As Earth Day approaches, Rebecca Hecking considers an article about working through environmental grief.
I don’t know . . . how the Earth will look a hundred or a thousand years from now, but I do think it’s fair to say that biological diversity will be diminished, and long-term damage will still be very much in evidence. Those of us who care even a little bit fall somewhere along the road from denial to acceptance, although we may not experience the stages in quite such a neat linear package since the object of our grief isn’t a person who has died, but rather a planet in a state of decline (for now). (Breath and Water, April 19)
The Rev. Carl Gregg observes Earth Day by writing about Wendell Berry, “earth breathing,” climate change and interdependence.
[From] Boston to West, Texas, we’ve been reminded this past week of just how vulnerable and precious our lives are. We can’t always control what happens around us, but we can learn to have more influence over our response to people and events. And one way to do that is to remind ourselves that we are more than isolated individuals bumping into one another; we are each part of the interdependent web of all existence. (Carl Gregg, April 22)
Jessica Ferguson’s Earth Day graphic quotes the Rev. Carol Hepokoski, who says, “I used to think maybe we need to save the Earth. Now I think maybe it is Earth that is saving us.” (UU Media Collaborative Works, April 22)
I loathe not knowing the answer. I feel scared and vulnerable and very much at risk when I reach not knowing and have to confront that I do not know what comes next, what to do, how to fix what is broken or not working. But when I am with that not knowing, turning the problem over and over, seeking a new way, the fear drops away and curiosity and wonder take the lead. (The Wonderment, April 21)
I think it was something far more basic: we are visual people, and we viscerally connect with pictures of other people. Quick, think of a picture of the Boston marathon bombing. The man with half a leg missing, being pushed in a wheelchair? The 78 year old runner knocked to the ground? The police, running toward the explosion?
Now, think of a picture of the West, TX explosion. The fireball? The cloud? The stripped-out apartments?
The lack of faces defining the explosion are, actually, perhaps the saddest part. (Boots and Blessings, April 20)
UUA Trustee Linda Laskowski begins her series of posts about the April UUA Board meeting with her experience of being in Boston in the aftermath of the bombings.
Being with a group of Unitarian Universalist lay leaders and ministers was not a bad place to be this week. We shared a lot of tears, poetry and prayer. . . . (UUA View from Berkeley, April 22)
Compassion is not judgment, which makes choices and priorities. Judgment weighs and measures and reasons. Judgment, which we give to the judicial system to exercise finally, will deal firmly with Tsarnaev. It’s a whole other thing.
But at every moment, someone has your attention, and in that moment, you will be feeling some emotion: compassion, hatred, indifference, affection. Spiritual liberalism notices that if you build a habit of compassion, you will be happier, healthier, more able to love and receive love.
The world will be better, too. (the lively tradition, April 20)
Talking about the need to forgive perpetrators of heinous acts before victims’ bodies have even turned cold is premature at best, presumptuous at worst. . . .
Righteous anger or at least revulsion is an appropriate response to a horrible act. The closer your “connection” to it, the more right and perhaps necessity you have to fully experience and express such anger. Full submersion is in many ways the precursor to the healing you ultimately seek. (traversing, April 20)
Slowly but surely, the universe is evolving
toward greater freedom,
and toward tolerance.
This morning, and every morning,
may we be more aware
of the Spirit of Life
evolving in and through us,
toward deeper compassion
and firmer courage. (So May We Be, April 19)
Even when attending a meeting that is entirely centered on some item of business, we bring with us our whole lives and everything that has been going on in our lives, and that affects how we interact with each other. I know I’ve been in meetings where someone was behaving in an uncharacteristic way, only to find out later that something significant had happened to them; if we had heard about that at the start of the meeting, the rest of us might have been more understanding and our time together might have been better for all of us. (UU Fellowship of the Peninsula, April 25)
The state of technology is that everyone can be a preacher. Everyone can be a journalist. Everyone can be an advertising agency. . . . It is only by recognizing those who have the ability to shape and stimulate conversation that we can ensure that people hear our message of salvation. We don’t need to sell it, but we need to make it accessible and we need to get people talking and asking questions. (A Material Sojourn, April 25)
The Rev. Tom Schade objects to the candidates’ answers to the forum’s last question: “What can you do to make sure that those of us who are right of center still feel welcome in UU congregations?”
If the things that we religious liberals care about most deeply were held equally by both political parties, we could continue to act as though belonging to either party was just a personal preference that didn’t much matter. But that is not true, and we know it.
What religious liberals value and what contemporary political conservatism values are so in conflict that it is hard to be both. (the lively tradition, April 26)
Boston is my home. It is my birthplace. It is a city whose summers are filled with sunshine, whose winters are unpredictable, and whose people, though often characterized as cold or stubborn or unfriendly, are traditionally hard-working blue-collar folk. . . .
