General Assembly, the Supreme Court, and more UU conversation

In online conversation this week, many Unitarian Universalists responded to their experiences at General Assembly and to the Supreme Court’s rulings.

General Assembly blogging

Responding to the Rev. Vanessa Southern’s sermon preached during the Service of the Living Tradition, the Rev. James Ford agrees that we are at the dawn of a new age of the spirit, but wonders which spirit we will choose.

We stand at an interesting moment in the history of our liberal faith. We took a vacation from using that word god. We appear to be relentlessly going forward to reclaiming the word.

But are we going to simply return to that god which makes one person happy and curses the other?

Or are we going to allow the language of the sacred, the language of heart to point us in new directions? (Monkey Mind, June 23)

Peter Bowden shares the news of a new “Faithful Risk” fund created to honor Gini Courter for her time as UUA moderator, which will use a newly created crowdfunding platform.

Inspired, in part, by the Minns Lecture I offered with the Rev. Naomi King, this fundraising platform . . . will allow Unitarian Universalists who are called to creative, innovative and experimental (a.k.a. risky) ministries and ministry projects to reach out to UUs for funding. . . .

We don’t know what will happen or what kind of projects will come forward. We just know that Unitarian Universalism needs them to come forward, and we need a way to make space for them, affirm them, support them, and to learn together through the process. (UU Planet, June 25)

When outraged youth and young adults complain via social media about older adults leaving before the Synergy worship service, the Rev. Theresa Novak responds from the perspective of someone who left.

I hate the assumption that those who left last night did so because they don’t care about younger people and don’t enjoy diverse styes of worship. That might be true of some, but I suspect most of those who left were simply exhausted. My feelings were hurt by that assumption, and that assumption also hurt the feelings of those who stayed.

The arrogance of youth, the cynicism of age—those are assumptions too. How easily feelings can be hurt without intention. (Sermons, Poetry and Other Musings, June 22)

The Rev. Fred Wooden is glad that he’s finally old enough that being cranky is acceptable—in this case, about forced familiarity during worship services at General Assembly.

I hate holding hands with someone I have not met. I hate even more when someone I do not know with a sweaty palm grabs mine and begins swaying like some unreconstructed Woodstock veteran. I hate most of all being to told to hold hands. Conscripted intimacy is presumptuous and insulting. (Aside from the Obvious, June 25)

After encountering an addict singing on the streets of Louisville, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein regrets the falseness of their interaction.

I wish we didn’t have to play this game, this Po’ Black Man Singing the Blues Encounters Enchanted White Lady who will stop—because she’s so open-minded and liberal like that—to talk about what a good voice he has, to exchange pious niceties for a minute until we can get to the business of exchanging ten or twenty bucks for a good story and a merit badge on the White Liberal Scouts sash. (PeaceBang, June 25)

Kimberley Debus and the Rev. Carl Gregg share the highlights of their General Assembly experiences, and encourage attendance next year in Providence, Rhode Island. (Notes from the Far Fringe, June 25; Carl Gregg, June 21 and June 22)

For more detailed coverage of General Assembly, visit UU World‘s GA blog.

Responses to the  Supreme Court’s decisions

The Rev. Gary Kowalski is outraged by the court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act.

Passed into law after a peaceful march from Selma . . . ended with protesters being gassed, clubbed and bullwhipped by rioting police troopers, the Voting Rights Act ended the shameful legacy of Jim Crow at the polls that had barred generations of African Americans from exercising their franchise across the South.

The majority of Justices appeared to have no sense of this history. . . . This ruling is not just shameful. It is naked power politics, intended to reduce turnout among constituencies that have traditionally voted Democratic, exercised by the one branch of government that is supposed to rise above partisan agendas. (Revolutionary Spirit, June 27)

Patrick Murfin reviews the Supreme Court’s rulings, concluding that privilege and authority were themes that ran through all of them.

Taken on the whole, it is easy to see that this Court did not navigate the illusionary center path but was the consistent champion of privilege and authority. Reversing the damage that this Court has done will take concerted action in the streets and in the voting booth and a united movement.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and start working. (Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout, June 27)

The Rev. Lynn Ungar recognizes that the Court’s rulings are a mixed bag, but refuses to let that dampen her celebration of the intangible benefits of marriage equality.

I would like to wrap this joyful moment in a bow and declare, with Theodore Parker and Dr. King, that the “moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

But I know it’s not that simple. I know that yesterday the same Supreme Court which today ruled to protect my personhood and dignity ruled against key portions of the Voting Rights Act. I know that the arc of the moral universe is less of an arc than a squiggle, bending this way and that, and only because people take the trouble to bend it. . . .

But still, in spite of it all, there is the fact that we have arrived at this moment, somewhat the worse for wear, and with much of our fur worn off, to hear People Who Matter declare that we are, in fact, Real. It is a celebration of marriage, and I, for one, intend to have cake. (Quest for Meaning, June 26)

Diane Daniel, who blogs about the male-to-female transgender experience from a spouse’s perspective, writes about how the court’s decision on DOMA will affect her family.

Transgender rights are still badly in need of an update, but, like I said, I’m focusing on gratitude today.

My marriage is legal, but it’s a gray area of the law, which is not comforting. I told Lina today that if the Justice Department rules that marriage in any “legal” state transfers to other states as far as federal protections go, we are getting married. Again. ASAP. I’m thinking Massachusetts, specifically the Delta baggage carousel at Logan Airport, where we met on Feb. 14, 2003.  (She Was the Man of My Dreams, June 26)

The Rev. Debra Haffner shares a statement from the Religious Institute, and her own reaction to the court’s decisions on DOMA and Prop 8.

We are living history.

And this clergy woman ally cried when the Windsor and Perry decisions were announced. This mom of a gay son cried. This friend of more same gender loving people than I can count cried. This 35 year advocate for sexual justice wept with joy. (Sexuality and Religion, June 26)

And other conversation

Kimberly Paquette tells her own story to answer the question, “Why should UU congregations intentionally reach out to active military personnel, veterans, and their families?”

It took some effort on my part, but I found the local UU congregation, not too far from the military base where I was stationed. . . . It was the only hour of my week when I could be my true, and whole self. It was the only place where I dared be vulnerable. It was the only time anyone called me by my first name.

The congregation was life saving for me. It was through my connection with the congregations that I reclaimed my identity, remembered who I was at my core, and was able to remain true to myself. (All Together Now, June 25)

Kim Hampton writes that she still likes Paula Deen.

I’ll take Paula Deen’s whatever-type of racism over the non-nigger-calling but more insidious racism anyday.

So I will continue to buy “Cooking with Paula Deen” magazine. I will buy her next cookbook. I will continue to watch her when she is on the “Today” show—or any other show for that matter.

And I will continue to be exasperated with the hoopla over incidents like this while at the same time there is continued silence over real issues of race/racism that need to be addressed. (East of Midnight, June 24)

Rebecca Hecking draws lessons about rhythms of rest and activity from the seasons of the year.

In nature, solstice time is brief. Slowly at first, but inevitably, the darkness will increase, and the frantic growth of June will give way to the fruiting of August, the release of autumn and the quiet fallow rest of winter. And this is as it should be.

The culture, on the other hand, seems to prefer an endless solstice. We are expected to perform at peak efficiency all the time. The pace is fast and the demands are relentless. Of course, in our lives as in nature, solstice is fleeting, no matter how we try to believe otherwise. No one can maintain a frantic pace forever. Time passes. Energy ebbs and flows. The only question is whether or not we recognize this reality and flow with it, or try to maintain a time of endless solstice in our own lives. (Breath and Water, June 21)