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The neverending carnival

5 February 2006 at 07:27
Awhile ago, I surmised that it might be cool if the UU bloggers started a "blog carnival" a la the carnival of feminists. Every two weeks, a different member of the UU blogger community would collect up links to all of the most interesting posts.

Well, this is a more permanent version of that. I'd really like this to be one of the places where we send new people who find our blogs and ask about UUism. I'd like the UU bloggers to get to the point where when they write a post that they think it particularly good, they send it over here right away.

So send me some posts already!


The Socinian talks about UUism's potential

9 February 2006 at 11:30
Scott Wells over at Boy in the Bands started a lively conversation about whether authentic Universalist and Unitarian beliefs no longer have a home within the UUA. In the course of that conversation, visitor Kim asked what it is that UU Christians want in a UU church, considering that (in her experience) many UU churches don't like to talk about theology. It's a great question that I tried to answer over there, but I'm not sure if Scott's blog host accepted my post, and in any event I think it also deserves its own stand-alone thread. Here's my answer again, slightly edited.

read the rest

Chalicechick talks about UUism's good news

9 February 2006 at 11:32
(Caveats: Professionally, I am a party planner. I wrote this one a one-hour lunch break while shoveling down two day old pasta salad. Be kind. )

To me, the good news of UUism is that we are a voice of integrity of the mind and spirit in a world where integrity of any sort is talked about a lot more than it is practiced. To be a UU is to live an examined life.

I said things like β€œI believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting” for years without thinking through what those words meant...

Read the rest

CUUMBAYA on what Joel loves about UUism

12 February 2006 at 22:34
Those who remember my many forum posts and debates may well have gotten the impression that I have problems with UU. Well, it’s way past time to correct that impression. Fact is I do have problems with the UUA- but I love UU. To explain why, I must discuss what a religion is...

Click here to

Chutney on the vocabulary of reverence

15 February 2006 at 06:47
I see a three part process to renewing any β€œvocabulary of reverence.” Three parts, but not three steps. Any point of the process is a legitimate starting point. Any point of the process is a legitimate ending point (if it’s fair to say you can finish this process.) There will be false starts and double-backs, to be sure. At times we may even need to work on more than one part of the process at the same time.

Read the rest...


18 January 2010 at 10:18

This blog is intended to be a neutral ground where all can discuss their issues with the Unitarian Universalist Association and its member congregations. It is also a place where those criticisms can be answered and challenged in turn. The only ground rules are these: No personal insults, no armchair psychoanalyzing, no spamming. Address people by their proper names; no nicknames or "cute" references; something you may find funny another may find offensive. No links unless they are absolutely necessary to understand the issue. Keep the discussion about the discussion; don't label the arguments made (such as "DIM" or "irrational")- labels do not advance understanding. Simply agree with them or refute them.

Anyone wishing to start a new thread can submit it as a comment, and I will copy it as a new post, with its own address, that people can comment on and refer to- just mention that this is what you want to do.
Please jump in!

Humanism vs. Theism: Does anyone actually care anymore?

18 January 2010 at 14:43
This was a comment from Chalicechick to the Discuss! thread, promoted to a post of its own for pertinence

A few months ago, as an experiment, I asked the UU theology mailing list if anyone had seen or experienced any atheists giving theists grief or vice versa IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS. I emphasize that last bit because lots of people have stories of mistreated theists that are a decade or two old, and they always seem to tell them as if they happened yesterday. I wondered if it ever happened anymore or if we just talked about it like it did.

I got one "yes" response, and that it was an incident from several years ago and soon after, his/her church got a new minister who made it clear that this behavior wouldn't be tolerated and there hasn't been an issue since.

That one "yes" aside, literally no one had seen any anti-theism or anti-atheism in their churches on the last couple of years. But several people still announced that "theism vs. atheism" was this incredibly important divide within UUism. I really don't understand why. To me it seems like the idea of people being actually mistreated and churches being divided on "theism vs anti-theism" or "atheism vs. humanism" is a big Boogeyman that scares lots of UUs but is mostly illusory.

Do you see "the God question" as something that divides your church right now? Have you seen anyone actually treated badly because of their faith in the last couple of years? If not, are se sure it's really that big a deal anymore?

UUA and partisan politics

20 January 2010 at 21:06
A news story today reminded me of a problem I've had for years with the UUA- taking partisan political stances, minimally fig-leafed with a transparent religious veil.

The news story was about how the Democrats were discussing changing the Senate rule requiring a 60 vote majority for a vote of cloture- the "nuclear option". It particularly drew my attention when Senator Barney Frank said there was nothing special about that rule- God didn't create the filibuster . My mind immediately went back five years to when we were saying he did.

The time was the confirmation hearings for Justice Alito. The Democrats were filibustering, and the Republicans were considering changing the rules to allow a cloture vote on a simple majority vote. President Sinkford gave speeches about how sacred the filibuster and the supermajority requirement for cloture were, and the UUAWO sent out emergency action letters asking us to ACT NOW to save the filibuster! (I couldn't find the alert on the official site, but fortunately CC had copied it in the Chaliceblog . They insisted that this was not political; they were opposing the "nuclear option" on purely religious grounds.

Funny things is, this time I've received no urgent emails or letters calling us to act against this renewed threat to democracy. If we really were "...religious people committed to protecting the rights of the minority to speak on issues that effect all Americans,..." then, are we not today? Does "Our Unitarian Universalist faith" no longer "guide us on a path of affirmation of difference and preservation of the democratic process."? Have our PPs changed in the last couple years?

This is the problem with religious movements hitching their wagons to political movements; politicians, who often base their principles on pragmatism and effectiveness can change their positions as necessary for political advantage. People demand higher standards for their religious leaders, however- and so does the IRS. I really believe that the only reason our tax status hasn't been challenged in a lawsuit is that we're actually too ineffectual to appear on the Republican radar screen.

Getting Our Act Together on Sexual Misconduct by UU Leaders

21 January 2010 at 07:21
By Desmond Ravenstone

At the 2000 General Assembly, UUA Executive Vice-President Kay Montgomery acknowledged shortcomings on how UU leadership has dealt with sexual misconduct, and pledged a number of changes. Certainly there have been improvements, principally in prevention through education, screening prospective leaders and other proactive measures. Yet when looking at the whole picture, there are still questions which need to be addressed, the most central being how to file and pursue a complaint of sexual misconduct.

The reader will also notice that I am not limiting this discussion to ordained ministers, or even to professional leadership. Volunteer lay leaders are also entrusted with authority and access, and must be held just as accountable for their actions. And when a member or attendee of a UU congregation feels exploited or abused, to whom should they go for support, healing and justice? What can they expect in terms of process and responsive actions?

In my own research, I’ve not seen any clear answer to these questions. There is much talk about β€œrestorative justice,” but little clarity about how that is to be achieved. The Ministerial Fellowship Committee, which oversees ordained UU ministers, does have a process for handling complaints, but even this has been criticized for falling short in terms of openness and clarity. In my opinion, the UUA needs to develop and present a clear protocol for handling sexual misconduct within congregations, and this article is my attempt at developing and presenting a model for such a protocol.

First, we need to define what we mean by sexual misconduct. This definition should be rooted in our core values of individual dignity and right relationship; it should focus on the emotional and relational context in which sexual activity takes place. Our sexuality can and should be a source of joy, pleasure and nurturing, a way of expressing intimacy and love. In contrast, sexual abuse and exploitation occur in a context of fear and intimidation. To avoid the latter, and foster the former, our sexual and relational ethics need to be based on two central principles:

a) Consent – Each person should be able to give and receive sexually with full knowledge, power and agreement. We are deprived of that power whenever there is deceit, intimidation and/or coercion.
b) Safety – Each person should be able to give and receive sexually without fear of bodily or emotional harm. While no one can assure this with absolute certainty, each person should take responsibility for minimizing the risk of harm to all concerned.

With clergy and other religious community leaders, another factor must be taken into account. Whenever someone is entrusted with leadership, they are given access to power and knowledge; and when there is an imbalance of power and knowledge, consent can be compromised. For this reason, our leaders must take great care to avoid what Reverend Marie Marshall Fortune refers to as dual relationships – maintaining two conflicting relationships with the same person at the same time, in particular a personal/sexual one (which should be equal and mutual) and a pastoral/leadership one (with its inherent power imbalance). This is not to say that a minister or leader can never have an intimate relationship with someone in their community, but that providing pastoral care or direct supervision with an intimate partner is a conflict of interest which must be avoided.

Education and pastoral guidance are essential in both preventing and recognizing sexual misconduct. But how do we respond when such breaches occur? To whom should a complaint or concern be taken, and how should they respond?

My suggestion is for the District office to appoint an impartial ombuds whenever a complaint is filed, to look into the facts and recommend the appropriate course of action. This would take pressure off the congregation’s leadership, while assuring that the process is handled by someone with direct access to all involved. The ombuds can also look beyond simply determining the respondent’s culpability, by considering what role the congregation’s policies, practices and awareness of issues played, and how these might be corrected.

There may also be cases where a formal adjudication would be necessary, in the form of a hearing before an impartial board. Once again, I would suggest that the District office appoint impartial members to the board, in consultation with all concerned. Additionally, the ombuds role would now shift to one of advocate for the complainant. The hearing itself should follow specific guidelines, and the board be required to make its decision by consensus, to assure confidence in the process. This confidence is essential, given that congregational polity makes the board’s decision advisory rather than binding. Likewise, the board would not have the power to suspend or revoke ministerial or DRE credentials, but their findings should be forwarded to the appropriate bodies for action.

Finally, while we all hope that sexual misconduct will not occur, we also have to admit the fact that it will. Even with the best preventive measures, our leaders are human and capable of error – or worse. To that end, we not only need to continue proactive education such as the Safe Congregations program, we also need to train select individuals to serve as ombuds and hearing board members. Such training can be seen in the same light as first aid and self-defense preparations – we hope never to use them, but realize their ultimate necessity and benefit.

Principles and Prejudice: How Do We Fully Apply Our Beliefs?

20 February 2010 at 19:56
Principles and Prejudice: How Do We Fully Apply Our Beliefs?
by Desmond Ravenstone

When asked what Unitarian Universalists believe, we often point to our Seven Principles as a guide to our shared values. These principles are also cited in how we respond to various issues and questions in our lives, both individually and collectively. Yet this can also raise the question of how we apply them in various situations. Are we consistent, or selective? Do we apply all of the principles to a given problem, or only one at a time? And do we use them to β€œfilter” our possible preconceptions and prejudices, or to challenge them in a more active process of discernment?