Today, Boston weeps and I with her. . . . I have no wisdom or wit to share with you today, I have only myself and my tears. May you remember that the good outnumber those that do evil, and forever will. (Vive le Flame, April 15)
I am sure that the speculation as to the cause will probably run the same misguided, nearsighted and probably racist ways it always does. . . . I also know the speculation and the information that will unfold will never find any blame within us. Never look to the children round the world from Pakistan to Palestine who live in fear of death coming from above in drone attacks. . . .
Do we not think they love their children too? (Spark Within, April 15)
My dear Bostonians, let yourself mourn if mourning is what you need to do. Let yourself mourn without guilt that your mourning is a ‘first world problem.’ Let yourself stand in community or solitude, whatever feeds your soul. Cry out to your God, or your gods, or simply into the stillness for an end to needless violence without worrying that you aren’t crying out for the ‘right’ things. Let yourself be grounded in resolve to work for peace and healing. Let yourself breathe. (thoughts ON, April 16)
The Rev. Tom Schade, until recently a Massachusetts resident, distills wisdom from his colleagues into a list of needed virtues.
Honesty—Humility—Gratitude—Reverence—Openness—Compassion—Self Possession. These are the needed virtues on the day after Patriots Day in Boston.
These are the virtues of liberal religion—the gospel that is needed for this time—the reminder we need to recommit ourselves to what is best, and wholesome, and holy and healthy when it is so tempting to be hateful, or vengeful, or tribal, or otherwise less than our best selves. If we can commit to these ways of being in the world, we make it possible to discern the way of Love in the present situation. (the lively tradition, April 15)
For the Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford, moving beyond rage to compassion is too much of a stretch.
There are some who already, or from the very beginning, had hearts of compassion not only for those hurt, but for the person(s) behind this. They prayed that the killer might find a way to the love ethic that they themselves feel. They felt sorrow that anyone might hurt so much they were willing to do this.
I am not so spiritually advanced. (Boots and Blessings, April 17)
When the Westboro Baptist Church threatens to picket Boston Marathon funerals, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein suggests that Bostonians “ laugh them out of town.”
Poo on the Westboro posse! If they come to town, I think we should stage a Theatre of the Absurd festival and dance around them. I think we should join them with signs and music and wonderful costumes. Someone could dress as SNL character Linda Richman and carry a sign that says, ”THE WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH IS NEITHER BAPTIST NOR A CHURCH: DISCUSS.” (PeaceBang, April 16)
Action in an age of fear
The Rev. Bill Sinkford reacts with anger and resolve to the Senate’s vote on background checks for gun purchases.
When I heard the news, I felt an anger that is rare for me. I wanted to personally confront the 46 senators and demand that they inspect their consciences, look carefully in the mirror, pray for forgiveness, and change their vote. I, too, wanted to shame them. There are mornings when my prayers begin and end in anger. Today was one of them.
There is a place in religious life for anger and for righteous indignation. . . . But the religious impulse needs to move beyond righteous indignation into a place of remembering how we hope to live and a place of commitment to that vision. (Rev. Sinkford’s Blog, April 18)
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern raises questions about divestment as a strategy for dealing with “the environmental catastrophe that is already upon us and only getting worse.”
There seems to be a groundswell for the idea that the best way to do so is to divest from fossil fuels. So I have been reading up on divestment, and finding that no one . . . has explained to me yet how this movement would further the goal of reducing fossil fuel use.
A change movement has to ask, what change are we hoping for and what’s the leverage that will bring it about? . . . The situation is too dire for symbolic gestures. We need to take real action. (Sermons in Stones, April 17)
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum offers advice to parents in an increasing violent, fearful world.
Childhood is different now, and parenting is different now. And there are a whole lot of different and acceptable responses to these circumstances. So parents, be gentle with one another. And non-parents, be gentle with us. This is new, and we’re just trying to do what’s best for our children. Trust us to be the ones who know what that is, even if you would do things differently. (Rev. Cyn, April 18)
By the Twentieth century [the Unitarian and Universalist] styles emerged as a naturalistic religion, concerned with life in this world. For a while it would be closely identified with humanism, but unlike organized humanism Unitarian Universalism felt no need to disassociate itself from the family of religions. However this religion was a radical departure from the Abrahamic faiths. Through its own evolution a religion emerged that more closely resembles the traditions of ancient China, Confucianism and particularly Taoism than any of the other Western traditions. (Monkey Mind, April 13)
We all have a past. All of us have things in our past that hurt when we are reminded of them and words are great reminders. The challenge is to let go of what we were taught so many years ago and to rethink, to question what those words really mean and to find the good within their meaning. . . . Keep examining those words that give you pause. The unexamined word is not worth hating. (Lack of a Clever Title, April 15)
Spring is a time of dawning light, new life, new birth, and new hope—a time of warmth, exuberance, dancing, and blossoming. And if spring is your favorite season, the most natural corresponding spiritual practices might be artistic, creative endeavors—or if metaphorically you are in a springtime season of your life. (Carl Gregg, April 14)
The storytelling, mutual discernment, and relationship building that are woven into the process of organizing reflect the basic Unitarian Universalist conceptions of covenantal relationship, democratic process, and interdependence.
