“Coming out of the fat closet,” and more UU conversation

Fat-shaming in UU congregations

In a courageous, truth-telling series of posts, the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum comes out of the fat closet, and calls on UU congregations to examine the ways in which they are less-than-welcoming to those who struggle with their weight.

[Here’s] the vision I hold out—fat people could walk into your sanctuary and know instantly that they are welcomed in your church. What would it take to make that a reality? What signals might be sending the opposite message? How can they be addressed? It’s time for more Unitarian Universalists to take up this question—to preach it, to teach it, and to live it. (Rev. Cyn, June 7)

Preparing for General Assembly

The Rev. Thom Belote outlines eight things to watch out for at this year’s General Assembly in Louisville, including the election of a new moderator.

In the only contested election this year, Jim Key and Tamara Payne-Alex are each vying for the position of head of the UUA Board of Trustees. After perusing the websites of both candidates, Key is leading the way in endorsements from established power players in our movement while Payne-Alex has a young, upstart following. (Rev. Thom, June 13)

The Rev. Theresa Novak remembers her first General Assembly in 2002, and shares one of her hopes for this year’s gathering.

During GA that year, the US Supreme Court threw out all the Sodomy laws, declaring them unconstitutional. When the decision was announced in the convention hall, everyone was cheering and crying. Love was no longer illegal.

I don’t know what the Supreme Court will decide on the two cases before them now. Their decision just might be announced during this year’s General Assembly in Louisville. Hopefully, we will be able to cheer again.  (Sermons, Poetry and Other Musings, June 12)

At this year’s assembly, the Commission on Appraisal will present its new report, Who’s In Charge Here? The Complex Relationship Between Ministry and Authority; the Rev. Scott Wells wonders the report isn’t available for download.

So where, as a responsible and engaged Unitarian Universalist, do you do download the report to read? Download like all the recent reports? Download, even like some pre-Internet reports which have been subsequently scanned? Even the first, from 1936 from the American Unitarian Association. (Boy in the Bands, June 11)

Mary Benard, editorial director of Skinner House Books, says the report will be available as an ebook soon after GA.

Believing what we must

The Rev. Meredith Garmon remembers saying, thirty years ago, that as Unitarian Universalists, “We can believe whatever we want to.”  He also remembers the scolding he received from an older UU.

“You think I believe in what I do because I want to?” she said. “I believe this because I have to. You think here in Waco, Texas my life wouldn’t be a lot easier if I could be a Baptist? But I can’t. My conscience won’t let me. If this were about what I wanted to believe,” Neecie continued, “about what I found it convenient and easy to believe, you wouldn’t see my face here on Sunday morning.” (Lake Chalice, June 12)

After she preaches at an interfaith service during a UCC-sponsored youth music camp, a deacon asks Karen Johnston, “Aren’t you ever going to talk about God?”  In this post, Johnston explains what “God” means to her.

I sense a sacred glue that is all-encompassing, within and without, interpenetrating and animating. It is the deep and essential life pulse that is beyond. Beyond what?  Human comprehension, to be sure. Time and space: yup. This planet, this universe: I’d bet on it. . . .

I call all this divine, which is where my semi-orthodox Buddhism stops and my polydoxical panentheism starts up. And room for something like God enters in. (Irrevspeckay, June 11)

Expending energy, sustaining energy

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein challenges our congregations to become places where people actively grow in faith.

If I go to the gym and people are sprawled out napping on the floor of the aerobics studio, I will think the gym management is not just remiss, but nuts. It’s no different in church. We’re all there for heart strengthening of a different kind. Leaders should be empowered to be able to say: “Get off the aerobics floor, please. You can nap at home.” (PeaceBang, June 10)

The Rev. Tom Schade wonders if UU congregations slow down for the summer because they expend energy in an unsustainable way during the rest of the year.

My VUU buddy, Joanna Fontaine Crawford, asked, “At the end of the year, have our congregants gotten anything out of it except being poorer and more tired?”

How can we simplify? How can we focus on what is really important? How can we match our ambitions to our the reach of our grasp? How can we cut down on the administrative work? (The Lively Tradition, June 13)

Fasts and celebrations

Catie Scudera and Jeff Briere collaborate on a graphic celebrating Pride Month, quoting Universalist poet Sarah Edgerton Mayo: “Our hearts are a rainbow of varied dye, blended as softly as that of the sky.” (UU Media Collaborative, June 10)


The Rev. Dawn Cooley is participating in a Clergy Gitmo Justice Fast.

I am a pragmatist. I am aware that some of these men were probably associated with terrorists. I am aware that things happen in war that sensitive souls like my own find abhorrent.  And at the same time, I am aware that each of these prisoners deserve to be treated as human beings with inherent worth and dignity. . . . I am disgusted that my own government has allowed this situation to not only perpetuate, but to collapse into such a moral, ethical and spiritual disaster. (Speaking of, June 9)

Children and families

In a thoughtful guest post, Kelly Mahler responds to the question, ““How can we more effectively reach out to and involve young adults and families with children as fully participating congregants?”

I don’t want every meeting or event I attend to require that I use the church childcare service. I would much rather have my child be a part of it, and have her see adults modeling good behavior. I realize this is not possible a lot of the time, but perhaps we should be thinking specifically on what kinds of events could be scheduled that would create opportunities for our children to participate. (UU Planet, June 13)

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern shares a difficult conversation she has with her young daughter, “Mookie.”

Mookie, putting wombat stuffie under her shirt: We’re a wombat family and I’m going to have a baby. . . .
Me: Oh, exciting!
Mookie: You be the daddy.
Me: Can’t we be two mommies? And you be the mama who’s having the baby.
Mookie: But then we’ll be teased.
Me, dropping out of character, but trying to keep it light: Have you had teasing about having two mommies?
Mookie: Yes. People say “that’s weird.”
Me: We can handle that. We know how. (Mookie’s Mama, June 13)

On a personal note, next month my partner and I will welcome our daughter into the world; she’s already teaching us so much, including this important lesson from our baby shower.

During the gift and advice giving, I told the group, “Liesl and I are introverts. It’s hard for us to be the center of attention like this. But from the beginning of the plans for this party, it’s been my sense that our daughter needs us to get past that. Our daughter needs us to introduce her to her village. Thank you for being her village.”

As she was leaving the party, one of my friends told me, “These people love you. Let them.” (Nagoonberry, June 10)