Boston bombings, action in an age of fear, and more UU conversation

Boston Marathon bombings

Many UU bloggers wrote this week about the Boston Marathon bombings. This is a small selection of those responses; for additional blogging about the attacks, visit

Jessica Ferguson added music and photos to the words of a prayer by the Rev. Sue Phillips.

Bart Frost has deep roots in Boston, and his reaction is raw and honest.

Boston is my home. It is my birthplace. It is a city whose summers are filled with sunshine, whose winters are unpredictable, and whose people, though often characterized as cold or stubborn or unfriendly, are traditionally hard-working blue-collar folk. . . .

Today, Boston weeps and I with her. . . . I have no wisdom or wit to share with you today, I have only myself and my tears. May you remember that the good outnumber those that do evil, and forever will. (Vive le Flame, April 15)

Sean Neil-Barron, a recent transplant to the city, responds with prayer, and reflection about violence beyond Boston.

I am sure that the  speculation as to the cause will probably run the same misguided,  nearsighted and probably racist ways it always does. . . . I also know the speculation and the information that will unfold will never find any blame within us. Never look to the children round the world from Pakistan to Palestine who live in fear of death coming from above in drone attacks. . . .

Do we not think they love their children too? (Spark Within, April 15)

Andy Coate writes that it is “okay to mourn at a different level when the city you live in and love in is attacked.”

My dear Bostonians, let yourself mourn if mourning is what you need to do. Let yourself mourn without guilt that your mourning is a ‘first world problem.’ Let yourself stand in community or solitude, whatever feeds your soul. Cry out to your God, or your gods, or simply into the stillness for an end to needless violence without worrying that you aren’t crying out for the ‘right’ things. Let yourself be grounded in resolve to work for peace and healing. Let yourself breathe. (thoughts ON, April 16)

The Rev. Tom Schade, until recently a Massachusetts resident, distills wisdom from his colleagues into a list of needed virtues.

Honesty—Humility—Gratitude—Reverence—Openness—Compassion—Self Possession. These are the needed virtues on the day after Patriots Day in Boston.

These are the virtues of liberal religion—the gospel that is needed for this time—the reminder we need to recommit ourselves to what is best, and wholesome, and holy and healthy when it is so tempting to be hateful, or vengeful, or tribal, or otherwise less than our best selves. If we can commit to these ways of being in the world, we make it possible to discern the way of Love in the present situation. (the lively tradition, April 15)

For the Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford, moving beyond rage to compassion is too much of a stretch.

There are some who already, or from the very beginning, had hearts of compassion not only for those hurt, but for the person(s) behind this. They prayed that the killer might find a way to the love ethic that they themselves feel. They felt sorrow that anyone might hurt so much they were willing to do this.

I am not so spiritually advanced. (Boots and Blessings, April 17)

When the Westboro Baptist Church threatens to picket Boston Marathon funerals, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein suggests that Bostonians “ laugh them out of town.”

Poo on the Westboro posse! If they come to town, I think we should stage a Theatre of the Absurd festival and dance around them. I think we should join them with signs and music and wonderful costumes. Someone could dress as SNL character Linda Richman and carry a sign that says, ”THE WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH IS NEITHER BAPTIST NOR A CHURCH: DISCUSS.” (PeaceBang, April 16)

Action in an age of fear

The Rev. Bill Sinkford reacts with anger and resolve to the Senate’s vote on background checks for gun purchases.

When I heard the news, I felt an anger that is rare for me. I wanted to personally confront the 46 senators and demand that they inspect their consciences, look carefully in the mirror, pray for forgiveness, and change their vote. I, too, wanted to shame them. There are mornings when my prayers begin and end in anger. Today was one of them.

There is a place in religious life for anger and for righteous indignation. . . . But the religious impulse needs to move beyond righteous indignation into a place of remembering how we hope to live and a place of commitment to that vision. (Rev. Sinkford’s Blog, April 18)

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern raises questions about divestment as a strategy for dealing with “the environmental catastrophe that is already upon us and only getting worse.”

There seems to be a groundswell for the idea that the best way to do so is to divest from fossil fuels. So I have been reading up on divestment, and finding that no one . . . has explained to me yet how this movement would further the goal of reducing fossil fuel use.

A change movement has to ask, what change are we hoping for and what’s the leverage that will bring it about? . . . The situation is too dire for symbolic gestures. We need to take real action. (Sermons in Stones, April 17)

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum offers advice to parents in an increasing violent, fearful world.

Childhood is different now, and parenting is different now. And there are a whole lot of different and acceptable responses to these circumstances. So parents, be gentle with one another. And non-parents, be gentle with us. This is new, and we’re just trying to do what’s best for our children. Trust us to be the ones who know what that is, even if you would do things differently. (Rev. Cyn, April 18)

Theology and spirituality

The Rev. James Ford provides a short overview of liberal religion, as seen in Unitarian Universalism.

By the Twentieth century [the Unitarian and Universalist] styles emerged as a naturalistic religion, concerned with life in this world. For a while it would be closely identified with humanism, but unlike organized humanism Unitarian Universalism felt no need to disassociate itself from the family of religions. However this religion was a radical departure from the Abrahamic faiths. Through its own evolution a religion emerged that more closely resembles the traditions of ancient China, Confucianism and particularly Taoism than any of the other Western traditions. (Monkey Mind, April 13)

Walter Clark encourages Christian-phobic UUs to examine their anxiety around religious words.

We all have a past. All of us have things in our past that hurt when we are reminded of them and words are great reminders. The challenge is to let go of what we were taught so many years ago and to rethink, to question what those words really mean and to find the good within their meaning. . . . Keep examining those words that give you pause. The unexamined word is not worth hating. (Lack of a Clever Title, April 15)

The Rev. Carl Gregg invites us to explore a spirituality of spring.

Spring is a time of dawning light, new life, new birth, and new hope—a time of warmth, exuberance, dancing, and blossoming. And if spring is your favorite season, the most natural corresponding spiritual practices might be artistic, creative endeavors—or if metaphorically you are in a springtime season of your life. (Carl Gregg, April 14)

Peter Bowden shares a paper written by UU musician Matt Meyer, called “A UU Theology of Community Organizing.”

The storytelling, mutual discernment, and relationship building that are woven into the process of organizing reflect the basic Unitarian Universalist conceptions of covenantal relationship, democratic process, and interdependence.

Organizing is also effective. Unitarian Universalism believes that a life of faith calls us to move beyond bearing witness into concrete action. (UU Planet, April 18)