Water, water everywhere
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum writes about the water crisis in Detroit.
If you scratch below the surface of the call for individual responsibility in this case, it’s easy to see a level of demonization below it, and that demonization has some ugly, racist roots. This water issue isn’t really about self-reliance, it’s about “othering” the people of Detroit, about race, and about class. It’s about making the most basic human need into us-vs.-them. (The Lively Tradition, July 23)
Circle round for freedom
This past Sunday, anti-abortion protesters disrupted the worship service at First UU Church of New Orleans; the Rev. Deanna Vandiver, who was preaching that morning, shares a first-hand perspective on the congregation’s response.
Beloveds, I have never been prouder of my faith community. The youth led the way in circling the congregation together, forming a ring around the sanctuary and singing sustaining songs. Soon it became clear who was choosing to be beloved community and who was trying to destroy it. (Quest for Meaning, July 22)
Bart Frost, the congregation’s DRE, tells how he experienced the incident—and how he calmed his nerves afterward.
I spent the rest of the afternoon as I normally spend my Sunday afternoons, listening to music, writing and reading. The music leaned a little more towards punk sometimes, and Unitarian Universalist hymns at others. I reminded myself that there is good in this world, as I savored the sweetness of ice cream, good that is more powerful than hate and bitterness. (Vive Le Flame, July 22)
The Rev. Krista Taves suggests that other UU congregations can learn from this, and be prepared.
Most of our churches will never face this kind of sacred violation, thank the spirit, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. In fact, given the increasing legal challenges to reproductive justice, and the fact that many Unitarian Universalist leaders are publicly active in the women’s reproductive justice movement, we need to be ready. (And the stones shall cry, July 22)
For the Rev. Marie DeYoung, calling this “religious terrorism” is inflammatory language.
There is no question that the behavior of Operation Save America was outrageous, disrespectful, and a harassing form of public speech.
But, while their behavior as described most certainly was disruptive, it clearly was NOT terroristic. We should not inflate the meaning of fundamentalist intruders’ pesky drama to a level that only improves their odds of achieving media celebrity. (About Our Inherent Worth, July 24)
The Rev. Scott Wells remembers a colleague, the Rev. Jennifer Slade, who died last week of an apparent suicide.
I want to express my sympathy to her family, and to her congregations. I am praying for you and her, and for others—including a number of ministers—shaken and feeling vulnerable by her death. (Boy in the Bands, July 19)
For the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein, this tragedy renews her commitment to reach out for help, and to ask her colleagues “Are you OK?”
The work of religious leadership is especially demanding in this time of closing churches and anxious laity. . . . We are “making it up as we go along” in a way that previous generations of ministers may be able to relate to culturally or theologically or organizationally, but not institutionally to this extent. The pressure is fierce. This is to say nothing of other life stresses of health, finance, family, community. (Beauty Tips for Ministers, July 18)
Lessons written in stone
Faced with a vocational setback, Claire Curole gets reacquainted with her rock collection, and relearns needed lessons.
I am being slowly reminded of things I used to know—the complex relationship between purity and perfection and beauty and fragility, how the things which are most interesting are not always the strongest or most flawless—and how those which are strong or flawless are not always the most interesting or beautiful. If I can learn from these stones the admiration of complexity, of fragility, of quirky individuality then perhaps I will eventually learn to apply these lessons more broadly.
The other thing of which I have been reminded is that, given enough time and the proper conditions, even shattered stones can mend, become whole—not that which they were, not exactly, but something more, something different. (The Sand Hill Diary, July 21)
Tim Atkins remembers a similar lesson about imperfection—from his days as a geology student.
One of the early lessons I learned in my first geology course? How minerals get their color. The answer surprised me then, and it gives me hope today. It’s the flaws—the impurities.
Impurities are what make rubies red. Flaws are what make emeralds green. And flaws are what make each of us beautiful, too. (Loved for Who You Are, July 21)
Faith and belief
For Andrew Hidas, skepticism began in childhood.
Believing in a heaven where my mother was denied entrance required suspension of every shred of rationality and native reason my mere 8-year-old brain was already manifesting. I would have had to take it “on faith,” but that was so absurd and impossible given the reality of my actual mom and her actual great big heart that faith didn’t stand a chance.
Notably, anything that has required similar “faith” on my part hasn’t fared too well since. (Traversing, July 21)
The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg answers the question, “Why Unitarianism?”
Although there are certainly many other vital religious traditions in our world, at least for me, Unitarian Universalism is the path that I have found the most helpful for navigating a 21st-century world in which we humans have been radically de-centered from the exalted position some of our ancestors believed that we held. (Pragmatism, Progressivism, Pluralism, July 24)
The Rev. Dr. David Breeden considers falling church attendance.
People today are looking for connection and service. They want to gather together and heal our broken world. The don’t want the same ‘ol same ‘ol.
The building is burning. Even those who remain Christian are fleeing. And those who wish to explore other paths?
Well, I can send you the address of my church . . . (Quest for Meaning, July 24)