In the anthology Reverend X: How Generation X Ministers Are Shaping Unitarian Universalism, the Reverend John Cullinan recalls an incident related to him through an online message board:

A woman had come to the director of religious education at a church looking to volunteer as a teacher. In the course of their conversation, she admitted that she made the bulk of her living as a dominatrix. The DRE was troubled by this and explained that he found himself with a dilemma. β€œDo I,” he wondered, β€œignore this information and take on a willing volunteer? Or do I reject her and avoid the potential controversy, or worse?”[1]

Cullinan further elaborated how others involved in the exchange insisted that the DRE should accept her, citing the First Principle of accepting her inherent worth and dignity – and he in turn admitted how he was β€œastonished” that it β€œhad been recast … as the maxim β€˜don’t say no to people’” and β€œtransformed into a tool by which the individual was absolved of the responsibility to make judgments or to be accountable to community.”[2]

While I would agree on some level with the author that our First Principle was oversimplified, two other questions crossed my mind on reading this story. First: What about our other six principles, such as a free and responsible search for meaning and truth, and acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations? Second: Why see only two possible responses – accept but ignore, or reject but avoid – neither of which seems like a constructive response?

Our principles are not merely a laundry list of good ideas. They are expressions of our core values of justice, love and discernment; and just as each of these values is linked inextricably to one another, so each of the Seven Principles relies upon one another. We cannot, for example truly accept and encourage one another to spiritual growth, or exercise the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process, without engaging together in a free and responsible search for meaning and truth. Our desire for a world community cannot be fully realized without also affirming our inherent worth and dignity, as well as our place in the interdependent web of all existence.

This in turn leads to my second question, and the challenge to look beyond the more obvious dilemma towards a more constructive solution. For one thing, the β€œdilemma” posed is much deeper than merely accepting or rejecting the woman’s offer to volunteer for the church’s religious education program. There is the presumption that the only way to accept her offer is to ignore the information which she disclosed; and further, that the only way to deal with any potential controversy is to avoid it through rejection of her offer. When we cling to such presumptions, rather than seek to challenge them, then we reduce our decision-making into a simplistic β€œfiltering” of loaded options, and invite misuse of documents like our Seven Principles to pick the least uncomfortable option rather than craft alternative courses by which we may more fully put our beliefs into action.

If we believe that each of our UU principles are linked to one another, and that therefore acceptance is linked to seeking the truth, then these principles challenge us to engage in the important step of deepening our understanding of the situation before us. The DRE in this scenario could have asked the woman to explain why she chose this line of work, how she relates to her clientele, her own insights into BDSM, and how to engage others in the congregation regarding all of this information. In turn, the DRE could give the woman an idea of the makeup of the congregation, and especially those directly involved with religious education, so as to provide her with a better understanding of what she might face as a volunteer. This conversation could lead to a covenanting process, where clear guidelines are provided regarding whether and when the subject of her profession would be discussed; they could both agree that she would make no such disclosure to any children she might teach, for example, while the issue would be raised with the church’s RE committee and ministerial staff. Last and certainly not least, he should express gratitude for her honest disclosure, and the opportunity to share and learn one from another.

Such a process of discernment is necessary not only to make the right decision whether to accept or reject, or to what degree, but to do so with authenticity and integrity. One cannot truly accept any person or how they live without fully understanding them; nor are we doing justice to someone by rejecting them out of hand, or simply to β€œavoid controversy”. Discernment is the antidote to prejudice in all of its forms, whether it is our presumptions about certain people, or our presumptions about which choices are available to us and how we should choose between them. Where prejudice is reactive and allows only a partial exercise of our faith, discernment is proactive and thereby calls us to apply our beliefs more fully.

[1] β€œDigging Deep: Our Communal Responsibility to Our Principles” by Reverend John Cullinam; in Reverend X: How Generation X Ministers Are Shaping Unitarian Universalism, edited by Tamara Lebak and Bret Lortie (Jenkins Lloyd Jones Press, Tulsa OK, 2008). Page 72
[2] Ibid, pp 72-73

Quote of the Day

15 December 2005 at 17:29
"Whenever you are in doubt or whenever the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest or weakest woman you have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to her. Will she gain anything by it? Will it restore her to a control over her own life and destiny? In other words, will, it lead to swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your own doubts and your self melting away."Mahatma Gandhi

Christmas Day

21 December 2005 at 09:38
So what am I doing Christmas day?
dunno - for the first time in my life, got no plans
the Significant Other and I might do some driving and go to a UU church somewhere -
Im looking for something traditional, but not that traditional around here!

"A Good Poor Man's Wife"

10 January 2006 at 19:38
"A Good Poor Man's Wife" Claudia L. Bushman (1998 edition) - I picked this up because Peggy R. mentioned that Harriet Hanson Robinson, the subject of this biography, was the sister of Rev. J.W. Hanson a rather prolific Universalist writer, who still has books in print, 100 years after his death.
Despite being named John Wesley Hanson, it seems his parents were raised Quaker and Congregational, although after the death of his father, their mother attended Universalist services. Mrs. Robinson, best known for her work on women's sufferage and rights, moved around religiously, her family being friends of Emerson. She and her daughter ended up Episcopalian, and against women's sufferage.
The book itself is very well done, based on diaries and scrapbooks -- a nice view of life for the middle class of the 1800s- early 1900s.

UUCF at the UUA GA! (initaly speaking)

10 May 2006 at 19:17
taken from the UUCF and used caused they asked bloggers to pass it around: UUCF Presence at St. Louis GA, June 22-25.

We will have more events and presence at this year's General Assembly than ever before. Please come and celebrate with us, and if you can't make it to St. Louis please pass this information on to others in your church who will be attending. All are invited. We will surely be 'the leaven" at GA this year.

The new Skinner House book, Christian Voices in Unitarian Universalism, an anthology of contemporary writings by UU Christians edited by Rev. Kathleen Rolenz, our Good News editor (see fuller bio below), will be unveiled at this year's GA, and will be celebrated at two workshops, Friday, June 23, 4-5:15 p.m. in America's Center Room 226, and Sunday June 25, 1:45 to 3 p.m. in AC Room 260. Meet the authors, hear readings from the anthology, and more.

You can order the book online at http://www.uua.org/bookstore/product_info.php?products_id=1608 or search for it at www.uua.org/skinner. Or call 1-800-215-9076. The book is $14.

This book is a major opportunity for UUs and others to hear about the personal stories of how Jesus and the Christian tradition has touched the lives of UUs in the 21st century. Help us spread this good news.

We will offer two communion services at GA this year in AC Room 274: Friday, June 23rd from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and Saturday, June 24, 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. Friday Preacher will be the Rev. Derek Parker. Saturday preacher will be the Rev. Naomi King. See their bios below.

As exciting as our public programs this year, likewise will be our interactive booth and service projects. First, we will be creating a prayer chapel with our booth space this year, an opportunity for everyone at General Assembly to come and receive prayer and blessings not only for their lives, joys and sorrows, but also for their varied ministries and missions and plans and dreams for the UUA itself. Second, we will offer two healing ministries for GA-goers: foot-washing at the booth, and a repeat of last year's successful distribution of free bottles of water out on the hot city streets outside the convention center. We will also have free back issues of the UU Christian Journal and Good News and pamphlets, as well as for sale items. If you can volunteer an hour or two at the booth or help with our service projects in particular, please let us know at the UUCF office. [Side Note from Ron: If Jesus' life, ministry, and resurrection went "against the grain of the universe" then and now, and the church is to keep doing so in that spirit, then I think our UUCF presence at GA continues to grow against the "GA grain" :) in these ways].

Finally, our Annual Catered Banquet, Hymn Sing, Meeting, and Speaker will be held Saturday, June 24, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the beautiful Episcopal Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis just a few blocks from the convention center and hotels at 1210 Locust St. The cathedral is the oldest Episcopal church west of the Mississippi River and the building is on the National Registry of Historical Places. Our speaker is the exciting minister Rev. Thom Belote. See bio below. The catered dinner will again be a great opportunity for people to have a wonderful meal at an affordable price ($20 range) without having to wait in long lines for Saturday night in local restaurants. Please RSVP as soon as possible by notifying Rev.. Ron Robinson at RevRonRobinson@aol.com or by calling the UUCF office at 918-691-3223, and supply any special dining requests such as vegetarian or vegan. Please invite others as well. The meeting and hymn sing is also open free to UUCF members regardless of whether you eat with us or not.

Come meet us in St. Louis. Don't miss out on this watershed event.


The Rev. Kathleen Rolenz has served on the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship (UUCF) Board of Trustees since 2004. She is the editor of Good News, a newsletter of the UUCF organization and has been an active member of UUCF groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Cleveland, Ohio. Rolenz is parish co-minister of West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband, Wayne Arnason.

The Rev. Derek Lee Parker is a graduate of the University of Chicago (BA Geophysics) and the Earlham School of Religion (MDiv). He was ordained by Epiphany Community Church (UUA) in Fenton, Michigan. After a brief career as a paleontologist studying evolution and climate change, he has gone on to serve campus ministries, churches, and non-profit organizations affiliated with the UUA, the United Church of Christ, the Society of Friends (Quakers), and the Episcopal Church. He presently lives with his partner in Greenfield, Indiana; serves as Minister for Youth and Children at the Friends Meeting of Irvington, Indiana; and as Program Administrator for National Episcopal Health Ministries.
The Rev. Naomi King serves the Unitarian Universalist Church of Utica, in the rolling hills of central New York. Naomi also serves on the Board of Project Harvest Hope, is the liaison between the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association and the Annual Program Fund of the UUA, and the publications taskforce of the UU Historical Society. She was granted preliminary fellowship in 2004, graduated with her M.Div. from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 2005, and was ordained by her home congregation First Universalist Church of Yarmouth, Maine in 2005. She won the UUMA-APF-LREDA Stewardship Sermon Award in 2005, for a sermon preached at her internship site, Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church of Carrollton, Texas. She lives in Kirkland, New York, with her partner, the Rev. Dr. Thandeka, where they can enjoy the creek and woods by their home and the terrific cultural, environmental, and personal blessings of the area.

The Rev. Thom Belote has served the Shawnee Mission UU Church in Overland Park, Kansas since 2003. He prepared for the ministry at Harvard Divinity School and earned an undergraduate degree in religion from Reed College. Thom grew up attending First Parish in Wayland, MA and is a life-long Unitarian Universalist. Thom is 28 years old.

Esther's First UU Experience

25 May 2006 at 17:34
I found this blog thread of interest:

Esther's first UU Experience

of course, every time a new person shows up is their first experience -
and there's plenty to be said for second experience too

(please let me know if the link doesnt work - it works for me being rightclicked on Firefox)

Immaturity on the increase

24 June 2006 at 12:50
Everything we know is true!
Immaturity is indeed on the increase!
And scientists say there may be a reason for it!

Im sure there's a sermon topic in this!


New 7 Principals

26 June 2006 at 19:05
As some of you know, the UUA has to update the 7 Principals (as per the requirements when they came up with them). Jeff Wilson ran the below on "Peace Bang" blog, and I quote them without out his permission, because I like them so much. (Jeff, if you object - let me know and off it goes) http://peacebang.blogspot.com/2006/06/seven-uu-principles.html

"Knowing that no words shall ever be used as a creed among us, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association do covenant together to uphold these religious principles:

Every person is worthy of love; thus we seek that all are treated with justice, dignity, and compassion.

