Evangelism, elevator speeches, and innovation
Justin Almeida’s first attempts to explain UUism to his new classmates were “a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff,” so he worked out a more formal elevator speech.
Unitarian Universalism is rooted in liberal Christianity and developed out of the reformation. It is now a pluralistic, non-creedal religion that believes truth resides in the individual as informed by experience, tradition, family, culture and history. We have seven principles which guide our congregations, all of which boil down to ‘there is one love and nobody is left behind. (What’s My Age Again?, July 9)
For Gracia Walker, simple loving presence is a form of evangelism.
I think to show love doesn’t mean you tell people where to go to church or if they should go to church. It just means you spend the time you have with them in a loving way. (Loved for Who You Are, July 9)
The Rev. Dr. David Breedon reminds us that a culture of loneliness is the context for our evangelism.
As the Beatles knew, denizens of post-industrial countries may exist in utter isolation. We often shop in anonymous supermarkets rather than bustling markets. We buy clothing off a hanger, not from the source of the craft. As Robert D. Putnam pointed out, many of us bowl alone. (Quest for Meaning, July 10)
Katy Schmidt Carpman notices that many programs that support innovation are cropping up within UUism.
It’s a ripe time for innovation.
What’s your big idea?
How will you change the world? (Remembering Attention, July 3)
While shopping in Target, Colleen Thoelle has a flash of insight about accepting the person she is right now, letting go of regrets and fantasies about the past.
Should the goal be to not go back and dig up but to walk forward and look straight ahead? Should I leave “her” behind me and just be who I am right now? What in the hell is wrong with who you are right now?
Bam! Lightbulb. (Adventures of the Family Pants, July 10)
During a stressful summer of “mothering from afar,” Jordinn Nelson Long also struggles with the question of doing and being “enough.”
My faith tells me there is no hell, but amazingly, that doesn’t touch the fear of damnation here, on this earth.
Not by others. . . .
What I’m afraid of is bigger and deeper, a theological matter for our time. The final judge will be the limits of each 24 hour day and the reality of opportunity cost and the truth that to love is on some level to leave your heart lying helpless. (Raising Faith, July 4)
Religious freedom, religious bullying
The Rev. Marti Keller, responding to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, writes that “We need to find ways to talk about the ripples of oppression and harm that may inevitably stem from this ill-considered verdict while not losing focus on the women in this country who were originally targeted.” (Leaping from Our Spheres, July 10)
After a thorough examination of the court’s decision, Doug Muder concludes that Pandora’s box is open.
[Any] clever person can find a link of some sort between whatever they don’t want to do and the commission of some act they consider immoral by someone else. Alito is encouraging Christians to develop hyper-sensitive consciences that will then allow them to control or mistreat others in the name of religious liberty. . . .
I focus on Christians here for a very good reason: Given that this principle will produce complete anarchy if generally applied, it won’t be generally applied. (The Weekly Sift, July 7)
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern wants Unitarian Universalists to work for a more substantive conversation about abortion.
We wish to talk with others who struggle with these issues, not in order to concede to intolerable positions nor make peace with every opponent, but because they matter to us, and it is the duty both of a government and a civilization to grapple honestly with such questions. (Sermons in Stones, July 3)
John Beckett believes Americans too often confuse religious freedom and religious bullying.
Religious freedom means you are free to believe, worship, and practice as you see fit. It means you are free to advocate for your religion in the public square. It means you are free to live your life by your values and to encourage others to do the same.
It does not mean you are free to coerce others to believe, practice, or behave as you would prefer, nor does it mean you are free to ignore your obligations to our wider society.
That’s not freedom. That’s bullying. (Under the Ancient Oaks, July 3)
Sweetness and love
The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg reflects on this year’s General Assembly theme.
Perhaps the biggest take away for me from General Assembly was the emphasis that “Love Reaches Out” means partnering to create social change with those whom you may in many ways differ from politically or theologically. (Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism, July 8)
The Rev. Scott Wells objects to overly sentimental views of Universalism.
In the last generation, I’ve seen a revolting amount of ecclesiastic “mansplaining”: condescending depictions of Universalism, out of a Unitarian lens, to re-cast my tradition as something sweet, loving, emotive, poor, rural and homey. The whole thing reeks of Victorian sexual politics. (Boy in the Bands, July 6)