Plantations and privilege, miracles, collars and more

Plantations and privilege

Because the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum stands to inherit land that was part of a slave plantation, she pays particular attention to the recent controversy surrounding Ani Difranco and Nottoway Plantation.

It’s pretty tough to see outside one’s own privilege. And often we would like to ignore that it exists. I would like to be able to just inherit this land when my time comes and have it come to me free from the legacy of slavery. But it doesn’t work like that. . . .

I get to live with my legacy, but do not get to decide alone what the Landrum plantation land means and how or whether it can be “reclaimed.”  If I want to truly engage that question, I have to engage in it with the descendants of people who were most affected.  That’s going to take more work. (Rev. Cyn, January 2)

Kiss me my darling

The Rev. Theresa Novak celebrates marriage equality in Utah.

Kiss me my darling
Let’s dance with our friends
This moment is glory
The miracle real. (Sermons, Poetry and other Musings, December 21)

The Rev. Andy Burnette completes a five-part series, “Queering Jesus and Paul.”

I believe the Bible actually demands the constant questioning of cultural norms, including categories of gender and sexuality. Prejudice is always a misinterpretation of this bold and welcoming, boundary-shattering, norm-destroying text when it is viewed as a whole. (Just Wondering, December 25)

Loving the hell out of the world

The Rev. Tom Schade hopes that UU congregations in 2014 will move from service to solidarity with the working poor.

Solidarity does not come easily to people who pride themselves on their education, or their cultural sophistication, or their refined patterns of consumption.

Solidarity is humble. It says to the fast food worker; I may be a locavore vegan, but I will stand with you for a living wage for selling hamburgers, because you have determined that is what you need.  (The Lively Tradition, December 27)

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein reflects on a “popular Unitarian Universalist slogan right now” that says “Go love the hell out of the world.”

I never thought much about it, taking it as a given that every human being deserves to have their basic human needs for food, shelter and compassion met by the community. Now I think about it all the time –about how radical this sentiment is beginning to seem in my own society, where too many of us waste our time or have it wasted by petty infighting about small doctrinal matters, or by trying to out-clever each other on the stage of public thought and opinion. (PeaceBang, December 28)

Collars, Kenosis and Oklahoma

The blogging conversation about clergy collars continues, with the Rev. Tom Schade questioning the collar’s symbolic power.

So while it is useful, perhaps, in the short term to lay claim to the social authority of Christianity by wearing the clerical collar, it is will have diminishing returns. Our ability to inspire others will have to come from some other source: our authenticity, our consistency, our humility, our transparency.

How would we convey what we are trying to communicate with the clerical collar if we did not wear it? (The Lively Tradition, December 20)

The Rev. Tamara Lebak has begun a new project: wearing a clerical collar every day of 2014, except for Sundays.

What I realized during the course of that day was that I had been flying stealth in the community. Because my faith has no standard clerical garb, I have been able to choose when and whether I presented myself as a minister. After 8 years of being nurtured by my church for the whole of who I am, my next most obvious step is to come out as a clergy person. (Under the Collar in Oklahoma, January 1)

Fear, loathing, and religious difference

When a neighborly interaction turns into a conversation about theology, the Rev. Tony Lorenzen discovers his neighbor’s fear of religious differences—and acknowledges the same fear in his own heart.

The more I think about this encounter, the more I wonder about just how similar I am to this woman.  Am I not also by turns a wonderful representative of my own faith and an example of its darkest shadow? . . . If I am honest, I am also intolerant and afraid of others, such as religious fundamentalists whose beliefs differ so enormously from mine. (Sunflower Chalice, December 23)

After the BBC refuses to allow him to present the “Thought for the Day” because he is an atheist, the Rev. Andy Pakula pushes back.

One of the most beautiful things about Unitarianism is that it refused to establish any belief test for members—it is and always has been a non-creedal faith. How ironic that the BBC—a tax-funded corporation dedicated to serving all the public—has established just such a belief test for participation in TFTD. (Throw Yourself Like Seed, December 26)

The Rev. James Ford writes about the “War on Atheists.”

There’s a recent essay making the rounds in my part of the Facebook world, where the author reveals that atheists are educated elites who can afford to indulge their belief, or, probably its more accurate to say non-belief, and are absolute jerks for saying out loud what a lot of people fear might be true: there is no God. (Monkey Mind, December 31)

Social media reviews

The Rev. Dan Harper reviews the year in UU social media, and looks forward to 2014.

When I look forward to the coming year, I know what I’d like to see. I’d like to see the quality of UU posts on Facebook increase to the point where I’m never embarrassed by them. I’d like to see more exploration of new approaches to social media, extending the good work CLF is doing. I’d like to see more laypeople writing and producing videos and other online content.

How about you? What do you want to see from UU social media in the new year? And what did I miss in 2013 that deserves mention? (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, December 27)

Peter Bowden responds to Harper’s post, adding more detail about what’s happening in UU social media, including changes happening in blogging.

We’ve discussed the issue of UU clergy vs. lay person blogging in the UU Growth Lab and most agreed that the ease of sharing ideas and engaging in discussion in topical UU groups has taken some of the energy away from public blogging. While it is great to have these forums, there was some worry expressed in having these conversations moved behind closed doors. (UU Planet, December 28)

The Rev. Kent Hemmen-Saleska discusses his experience as a guest on the CLF’s online video show, the VUU.

I admit it—I don’t think I present very well on video. I like writing and creating and giving sermons, and I’ve been on stage, and I’m fine singing in front of people. But I get nervous and more unsure of myself when I have to be spontaneous and off-the-cuff with a recording or with video. But Meg Riley and the Rev. Joanne Fontaine Crawford, and all the others made me feel very welcome. And since it wasn’t Fox News, it was a very friendly crowd, so I felt much more comfortable. All in all, it ended up being a very fun time, and I am grateful to the CLF team for having me on as a guest. (Moving in Faith, December 29)

The Rev. Victoria Weinstein’s church website rant may contain uncomfortable truths for  many UU congregations.

I have followed five dead links on your church’s website and nowhere have you informed me when your congregation gathers for worship. I conclude that you don’t want me to join you, so I give up.

I’ll read the NY Times and go to brunch instead. (PeaceBang, December 29)

Different forms of ministry

After retiring, the Rev. Kit Ketcham has been serving a tiny congregation, calling it “a mix of fun and frustration.”

In the months since I offered my services to the tiny fellowship near my home, I’ve been blessed by a sense of greater connection to these parishioners and also concerned about whether what I am doing for them is good or hopeless. (Ms. Kitty’s Saloon and Road Show, December 29)

The Rev. David Pyle begins a series of posts about professional ministry, congregations, and the search process with a discussion about contract ministry.

I believe the central advantage of contract ministry is that, the more limited-term outlook and the shift in the center of ministerial authority and responsibility allows the contract minister and the congregation to be more experimental and entrepreneurial in how they engage and develop ministry.  It allows for change on systemic and cultural issues to be engaged more readily and rapidly, and because the end of the contract is known, it can allow a contract minister and a congregation to be willing to take more risks. (Celestial Lands, January 2)