Thirty days of love, reasons for blogging, squash plants, and more

Thirty Days of Love

Many UU bloggers are responding to the Standing on the Side of Love “Thirty Days of Love” campaign.

Alex Kapitan answers the campaign’s first question, “Why are we trying to be multicultural?”

Because I want to be in authentic, deep relationship with the world, with myself, and with the people around me. These glasses I was given put up a barrier, teaching that black and white is simpler and more ordered and thus more safe than the brilliant, chaotic colors of reality. Until I can fully cast these glasses aside, I can’t be truly present. I can’t be truly connected. And I need that connection. I need to be awake to the real, vivid colors in the world or a piece of me will die. (Roots Grow the Tree, January 18)

The blogger who writes at My Thankful Boy explores the Thirty Days of Love with her son.

B and I read a blog about rewriting history to reflect the experiences of all people. The author, Dayna Edwards, reflected on being a white woman, with all of her white privilege, married to an Afro-Caribbean man, raising their two daughters to be black women. This struck home for B, because one of his favorite cousins has a white mother and a black father, and his skin is dark enough that he is more likely to be identified by others as black, no matter how he self-identifies. It gave us the opportunity to talk about white privilege in the “simple” terms of not having your intentions questioned when you’re white and having them regularly questioned when you’re black. (My Thankful Boy, January 21)

Kimberley Debus reads a classic passage from the Christian scriptures with an eye for connections between love and the work of justice.

No matter what else is going on, it’s all about love. Love is where we begin—whether it is with each other, with the Divine (however we define it), with our families, our communities, or our world. Without love, anything we do is half a loaf. It’s ineffective. It’s uninspiring. It can cause bitterness. (Notes from the Far Fringe, January 18)

Debus also hosts a Thirty Days of Love blog-a-thon.

Sometimes love is complicated

Theresa Ines Soto writes that “love means it’s time to kill your darlings.”

Unitarian Universalism has a darling in the Standing on the Side of Love campaign name. . . .  Standing on the Side of Love is great, unless you don’t stand, unless you use a wheelchair, or a scooter or other varying mobility device as a way of getting around and being in the world.

It’s for Love that we can kill our darling, to give space for something new to arise. For example, Living on the Side of Love is alliterative and would allow for a plant or vine to be added to the current logo. (Inexplicable Beauty, January 20)

For the Rev. Sean Dennison, recent discord made the UUA feel like an unwelcoming place.

During the Thirty Days of Love, we’re studying up on multiculturalism, but is our beloved community truly welcoming to all? And if it is not, are we willing to change? Next time someone asks us to look at our words and consider that they might not be as loving as we thought, how will we respond? Will we accuse them of being the problem and dismiss them as silly? Will we tell them we’re too busy doing the real work of justice to be bothered?

Is that what we mean by Love? (Ministrare, January 20)

The Rev. James Ford writes a love song for the complexity of human nature, when a friend reports from India about fending off a pickpocket in the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment.

Here we are, human beings, hairless apes with a penchant for the violent and astonishingly self-serving. And, at the same time, just a little space from the angels, our own dreaming of human possibility. So, here we are, smelly, noisy, grasping, and sweet, and kind, and generous even unto death.

For me, as I read Tom’s words, I felt my heart swell with the song of humanity, the low and the high, and within it the great reconciliation. All one. (Monkey Mind, January 22)

Why blog?

The Rev. Scott Wells has decided that blogging is the best way for him to have an impact on and for Unitarian Universalism.

It’s far more effective to blog your little bit, and hope that it’s effective in some small way, then to be lost in bureaucratic committees. I read the agenda and minutes of the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees with a mixture of sadness and pity. So much work, so much responsibility, so much process, so little return.

Blogging, and by extension, shared or distributed, self-initiated online work seem to be better use of my little time. (Boy in the Bands, January 20)

For Adrian Hilliard, blogging is an opportunity to explore what he thinks, and to engage in conversation with other Unitarian Universalists.

When it comes to expressing my thoughts on profound, complex topics, I find that it is usually easier to get to the crux of things if I take the time to write it out. . . .

I really miss the community of Unitarian Universalists that existed on Beliefnet ten or fifteen years ago. . . . I’ve learned that one of the ways I might in some small part re-create that era today is for me to follow other people’s blogs and engage with them there. (UUXMNR, January 20)

Jacqueline Wolven celebrates eight years of blogging by sharing the reasons why she blogs—and by hosting a series of posts by guest bloggers about their blogging process. (Jacqueline Wolven, January 16 and 21)

Surviving and thriving in seminary

Jordinn Nelson Long and a few of her fellow seminarians had fun writing a flippant advice column to would-be seminarians; now they have written a follow-up post with more serious advice.

Take care of your primary relationships. Your partner (and other family members) are in for a wild ride in the formation process—one they didn’t ask for and may not even fully understand or support. Further, seminary, and the changes you will experience as a result, will affect the dynamics of even the healthiest relationships.

When you’ve had all the New Testament you can take, or you have to pay your tuition bill, or miss another weekend at home, or find a shoulder to cry on, you’re going to want the support of those closest to you. Feed those relationships now, particularly if you have some work to do around healthy communication patterns. (Raising Faith, January 18)

Claire, a Meadville Lombard seminarian, sums up her experience of this year’s January intensive: “Lots of joy, lots of work, a fair amount of meltdown.” (Sand Hill Diary, January 16)

Squash plants, pledge drives, and hidden UUs

The Rev. Tom Schade reviews the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum’s recent guest sermon, delivered at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, entitled, “Spread Like the Squash Plant.”

Our churches and congregations cannot hope to grow like maples, but have to learn to grow like squash plants. It will be hard because our investment has been in buildings and stand-alone staffs, which are the thick woody trunks of trees, not the creeping tendrils of a squash plant. (The Lively Tradition, January 20)

Kari Kopnick, after a year of sleeping in on Sunday mornings, returns to church with renewed energy—even for leading the pledge drive.

I love church. I cry during joys and sorrows and I take notes so I can send cards to people who need a nice note in the mail. And I volunteered to teach the middle school sexuality class, because my family owed the universe a turn teaching and I love that so much except when it makes me want to cry, but I still love it, it’s just hard but then the hard things are the ones worth doing, of course. And I have a part of the church that is mine to keep clean which involves lugging a vacuum cleaner up stairs, and I do a shift cleaning up after coffee every other month. My favorite place in the whole church is the kitchen, so that’s a happy thing. Well and the congregation turned 50, so I wanted to be a part of making that year-long party happen, of course–that’s not even work, that’s just fun. There ya go, meaning, connections, fun. All good.

But then the president asked me to lead the pledge drive. (Chalice Spark, January 23)

Rebecca Brinson writes a corrective to the problem of UU reticence, sharing an overview of UU history and this summary of UU belief:

When I was a kid and people would ask me what Unitarian Universalists believed, I just took to saying that, to me, it felt more like a club than a religion. You can be UU and also identify as Buddhist, Wiccan, Christian, whatever. Play on, player. The church isn’t creed-based and doesn’t dictate what you can believe about God, the afterlife, whether pigs are unclean, etc., as long as you are actively working to not be a dick and you generally adhere to seven basic principles. (The Toast, January 21)