The religious journey is as old as humanity, as fresh as each new birth, and lasts an entire lifetime; thus we remain always open to the wisdom of one another.

Love, reason, and liberty are the lifeblood of liberal religion; thus we manage our communities by them so that we may be a light upon the hill for others.

Openness, fairness, and honesty are our guiding ideals; thus we promote them amongst ourselves and stand firm against authoritarianism in every realm.

Our love embraces all life and the whole Earth; thus we approach all living things with humility, reverence, and awareness of their worth.

Revelation is ever-flowing; we receive its grace from many sources. Gratefully we remember that our denomination was founded upon the rock of liberal Christianity, and joyfully we believe that we are each free to swim in the ocean of humanity’s spiritual richness. As interdependent congregations we freely enter into this covenant; we pledge to one another our mutual trust and support."

Disturbance at UU in Jackson Mississippi

17 July 2006 at 19:12
well, yesterday and earlier today, I was getting email "news" reports from right wing groups about masked UUs attacking Christians in Jackson Missisppi. I finally googled legit news sites - and found the below, which i suspect is closer to the truth. http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060717/NEWS/607170356/1001/news

Words --

3 August 2006 at 20:41
"Religion Word That Move us, religion Word that Don't: I was reading the various threads that started this UUCarnival, when I opened the fifth edition of "The Universalist Manual, or book of Prayers and other religious exercises:..." (1853) - and saw this hymn "GREAT PARENT!" "Great Parent! Oh, direct our ways, Exalt our hearts, accept our praise; As children on a father dear, We humbly wait thy presence here." It reminded me that our ancestors faced the same things that we do - how do we best express the meaning of our faith. To some the old words are comfortable and warm - but to others those exact same words are cold and menacing. Do we force others to hear words of coldness or do we cut ourselves off from the warmth is never an easy choice. The writer of "Great Parent!" knew that sometimes the words lose their meaning through their very familiarity or assumed familiarity - sometimes we need to move the word around to make sure we see the word again. How about the "Church of the Divine Paternity" - that was a rather popular Universalist name of 100 years ago -- it's a name that is similar to other denominations, yet distinctive enough to wake one up....To see things with different eyes.... There are lots of words that some UUs have trouble with - indeed I've heard that if we take away all the theological terms that some UUs would be uncomfortable with, then we'd be left with only one word: Coffee. But there are ways around that uncomfortableness to increase communication. If to some theist is a word to describe a believer of a fable of an old man sitting on throne of gold - isn't there another word we can use to say what we really mean - to help someone to pay attention. The same with the other non-coffee words including humanist and pagan --- That doesn't mean I don't think we shouldn't use those fine words God, Lord, human potential; onward and upward --- sometimes those are the right words. Period. If it's the job of religion to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable --- then one of the things we have to do is to see beyond the words to the meanings of the words....

Giving a bag of sugar to the Charleston UU

19 November 2006 at 10:30
Giving a bag of Sugar to the Charleston UU

Piggly Wiggly is a grocery chain in the south and Midwest. It was the first self-service grocery, and I think - the first Grocery Chain. Each store is independently owned, and part of an association (which makes website looking harder!)

Here in the Carolinas, the Pig (as it is affectionate known) gives out Greenbax Stamps (now Greenbax points) - We don't go to the Pig very often, so at some point earlier this year, we cruised the website to see how much points we had - and what it would buy. And we noticed it was just enough to buy a bag of sugar. And the diabetic in the household wasn't fond of that idea.

So we checked the donation page - and there we could donate that bag of Sugar (ok, the points) to the UU Church in Charleston SC. So we did. Yesterday, we bought a few items, got 3 points - which will soon be on the way to the Congregation down there.
A easy painless way to give!

Is this a Christian Blog?

16 December 2006 at 18:13
This blogsite recently received an invitation to join a Christian Blogging group.
My first thought was why UU-ing and not SCUniversalist? Isn't that blog more Christian oriented than this one? To be honest with my recent trials and tribulations I didn't give it that much thought...

But then a couple of things clicked.
First while SCUniversalist has and will talked about the paths of various ministers and churches, I don't think I mentioned the word "Christian" or the name "Jesus" there. Now, some of that should go without saying: before the 1910s, all Universalists all Universalists generally considered themselves Christians. All of them mentioned Jesus, some of them quite a bit. If they stopped considering themselves Christians, then they generally left and went to the free thinkers (like Kneeland) or Spirtualists (like Bowman to mention a southerner).
However this blog does mention the word "Christian". Back when the UUCF had no website, I had no problem running a press release (and even though they now have a website and webblog, I still have no problem). So that would be why this blog got picked! It got "Christian" clicks! (I was tempted to say Christian hits, but nevermind....)

So it this a Christian Blog? Well, clicks don't an orientation make. While I do admit that I am an Unitarian Universalist Christian, I don't think that is what the folks behind that Christian blog group were looking for. Let me put it like this; at one point the Universalist Church of America wanted to join the Federal Council of Churches - but were not allowed in as being Universalist and unitarian, they weren't considered real Christians (yes, I've simplified the story for retelling). I suspect that a more careful reading of my blog would result in some doing the same thinking. Yet, I have no doubt that John Murray, Hosea Ballou, D. B. Clayton were Christians in the truest sense of the word. I would be delighted to be in back of their group picture. and yes, I'm tired of folks who profess to be Christians who don't care what Jesus said. (One recent best selling mainstream book about Jesus, proudly asserts that most "real" Christians think that the words in red are trivial). So I'm not signing up. On the other hand, I suspect that if I lived in a community with Christian liberals (in the old fashion sense of the word), then I would be more inclined to say "sure sign me up"to be a Christian blogger.

So is this a Christian blog? Well you are entitled to your view and I'm keeping mine!

and-- I will be changing this blog, tweaking the name (probably); and moving the personal nater and religion views over here, making SCUniversalist much more of just a history website. I will probably move some of the old blogs over here (if I can figure out how).

oh, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to yall!

steven r

My Christmas 2006

27 December 2006 at 07:10
My Christmas in 2006

My wife and I exchanged gifts - in this case it was a year
membership in Ancestry.com - (useful for hunting old ministers for my scuniversalist blog)

after breakfast - we gave the cats their gifts (a bit of
christmas catnip)
and i opened my gift from my nephew (two books right off my Amazon list)
My wife will get exchanged gift tomorrow (maybe) from my brother-in-law

at 12 we ate chicken salad sandwiches and went to the Rehab Hospital
(1 1/2 drive roundtrip) to visit my mother. We brought our gift (a
portrait of my wife and I) and gifts and cards from others to her. My
sister and her family were there (a 3 1/2 drive oneway for them),
we gave those nieces their gifts their too. My neices sang some
carols (out of the 1964 methodist hymnal) at the rehab. We watched a
bit (without sound) of Judy Garland and meet me at St. Louis.

Drove home in the rain, put on some Celtic Christmas CDs...

waiting for the pork stew to be ready for dinner....

Now, how is this Christmas? I have gifts - from the heart; I have
family, both nuclear and extended; I have music and song. I have
love. I show love. I have the hope of a better day.
That is Christmas!

best wishes

Universalist Convocation at Bellville Ohio May 2007

31 January 2007 at 11:12
this post is an advance notice of the upcoming Universalist Convocation at
Bellville Ohio the first weekend in May 2007.

Bellville is just south of Mansfield and north of Columbus Ohio.

I will be attending and this will be my third convocation.

usually starts Friday evening and ends Sunday afternoon.
a nominal charge is involved (but dinner is provided)
Sunday worship service is open to everyone.

The convocation doesnt have a website - but I will be passing on official information as I receive it (Ive heard various unofficial news that sounds good). And am mentioning this early just so that those of you in Central Ohio who might consider going will mark it on your calendar.

My time behind the Pulpit

1 February 2007 at 18:54
My grandfather was an United Brethren minister. For those for whom the name means something, this was not the current denomination, he was under the new constitution. The UBs were basically german methodists. Around 1946, they consolidated with the Evangelical Church to become the United Brethren, Evangelical. In the late 1960s, they merged with the Methodist Church to become United Methodist Church.
He had his doctorate from Moody. He wasn't a minister by the time I was around, but he still read religious books, still planned to write a religious book; still listened to George Beverly Shea on record... He did however think I would be a fine minister when I grew up....

So, I had least was grinning for that reason, when I stood behind the pulpit up in Fayetteville the other week. I talked about the history of the Universalist Church (the other U), trying to spotlight on local Carolina material. I ran out of time before I ran out of the 19th century...
While I'm more of a Ballou guy than a Murray guy, it's so fun to talk about Murray. His ups and downs in England, the UU miracle story - at Good Luck! Even the rock --
I mentioned the Carolina Universalists who were barred from being witnesses in court, and of course the theory (on wikipedia ) that the first Universalist Church was in South Carolina.
Fun, i could have gone on and on.

Ive given talks to my local UU group, but that was local. This was different, this was folks I didnt know in a town I could (and did) get lost in.

Universalist Convocation 2007 Bellville Ohio Schedule

28 February 2007 at 18:29
2007 Universalist Convocation: Universalist Peace Wittness
Friday May 4
welcome by Justin Lapoint
worship led by Derek Parker

Saturday May 5
Worship by Wells Behee (his sermon draws from his experience in WW2)
Adress by Dr. Stephen Potthoff (Deptartment Religion and Philosophy at
Wilmington College (Willmington Ohio)
Group Photo
workshops: Musical Workshop; Supreme Worth of Every Human
Personality; Peace Wittness; Historic Tour of Bellville;
dinner at an Amish Restaurant
entertainment: Cedar Creek High School Jazz Band

Sunday May 6
Annual Buisness Meeting
Morning Worship by host pastor, Rev. John Martin
Church will provide sack lunches when we depart around noon

nearby airports
Columbus, Cleveland, and Akron (regional airport at Mansfield)

My mother is dying

19 March 2007 at 19:29
My mother is dying. It seems strange to put that in black and white, just like that. My mother is dying. The words do indeed sound odd as I mull it around in my head.
It shouldnt come as any surprise - she's really been dying for the past 4 years, ever since my dad died. Her stroke on Thanksgiving Eve and then this past weekend her recent episode where her heartbeat refused to go over 52 even with the external pacemaker were just the most recent manifestations.
Yes, Friday morning when the doctor called and asked what we, the family, wanted to do - did put the words in motion... what did we the family want to do.... As the only local child and the health care power of attorney, it was my responsibility to call my brother and sisters. What did we want to do? Could she survive surgery? My mother is dying.
And as one of the family asked "Does she have the will to live?" And bluntly the answer is "no". She's been dying for a long time, and for many reasons. She doesnt have the will, the desire to live, to see new things, to hear new songs, to laugh.

