Observing Earth Day, making sense of the world, and more UU conversation

Observing Earth Day

As Earth Day approaches, Rebecca Hecking considers an article about working through environmental grief.

I don’t know . . . how the Earth will look a hundred or a thousand years from now, but I do think it’s fair to say that biological diversity will be diminished, and long-term damage will still be very much in evidence. Those of us who care even a little bit fall somewhere along the road from denial to acceptance, although we may not experience the stages in quite such a neat linear package since the object of our grief isn’t a person who has died, but rather a planet in a state of decline (for now).  (Breath and Water, April 19)

The Rev. Carl Gregg observes Earth Day by writing about Wendell Berry, “earth breathing,” climate change and interdependence.

[From] Boston to West, Texas, we’ve been reminded this past week of just how vulnerable and precious our lives are. We can’t always control what happens around us, but we can learn to have more influence over our response to people and events. And one way to do that is to remind ourselves that we are more than isolated individuals bumping into one another; we are each part of the interdependent web of all existence. (Carl Gregg, April 22)

Jessica Ferguson’s Earth Day graphic quotes the Rev. Carol Hepokoski, who says, “I used to think maybe we need to save the Earth. Now I think maybe it is Earth that is saving us.” (UU Media Collaborative Works, April 22)

earth day

Making sense of the world

When faced with complex problems, the Rev. Naomi King suggests the power of not knowing.

I loathe not knowing the answer. I feel scared and vulnerable and very much at risk when I reach not knowing and have to confront that I do not know what comes next, what to do, how to fix what is broken or not working. But when I am with that not knowing, turning the problem over and over, seeking a new way, the fear drops away and curiosity and wonder take the lead. (The Wonderment, April 21)

The Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford wonders why the tragic explosion in West, Texas, received so much less attention than the bombings in Boston.

I think it was something far more basic: we are visual people, and we viscerally connect with pictures of other people. Quick, think of a picture of the Boston marathon bombing. The man with half a leg missing, being pushed in a wheelchair? The 78 year old runner knocked to the ground? The police, running toward the explosion?

Now, think of a picture of the West, TX explosion. The fireball? The cloud? The stripped-out apartments?

The lack of faces defining the explosion are, actually, perhaps the saddest part. (Boots and Blessings, April 20)

UUA Trustee Linda Laskowski begins her series of posts about the April UUA Board meeting with her experience of being in Boston in the aftermath of the bombings.

Being with a group of Unitarian Universalist lay leaders and ministers was not a bad place to be this week. We shared a lot of tears, poetry and prayer. . . . (UUA View from Berkeley, April 22)

Visiting with family in New York City, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein overhears a conversation about the two bombing suspects.

“All of them… family . . . fathers . . . uncles . . . say they so beautiful. He’s a beautiful young man . . . everything is beautiful.”

“No bad boys.”

“Everybody thinks their kid is beautiful, man.” (PeaceBang, April 19)

The Rev. Tom Schade responds to the question of why spiritually liberal people feel compassion for Dzhokar Tsarnaev.

Compassion is not judgment, which makes choices and priorities. Judgment weighs and measures and reasons. Judgment, which we give to the judicial system to exercise finally, will deal firmly with Tsarnaev. It’s a whole other thing.

But at every moment, someone has your attention, and in that moment, you will be feeling some emotion: compassion, hatred, indifference, affection. Spiritual liberalism notices that if you build a habit of compassion, you will be happier, healthier, more able to love and receive love.

The world will be better, too. (the lively tradition, April 20)

Andrew Hidas takes a different perspective—resisting pressure to forgive.

Talking about the need to forgive perpetrators of heinous acts before victims’ bodies have even turned cold is premature at best, presumptuous at worst. . . .

Righteous anger or at least revulsion is an appropriate response to a horrible act. The closer your “connection” to it, the more right and perhaps necessity you have to fully experience and express such anger. Full submersion is in many ways the precursor to the healing you ultimately seek. (traversing, April 20)

The Rev. Chip Roush shares opening words for worship after the Boston bombings.

Slowly but surely, the universe is evolving
toward greater freedom,
toward reason,
and toward tolerance.
This morning, and every morning,
may we be more aware
of the Spirit of Life
evolving in and through us,
drawing us
toward deeper compassion
and firmer courage. (So May We Be, April 19)

Unitarian Universalists online and “in real life”

The Rev. A. C. Millard explains why a practice of “checking in” is important.

Even when attending a meeting that is entirely centered on some item of business, we bring with us our whole lives and everything that has been going on in our lives, and that affects how we interact with each other.  I know I’ve been in meetings where someone was behaving in an uncharacteristic way, only to find out later that something significant had happened to them; if we had heard about that at the start of the meeting, the rest of us might have been more understanding and our time together might have been better for all of us.  (UU Fellowship of the Peninsula, April 25)

Thomas Earthman writes about the role of blogging in sharing Unitarian Universalism’s message.

The state of technology is that everyone can be a preacher. Everyone can be a journalist. Everyone can be an advertising agency. . . . It is only by recognizing those who have the ability to shape and stimulate conversation that we can ensure that people hear our message of salvation. We don’t need to sell it, but we need to make it accessible and we need to get people talking and asking questions. (A Material Sojourn, April 25)

June Herold discovers that negotiating Facebook privacy is tricky, even for tech-savvy people.

[Despite] privacy controls, heavy Facebook users—even the most advanced—can easily forget that once something is said on Facebook, it can take on a life of its own. . . .

Making assumptions—where to post; what to copy online; and what we should realize—can easily become a slippery slope. One that we all can slide down—including me. (The New UU, April 22)

The Rev. Meg Riley hosts a UUA Moderator Candidate Forum with Jim Key and Tamara Payne-Alex.

The Rev. Tom Schade objects to the candidates’ answers to the forum’s last question: “What can you do to make sure that those of us who are right of center still feel welcome in UU congregations?”

If the things that we religious liberals care about most deeply were held equally by both political parties, we could continue to act as though belonging to either party was just a personal preference that didn’t much matter. But that is not true, and we know it.

What religious liberals value and what contemporary political conservatism values are so in conflict that it is hard to be both. (the lively tradition, April 26)