Human(ist) blogging, sources, interdependence, and more

Remembering UUs-L

Before blogs and social media, the UUs-L mailing list was an important way for UUs to bridge geographic distances; learning that the list will be shut down, Doug Muder remembers its heyday with gratitude.

The instant feedback taught me a lot about writing; if I said something clumsily, people would misunderstand me and we’d be off on some ridiculous argument that would never have happened if I’d just been clearer. That daily back-and-forth taught me how to write not just to make sense to myself, but to make sense to other people. (Free and Responsible Search, October 15)

Human(ist) blogging

Sharing stories of ordinary, daily life is an important component of blogging; Unitarian Universalists, for whom “everything is holy,” blog human experience as spiritual practice.

It took three months, but I finally found the strength to tell the story of my daughter’s birth.

Less than eleven hours start to finish, half-naked outdoors, excruciating pain, a wild-and-crazy ambulance ride, no meds—and I did it, with the help of a great partner, her mom, our doula, the EMTs and the doctors and nurses. (Nagoonberry, October 15)

Sarah MacLeod’s new love asks her, “What are you thinking?”

I’m thinking about growing old with you. I am hoping to know you when our hair turns white and our faces are etched with decades more love and laughter and, because this is life, sorrow. My father says all marriages end. Whether by divorce or death, they end. He’s not generally the gloomy type, but the Eeyore-esque comment reminds me of the impermanence of our day-to-day lives as well as our very existence as well. Marriage ends. Life ends. And still, I think about growing old with you. (Finding My Ground, October 14)

Tina Porter dreams about her father, and when she wakes, remembers that he is dead.

Tonight, as I lay me down to sleep, I’ll pray my father comes again. And maybe he’ll have a basket of black walnuts and take a seat on the porch instead of speeding off in his El Camino.

And then maybe I’ll sleep deeply and well, as he watches. (Long thoughts, October 14)

The Rev. Meg Riley thinks about life and death in her autumn garden.

Some people believe that we’re perennials, that after our deaths, our souls reside eternally in one place or another. Some say we’ll be back, though perhaps in a different form. Whatever is and will be, I live my life as if I’m an annual—acting as if, if some part of me is to survive, it will be in the growth of the seeds I have sown in my lifetime. (Quest for Meaning, October 15)

Using all our sources

The Rev. Theresa Novak shares a poem about the six UU sources.

Have you checked
Your sources?
Do you know
Why you believe
What you believe? (Sermons, Poetry and Other Musings, October 16)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden is a humanist—who’s weary of all the “ist” labels.

Oh, that labeling thing! Why do we have to be an “ist” this or an “ist” that? I don’t want to be an “ist.” Being an “ist” is about being a follower. I don’t have any interest in that. . . .

If I’ve got to be something, I’ll take “everythingist.” (Quest for Meaning, October 17)

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat visits the pulpit of the Unitarian Church of Montreal, celebrating the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday.

When we give thanks, we place ourselves in relationship to something greater than ourselves. Our prayers of thanksgiving and mindfulness carve channels of gratitude on our hearts, and the more frequently we carve those channels, the more easily our spirits flow in those directions. (Velveteen Rabbi, October 13)

Karen Johnston lights Shabbat candles at a gathering of UU seminarians.

One might think it strange to be lighting Shabbat candles when there is no intention of setting the day aside. Not to mention that the candle will be lit well after sundown, just given the schedule of events. When the roles for worship were handed out, no one volunteered for this element and it almost got take out of the liturgy.  I think the lack of interest largely had to do with lack of familiarity. Which doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to not include such a beautiful, resonant ritual.

So, given that I am not Jewish, but that I am Jew-ish . . . I volunteered. (irrevspeckay, October 11)

Navigating interdependence

Liz James, traveling to attend the same gathering of seminarians, experiences the viral nature of interdependence, writing, “to be human is to be an agent of contagion, which leaves none of us without some small piece of both power and responsibility.”

Michelle was the name of the woman who was in charge of scanning your boarding pass and pointing you to a line to go through security [at the airport]. . . . As she worked, she joked with passengers, shepherded people who needed assistance, and wished people Happy Thanksgiving (if they were carrying a Canadian passport). . . . By the time I reached the front of the line, I was grinning broadly from watching the process of her transforming each traveller, as I awaited my turn for a blessing. I wasn’t disappointed. With a huge smile, Michelle took in my grinning face and said “Now, Honey, that is what I like to see!” (Rebel With a Label Maker, October 17)

Rebecca Hecking shares her strategies for avoiding “global-bad-week-spillover syndrome.”

The challenge was to stay grounded. To hold center. To not allow the tension in the wider world to gel into a knot between my shoulder blades. I was not completely successful (or maybe I’m just stiff from resuming my yoga), but that’s okay.

What helped was consciously choosing where to spend my mental and spiritual energy, instead of being swept up in the national dysfunction. (Breath and Water, October 17)

Odds and ends

The Rev. David Pyle has discovered that ministry is energy intensive, rather than time intensive.

I have moved away from thinking about time management, and am now focused on developing for myself good patterns of energy management. It is a far more complex project, the management of energy, because energy is far more complex than time.  (Celestial Lands, October 17)

Adam Dyer shares an overview of, and his perspective on, the gathering of seminarians also attended by bloggers Karen Johnston and Liz James.

“What was that?” I find myself asking. The first Continental Gathering of Unitarian Universalist Seminarians (CGUUS) over the weekend of October 11-13 was a group of about 50 people ranging in ages, races, orientations and social locations that descended like a tsunami on Harvard Divinity School and First Church Boston where we shared and learned and taught and explored many of the various sides of where we are headed as future Unitarian Universalist ministers. (spirituwellness, October 15)

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg shares his hopes for “a gender liberated world.”

The need for greater gender freedom in our society is, likewise, as clear to me as the need to create a world in which no child is every again made fun of for their natural gender expression—whether masculine, feminine, both, or somewhere in between.  (Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism, October 15)

The Rev. Dan Harper sees, in the government’s budget deadlock, “a battle between two competing theologies.”

On the one side, the possibility of salvation is understood to reside primarily in individual humans. To put it another way, fighting sin is primarily the responsibility of an individual. . . .

On the other side, the possibility of salvation is understood to reside both in the individual and in social institutions; however, in practice the emphasis tends to be on social salvation and social sin, since social sin is perceived to be so much more powerful a force than individual sin. To put it another way, fighting sin is primarily a battle that must be fought in social institutions. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, October 11)