Just pray already, insufficient funds, and more

Insufficient funds

The Rev. Theresa Novak shares a poem alluding to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Some dreams come slipping to us
From somewhere else
Just as we drift
Alone in that quiet space
Right before waking . . . .

Other dreams are created
From the hard days of our lives (Sermons, Poetry, and Other Musings, January 16)

Kim Hampton doesn’t go to church on the Sunday closest to MLK Day—because we forget that King also said things like, “America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’” Hampton writes, “It’s time to stop talking about the dream and start talking about the insufficient funds and how that can be changed.” (East of Midnight, January 15)

Just pray already

The Rev. James Ford loses patience with people who meet a request for prayer with a list of reasons why they don’t believe in prayer.

So, someone asks you to pray for them.
If you can’t bring yourself to say, yes, which is the best answer, although that forces you to try a prayer; you can always say I will carry my hope for you in my heart. Hopefully that would be true.
Save the advice for later, for an appropriate moment. (Monkey Mind, January 16)

As a teenager, Kari Kopnick found the phrase “service is our prayer” to be a helpful way of understanding her personal spirituality.

Now, well into solid middle-age-hood, I find that service that involves steamy kitchens, or icy construction sites or especially large pots of potatoes to peel gets me more deeply in touch with my soul than any hymn or prayer or sermon can. (Chalice Spark, January 15)

Drawing on her own experiences as a UU child wounded by the excesses of humanism, the Rev. Robin Bartlett warns us that “children will listen.”

I want to be very clear that I think Unitarian Universalism has changed tremendously since that time, but we still have a lot of work to do holding our orthodoxy up to the light, examining it, naming it, and critiquing it. This matters particularly for the children in our churches, because they listen to us. They listen to what we say, what we don’t say, and what we’re not allowed to say. (Religious Education at UUAC Sherborn, January 16)

The Rev. Myke Johnson treads the dangerous territory of explaining what Unitarian Universalists believe.

We do believe that Love is at the center of the Universe, and those of us who believe in a God, believe in a God of Love. We do believe that each person is important and lovable and that we are all part of one family. We do believe that we are called to live a life of service and compassion, and that human beings, however imperfect we may be, can make a choice to follow our values. (Finding Our Way Home, January 14)

The Rev. Tamara Lebak’s collar-wearing experiment leads to a discussion about UU grocery store evangelism.

The odds that someone from my tradition would approach a person in the grocery story to ask where they go to church are slim to none. Our Association claims that our members invite people to church an average of once every 26 years! Really. In our attempt to separate ourselves from those who evangelize, it seems we have kept others from even knowing we exist. (Under the Collar in Oklahoma, January 10)

Doug Muder reminds us of the cultural context that atheists—including UU atheists—experience, writing that “If Christians really want to know what religious discrimination is like, they should try being atheists.” (The Weekly Sift, January 13)

Voices for justice

The Rev. Dan Harper pays tribute to poet Amiri Baraka, who died recently.

I can recognize Baraka’s brilliance, I can appreciate the bracing clarity of his moral insight, I need the white heat of his anger—but I feel that he demands something of his readers (and of himself) that is beyond human ability; or at least beyond my ability. It’s hard to read a whole book of poetry when you know that you’re going to fall short of what the poet demands of you; when you know that you or any error-prone, love-befuddled, smelly, awkward, confused and all-too-human being can not live up to what the poet demands. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, January 11)

Leslie Mills writes as she completes a four-day social justice immersion trip in New Orleans.

Immersion trips can get heavy. That’s something they all seem to have in common, no matter where you go. The people change, and the places change, but the work remains the same — open your eyes, open your heart until it cracks, and then learn to let the light shine in. In many ways, four days is plenty. (Leaping Loon, January 16)

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg reviews the UUA Common Read, Sara Jayaraman’s Behind the Kitchen Door.

As Jayaraman notes, many of us have reached a point where it is second nature to ask those underpaid, poorly-treated restaurant workers about whether the food on the menu is fair trade, local, humanely-raised, etc. And she has a strong point that we need to learn to ask a similar set of questions about whether workers are treated in human and sustainable ways. (Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism, January 16)

Beauty Tips for Ministers—and DREs

Sara Lewis, with a tip of the hat to the blog, Beauty Tips for Ministers, offers suggestions for DREs.

Remember you may get involved with a messy arts or crafts project. . . . But simultaneously remember that the adults need to see you as a professional. Dress a teensy bit nicer than the norm in your congregation. In my congregation, I can where a chino skirt in the summer, but not during the church year, and never ever denim, and I end up aimed dressier than the congregants. . . . Some congregations though, you might need a suit to be dressed nicer than the crowd. (The Children’s Chalice, January 17)

This week’s episode of The VUU features the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein, talking about her blogs, Beauty Tips for Ministers and PeaceBang, and the Rev. Lisa Bovee Kemper speaking about her work with “Moral Monday” in North Carolina.