Historically, my religious faith, Universalism, has been derided by others as not "a good faith to die in". Not having died yet, I cant really say for sure; but my mother's faith (not the same as mine) doesn't seem to be a good faith to live in. At least for her. I hope it gives her some strength, but it doesn't seem to give her enough - we are not just folks born to die (although we do), what we do and say does matter (although I will grant not as much as we want) -- our life does have meaning - and my faith sustains that for me.

Bob Dylan (recently declared a false prophet - a term he might agree with) once said that "he is not busy being born, is busy dying"... our life has to stay involved, to stay active - even if the active part is the brain, even if the active part slows down ....

there are poems to write, there are songs to sing, there are birds to watch,
you can do some of those things from your bed or chair.

I expect to say sometime later this year, that my mother is dead. The body doesn't last forever... I'd like to say that like Universalists of old, she could see the joy and love of life; and the joy and love in life.........

Universalist Convocation - OHIO

29 March 2007 at 16:47
I've posted some material earlier
concerning this years Universalist Convocation - first weekend in May 2007
in Bellville Ohio.

I havent yet gotten permission to distribute the forms to folks who might ask me,
but if you havent signed up and want to go, i can give you the email address to get an application form.

It should be fun - it'll be my third UC.

It you dont want to attend the whole weekend, the church service Sunday will be filled with Universalists,
might be worth going to see just to see what a church filled with Universalists looks like.

Easter, indeed!

12 April 2007 at 17:56
I was scheduled to give the service, this past Easter Sunday.
I made the mistake of asking what folks wanted, and what they wanted was a traditional UU Easter service. So I asked around, I read old Hymnals, I asked around more. I got the Celebrating Spring and Easter book by Carl Seaburg.
I found the 1938 Hymnal very indicative of traditional U and U service, it contained both a very traditional Christian service and a very traditional Humanistic service. So I did readings and hymns and wrote a sermon including both the Humanists and the (UU) Christians.

I had the opportunity to try it out at an UU camp, where we were doing volunteer work that weekend. So I can now say that "I preached twice on Easter - doing a circuit of 150 miles.... just like the old Universalist preachers did....." If only the crowd at either place was big enough to be impressive..... That was fun, but what I want to mention here is that the preaching was volunteer and the work at the UUCamp was volunteer work too. I have nothing against paid preachers and paid workers - but we need more volunteers - at Church - and elsewhere. Modern life does seem to be a big time trap, making it harder and harder to volunteer to do things - but the need still is there. There are needs for little league coaches, umpires; PTA/PTO members; choir members; red cross bloodmobile workers; some of these things dont take going around 150 miles, you can go around the block; some of thse things dont have to take hours of time either - you can probably do some valuable things for society in under an hour a week (and bless those of you who spend more than that!!) - consider helping at the soup kitchen, or meals on wheels; ask your church, your council on aging, join a civic club, pick up trash on the highway --
Now how am I going to tie this in with Easter? Easily! Jesus went around volunteering his time. He didnt get paid for his curing sick people, comforting the ill and oppressed. He did it because it was the right thing to do - regardless of our theological orientation, go thou and do likewise! (gee, I wish i had had that part in my sermon!) As we celebrate Spring and the renewal of life; let us recall the ways we can let our light shine.....

When someone leaves the fold (taken from another's blog)

10 May 2007 at 16:20
I googled, looking for info on N. P. Walker for my other blog -- and I found these quotes by me...
I thought it was worth moving over here.
this from where someone who was leaving the UU for a more Christian denomination, I wrote

"it’s like a divorce - does one remain friendly or social (particuarly if there is no children) - or does one forget all the past, good as well as bad? - or then there’s the folks who try to conivence the rest of us that their joy at their new life means the rest of us are wasting our lives associating with their ex. If God wanted a hell, it would be full of folks complaining about their ex- (spouse, religion, football team, drinking habits, etc)

Seriously, we only given a short time to live our lives,so we have to do what we feel right and best. to do what’s right. To grow, to learn, to celebrate and live one’s faith to the best we can.

β€œOh let me live from this day forth to sing
The prasies of earth’s victorious God and King.
Oh send me out to tell the nations of a love
That bars no soul outside that heavenly home above.”
β€”Rev. Athalia L.J. Irwin, portions of her poem β€œHeaven”, written on her day of ordination to the Universalist ministry November 1902.

In my tiny monthly UU Fellowship, I dont go for worship, as I worship everyday. Certainly the sermons that I give (when I give them) would not be fulfilling for those looking for worship. I hope they are fulfilling in other ways…even if the word Jesus and God aren't mentioned every time.
One of the good things about Universalism and Universalists, is that when someone leaves the fold - we miss them, we wish they would come back, but unlike other religious views, we don't worry about their souls….


21 May 2007 at 18:07
I assume that most folks have been to the Belief-o-Matic at Beliefnet.....

I go every couple years to see what I am "today".
Now, that's a rather UU thing to say, isnt it?
However I was an UU long before the internet -

5-10 years back, Belief-o-Matic had me as 100% UU, but I've been slipping

"today", I'm
1. Reform Judaism (100%)
2. Unitarian Universalism (98%)
3. Liberal Quakers (94%)
4. Mahayana Buddhism (81%)
5. Sikhism (80%)
6. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (80%)

This is the first time that sikhism has been this high -- and as I was thinking "what has changed in me? do i listen to too much Richard Thompson music or what?" when the question to me became "is it me changing? or does Belief-o-matic keep up with changes in the religion themselves? A Baptist today is a long way away from a Baptist 40 years ago - the same for a Methodist .... and the same for an UU ----
- so not only how do we keep up with who we are, how do we B_O_M keep up with who the religions are?

Songs to sing

21 May 2007 at 20:09
Over on "Mom to the Left"'s blog - I left a comment about hymn singing, and I mentioned that I had intended to mention it on my blog- so let me do so.

On the way to Shelter Neck, I took a hymnal; and while my suffering spouse drove, I sang every hymn I knew. I discovered a few things about our current hymnal.

1) I dont know many of the songs. I know a few by heart, but most I dont even know by looking at the words.

2) there are a fair amount of Charles Wesley hymns in there. that being so, let me plug (unheard by me - so buyer beware) Maddy Prior's upcoming CD "Paradise Found" - a collection of Wesley tunes. Prior is famous for singing in her own band and in Steeleye Span (and for having an X-men named after her). It should be good - as Wesley knew how to write a tune.

3) we have a few old classic folk tunes (and a lot of civil war era spirituals), but some of the classic folk tunes arent there. Why not the classics like Pete Seeger's (who is an UU) - "Turn Turn Turn" or more dated "Where Have All the flowers gone". Why do we have wimp folk songs (cough cough) and not more with passion or conviction? Why not "No Man's Land" (AKA Willie McBride) or even "Last Night I had the Strangest Dream". ok, well maybe not - and probably not "Positively 4th Street" either....

4) being on a hymnal committee must be the thankless job ever.........

Memorial Day

28 May 2007 at 12:39
Today for memorial day, my wife went and sold poppies, and I mowed the lawn. Both standard Memorial Day activities. For lunch, we had corn on the cob, baked beans, and I had some blue fake-gateraid (not finished mowing the lawn). With the exception of my blue drink, a mostly standard memorial day lunch.
Mowing the lawn without headphones, you do some thinking.....

Memorial Day is a day for remembering those who died for us in wartime. As usual, I think of my uncle, who was killed in the south pacific - one of the first casualties from North Carolina. I never knew him, but he was only 10 months different in age from my father, and as a teenager, i was given his Eisenhower jacket and his leather flight jacket. the Eisenhower jacket is now in a museum, and the leather jacket hanging in my closet. If I could lose 50 pounds, I could fit into it again, like I could when I was his age. His age, I think of soldiers of ww2 of being in their 30s-50s, because that's how old the veterans of ww2 were when I began to think of them. But like all soldiers, they were young. My uncle would have been around 20 - 21 when he died.
All of his brothers went on to get graduate degrees, he was successful in high school, got a college scholarship - he could have had a long happy life past 1942.... but he chose to enlist in a war. I dont know his motivation, but I suspect that he wanted to do the right thing for his country - which was clearly the right thing to do for his family. His father did not serve in ww1, nor his grandfathers in any war - but he had heard the stories of wars - a great grandfather had died in the war of the 1860s, and both sides of the family were full of stories of sacrifice and hardship from that war. No 20 year old believes that they are going to die, but Im sure he knew it was a possibility. But he thought that that risk was worth it. With hindsight and bluntness and possible selfishness, he was right. The sacrifice that he and others made was worth it, The USA has and had plenty of problems - but it would have had more problems had the result of WW2 gone differently. I raise my poppy and give thanks to him and to all of those who gave their lives for me. Thanks so much.

UU Affliliates

29 June 2007 at 20:23
I've been out of town for most of the past two weeks -
in Charlotte and Washington -- hope to say somethings about both.... but first....

UU Affliates
There have been around 60 UU Affiliates, but affiliate status was changed and now there are only 7 affiliates.

Council of Unitarian Universalists Camps and Conferences
Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry.
Universalist Convocations
UU Women’s Federation
UU Service Committee
UU United Nations Office

The applications for three other groups, Partner Church Council, UU Ministry for Earth, and the UU Small Group Ministry Network, were held for consideration at the next board meeting in October.

Folks try to sell me and give me books!

30 June 2007 at 11:57
Books distributors like to sell books, and if they think you might buy $1000s of dollars of books from them, they will try to give you catalog's and discounts and even free books. I dont buy $1000s of books, but my wife does - (you know I was about to figure out how much $ I spend on my personal books and I dont want to go there....it may be in the 1000s range ... burr....)
Ok, I own way too many books already - but when the opportunity to get more books is here, I will do so! and with a happy face.

I do draw the line at books that I "need" for my library - or in the case of free books, might buy others from the same publisher, etc.

So I picked up history, books about pre-1950s comic strips and books, silent movie books, psychology books, and religious books.
In this blog, I will mention what religious books I got and why - I wont review them, I havent read them! I will note I saw folks from Abington, Tyndale House, and Moody - but not Beacon or Skinner House, or anyone distributing them.

FROM TYNDAL TO MADISON - Michael Farris - (2007) Advanced Reader's Edition. B& H publishing co. I see that this company descends (or is) the one of the first USA publishing Company - from Christopher Sowers 1743 press. That will almost forgive them from publishing Oliver North novels. I cant tell from their website, if they are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention or not..... The author is the founder of Patrick Henry College, the controversial so-called Christian college best known for providing job opportunities in the George W. Bush administration. This book is due out July 1, 2007.

THE QUR'AN translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali 1995 Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an. This is the most common translation (in English) of the Qur'an - sorta the King James version.....I dont think I have tried to read the Qur'an - so i look forward to it. Note I said "try", most scriptures arent easy going. I've read the BIBLE, many of the non-canon "gospels", an abridgment of Ramayana and Mahabrata (not quite scriptures). I didn't finish The Book of Morman, and will admit to still struggling with Ballou's. a short sermon is easier reading than many scriptures.

