Convincing ourselves first, ironic racism, the gift of laughter, and more

Convincing ourselves first

The Rev. Tom Schade writes that UUs need—right now—to stop worrying about what’s wrong with Unitarian Universalism.

We have to tell people what we know; our testimony of reality: that the path to health and healing and planetary salvation is each of us living with reverence and awe, honesty, humility, gratitude and generosity, openness, solidarity and self-possession, in communities of justice and faith.

We will not convince the world until we convince ourselves. (the lively tradition, March 28)

The Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford shares the testimony she wishes she’d shared with a woman she met in Starbucks.

Unitarian Universalism says that I—even on my bad days—am worthy to be treated with respect and dignity. And it teaches me that I have both the capability and the responsibility to determine and define my own creed by which I will live. (Boots and Blessings, March 29)

The Rev. Gretchen Haley offers a very thorough “How to Write Your Unitarian Universalist Testimony.” (Another Possibility, March 29)

Robin Slaw and S. Braswell of Central Unitarian Church in Paramus, New Jersey, created this graphic about Unitarian Universalism.

UU hand

Kelly Bresnahan Doherty’s eight-year-old daughter has only one thing that she wishes were different about her UU congregation.

I wish it wasn’t in the woods. It’s kind of hiding and if we were right next to the road more people would know about us and more people would come because I bet a lot of people actually think that it is okay to believe whatever you want and just be a good person. (Excitement on the Side, March 28)

Critiquing ironic racism

Christine Slocum writes an overview of the racial politics behind #CancelColbert, and then, in another post, looks more closely at racism and white people.

Suey Park, [who called] for the cancellation of the Colbert Report . . . . simply provided the theatre for racial rhetoric to play out. She simply provided the stage for us to see examples of how white people, broadly speaking, do not understand racism. (Many Words, April 2)

For Shawna Foster, ironic racism is still racism.

People want to be Colbert. They want to be ironically racist. Cue the kids from my generation using the n*word casually, wearing head dresses made of feathers, and engaging in whatever stereotype they felt like because: yea, it’s wrong. I’m raising awareness, yo, that this is racist, by being racist. (Enterprise, April 1)

Practical advice for getting along

The Rev. Tom Schade suggests one thing every congregation could do to grow: stop making their preacher nervous.

Unitarian Universalism needs wise, brave, forthright, prophetic, perceptive, and provocative preaching on a wide variety of subjects. Above all, preaching needs to interesting and memorable.

Does your congregation encourage great and brave preaching, or does it make the minister nervous? (the lively tradition, March 31)

Jordinn Nelson Long asks herself, “What happens if I simply stop acting as a willing hostage to my anger?”

[What] if I do something else because on the whole, it feels better? What if I do something else because I recognize, even in anger, that we are both human, and this is part of what that means? What if I do something else simply because I can?

I am calling this the Happiness Option, and in practice, it can be summed up with one simple phrase: “In the Meantime, Be Nice.” (Raising Faith, March 30)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden thinks that UU congregations should be Goldilocks Zones, “Where the free exchange of ideas concerning ultimate meaning and purpose flows like life-giving water,” and offers three methods to help get us there.

Hit the pause button on being right.
Hang your inner judge and jury.
Trust everyone’s path. (Quest for Meaning, April 3)

Light and darkness, winter and spring

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern begins a daunting project—writing about the work of Ursula K. LeGuin.

LeGuin wrote the only Taoist novel I know of, The Lathe of Heaven. . . . Taoism arises in The Left Hand of Darkness, also—most explicitly in the scene from which the title is taken. . . . More broadly, the complex balance, the dance of dualities, that is of such concern to the Taoist sages is clearly one of LeGuin’s abiding concerns as well; we see it in work from Earthsea to Searoad. Still, The Lathe of Heaven engages the question most directly, not because it quotes liberally from Taoist sources (though it does, including in the title), but because it looks at it ethically: when should we act and when should we refrain from action? (Sermons in Stones, April 1)

On the cusp of spring in Maine, Claire gets stuck in “one of the vortices of personal suck.”

[It] is important to me also to acknowledge the darkness, the absence, the limitation and the bleak comprehension that we, that I, am not only incapable of solving all of the world’s problems but in fact inadequate and insufficient to solve any of the world’s problems in any achievable sense, and yet, and yet, deep down and beneath the weight of certain failure, still hope rises like the inexorable unfolding of flowering plants beneath frozen snow-covered earth. (The Sand Hill Diary, April 2)

The gift of laughter

Maybe it was the influence of April Fools’ Day, but there was an outbreak of UU silliness this week.

Carol Leonard writes about her ongoing struggle to rid herself of unwanted proselytizers.

The crowning invasion of my privacy came one day when I heard a muffled, “Help” coming from the other side of my front door. I heard it again, a little more insistent this time—“Help!” I swung the door open and there was one of the proselytizers standing stone still with my dog Florence’s teeth firmly embedded in his wrist. Every time he tried to move, Flo would growl ferociously and sink her teeth in a little firmer. I wanted to grin and say, “Good dog!” but instead, I said politely, “I already have a vacuum cleaner, thank you” and I closed the door. (Bad Beaver Tales, March 31)

The Rev. Dan Harper suggests that careful pronunciation is important when talking about adult religious education. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, April 2)

The anonymous creators of the satirical newsletter, The Beacon, published its second edition on April Fools’ Day.

And the Church of the Larger Fellowship introduced “The Squirrel Serenity Prayer.”