Organizing is also effective. Unitarian Universalism believes that a life of faith calls us to move beyond bearing witness into concrete action. (UU Planet, April 18)
There was a time when I’d have been very interested, but no more. It was great for lots of people, but I’m just not there anymore. I want to see my friends and be a part of a community who cares about one another and does a little good on the planet. That’s enough. (Chalice Spark, April 11)
Interestingly, the hardest thing is getting people to agree we don’t all think the same things somewhere deep down. For the majority people in our crowd I think it is a gentle imperialism, claiming the other is really just us. Much better than its ugly cousin, the other is unclean and needs to be expunged, read killed, but ultimately just as wrong headed. (Monkey Mind, April 11)
What I’d tell interfaith couples getting cold feet . . . is that marrying out was the leap of faith I needed to cure my cultural myopia and well worth the risk.
Love is never all you need. It is enough to give your mixed marriage a chance to bloom. (Carl Gregg, April 10)
An interreligious course at Hartford Seminary gives Karen Johnston an opportunity to learn more about Jonah, the reluctant Biblical prophet, and to talk with the Rev. Chris Antal, whose prophetic words earned him an early return from service as a military chaplain in Afghanistan.
Imagine that you are connected to the war’s devastation, that you are connected to the military, that you are connected to this war’s legacy—because you are. Because I am. Because we all are. Remember that interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part? That web is this: our culpability; this confession, aspirationally collective. (irrevspeckay, April 11)
The complexity of support
When Mandie McGlynn became an LGBTQ ally, she didn’t have a personal reason for doing so; she does now that her child self-identifies as a “girlboy.”
When you speak, or even think, about gay men or transgender women, there is every possibility that you are speaking of the hopeful future of this sweet little person in my lap. . . .
If my son grows up to be my daughter, or if my little boy grows up to be a man who loves men, will you think less of him, of me? Will you try to change his beautiful heart? (Mandie McGlynn’s Blog, April 10)
Religion may actually be falling, with the Church and its people holding the power to influence which way it falls. May we have the courage to help the sacred tree stand tall, or at least, help it lean away from rigid, divisive animosity and in the direction of relevant, spiritual sustenance. (HuffPost Religion, April 10)
We must construct the beloved community, and, having built it, we must dedicate ourselves to its care and feeding. We must know and value our freedom, and the individualism that demands it—and, holding that freedom, we must nonetheless choose “we” over “me.” And friends, building a “we” is going to start, end, and move forward by truly learning to listen to one another. (Raising Faith, April 11)
For the Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle, the key to Unitarian Universalism’s future is that we “need to let go of rejectionism as a primary value.”
[Modern] UUs are better able to articulate what they aren’t and what they don’t believe, than what they are and do believe. This has been true for far too long. (Godzone Preacher, April 11)
The Rev. Andy Burnette hopes that “we will continue to grow into a faith tradition which can keep a level head and refuse to throw out baby Jesus with the baptismal water.”
Like teenagers rebelling against Mother Church, we Unitarian Universalists sometimes are emotionally reactive to the faith tradition which gave birth to our movement. . . .
Don’t get me wrong. . . . I have seen the body of Jesus dragged into debates ranging from birth control to gun rights to whose football team will win the Super Bowl. . . . But when we disregard what Jesus said simply because it has been abused, we react out of emotion rather than logic. (Just Wondering, April 11)
If there are logistical or funding problems with LREDA’s programs or camp for younger children, I hope the GA Planning Committee will say so. If LREDA’s proposed speaker wasn’t good and the committee wants them to suggest someone better, I hope they’ll say so. Taking away these programs without explanation or comment tells us that children don’t count. And in ten years, we will be wondering why those teenagers are drifting away. (Sermons in Stones, April 11)
Following his “cranky-snarky post” about the UUA Board’s recent survey, the Rev. Dan Harper makes a list of some of the UUA people whose work he appreciates; he encourages others to add their own favorites in the comments. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, April 5)
Jess Cullinan created this graphic with feedback from the UU Media Collaborative, incorporating the Rev. Victoria Safford’s call to action in a messy, wonderful world.