We share the world with people
A controversy broke out on Facebook while many people were preoccupied with Christmas. As the Rev. Tom Schade describes it, a holiday meme posted on the UUA’s Facebook page came “under a lot of criticism for being classist and ableist. Much commenting has gone on, including the escalation to the argument about who is too easily offended and who is being defensive.” (The Lively Tradition, January 8)
Schade blogs about the controversy through a theological lens.
There is a strain of liberal spirituality which argues that what already is is good enough, and that our spiritual work is to unlearn dissatisfaction— to wake up to the wonder that is, and let ourselves be happy. . . . But in the late 20thC, liberals also asserted that oppression/privilege was pervasive to the human condition. The two thoughts are in contradiction, and it takes very careful wordsmithing to avoid the gap. Our personal disputes over who is legitimately offended and who should lighten up are actually signs of a deeper theological disagreement. (The Lively Tradition, January 8)
The Rev. Dawn Cooley looks at the situation pastorally.
I believe we are exhausted from our attempts to be perfect—perfect as individuals, and perfect as a faith tradition. And since this is a sisyphusian effort, we keep watching that boulder roll back down the hill. I am not sure how much longer we can take it. . . . In our exhaustion from never being good enough, we turn on each other. . . .
If our mission is perfection, we are doomed to fail. But I don’t think that is our mission. . . . Instead, I believe our mission is to love the hell out of the world. (Speaking of, January 9)
The Rev. Robin Bartlett—not writing about the Facebook meme controversy—shares a lesson about getting along that she teaches her daughters.
We have to remind ourselves that we share the world with people, . . . with the same itchy annoyance, fear, acceptance and resignation that my daughter has when it comes to the reality of sharing her world with bugs. . . . And sometimes, the people we share the world with make us doubt the very existence of some sort of divine order to things. So it is our job to restore that sense of divine order for one another. (Religious Education at UUAC Sherborn, January 8)
The Rev. Andrew Weber looks at the ways his neighbors shovel their snow—and draws lessons about how we live with each other.
Our beliefs can—and should—be the basis for all of our actions, even the mundane ones. So get out there and shovel, but do it mindfully of what you are embodying and what sort of reality you are helping to create for those in your community. (How to Drive Like a Minister, January 6)
New-to-me blogger Ricky Cintron offers a prayer for listening to each other.
Everyone has a story, some are more joyful than others, others are more painful. Our stories have common themes of success, failure, love, hope, despair, loneliness. The paths we’ve traveled may have similarities, or perhaps they’ve even merged for short times. Everyone has a story to be told. . . .
Let me be a fire around which others may draw close to keep themselves warm and let them speak and sing their stories into my flames. Let me be a listener. (Jñana-Dipena, January 8)
Love, hate, and hard times
Watching her father with his first grandchild, the Rev. Deanna Vandiver wonders, “Who was this man gently hovering over his grandchild with a blissful air of yes, the same man who was forever telling us no as children?”
I think my father has had an epiphany about unconditional love.
The way that child lights up every time her Pop Pop walks into the room. How she reaches for him no matter who is holding her.
It is powerful to be loved that way. It breaks open our hearts. It tells us we are enough and calls us to love others with broken open hearts. Radically inclusive, unjudging hearts. (Quest for Meaning, January 7)
The Rev. Theresa Novak returns to snowy Utah from sunny California, facing the disappointment of marriage equality put on hold.
[As] Unitarian minister Theodore Parker said, . . . the arc of the universe bends toward justice. I hate that the arc is such a long one. Parker worked to end slavery but racism still thrives more than a hundred years later. . . . I do know that the snow will eventually melt and the sun will shine again. In the meantime, we will just have to keep each other warm. (Sermons, Poetry and other Musings, January 7)
Strapped for cash, Colleen Thoele finds almost six hundred dollars during a trip to Walmart—and reluctantly turns it in.
My fantasy self screamed “GIVE IT BACK” and ran for the door. But the real me got some flushed cheeks and smiled. “It’s someone’s rent. It’s not mine. I hope you find them. I hope they come back.”, I said with a truth that I knew and was grateful for but also with a pang in my gut. Because . . . money. It’s the devil.
. . . . Being human. It’s a war with yourself sometimes, right? (Adventures of the Family Pants, January 9)
Teo Drake celebrates the lessons of 23 years sober, and shares a current struggle.
My growing edge at the moment is in learning to be wisely vulnerable. Choosing carefully the people and the spaces that can hold me as I drop my armor, but choosing them nonetheless. I clean up well. I’ve been practicing that deceptive protection for a lifetime, really. But now, at 46 years old, 23 years sober, and nearly 19 years of living with HIV, my back is again up against my own wall. My own spiritual growth is nudging me toward transparency.
I’ve known for a while now that I am serving neither myself nor my community by making things look easy; by only showing the times where I can actually keep all the balls in the air. (Roots Grow the Tree, January 4)
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum really dislikes the statement, “God will never give you more than you can bear.”
My answer to how people can get through the unbearable comes down to other people. As a true humanist, that’s all we really have, in my opinion. So sometimes it means the strength of religious community, or other communities, helping you through it. Sometimes it means just family or friends or loved ones who help you through. Sometimes it means the social safety net. Sometimes it’s the medical establishment or other professionals in the area of your struggle. Sometimes it’s still not bearable, and there’s nothing we can do, however much we try. (Rev. Cyn, January 9)
Children and sexism
Reading Virginia Woolf helps the Rev. Sarah Stewart to notice “the casual sexism of anthropomorphic dinosaurs” in the children’s movie, Walking with Dinosaurs.
On the one hand, it’s demoralizing to see that the challenges facing creative women in 1928 are still so prevalent today. But on the other hand, I hear [Woolf’s] voice still inspiring me, almost one hundred years later, to continue to practice my art of writing, dinosaurs be damned. . . . I hear her saying: be yourself. Write your words, even if you labor in obscurity and against challenges. (Stereoscope, January 9)
The Rev. Tamara Lebak is glad that her daughter is learning that women can be doctors—and ministers, too.
When I help Beckett get ready in the morning and I am already in my collar for the day, I think about what her life will be like with no gender limitations concerning the ministry. . . . She will grow up seeing women, black and white, robed and official, in the pulpit as well as praying, reading, and leading children’s stories. (Under the Collar, January 8)
The UU Bloggers’ Workshop
A month ago in the UU Growth Lab on Facebook I asked, “Where have all the lay UU bloggers gone?” That conversation sparked a blogging-focused episode of The VUU—and a new Facebook group, The UU Bloggers’ Workshop.
The workshop is just getting started, but at least two bloggers have responded to a writing prompt posted there. (Notes from the Far Fringe, January 4, and Adventures in Spiritual Innovation, January 4)
One thing I’ve learned in my years of blogging and posting to Facebook is this: connection is not virtual. The medium may be, but you can love and care for others and send it via electronic means as well as face-to-face and hand-to-hand. Sometimes it has to be heart-to-heart–by any means possible. (Long Thoughts, January 5)
Workshop members have an ambitious first project planned: a blog-a-thon supporting the Standing on the Side of Love “Thirty Days of Love” campaign. If you’re a UU blogger, we’d love to have you join the workshop, contribute to the blog-a-thon—or both.