A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism, collected by uuworld.org. Find more UU blogs at UUpdates. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Interdependent Web does not usually cover “institutional” blogs and social media, but this week we will highlight recent posts in several official UUA communications streams.
Kara Marler says lots of adults think she has “potential.”
Potential are the forces you have yet to believe in
We are not potential
We are a force that someone believes in (Blue Boat of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, September 24)
Kara Rocks the Pulpit from UUAYaYA on Vimeo.
Gail Forsyth-Vail says teaching about Ferguson is not “optional” for white people.
What if talking about race was akin to talking about sexuality? Difficult, yes, but integral to good parenting? What if white people wanted their kids to be not just sexually healthy, but also racially healthy, able to meet, engage, and negotiate complex conversations, relationships, and situations by drawing on a well-formed racial identity based on good information, liberal religious values, and a strong sense of justice? What if white parents believed it was just as important for children to speak for racial justice as it is for them to believe in and speak for the integrity of their own body and sexuality? (Call and Response: Journeys in UU Lifespan Faith Development, September 30)
Standing on the Side of Love is committed to getting out the vote and shares a guest post from Sister Simone Campbell and the “Nuns on the Bus.”
Our shiny new bus is emblazoned with the words “We the People, We the Voters” because our trip is focused on how we, the community of voters, have the power to come together and make things right. It’s all about democracy. (Standing on the Side of Love, September 29)
The UU-UNO Office brought together a variety of voices to reflect on the People’s Climate March.
We all saw the humanity in one another, we were connected spiritually and emotionally, and we moved as one strong body. The UU-UNO participated in the march held in New York City and thanks to screens set-up throughout the march we were able to see marches in other countries. Many international participants in the NYC march wore the flag of their country proudly. Humans working in solidarity around the world as global citizens and participants of this movement. —Kamila Jacob, Envoy Coordinator (UUA International, September 26)
The Church of the Larger Fellowship’s weekly talk show, The VUU, has UU World contributing editor Doug Muder as a guest this week, talking about the Tea Party and the “Confederate Party.”
Beacon Press author Susan Katz Miller has advice for interfaith families during the Jewish High Holy Days.
1. Pick one. Even if you are going to practice only, or primarily, one religion in the home, your family will benefit from finding a progressive house of worship that welcomes you as an interfaith family. Many churches welcome interfaith families, though few have programs specifically for us. (Beacon Broadside, October 3)
Beacon Press also has an active Twitter account, and announces monthly “UU Reads,” such as October’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.
Skinner House Books uses Tumblr to assemble UU-related and book-related posts, such as this graphic from the UU Media Collective (which WordPress doesn’t reduce at all nicely; do click through to see the full-size version!).
Growing Unitarian Universalism
Tandi Rogers bids farewell to InterConnections and thanks our colleague Don Skinner.
One of the themes of InterConnections has been the power of one person to change a congregation. For good or ill. One person can plant an idea and then gather support for it. One person can encourage someone else. (Growing Unitarian Universalism, September 16)
Mark Bernstein thinks leaders should “go with the flow.”
The more leaders see their tasks as interesting, enjoyable, and meaningful, the harder and longer they work on the task and the better they will perform at it. (Growing Vital Leaders: Ideas, Tips and Tools on Leadership Formation, September 26)
For the Rev. Elizabeth Curtiss and her wife, living with a progressive illness is like living in the shadow of a volcano.
When I wrote fondly last week about my joy at playing house, did I mention that it sits on a volcano? Like all volcanoes, this one troubles and frightens in various ways, but not all the time, and not in any pattern. Maybe it’s more like living near several volcanoes, each with its own separate pattern. You might have seen one of those documentaries about the various Iceland volcanoes. One blows straight up in the air, one kind of seeps, another threatens to spew forth enough heat to bury the nearby towns and farms with mud from rapid melting of its usually beautiful glacier. . . .
The name of our volcano is Huntington’s Disease. It lives in my wife like a parasite, often resting, but always on the lookout for some way to kidnap her body and turn it against us. (Politywonk, September 20)
The Rev. Robin Tanner and her partner have a covenant that has helped them through the first stages of new parenthood.
If things got tough . . . and one of us was short-tempered with the other one, or said something unkind, then we would apologize, forgive and MOVE ON. . . .
In that first 48 hours home when the twins cried again within 30 minutes of their last feeding and my beloved slept peacefully through it, I said something best not put into print. The next morning as we huddled over our coffee I looked up and said, “I am sorry for what I said.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” she responded. (Piedmont Preacher, September 22)
All in this together
Claire Curole reports from the People’s Climate March in New York City, where she was unable to join the main group of UUs due to a traffic jam.
