Charisma, haunting churches, “arrest activism,” life-changing experiences, and more

Charisma is a gift

The Rev. Dan Harper acknowledges that religious liberals are skeptical of charismatic leaders, even though they “drive institutions and make things happen.”

If you’re charismatic, your charisma doesn’t belong to you, wretched mortal individual that you are; it is ageless; it belongs to humanity; so don’t take credit for it—this is the religious liberal’s attitude. We religious liberals can tolerate charisma only when it is combined with serious humility. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, October 6)

The Rev. Terry Davis enjoys an opportunity to hear the Dalai Lama speak.

Coupled with his delightful red and yellow robes and a red visor to shield his eyes from the glaring stage lights, the Dalai Lama came across as highly approachable, wise and cool all at the same time. He was, in a word, charismatic. . . .

Whether it was divinely conferred charisma or personality charisma, His Holiness had this gift of grace in spades. He gave my spirits a lift that carried me the rest of the day. (NWUUC, October 9)

Haunting churches

Crystal St. Marie Lewis, who identifies as both Christian and UU, wonders if liberal Christians draw a circle that exiles her.

Is our circle wide enough for those who, after careful consideration of all facts and evidence, cannot believe what they once did? . . . Is there a bridge that can lead Christianity’s Jesus-loving doctrine doubters home from exile? (Crystal St. Marie Lewis, October 9)

Barry Sanders tells the story of a young girl who loses her love for baseball, using it as a metaphor for the experience of those hurt by churches.

Some people’s experience with church has been similar to Karen’s experience with baseball. They’ve been yelled at. They’ve been hurt. They’ve been made to feel like they are no good. They’ve given up.

For those of us who have discovered that we can love the game again, how do we share that love? How can we show them that there are coaches who don’t yell and teams where all the kids are nice? How do we let them know that practice can be fun, not hurtful?

How do we convince those who have given up to give it another try? (Gathered by the Fire, October 9)

The Rev. Theresa Novak shares the text and video of her sermon, “Haunting Church.” (Sermons, Poetry and other Musings, October 6)

Justice strategies

During the government shutdown, The Rev. Scott Wells examines the differing roles of government and private charitable institutions.

Baked into the conflict is what the proper role of government should be . . . . Which makes me question the natural churchly impulse to private, charitable solutions to social harms, like hunger. Isn’t that just playing into an anti-government script? Especially since churches can barely keep their doors open. . . .

But there’s also the difference between a regularly-operating government and a crisis. Today we have a crisis and so today we have a responsibility to give more to charities that pick up where government initiatives fail. (Our task tomorrow is to push the vandals out of office.) (Boy in the Bands, October 7)

The Rev. Andrew Weber questions a sensationalist focus on UUs who get arrested for their activism.

Do I need to have a criminal record in order to have my voice heard? Is the goal of social justice activity to be handcuffed and carted away? Is this the sort of activity we want to promote to our congregations, members and religious leaders? . . . Our focus is dangerously skewed toward the negative and sensational.

Let us instead focus on the positive of the civil disobedience and what others can do to make a difference. (How to Drive Like a Minister, October 9)

Spiritual experiences

Andrew Hidas writes about six life-changing kinds of experiences; as a new parent, I was drawn to his description of how life changes when we have a child:

Unless we completely relinquish all claims and care for our children—and even that decision would haunt all our days and thus not absolve us at all—we are now bound in a new way to the ground of existence itself, to the generativity that is in our very genes and so deeply embedded in our psyches as to be instinctive, driven and whole. Life cannot possibly be the same afterwards. (traversing, October 6)

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein writes a “love letter” to Matilda the Musical, addressing in particular Tim Minchin, who wrote the words and music.

Well, excuse me Tim Minchin, but for all your atheistic protestations, I would nevertheless like to thank you for putting a child’s mystical experience to music. I think you have written one of the most deeply spiritual musical numbers I have ever heard on the musical theatre stage. (PeaceBang, October 8)

Waking from a nightmare, Terri Pahucki examines her relationship with fear.

I realized this morning that I have been holding fear larger than life, like some faceless monster. I see the changes I might be moving into, and a part of me panics: Am I up to this? Can I do this? In this sea of change, what holds me and keeps me from falling into the river? Or perhaps I am yearning to fall—as in the words of Mary Oliver—Are you living just a little and calling it a life? . . . Fall In! Fall In! (Walking the Journey, October 7)

Odds and ends

Writing to other seminarians facing roadblocks, Shawna Foster shares wisdom gleaned from delays in her journey toward ordained ministry.

Whoever you are, reading this as you have been postponed, I love you. I have been you before. . . . You are not alone on the path, and in time, you will be what you were meant to be. (Writings, October 10)

The Rev. Lee Richards answers the question, “Is UUism a movement or a religion?” by saying, “Neither. And both.”

We are a religion, absolutely, because we are dependent upon forming communities of faith. While it is possible for a lone individual to be Unitarian Universalist in principle, one only blossoms in the company of others. (Pullman Memorial Pastor’s Blog, October 9)

Lori Stone Sirtosky begins a new blog, in which she plans to document the progress of a liberal religious community of “free-range Unitarian Universalists.” (Worthy Now, October 5)