A HISTORY OF THE AMISH revised 2003 Steven M. Nolt, Good Books. I believe that Good Books is an independent Mennonite press, owned by the Good family. They are best known for their slow cooker cook books. but they also publish quilting and peacemaking books. I've read the earlier edition of this, so I have no doubts that it will fit well on my shelf of denominational histories.

I also got the current issue of SCIENCE AND SPIRIT - looks good, I cant say I was familiar with it before ------ but again, I havent read any of these yet --

looking at a Book Catalog and thinking UUCF

7 July 2007 at 18:07
I got a copy of the Abingdon Press Fall and Winter 2007/8 Trade Catalog ("Trade" in this case means for retailers and librarians). Abingdon is an United Methodist imprint. And they have Study Bibles, books on theology, hymnals, children's books, sunday school books (including "One Room Sunday School") books for youth - including theology, DVDs for youth, Adult Sunday School Material including DVDs,
Some of this looks very good: such as Adult studies on Hospitality, Forgiveness, Discernment, and Intimacy,and death and dying. "How to act like a Christian". Some look disappointing: The "Christianity Family Tree" mentions many of the current Christian traditions, but liberal Christians arent mentioned in the title of the sessions. There is even "Preaching Annual 2008" which sermons to print out - apparently one for every week of 2008!
Now the UUA catalog is fine, but it's small, and lacks many of these type resources and themes (hard to believe the UUA is that far behind in DVDs....) And as I was looking at these books, I wondered ... what would be right for UU or other liberal Christians?
So, I thought this would be a good starting place to ask:
What books are good for UU Christians? and by that I mean those who are mostly unitarian and universalist - who spent more time with the words in red in the middle, and less with the stuff at the begining and end....(knowing that there are UUs Christians who arent unitarian or universalist or even thiest). These books must be "in print"!

Please add or link by including the book and why, dont just say "Books by Borg" - say which ones and why.... write like you're trying to sell the book to other UUs.

Let me start by adding:
Christian Voices In Unitarian Universalism (2006) Editor: Katleen Kolenz
15 personal stories by those who heard Jesus while being UUs, and their joys and sorrows while doing so....

Miracles - what do they mean?

20 July 2007 at 23:47
Miracles - what do they mean?
(written in the hours in the middle between bedtime and awakening time -so not an article but a discourse)

I was reading tonight the 6th of Osamu Tezuka's 8 volume BUDDHA "graphic novel", "magna" or otherwise huge comic book. As usual when reading a fictionalized biography, I wonder how much is "true" and how much the author made up. While reading this volume of the BUDDHA, I seem to recognize some of the characters from various books on Buddha that Ive read - although a quick googling shows that much of what I read seems to be solely the work of Tezuka.

A couple of things strike me, but the parallels between Jesus and Buddha teaching, I will just point out that JESUS AND BUDDHA: THE PARALLEL SAYINGS, by Marcus J. Borg is one such source. I (and the book) make no call about any Buddhist influence on early Christianity (and I'm skeptical myself).

Part of the reason I had some difficulty in knowing if the characters and stories in BUDDHA are fictional is that my main source of the life of Buddha, are various western versions where the miracles are cut out. Sorta like the Thomas Jefferson Bible. As a rule I dont have much problem with that -- I think of the miracles in both Buddhism and Christianity as pointers to the truth. Indeed, I call the big miracle stories in the New Testament: "book jackets for the story". But tonight as I was reading about Buddha preaching to crocodiles, chopping wood with his mind, and of course healing the sick in body and mind -- it powerfully struck me that ignoring the miracles - is missing the story. Missing the story almost as badly as those who only see the miracles.
While I continue to believe that miracles in scriptures are pointers to truth, items designed to wake us up, to make us understand that their words are worth pondering; miracles are important in themselves. We need miracles. They make see that things can change, that things wil be better.
Simply put miracles are things that are rare, that isn't suppose to happen, "something wonderful". A man gathering deer as disciples is indeed something wonderful, healing the dying is indeed something wonderful. Feeding the hungry either on the side of the sea, or over the world is a miracle. Can miracles happen to us now? Yes, it can; I don't mean like winning the lottery, that's not a miracle. Winning the lottery when you only buy one ticket a year, and either need the money or give it to someone/thing that needs the money - now, That's a miracle: something wonderful. Getting a call from a long lost friend after thinking of, but not hearing from them in a long time - that's a miracle. Being able to smile and laugh after losing or suffering a loss -and mean it: that's a miracle. Helping someone without thoughts of reward or even notice, is a miracle for both.

I wont go on and on about what would happen if the earth actually did stop rotating, and the sun stopped moving, that's not really important - and misses the whole point of miracles....What's important is that if you see or feel a miracle, that you touch it, that you thank it, that you embrace it, and that you ponder it, deep in your heart.

OT - My spouse is in DC and gets a major gift

25 July 2007 at 08:54
My spouse is in Washington yesterday and today - ordinarily I wouldn't hear about her day until she got home -- but this time it made the AP newswire including on Newsday -
-despite this donation, you can still give, as the fund raising continues - this is in a poor rural area.


Storage Lockers

28 July 2007 at 13:34
I cleaned up and turned in my key to my Storage Locker earlier this week.
You know that there are only one basic reason to have a storage locker: one has too much stuff.
How one gets too much stuff is a different thing. I've known collectors all my life, and they need space to store their collections. I know someone who has his barn filled to the rafters with his collections. I recently gave a collection of magazines to a gentleman in Ohio, it went straight from my mother's closet to his brother's attic! Obviously these kinds of folks dont mind getting a storage locker - it's just another room in the house.
Another reason to get a storage locker is when you have too much stuff and literally no place to put it. One is either homeless or near homeless. Sometimes the stuff in a storage locker, if sold, is enough to make one non-homeless. There is an artist, who is presumed dead, who when the contents of his unpaid storage locker were auctioned would have been enough to pay for many years lodging (the person who ended up with it - sold it for enough to buy a small house); of course even homeless artists can be both ignorant of the value of their belongings and hopeful that they one day would be back on their feet and able to enjoy their long owned treasures.....
As for me? I was homeless...and needed a place to put most of the rest of my stuff. Furniture, dresser, desk, my grandfather's old office chair, camping gear, and way too many collectibles. My parents nicely gave up their garage and a bedroom - so no, I was not homeless in the "on the streets" style, but I could have easily been. (Besides my parents, a female friend offered me a room - in the "you stay on your side, and I'll stay on mine" roommate style, but considering our personalities that would have been Oscar and Felix for sure). Since I paid off the locker and writing this short essay, all the thoughts and feelings of that time have made this a rather bitter-sweet weekend. I am fortunate that my experience has turned out for the best, but it's more of a "There but Fortune, Go You or I" type of experience, not because of my skills or hard work.
You never know what's going to happen in your life- dreams turn sour, and things that seem impossible become miracles.
I'm still only a step or two away from homeless - I don't have parents who can put me up, that female friend is getting married this month, I've been married myself for a few happy years.
If I ever need storage space again, I also know where to go....
I still have too many collectables....

little kid in my office

1 August 2007 at 20:30
A little kid was in my office, about 5, and putting a rubber medical glove over his bare foot; and then putting his shoe back on.
I looked at his mother and grandmother and said: "You know you're old, when the thought of putting a rubber glove on your foot never even occurred to you"

"Here if You Need Me" book review

22 August 2007 at 15:47
"Here If You Need Me: A True Story" Kate Braestrup (2007)

My Amazon review:

"Plucky Widow's Story", August 22, 2007

In the middle of the book, author Kate Braestrup speaks of a "Plucky Widow's Story" - thus providing herself with another hook for her own book. If you like an author this aware and with this ability to smile at herself, then you will probably like this book. For a book filled with tragic death, it is both fun and breezy, however she treats both death and those who died with respect. That's a hard balancing act, which she accomplishes quite well.
This is not a theological book (although you can find some theology toward the end of the book), those seeking that need to look elsewhere.
Emergency ministrial work is a hard field to be in, and many burn out quickly. I am impressed enough by this book to wonder, if she stays in that field, what she will be able to write in another ten years.

Additional comments:

This book has been getting fairly good reviews. She is an recently graduated UU minister who works as a Chaplain for the Maine Game Wardens. She entered the ministry after the death of her husband, taking on the role that he had picked for himself.
I liked the book, and expect that it could serve as a good way for Christian UUs or Universalists to share with others how their faith works. She has the spirit of a new minister and the knowledge of someone who knows the lessons she has learned and how to share those lessons.

Tom Lehrer "National Brotherhood Week"

23 August 2007 at 22:01
Tom Lehrer was one of the highlites of the early 60s -
for those of you who dont know him: this is satire.
To a certain extent, this particular piece is dated satire....

Blog Day

31 August 2007 at 21:21
this is about as off-topic as I can get....

I see on a couple of UU blogs that it's "Blog Day" - apparently you're supposed to recommend 5 blogs you've just discovered --- http://www.blogday.org/

-- well I cant do that ---
i can list some non-UU blogs I read -both religious and non religious


a Christian Universalist, who would have fit it wonderfully in the UCA of the 1780s-1920s.

a liberal Christian political news site - "Christian alliance for Progress"

Hate Watch: for those serious about watching Hate

blog of Mark Evanier, writer of TV, comic books, animation, and articles. (so yes, a professional writer). I've mentioned in at least one of his non-fiction books..... blog is a mixture of politics, LA culture, and writing for animation, TV, and comic books.


Bill's another professional writer (of crime novels), to be honest I'm not sure if I've read any of his fiction or not (we are on some of the same mailing lists). Unlike Mark, I'm sure Bill has no idea who I am. He sure can find some odd ball stuff though......

"On the Road" is 50....

5 September 2007 at 19:22

" On the Road" is 50 this month, next year (i think) will be the 50th anniversary of "Dharma Bums". Ya know not many folks mention J.K. when they talk about folks who popularized Buddhism in the west....

Thomas Thayer

10 September 2007 at 21:50
"On this day in 1812, Thomas Thayer was born. He became a leading theologian of Universalism, writing eloquently about the tree of life, the unity of creation, and the human race as one great family growing into harmony with God. "

so says today's "New Morning with Timberly Whitfield" inspirational email newsletter. No idea if he was mentioned on the TV show or not.

His best known books are "Theology of Universalism" and "Over the River". I own the later, and at least the first is on Google Books.

The full title of the last is "Over the River; or Pleasant Walks into the Valley of Shadows, And Beyond: A Book of Consolations for the sick, the dying, and the bereaved."

His work is typical early victorian, so a bit hard to get into; but how nice to slip Universalism into the emails of 2007.

So what's new with you?

25 September 2007 at 16:17
I've been mostly quiet on this blog - not that's there is anything wrong with those videos, but here's what's been going on over here.

the last issue of the UU World quoted me, so I can now say "as mentioned in UU World", right?
This lead to a slightly more email - all dealing with UU history.

i did a lecture at my local UU Congregation on " Buddhism for Beginners"; a basic primer on what the Buddha said, and how folks now follow his teachings. In early December i will be upnorth in eastern North Carolina talking to the good folks at Outlaw's Bridge Universalist Church at Seven Springs. They will be hearing about D.B. Clayton. The folks in NC want a sermon and not a lecture. We will see if I can do that - a sermon is much tougher than a lecture. I will be making my notes more orderly (I could probably give an all day seminar on the topic).
and I plan to re-read the autobiography and a debate book by Clayton. I will mention the G-word when I talk - probably in quoting Clayton.

