‘Good guys with guns,’ and other UU online conversation

‘Good guys with guns’

On the anniversary of her aunt’s murder, the Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern writes about her uncle, the “good guy” who shot her; she also tells the story of the attempted murder of her father, who survived because the “good guy” had a knife rather than a gun.

When people talk about how we need to make sure “the good guys” are allowed guns, they are talking about people like my uncle Jimmy. He was a middle-aged, middle-class, white, college-educated English professor and poet. . . . If we had decided to arm the good citizens of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, so that they might protect us from machine-gun-wielding drug dealers and mass murderers, Jimmy could have been first in line, and he would have been handed a lethal weapon with a smile. And taken it home and used it exactly the way he did use it. (Sermons in Stones, June 3)

What do UUs believe?

A 2011 blog post by the Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell sparked a lively conversation in the UU Growth Lab this week; within a few days, more than 250 comments were made, weighing in on whether the article was an accurate representation of UU theology. (The UU Growth Lab is a closed Facebook group with more than 1000 members; it describes itself as “a free space and think tank for Unitarian Universalist change agents.”)

The Rev. Tom Schade notes that many took offense at the traditional religious language in the post.

[The] Rev. Sewell’s piece tries to answer the misconception “you can believe anything you want and be a Unitarian Universalist.” I think that it sometimes it would be more accurate to say “you can’t believe anything and say it out loud as a Unitarian Universalist without offending some other UU, who will let you know.”

It looks like Rev. Sewell just found that out. (The Lively Tradition, June 4)

In a follow-up post, Schade outlines topics a UU theology needs to cover. A third post suggests that humanists and theists move beyond entrenched beliefs to character and virtue. (The Lively Tradition, June 5 and 6)

The Rev. Dan Harper raises a separate theological issue—human nature.

[We] need not feel we have to choose between the unfashionable traditional Christian myth of original sin on the one hand, and on the other hand the combination of two myths, the Romantic myth of natural human goodness and the Enlightenment myth of human rationality. I think it’s time for a new myth. But I don’t yet know what it is. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, June 2)

Growing the future

A recent blog post by the Rev. Dan Harper suggested that bridging ceremonies invite our youth to leave Unitarian Universalism; Sara Lewis takes a different approach—trusting that UU youth will find their path.

Sometimes that journey brings them back, for a visit or to stay, and sometimes it doesn’t. But I hold all of them in my heart, lightly. May they be blessed. . . . May they find that which makes them come alive, and then share that with the world. May they be strong, may they find love, may they be whole. (The Children’s Chalice, June 6)

Peter Bowden posts this archived video of the recent Millennial UU Innovators Discussion Google Hangout, convened by Carey McDonald. (UU Planet, June 6)

The Rev. Tony Lorenzen is a fan of the UU Growth Lab and the UUA’s Growth Specialists, but he wonders if “growth” is the UU version of “saved.”

Many evangelical Christians . . . . ask if you are “saved” by which they mean they want to know if you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and savior so that an angry God won’t send you hell. This is something at which Unitarian Universalists recoil as a general rule. However, I wonder if our fascination with growth amounts to much the same thing. . . . Both growth and being saved strike me as being more about increasing the number of people in the fold than anything else. (Sunflower Chalice, June 3)

Hearts, minds and hands

June Herold’s initial experiences with Unitarian Universalism were very cerebral, but eventually she found what her heart was seeking.

It seemed that UUism—a faith populated by very educated individuals—asked deep questions that were in many ways philosophical and abstract. I hadn’t yet witnessed questions that wondered what the mystery of life (God’s love, for those who don’t have a problem with the G word) feels like and how to be aware of God’s presence.

Worship services . . . eventually produced that feeling, that awareness. To me, Sunday worship unraveled as a way to experience that which the heart understands and not necessarily what the eye sees and the brain defines. (The New UU, June 1)

Paul Oakley responds to a recent blog post by the Rev. Tom Schade about UU worship.

The service that persons of faith and congregations of faith give to the world is worship. What we do when we come together in our sanctuaries is liturgy. Liturgy enables worship, but it is not worship. Our “place of worship” must be the wide world not our narrow gathering places where we “charge our batteries” and reinforce our sense of oneness before we go live it. (Inner Light, Radiant Life, June 2)

Walking with signs and wonders

For the Rev. Ellen Cooper-Davis, seeing a snake while interval training is a sacred moment in the midst of an ordinary activity.

Whatever you call it, there comes every so often a moment in which there seems more at work than whatever ordinary things our senses are perceiving. These moments are there, simply waiting for us to notice them; we need only be awake and watching. . . . I call them signs and wonders. (Keep the Faith, June 3)

Running along the beach, Jordinn Nelson Long wrestles with the whisper of vocation, struggling to make sense of a call to ministry.

Frankly, there is nothing about the call to ministry that makes sense to me, not on its face. I have another career, one that I believe in and am good at. I have never considered leading a church—and in fact, my initial response to the soul-provocation I have felt in the last year was to consider leaving my church. (Raising Faith, June 3)

Walking in a cemetery, Rebecca Hecking notes that some graves have cut flowers, some planted flowers, and some plastic flowers.

The whole idea of plastic flowers really speaks volumes about contemporary culture. What does it mean when we create a permanent synthetic version (made of stuff that will take centuries to decompose completely) of a symbol of impermanence? And then use that symbol to decorate a grave? I think perhaps the deeper truth here is that we as a society are uncomfortable with not only death, but with the whole idea of the cycle of birth, growth, decay and death. (Breath and Water, June 6)

Courage and commitment

The Rev. Lynn Ungar celebrates the courage of protesters in Turkey.

Sometimes you summon up what is inside of you and do the brave thing, walk the talk. But what about all those other people, the ones who joined the protest once they knew about the water cannons and the pepper spray, once the news spread . . . of the injured and the dead? What about them? What does it take to knowingly walk into that kind of danger and chaos?

It takes, I think, an allegiance to a self that is greater than the self that feels the police batons and the pepper spray—a self that is injured not by physical indignities, but rather by moral ones. (Quest for Meaning, June 5)

Doug Muder writes that profit-making corporations are dangerous because they are amoral, and provides practical suggestions for “starving the corporate beast.”

If you try to be a purist about these kinds of things, you’ll end up living in a Unabomber cabin someplace. So the better question is: What’s the low-hanging fruit? You probably can’t (or don’t want to) disentangle yourself from corporate octopus completely, but how much of your money can you route around it without joining a hippie commune or something?

The answers below are not exhaustive and follow a few simple themes: Join co-ops, which are owned by their customers. Deal with local businesses that are owned by individuals or families. If you have to deal with a corporation (and often you do), pick smaller ones over bigger ones—and look for the occasional corporation that is owned by its employees. (The Weekly Sift, June 3)