I would have liked to be part of the interfaith block, gathered with the other UU’s. I know that some folks from our bus did get there – I saw the pictures later. But what did happen was also delightful and very appropriate – we are everywhere, threading our way through all kinds of things, making connections in unexpected places to work for the greater common good.
Which was, after all, the core message of the Climate March.
We are indeed all in this together. (The Sandhill Diary, September 23)
Hindu UU Ricky Cintron struggles with the Hindu community’s reaction to violent hate crimes.
I do not want your apathetic philosophical diatribes about how I don’t need to march in a pride parade. I do not want your lectures with quotes from scriptures and purports about how sex and gender are material characteristics. . . . What I want, what I need, what my community needs is your compassion and your commitment. What we want to hear is, “I’m sorry this is happening to you and I will do whatever I can to support you, because we are all equal in God’s eyes.” (Jñana-Dipena, September 25)
The Rev. Susan Maginn wonders about what to do with privilege after Ferguson.
It seems a disturbing truth that caring people of privilege like to save non-privileged people. We like the feeling of doing good in the world. We like to be the hero. There could be worse flaws. But here’s what we need to learn: when we put on our shiny superhero costume, we can do real harm. We can disempower people and do so sadly in the name of empowerment. . . .
We need to humbly stay on the sidelines this time, but that does not mean that we need to be ashamed of our privilege and our ignorance and disappear. There is a role for those of us who are privileged, but it is not a starring role. We work hard behind the scenes, not on the stage. We remain in the wings so that those voices with far more wisdom and far less power can be heard loud and clear. (Quest for Meaning, September 23)
Margaret Sequeira grew up in a family that disparaged “welfare queens;” now that she’s known her share of financial stress, she encourages us to ban the word “lazy.”
We must stop judging people by the size of their bank accounts, or lack thereof. We must stop assuming that if you are struggling financially you are more likely to commit crime or try to rip someone off. Shaming people never gets them motivated to do better. Shaming people makes sure they hide even deeper in their shell, keeping their head down and just doing their very best to get through from day to day. Shame strips hope, strips dream, strips motivation. All our punishing of the poor only drives people deeper into despair, deeper into hopelessness and deeper into poverty. (Scattered Revelations, September 23)
The Rev. Tom Schade passes along Tom Hayden’s thoughts on why social movements seem ineffective. (The Lively Tradition, September 21)
A side of racism
When her family is treated differently by a restaurant hostess than the African-American man in line behind her, the Rev. Megan Lloyd Joyner wonders how to respond.
We debated leaving. We debated saying something. But I didn’t know what to say, and I am not sure yet what I would have or should have said. I regret, though, not saying something.
I wonder how many people have received a similar unwelcoming “welcome” on a Sunday morning at church. No matter how hospitable we may want to be, it is quite possible that we may greet visitors and long-time members alike with unintentional micro-aggressions. (Quest for Meaning, September 22)
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern misreads a bumper sticker—”IMAM AZIZ MUHAMMAD HIGH SCHOOL. Home of the Jihadis.” Click here to find out what it really said! (Sermons in Stones, September 22)
Uses of power
The Rev. Meg Riley finds her thoughts focused on “the use of power by authority figures, and how that leads to trust or to brokenness.”
Authority figures have a choice—trust people and set reasonable limits to make the world work for everyone, or create a world of fear and rules and punishment. A TSA world. A world where everyone, known or unknown, is not to be trusted and every student is secretly wanting to wield a weapon. (HuffPo Religion, September 23)
The Rev. Dan Harper revisits “the mess at Starr King,” specifically looking at the ethics of securing electronic communications, the training of new ministers, and the future of Starr King.
[F]rom an ethical standpoint, the SKSM leadership should accept blame for the release of sensitive information, and they should publicly apologize to all three candidates for the SKSM presidency, staff, students, and anyone else affected by the poor security protocols.
. . . . If SKSM leadership works hard at it, my guess is that this mess will take two to five years to clean up—if it is addressed openly and non-defensively, and right now there’s not much evidence of openness or non-defensiveness at SKSM. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, September 25)
Protecting half the children
Liz James is outraged by health policy that only offers the HPV vaccine—which prevents cancer—to young girls, and not to young boys.
“Why aren’t we vaccinating the boys?” I asked, when my son was a baby.
“If the girls are all vaccinated,” replied the public health lady patiently, “then it can’t spread.”
I’m sorry, whaaaaat????
. . . .We discovered how to prevent a horrible disease and then used that knowledge to protect only half of the children. (Rebel with a Labelmaker, September 17)
Witness on wheels
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum writes that this past General Assembly “missed the mark” for people using wheelchairs and scooters—particularly the Waterfire witness event.