Sinus issues have left me drained and tired. you can repeat that sentence about 3 times for maximum impact.

recent books read: Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson; currently reading Lost Stories by Dashiell Hammett. I should be finished reading this sometime this week. Not sure what I'll read next. Probably a children's book by Manly Wade Wellman (the only writer that my grandfather, my father and myself all three met - at separate times. Wellman did a lot of NC history books, and apparently convinced a lot of folks he was a southern writer). Or I might read a religious book - maybe I should get a pattern: reading religious books, non-fiction, and fiction in rotation.

so, what's new with you?

our UU seminaries

11 October 2007 at 14:46
Over on UUA Trustee Linda Laskowski's blog she asks some questions such as "Would we prefer more or fewer of our UU ministerial candidates to be attending non-UU schools, basically 'out-sourcing' most of the training of our ministers?"

Hard to argue with that question.
Is there anyone who would argue for outsourcing all UU ministers?

To me, the question is "why dont more of our potential ministers want to attend our schools?"

Is it distance? too expensive? or something about the school? All things can be fixed - distance learning through computers is easy - getting money less so, changing the schools even less so. But still all possible - if we know why folks aren't going. I would assume that someone has done a study on this - haven't we? What was the results? why do our potential ministers pick other schools?

"Let Us Pray"

4 November 2007 at 10:48
The Rev. Peacebang has a blog on "I'll Pray For You"
that reminded me of a few things, which means I will talk about them now.

Five years ago, just before the death of my father - when I would visit or stay with them, I was often invited to say grace for them. We had our standard graces, and I can easily move to the one I thought they preferred, my voice would deepen and enlarge in volume, as I would start "Let us pray:" and then at the end, I would say "amen" to be followed by my mother saying a 'thank you'.

A prayer and grace can serve many purposes, and even a standard grace needs to fit the occasion and the purpose. My standard table grace would include being thankful for those who sat with us at the table and being thankful for what we were about to eat - that there were indeed those who could not sure the abundance of what we shared.

All of my standard table grace was acceptable for my parents, who grew up in the Great Depression and knew hardships and hardwork. Wordwise it included those that gave them comfort and satisfaction. These are not the same words I would use in a grace for UUs. Some UUs wouldnt feel any problems with it, but many certainly would (and I confess that my parents liked Male pronouns).

I admit that the first thing that would go would be, the words "prayer" and the words "grace".
Let's put aside what the actual words mean, I forgo "words" to focus on the purpose. Yes, it's really not a table reflection, or pre-meal thoughts - but if the purpose is to be thankful - then that is what I do: remind us to be thankful, to count our blessings.

In the example Peacebang presents: folks are angry about folks offering to pray for others. Not the "I'll pray for you to be saved, you heathen devils" prayer, but the "I will pray for you not to suffer" prayer. My initial thought is to wonder if they worry that they will get cooties if someone prays for them. As an aging southerner, this in-your-face anger puzzles me - If someone tells me something bizarre - "I'm going to the moon and eating some green cheese", then anger isnt how I would react. Since prayer is an accepted by the majority of US and World citizens - does this mean that those prone to anger at prayers are angry all the time? Isnt that a waste of anger - couldnt that anger be more productive? Aren't there worse things to be intolerant of?

My usual table graces arent as long now, as when I said them to my parents. Indeed even in my inclusive vocabulary, they might not be a table grace any more. But I do thank the cook or the preparer of the meal, I am appreciative of the reality that even simple fare is more than many others have. Even in my shyness, I have no problem when other at my table say "let us pray".
Prayer helps us focus on what is important.

"Now Be Thankful" - the Richard Thompson song

8 November 2007 at 19:39
I'm to write a sermon for next Sunday - it will be our Thanksgiving service (we won't have one the next week) -
and for some reason I keep thinking of the Dave Swarbrick and Richard Thompson song
"Now Be Thankful" -
of which you can read the words by clicking on the link, and hear the music by clicking on the video.
and before somebody asks, yes we all let our hair grow that long back in 1970. Clothes and songs were a bit Victorian romantic.
Dave Swarbrick (singer on this version) got to be fortunate enough to read his obit in the UK papers a few years back and he survived a lung transplant. Richard Thompson converted to Sufi Muslim not too long after he wrote this song; today he calls himself a liberal Muslim.
To play music in a Church, you have to have the proper music license - and we dont have one that covers this song, so I dont have to think about what the congregation would think.
And certainly that Victorian style romanticism is not for everyone -

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"Now be thankful for good things below
Now be thankful to your maker
For the rose, the red rose blooms for all to know"

Proof this is a real UU Blog

17 November 2007 at 15:04
cash advance

Fast Payday Loans

OK, so this blog is written on a college level (and my history Southern Universalist blog is written on a post-graduate level), is this enough to make this a real UU blog?

sure, why not?
do you have a more surefire method?

(note that the force ad has had it's link changed to my other website - so sorry no loans there, just southern Universalist history.....)

"A Heart Needs A Home" song

18 November 2007 at 11:25
I have a sermon to give in three hours, but instead of finishing it - Im puttering with music videos - hey, if they want a fancy sermon, we can get a professional rather than an amateur to give it. and Im thinking, I might have to do a "John Murray" and just flesh out my topic at the time I give it.

"A Heart Needs A Home" was written by Richard Thompson and song (in this video) by him and his then wife, Linda Thompson. They were devote Muslims at the time of this video,
and it is believed by some that this songs represents Richard Thompson's conversion experience. The words are vague enough that it could fit about anything with an influence on our lives, that fills that yearning. Knowing that it's really a religious song adds a different element to it.


22 November 2007 at 17:31
I have sick for the past few days -
- and have just gotten out of the sick bed to go to be with family.

-- it was rough. Nobody was in a particular pleasant mood -

not us, because we have been sick.
not nieces and nephew - just because we're their aunt and uncle.
not brother and sister and spouses - because they were trying to fix up the house
and now have to figure out what do we do with all this stuff
not my mother, because this is now a year since her stroke that led he to leaving her house to live in a nursing home and not be able to think clearly and not to live her life the way she wanted to.

"why are we here?" I was asked, and the answer is because they are family.
In a few years, we wont be able to spend thanksgiving with them anymore,
they will be hoping to have their children come to visit them on holidays then,
we're here because we share a history with them,
... oh, and because we love them, and they love us - they're family.
They're not perfect, but they're family.
And Im thankful for them....

What Makes a Good Worship Experience?

8 December 2007 at 14:59
Over on Dan's Yet another UU blog, the question becomes "What makes for Kick-Ass worship".
I responded, maybe not too helpfully... ok, no "maybe" about it: I responded unhelpfully with the observation that one person's good service is another person's bad service. And admitted that I cant stand youth services and large churches. Those of things that would make me stay at home. If I knew the youth or their parents, I would be more inspired. But then I dont like drum circles either.... and large churches throw way too many things that I don't care for. Say can one bring binoculars to large churches? I should mention that I dont go to large concerts either.

Shelby Meyerhoff lists several great things to make up for my post
"Music that is vibrant and accessible, Preaching that has a clear message that is relevant to listeners’ lives, Worship leaders who are warm, friendly, joyful and expressive" and a few more - which you can find at Dan's website.

As I think back to a service I provided to a group in NC last week, I wonder how sucessful I was. I can certainly see what should have been better - audience feedback certainly told me what they found interesting. And what I should have emphasized - and If I ever give this sermon again - I'll have a better understanding of what works. (My grandfather had a list of many sermons and when and where he gave them - it helps to avoid repeating it at the same place). Obviously the questions and comments that people gave, were what they found most interesting, and most inspirational....

for someone who only gives 6-8 sermons a year, Im impressed by the pros who can give 52- or more a year!

I find songs very important, both in front of the pulpit and behind it. They engage the congregation - I like loud numbers with loud singing - anthems. I like the participation, being part of things.

I've been quiet.....

24 December 2007 at 07:12
Today is Christmas Eve - forecast is for more rain ---it will be a nice 64 degrees later today.

I've been quiet, making a few comments on other blogs when I have time, but not doing much here. The reason being: Ive been busy.

My mother has been in the hospital for the past three weeks, and after work I have been there. As her health care power of attorney, I had to make tough decisions about her care, this means I had to make tough decisions about her life. There turns out to be no good decisions, just tough decisions. I had the fun of having a friend of the family lambaste my decision (which was to let her leg be amputated).
I did get some reading done while in the hospital though.... the rest of us are doing fine. My mother survived a year, so she's a tough woman.....

Ive got one gift under the tree - so I guess I havent been completely bad this year.
Ive got a couple gifts I bought for myself coming, which you're going to see if you read my southern Universalist history blog (assuming I get the time to read them anytime soon).

In the New Year, we plan to go to the Universalist Convocation in North Oxford Mass in May. Hopefully I'll be less quiet by then.

2008 and what did you do in 2007?

31 December 2007 at 23:37
Mom To the Left wrote her list for 2007, and it makes sense to fit mine here.....

List your favorites from 2007:

Book: Here If You Need Me
Movie (DVD): Popeye The Sailor Volume 1
(although Im working on Treasures from American Archives III)
TV Show: none, I watched no TV shows this year
unless you count the DVDs of the Flatt and Scruggs Show,
Song: Now Be Thankful (Richard Thompson)
Singer/Group: Alison Krause
Christmas Gift: only present was the DVD of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (the spouse and I buy an ancestry subscription)
Dinner Food: Spinach pirogies, Porkchops with balsamic vinegar
Snack: wasabi covered anything
Ice Cream Flavor: Cherry
Drink: diet vault (can someone say caffeine....)
Color: green
Hobby/Relaxing Thing: reading
Toy: my new computer

Where did you go on vacation?
Universalist convocation in Bellville Ohio (and visited Berlin and Wooster and Ohio Amish country and my mother's family roots in Lutheran country)
ALA meeting in Washington DC (not being a member, I spent my time at the husker's room, also went to the Universalist National Memorial Church)
Also McCormick and Myrtle Beach SC for weekends

What is your proudest accomplishment this year?
Giving two sermons in North Carolina.

What will you remember this year for?
giving my first two sermons to a neutral audience.

Make 1 New Year’s Resolution!!
spend less

how about you?

Misc and more misc

12 January 2008 at 12:11
A couple of days ago, my spouse asked me when I was going to add RSS to my blogs, and I told her that they've always had rss. She looked surprised and told me she would had them to her RSS reader (I think she uses bloglines - i just use the Google reader).
so this means that I now have a new fulltime reader, of course this means that everything I saw could be used against me, right?
- so watch me quickly delete old blog posts :-)

It's been rough this winter, so I havent had much desire to think about great posts for UU-ing. It's easier when i come home to just read a bit of email and do some reading.....

and I just know that you want to know what I've been reading? right?

