‘The bathroom revolution,’ and other UU web conversation

The bathroom revolution

When this week’s freewheeling discussion on The VUU turned to gender neutral bathrooms at General Assembly, the conversation failed to respect the real issues at stake. (The conversation about bathrooms begins just before 17 minutes into the episode.)

The Rev. Meg Riley, senior minister of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, shared a public apology, which reads in part:

I want to state clearly and publicly how sorry I am that The VUU on Thursday was hurtful to many people, including friends I care deeply about and people I will never meet whom I also care about. A lesson I have learned over and over, sadly often by making mistakes and transgressing boundaries: Jokes by privileged people when oppressed people’s lives are at stake are just not very funny. (Church of the Larger Fellowship FB Page, June 15)

A special follow-up edition of The VUU addressed issues of gender identity and privilege.

Reflections on immigration

When Karen Johnston arrives at the Frankfort airport, where someone has changed a sign to “Deportation Airport,” she realizes that she can trace her concern for immigrants’ rights to her German host family, 28 years ago.

I have sometimes wondered why it is I joined the Standing on the Side of Love campaign so enthusiastically and wholeheartedly, finding myself so particularly drawn to the issues of immigration. Was I just a patsy of the UUA’s latest social justice infatuation, a shill for its current president as one retired Universalist minister suggested?

Seeing that defaced sign and the hope it lighted in me brought me squarely back to the knowledge that this particular concern runs deep. (Irrevspeckay, June 20)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden writes about immigrants coming to the United States from Mexico.

They walk into the land
carrying cheese crackers
and Red Bull and cheap cell phones.

They walk into the place
where money is god.

They walk into the place
where violence is all. (Quest for Meaning, June 20)

An idyll disturbed

Andrew Hidas finds the peacefulness of a simpler time in the music town of Mountain View, Arkansas—but then notices that something is amiss.

The scene is, in a word, idyllic, and you find yourself pondering, Maybe they have something here. Maybe all those forwarded emails and Facebook posts from well-meaning friends and relatives decrying the ravages and complications of modernism, hearkening back to a purer simpler time in America when things were just, you know, better, have some veracity, some heft to them beyond the weightless dusting of sentiment.

And then you look a little more intently and you realize you haven’t seen a black or Latino or even Asian face in the three days you’ve been here. (Traversing, June 20)

Hoping cautiously, walking proud

As she awaits the Supreme Court’s rulings on equal marriage, the Rev. Krista Taves does not share the Rev. Peter Morales’ certainty that “this battle has been won.”

For all the expressions of acceptance in mainstream culture, for sea of red that happened on Facebook and Twitter and almost every website I regularly frequent, the fate of my marriage rests with 9 justices, some of whom really don’t like us all that much. And if one liberal-leaning justice gets cold feet and the resulting ruling is as narrow as possible, they are placing our equality, the equality of those like me who live in Missouri, in the hands of a citizenship that is still deeply ambivalent about our right to exist. (And the stones shall cry, June 20)

The Rev. Theresa Novak encourages members of the LGBT community to “walk proud,” even in a culture where hate is a “poison [that] seeps into the air you need to breathe.”

Stand up
As tall as you can dare
Gather your friends around
Be yourself and
Look them in the eye
The blows may still come
But the truth will wash
The air around you clean
Whoever you are
You deserve this:
A real life
A chance to dream. (Sermons, Poetry and Other Musings, June 16)

With God and without

Sarah MacLeod walks with a friend, discussing Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion, and debating whether or not religion has a positive role to play in society.

With this question — the question of whether religion has given more to humanity that it’s taken — I found the strength of my attachment to the hope that religion could some day be tempered and moderate, used cooperatively as a point of shared general values of love and compassion for humanity. I can’t say I’m terribly optimistic that we’ll ever reach that point. We’re just far too . . . human. I’m just not so sure the balance leans are far into the red as some say. (Finding My Ground, June 16)

For the Rev. Erik Walker-Wikstrom, believing in God is “a better story.”

All paths are the same—they lead nowhere. Still, you need to chose, and so you might as well chose the path with a heart. The path with a heart will be more fun. It will make for a better story.

And so it goes with God. (A Minister’s Musings, June 16)

Congregational concerns

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern offers suggestions for lifting Water Communion above privilege and trivia.

The core symbolism of the Water Communion is that we all come from water: as a species on a planet where life began in the ocean, as mammals who float in amniotic fluid as we are readied for birth, as beings whose cells are mostly water. And yet we are separate from each other, and we have been apart—since there tends to be a slowing-down, a different rhythm in the summer months, even in churches that have services and religious education right on through the summer—and now we are reuniting. (Sermons in Stones, June 13)

The Rev. Lynn Ungar writes that in a friend’s congregation, a controversy has arisen about whether members should be allowed to bring guns church.

When there is no way to answer a question, it is probably time for a deeper question. There’s no good way for this congregation to answer the question: “Should people be allowed to bring guns into our sanctuary?” But maybe it would be helpful for congregants to be in conversation with one another, taking turns answering the questions “What frightens you?” and “What makes you feel safe?” (Quest for Meaning, June 19)

After visiting the website for a colleague’s new congregation—and finding it lacking—the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein offers suggestions for making church websites more welcoming to visitors. (PeaceBang, June 20)

Blogging Ministry Days

The Rev. James Ford reflects on a Ministry Days homily by one of his mentors, the Rev. Bob Senghas.

His was the generation that answered the call to Selma. He described having an evening having a beer with an Episcopal priest colleague, who a few days later would die when he threw himself between a woman and a man who fired a shotgun at the demonstrators. For many the tears of gratitude began there.

But it was when Bob turned to describing his own path of emptying, and his exhortation to the colleagues to do the same, that I found tears running down my cheek. (Monkey Mind, June 19)

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg compiles a list of tweets—his own and those of colleagues—from the Ministry Days keynote by the Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel, who is best-known for her cutting remarks about those who identify as “spiritual but not religious.”

Being privately spiritual but not religious doesn’t interest me. Interesting is community. . . . In community, other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. . . . Daniels names the faith-killing assumption that if we tell folks nothing is expected of them, they will be attracted to our churches. (Carl Gregg, June 18)