In the end, it just really wasn’t an accessible event. . . . I think it would be more honest for the GA planners to say, “This big cornerstone event of GA just isn’t accessible,” and then for our gathered assembly to wrestle with the honest emotions of what it means to have a major part of GA that all of us don’t have access to. I think we could learn something from that exercise. . . . .
I’m hoping for the GA Planning Committee to learn that choosing a location and events so inaccessible isn’t simply “a necessary trade-off,” it’s an act of oppression. And I’m hoping that for future GAs, we can show real improvement both through stronger planning and through educating our attendees further. (Rev. Cyn, September 12)
The Rev. James Ford calls us to the “ordinary heroism” of a committed spiritual life.
An authentic spiritual life is not all beer and skittles. It takes discipline and perseverance. It is definitely counter-cultural, as it demands a constant presence in a culture that is pretty much all about distraction.
A genuine spiritual life is heroic in the sense of those qualities of nobility and perseverance that move us out of the ordinary. And yet, at the very same time, it is something accessible to all of us. Sort of an ordinary heroism. (Monkey Mind, September 16)
The Rev. Theresa Novak writes about spiritual earthquakes that leave us questioning everything.
Sometimes . . .
Beneath you moves
With such sudden violence
It knocks you down
Upon your knees
Around you falls
Shatters in an instant
Your foundation cracked
The ideas you have hung
So carefully on your wall
In ruins on the floor
With the everyday plates,
And holiday platters. (Sermons, Poems, and other Musings, September 18)
The Awakened Introvert is officially religiously unaffiliated, after a long connection to Unitarian Universalism.
I’ve finally reached the point where I am ready to step away from institutional religion completely. . . .
I consider myself a feminist spiritual contemplative naturalist. It’s more accurate, but much more of a mouthful to say, and much less able to fit into society’s boxes. I’m ready to own the process of my spiritual life and growth apart from anyone’s boxes.
So I sent a letter to my minister, gently extricating myself from church membership. I’m on my own now. I’m none of the above. I’m a solitary. A solitary what, I’m not sure. But I am a solitary. And I am gloriously, fabulously, joyfully, ecstatically happy. (The Awakened Introvert, September 18)
Motivations toward ministry
The Rev. Tom Schade begins a series of posts examining motivations for ministry.
Ministers often talk about their “call,” the time that they became conscious of the deep motivations which led them to the ministry. You have to recognize that the phrase, “the call” is theologically loaded. It remembers the call stories in the Bible, in which God calls people into His service. But people who are not into that concept of God still have deep motivations toward the ministry, and further, can often recall moments when they became aware of them: an experience which could be named a “call.” (The Lively Tradition, September 14)
The Rev. Cynthia Cain has scaled back her big, beginning dreams for ministry, and found a satisfying sense of purpose.
Twenty years ago, upon entering the ministry, I thought my purpose was to be a stellar UU minister, to do amazing social justice work, to help eliminate racism, to end child abuse . . . I had so many dreams! I had to scale back my big ideas one after one. I’m satisfied now with the work I’ve done, and I’m at a turning point as I enter a new decade and a new form of ministry. Now I’m a little more willing to let my purpose find me, and to be willing to listen when it does. (A Jersey Girl in Kentucky, September 18)
The Rev. Diane Dowgiert has suggestions for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Call on the better angels of your owners, managers, coaches, and players that they may be leaders in bringing an end to the abuse of women and children in their most intimate relationships. (Transforming Times, September 17)
The Rev. Kate Lore blogs while riding the Climate Train.
There are many little things we can do to slow global warming. Skipping meat one day a week, for example, can reduce your carbon footprint by as much as not driving your car for an entire month. Using high efficiency appliances and vehicles can also help. But these small and important acts are not enough to counter the rising temperature of our planet. We need to engage entire nations in this work. They, in turn, can write the regulations we need to significantly lower CO2 emissions. (Rev. Lore Blog, September 17) [UU World has a selection of Lore's social media reports from the train.]
The Rev. Elizabeth Stevens urges members of her congregation to “march for survival.”
[Many] of us . . . feel disempowered by a political system where key players on all sides are in bed with big oil. It’s sort of like being on an out of control train, heading toward a deep ravine with no bridge. We know disaster is coming. We don’t know what to do to stop it.
Or at least . . . we didn’t know. Next week, world leaders are meeting at the United Nations for a Climate Summit. These are the folks who have the power to put on the brakes! In advance of the summit . . . . demonstrations are planned around the world. . . . This is the moment when our bodies, our participation in these events, can make a difference. (revehstevens, September 19)