VOGUES IN VILLAINY: Crime and Retribution in Ante-Bellum south Carolina (1959).
One of those books that just showed up in the house. This is somewhere between scholarly and popular history. Not dry enough for scholarly, and not lurid enough for current popularity. I didnt see any well known SC Universalist or Unitarian names. It does have another suggestion that the neighborhoods where the U and U churches were in Charleston, were less than savory. The book also tells us how much better that SC has gotten in fairness and crime in 100 years.

"the Shack" (c) 2007 William P. Young
an interesting book designed for (i guess) the more liberal
Evangelicals -where "God is presented as a loving and large black woman named
'Papa', Jesus as a laid back and friendly Middle Eastern man, and the Holy Spirit as a calm and cool Asian woman"
it almost made the trinity sensible (to me that is!), and it does explain why
evangelicals evengalize all the time even at the drop of a hat, (as if we didnt already know).
the book itself is about the murder of a small child , and
her depressed father going to the shack where she was murdered and
meeting the Trinity. With a plot like that, it would be easy to slip,
but I think it mostly succeeds. You might check the reviews on Amazon, to see if this would be your type of reading. I think it's a good view at this type of viewpoint.

I've read a stack of Jack Chick comics and tracts, and while this is also a good view of this type of viewpoint, it's a bit harder wading. Or is that too mild? Yes, I guess it is. You can go read a Chick tract on his website, if you havent had the experience.
For a while I was trying to figure out the range of some of the conspiracy theories: Mormon and Mason and Catholic and Muslim and Satanists and who else working together? However I figured it out fairly quickly. Everyone who disagrees with the author is engaged in a conspiracy to damn souls. It's a tough world we live in.

I always wanted a copy of the old socialist newspaper, APPEAL TO REASON, so I was delighted to pick up a copy for the price of a modern magazine - an issue from 1912, where the Appeal was almost up to 1/2 million weekly subscribers. this issue was an Teddy Roosevelt issue (not sure when Includes a space on the cover where the US post office refused to let them run a particular article on TR. Im still reading this, so not sure if this is pre-Bullmoose or not.

Lastly, I was reading one of my old posts on my history blog, where I comment about spam comments. At that time I mentioned that I would generally remove commercial spam, and that is when I put all comments to be moderated. I said I thought I wouldnt have to moderate more than that. Yes, I was young(er) and naive back then. For the record: since this blog is my house, I have the responsibility to keep it in what I think is reasonable shape. If you want to libel someone else, use your own blog, not mine. Thomas Jefferson is alleged to have said that "Freedom of the Press is owning one". Since almost anyone can do their own blog, I see no reason to let mine be hijacked by someone else.

I've gotten some Will Rogers films recently. You know, nice guy that he is, he never met a man he didnt like. It's been awhile since Ive seen one of his films (like decades), but I do have some old Will Rogers for President material that I enjoyed reading. I suspect that a good book of his old columns would be fun (maybe they would need to be annotated, but it would be fun." I see that the actual quote was about Trotsky and Rogers said about him "I bet you if I had met him and had a chat with him, I would have found him a very interesting and human fellow, for I never yet met a man that I didn't like." I can believe that, almost anyone can act likable.

UNMC Declaration of Faith.

21 January 2008 at 18:24
I see that the Universalist National Memorial Church, UU has finally adopted their new
Declaration of Faith - which has been under discussion for the past year.
While it's not something I would write or state as my favorite, I personally think I could live with it. Of course this brings up the question of what declaration would I write.


In faith and freedom, we are called
to bring hope and healing to the world,
so that all may rejoice in God’s grace.

I believe in
the universal love of God,
the spiritual authority and
leadership of Jesus Christ,
the trustworthiness of the Bible
as a source of divine revelation,
the need for repentance
and forgiveness of sin,
and the final harmony
of all souls with God.

opression (warning: snarky)

2 February 2008 at 08:55
I just read that a "process observer" watches over the UUA board and board committee meetings to make sure (among other things) that the meeting is anti-oppressive.
Wow, having somebody watching you at all times to make sure Iyoudont make a slip isn't oppressive?

- well ok, this is possibly a minor form of oppression.
And yes, I know that if everyone on the board joyfully and gratefully agrees to being monitored, then it can't be oppression.
And there may be a good reason for the Board not to trust itself to behave. No, no -Seriously!
But it sure does make for a good opportunity to be snarky, doesn't it?.

1935 Washington Avowl

19 February 2008 at 08:14

As readers of my other blog might have guessed, I've been way too busy to blog coherently. So let me put the Washington Universalist Avowal down below: and how would you modernize it?

The Washington Declaration of 1935

The bond of fellowship in this Convention shall be a common purpose to do the will of God as Jesus revealed it and to co-operate in establishing the kingdom for which he lived and died.

To that end, we avow our faith in God as Eternal and All-conquering Love, in the spiritual leadership of Jesus, in the supreme worth of every human personality, in the authority of truth known or to be known, and in the power of men of good-will and sacrificial spirit to overcome evil and progressively stablish the Kingdom of God.

Neither this nor any other statement shall be imposed as a creedal test, provided that the faith thus indicated be professed.

who am I?

8 March 2008 at 04:22
as I try to bring life back to a smidgen of normalcy, its therefore time to blog!
and what better place to start than by asking:

who am I?
is probably the fundamental question that we ask ourselves, the deep soul searching question for meaning and truth. Thanks to the internet, we can save a lot of time and energy and just take a quiz to find out where we stand!

Ok, I'm half joking - because using the non-Fox Belief-o-Matic, I see that I believe in the belo.
In all the years Ive taken this test, I've never scored below 95% in the UU category - Liberal Quakers and Reform Judaism are always in the top 20 percentile. Usually Neo Pagan is way down the list (wonder what i said this time), and Reform Judaism and Mahayana is sometimes in and sometimes out. Mainline Christianity is sometimes in, but out this week.

Unitarian Universalism 100%
Liberal Quakers 88%
Reform Judaism 83%
Neo Pagan 81%
Mahayana Buddhism 80%

We end up with two questions from this.
If I am usually 98-100% pure Unitarian Universalist,
can we therefore use me to help define what UU actually is??
and what do these 5-6 religious views have in common? Because by looking at the commonality, then I have good grounding at discovering what I believe; which may tell me who I am....

the old joke that it's the young folks who search for meaning in their lives, because the old folks are too busy trying to survive their lives has some element of truth. My search has no desperation, no angst, no pain - part of that may be because that I managed to deal with the pain, angst, etc many years ago, or it maybe that my life has been blessed, etc. It may even be that I'm kidding myself and that I will be dealing with an existentialist crisis at any moment - indeed thinking about it, that might be quite possible ... If I do, that will just be another piece in the question of who am I?...

Easter Week

23 March 2008 at 20:48
On Palm Sunday I gave a sermon about Easter week, stopping with the story of the arrest of Jesus- with emphasis on the redemption of Peter. Peter, as many of you recall, denied Jesus three times that evening. Our small congregation also had communion, service taken mainly from the old Red Hymnal.

I wanted to go to Church today, Easter Sunday, so we drove 100 miles up to Newberry leaving a big carbon footprint at Clayton Memorial, Lynch's Woods, and various business on the way home. We also talked religion on the long drive back. The sermon and service was excellent, very inspiring - well worth the trip to me. I just wish I could go every Sunday (hey, at least at 200 miles round trip, I have a perfectly reasonable excuse). There was communion there as well, it was Easter Sunday after all. The fellowship was also nice.

I went out and mowed the lawn on Saturday -
a perfect chore for a day between a day of sorrow and and a day of joy.
- and a good sermon point for some year in the future - what do we do on the Saturday in-between?

But today is the day of joy - the time to the do the Snoopy happy dance -
- I personally feel that the Easter story is part of the bookends to the important messages in between the covers; but never mind that today, because it's time for celebrating - I can see the dove carrying the twig in it's beak - the eternal hope, the greater hope, the knowledge that there will be a new and glorious day someday. Something to give us hope. That's part of the joy of Easter ......

Happy Easter everybody!

North Oxford and Worchester Ma sightseeing suggestions?

27 March 2008 at 18:32
In about a month, I will be heading off to the Universalist Convocation in North Oxford, Ma.
(still not too late to join us there - see http://nmuc.org/Convo/ ).

However, I will be there a few days before and after the Convocation and am looking for things to do in central Ma (or somewhere else reachable from the North Oxford area). Since I will be busy from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, Sunday Church visiting wont be one of the things - except for an evening service.....

any suggestions? (and yes, i am thinking of some of the typical UU tourist sites - but feel free to suggest them anyway).


Are We Congregationalists or Episcopalians? (1923 version)

12 April 2008 at 18:51
I found this a very interesting take on 2008 UUA as well as the 1923 UCA.....

Rev Stanley Manning was the director of the Universalist Church's Young Person's department back in 1923 , and among other things, he wrote a weekly coloumn for the weekly denominational paper, THE UNIVERSALIST HERALD. In a column in early June, he wrote that the depression in Georgia was forcing Universalist ministers to move north, as the local churches couldn't afford to pay them a living wage. He suggested that they do something about this.

++++++++++++++++++June 23, 1923
The article published two weeks ago on this page and entitled "S.O.S" has let to some rather interesting "Comebacks."
Some have said, "That's the thing; we must help." Others have said, "This is something for the General convention to undertake." Still others, and the great majority, have said nothing.
The Director of Young People's Work has no desire to press this matter except to bring to the attention of the Church the fact that here is a problem whih our brothers and sisters in the South can not solve without our, at least temporary, help.

