  (UU Media Collaborative Works, March 13)


Friday’s Minns Lecture, given by the Rev. Andrea Greenwood, was “Sticking with Stories: Unitarian Universalism and the Creation of Children’s Literature.”  For Twitter reactions to her talk, and for more complete coverage of responses to all three lectures, search the hashtag #Minnslecture.

We have a pope

Several UU bloggers responded to the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as Pope Francis I.

Acknowledging that some people believe that sudden, radical change is possible, while others think that nothing ever changes, the Rev. Tom Schade asks, “Is Francis a sign of change?”

Some commentators see a pope from Latin America, a pope from the Jesuits, a pope naming himself after St. Francis and they see how this might be sign of something new happening.  Others look at the tremendous historical inertia of the Roman Catholic church and assure us that nothing is really changing. (the lively tradition, March 13)

The Rev. James Ford explains why he, a UU minister and Zen priest, cares about the election of a new pope.

Well, Pope Francis may not command any divisions, but he is the spiritual leader of a tad more than a billion human beings (and yes, that’s a “b”), and I know his lieutenant here in Providence is busy carrying out the dictates issued from Rome, with lots of emphasis on denying civil rights to LGBT folk, blocking access to contraception wherever and criminalizing abortion.

It would be nice if we could find ourselves working together a bit more in those areas of agreement we have around so many issues, such as immigration and poverty. (Monkey Mind, March 14)

John Beckett, a UU pagan, admits his fondness for the Roman Catholic tradition, and offers his best wishes to the new pope.

Cardinal Bergoglio took the name of Saint Francis of Assisi, whose life was admirable and whose “Canticle of the Sun” expresses a relationship to the natural world familiar to many Pagans. There is power in a name, and I hope Pope Francis will use his influence to care for the Earth and to respect all its creatures. (Under the Ancient Oaks, March 14)

Embracing unorthodoxies

The Rev. Danny Spears writes that too many of us live as if there were a theological “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

I remember a conversation I had with three colleagues a few years ago. . . . We were discussing a variety of theological subjects over lunch; feeling safe with this group, I shared a few of my more “unorthodox” beliefs. Imagine my surprise when all three of them said that, for the most part, they were on the same page as me! One of them said, “I agree with your comments. I just can’t say those things in my congregation.” The other two clergy persons agreed. (Losing My Religion, March 14)

Cooper Zale asks, “Is the world ready for a God-embracing atheist?”

Though I define myself as an atheist, the search for deeper meanings and overarching narratives in life is very important to me, to help me guide my path forward from day to day and through the years. In that way I find some kinship with people who are religious and who do couch their beliefs in terms of deities. (Lefty Parent, March 13)

Thinking about UUism

As she prepares to teach a homeschooling unit about the Iliad and the Odyssey, Mandie McGlynn finds parallels between Greek civilization and UU governance.

Continuing the UU analogy [to the ancient Greeks] . . . , one could argue that we UUs can best reach our own human (and spiritual?) potential within the societal structure that is affiliation—society, a congregation—in all its benefits and struggles. (Mandie McGlynn, March 13)

When readers of a right-wing publication insult one of her colleagues, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein explores ways we react to criticism.

Putting on my hat as an evangelist and congregational image consultant I can keep a pretty cool head and not take these rants personally.  For better or for worse, they  are a helpful snapshot of what a segment of the population sees, hears and believes about UUs. . . . In this new era of what I feel—and hope—is a deepening of our maturity as a faith community, it’s worthwhile to reflect on how we react to this sort of pile-on. (PeaceBang, March 9)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden explains why he is a Unitarian Universalist.

I am a Unitarian Universalist because I believe religions are very human attempts to find meaning and purpose. The texts and practices that have accumulated over time are at once sad and glorious, brutal and loving. We humans, all through time, have been whistling in a graveyard. And writing poetry. (Quest for Meaning, March 14)

Family life

Army spouse Bridget Rainey shares what the sequester means for military families.

The military services that are being cut . . . . are what our families depend on to get through all of the dark times. For most Americans, the war in Afghanistan is winding down. But for us, it’s not even close to over. For some, it might never be completely over. Last year the military reported record high suicide rates—for the first time more suicides than combat deaths. This is not a time to increase the stress on military families. (Twinisms, March 11)

Thalasa and her husband don’t believe in having “the sex talk” with their children; instead, they believe that sex is a lifetime conversation.

Chickadee is six, and so far (because she has expressed an interest), she knows where babies come from, the biological differences between males and females, that some people might be biologically male and feel female on the outside (and vice versa), and the general mechanics of what sex is. . . . And guess what? The more Chickadee . . . knows, the less impressed she is by any of it, and the more she understands about her own body and how it works (and how it is hers). (Musings of a Kitchen Witch, March 13)

The Rev. Heather Rion Starr celebrates the this-moment focus of parenting a young child.

For now, for us, this is what’s happening, right here, on the floor: overturned pots, wooden spoons, clanging and laughing and kicking, going nowhere today except around the block to look at the newly bursting flowers, letting our own focused lives be full enough, letting this be bountiful, this ordinaryness be beautiful. (Quest for Meaning, March 8)