These "Comebacks" are illustrative of two different types of mind among us. The congregational mind utilizes a denominational organization only for doing those larger taks which are beyond the possibilities of a local church. It feels perfectly free to undertake any sort of enterprise on its own responsibility, without consulting "the men higher up."
The episcopalian (or presbyterian) mind awaits the initiative of the larger organization, and then undertakes to perform the task assigned.
There are advantages in each, but success depends upon a different set of qualifications in either case.
If we are congregationalists (psychologically) we must have the daring to initiate and carry through projects that challenge us to larger tasks than we have ever undertaken heretofore. It was in the hope that some of our churches might do this to the extent of adding to their salaried workers a missionary pastor and send him to a Southern circuit, that the S.O.S. call was sent out.
The fact of the matter is that our church polity is a combination of these two: it is neither ultra-congregational, in which the local parish can do as it may please, regardless of all the rest, nor is it wholly episcopalian or presbyterian, in which the governing individuals or organizations are absolute. But if we take this fact as an excuse for "passing the buck" when an opoportunity opens or a call for help comes, so that the General Convention officials say "Our hands are tied: we can not appropriate money which the churches do not give;" and the churches say, "this is what we have a General Convention for; it is the convention's affair, and not ours" - well, long ago someone had something to say about those who were asked, "Why halt ye so long between two opinions?" We must make up our minds to be a mighty army and move like one both in our ordinary work and likewise when an emergency arises, or we muct be ready to meet cases of urgent need by special and if necessary extra-legal methods, moved by the universalism of our faith and not by what our next-door neighbors do or fail to do.
My own personal preference is for the former method; I would rather be a buck private in this army, to go or come or stay, to give or to withhold, as my commanding office might order; and I should like him to have the reserve of power necessary to meet emergencies, as does the President of the United States, for instance - only I should want the right, under proper restrictions, to prevent ill-considered or hasty action, to return this C.O. to the ranks and elevate some one else to that position.
But whether we are congregationalists or episcopalians or presbyterians, let us be univesalists, and go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.


just a short note about my now being debt free

25 April 2008 at 17:40
I have been grumpy about UU stuff on other's blogs, but not here. This is because I'm saving the nice stuff for my own blog. You can call me Mr. Knucklehead elsewhere, but here I am Mr. Sunshine.
and what is it that has made me Mr. Sunshine? ah, those of you reading the title above know the answer: I am debt free!
after being in debt for 12 years! (actually longer if you include student loans - so we'll say 22 years!), I am debt free. For the past 8 years, I have been putting aside 1/3 of my income to reduce debt load. and finally I am here ! Just in time to go on vacation !
Sometime in the early Summer, I will have to see what to do with the "extra" dough, but as of now - I see 1/3 (of the 1/3) going to help a family member reduce her debt; 1/3 going to savings, and 1/3 going to charities - it is about time to start tithing again isnt it?

(oh and folks, have a better plan for graduate school and divorce living, OK?)

Charity Begins

26 April 2008 at 14:02
As mentioned below, I now have more money. and part of what I was going to do with to save - (I have just a decade before retirement!) and increase my charitable contributions. I had planned to just increase the charities I contribute to now: various Unitarian Universalist, Universalist, and Environmental groups. But I decided to start with a semi-charity Kiva. Kiva is a group that provides loans to loan groups in countries that loan to poor folks who need loans for their business.
the loaner and the loanee make money. Kiva and you (the contributor) don't - although if you are lucky you get your money back. So you can loan it to someone else.
Interest rates can be high (but my credit cards were higher than the one Im loaning to), so not a perfect plan - but seems reasonably fair. Apparently a lot cheaper than the usual loans - and a lot cheaper than the payday loans people here in the USA.
see my link to the right, or go to www.kiva.org
make sure you read their FAQs -

The recent UU Blog discussions.....

28 April 2008 at 17:42
Ok folks, the recent UU Blog discussions are about the ex-Independent Affiliates and the de-funding of the National UU Youth programs.

Jess's Journal does a nice post on her initial feelings about the National UU Youth Program.
this sums up my own feelings so well, that I dont even have to. As I stated there, I almost wish she will turn her post around and explain why the National Cons are good for both individuals and the UU as a group. Because that's what I really would like to hear - yes, I'm a do gooder and I like to think organizations that I belong to, do good.
But all missionary work (and that's what the National UU Youth Program is) has to convince the donors that it's doing the job it was intended to. Or at least, trying hard to do the job it was intended to. And if the program is worth doing, and has lots of support, why aren't people doing fund raising right now? Saying - "if the National UUA doesnt fund it, then we will, because it is worth saving and worth doing". Why isn't this being done?

I'm a member of some of the former independent affiliates. This year, like last year, I paid my dues and looked at and bought books and nicknacks from them. If these former affiliates send a fund-raising letter to me, I would toss in a (small) check, because the work they do is important to me. Would I like it, if the UUA would restore the privileges to my favorite IAs that membership had for them? Sure. I like the UUA to fund them as well, and let me win the lottery so I dont have to work anymore, while you're at it. But each dollar spent on something means you dont have a dollar for something else. So when I support the UUHS, this means that I have to do without something else-no eating out, no good wine, no Rocky and Bullwinkle DVDs.
I personally feel that the Board was too sweeping when they removed virtually all the IAs. I know they were expecting some of them to unite in common ground, but that hasnt happened. On the other hand, the sky hasnt fallen on the ex-IAs either. Most or all still exist - even a full year after the cut. And i admit that I supported some cuts - but I know I couldnt say where to draw the line....
I dont have much vested in these issues. Or do I? I'm at least putting a little money where my loud mouth is. If these issues mean something to you, I hope you will do the same.

Vacation in MA

10 May 2008 at 09:31
Ok, we went to the Universalist Convocation in North Oxford MA, and we vacationed there and back - a few thoughts about the trip there and back.....

we had lots of discussions about flying vs driving vs train riding. My partner doesnt feel they can do any stop overs due to inner ear problems, and the direct flights - were either early in the AM or late in the PM. We opted for the flight early in the AM, which meant staying overnight near the airport - I spent way too many hours at work that morning (was supposed to leave at 1 PM, left at 6!) -- bought a new GPS unit, but hadnt had time to learn it too well (if using it once to drive 1 mile is using it at all).
Got to the airport at 6 AM, no problem with our flight. I havent flown in 12 years, so havent experienced the new security measures. Two hour flight versus two day car or train trip, made it much more convent. The waiting at the airport and at the car rental place (we got a trainee who took forever and kept trying to upgrade us, despite our having prepaid). The rental car asessary device (or whatever they call the former cigarette lighter) wasnt working, which meant that we couldnt use the GPS! - and we got bamboozled by bad signage in Boston) -
I had dropped an email to the Gloucester UU church (that John Murray preached at) - had hoped to see the interior - but they closed early that day - (we'll be nice and say they didnt get my email - and not that it was a direct result of my threatened visit). We did have some delicious halibut in a local restaurant. We then took headed to Worcester and our hotel in Auburn. I had some not-so-nice things to say about MA drivers, but I've been corrected by MA drivers to say that what we experienced were Eastern MA drivers. My apologizes to central and western MA drivers, who did seem to be much nicer.
Thursday, we went to Walden Pond - Put a rock on the cairn on the site of the cabin, and I bought a back issue of the Journal of the Thoreau Society, and the partner got a sweatshirt and gifts for the staff at her job. I discovered that the bean field that Thoreau worked at, was white bush beans - perfect for Boston baked beans? Then on to the battlefield at Lexington and Concord. Yes, I stood at the spot where Paul Revere was captured. I admit to being impressed by all the Unitarian Universalist churches - there seemed to be one in almost every town.... living in an area where there is one for every 70 miles, this is impressive. looked at the various graves - the Alcotts, Emerson, Thoreau, etc at the Sleeepy Hollow cemetery in Concord. We had a nice meal at the WAYSIDE INN (in Sudberry?). This is where the setting of TALES OF THE WAYSIDE INN is, so the poem "the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" is told here (by the Innkeeper). It is also where the Universalist Fraters meet annually. Ate Indian Pudding.
Friday, we went up to see the waterfalls in North Central MA, Royalston and Doane - close enough to New Hampshire, we drove up there to say we did. Friday was also the start of the Universalist convocation - held at the grounds of the Barton Center for Diabetic Education. This was a former Universalist Woman's Association and UUWF property. The UUWF sold it about ten - fifteeen years ago.
i'll forgo comments on the convocation itself for a later post.
Sunday after the convocation was over, we and the Rev Barry Whittmore went to the historic site at Lowell (where the UU connection was the Universalist semi-connected "Lowell Offering" magazine of "Mill Girl writings"), and then up to Lawrence - where they have no easily seen historic markers - but we knew some anyway. Bread and Roses. The GPS was working, after being charged on the laptop, making finding things easier.
Monday we took the train to Boston (avoiding the Eastern MA drivers) - ate Boston Baked Beans, and toured the UUA building. Met friends there, in the building! Did a walking tour, saw the Charles Street Meeting House (now businesses), Saw the outside of King's Chapel (it's closed on Monday in May), and various other historic sites.
Tuesday, took the scenic drive through the rural area of Connecticut in their "last green valley". lots of farms. The General Greene historic site in Rhode Island was closed, so we went to the highest point in RI and signed the logbook instead.
Wednesday, drove early to Logan Airport - the gas station where we were to fill up the rental car was blocked off by construction, but the GPS found us another with no problem. Returning the rental car itself was easy too. So we got to the airport way early. the flight back was very bumpy - just glad it wasnt that bad on the way north - or i would have been anxious about the return flight.
now all i have to do is catch up on my sleep.....

Songs that ought to be in the UU Hymnal

12 May 2008 at 16:37
Many of the songs in the UUA hymnal are hard to sing by folks singing in the pews; so my first thought for hymnal is "can almost anyone sing it?" - then of course, I like anthem type songs.
and yes, most of these below are folks songs....

these songs ought to be in the UUA hymnal

"Turn Turn Turn" Hard to believe that we dont have this song by UU member Pete Seeger in our hymnal. this could be easily sung by all UUs....

"Lean on Me" this old -1972- standard by Bill Withers would fit most of our humanistic congregations- this or the Carole King "you've got a friend'

'Wasn't that a time" this old Lee Hayes song - Hayes knew his anthems and what got folks singing (he was a Methodist minister if memory serves me right) - this would fit the social justice crowd, wouldnt it? Or maybe his (and seeger's) "If I had a Hammer", maybe a bit cliche for folks of my generation (no idea if the younger folks would know it or not)

we like spirituals (and note some of these might be in the hymnal) - how about "Rock-a my Soul", "sinner man", "standing in the need of prayer", "walk in Jerusalem" "were you there?"
most of these have words that even those of us who read ahead would still be able to sing....
-- (note that I feel the words soul, sinner, prayer, Jerusalem and crucifixion are neutral -
I would possibly be wrong = rock-a-my-spirit, bad human, standing in the need of goodvibes,
"Give me Oil in my Lamp"

no doubt I'll think of some more later on -
please feel free to add your own (on your blog or mine) songs that ought to be in the UU Hymnal

(and yes, I know copyright laws and payment issues would keep some of these out, but
"turn turn turn", really?)

FAQ on Unitarian Universalist Seminaries

12 May 2008 at 17:27
For some reasons I'm getting a fair number of hits by folks (or by one persistent folk)
looking for info on Unitarian Universalist Seminaries.
Ok, I admit to have a masters degree, but it wasnt from a seminary

you want

and while not an UU seminary, I believe Harvard now has an UU chair.
many UU seminarians go to non-UU seminaries.
You may want to check this out - lots of helpful info aboput what to do.
including a list of acceptable non-UU schools for UU ministers.


"After You Die" quiz

18 May 2008 at 10:48

After you die...
Guardian Angel

After death, you will exist as a guardian angel in order to protect your still-living loved ones. You might even inspire a classic Christmas movie.

Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

I got the quiz from Ms. Kitty's blog (only because I read it prior to James' Monkey Mind blog).
I just wonder what kind of mood or whatever I was in when I took this quiz... A Guardian Angel?
Maybe that is actually meant to be a type of hell? Other folks get to rest in the cool cool ground, or strum those harps - but I get to hang around earth till all my loved ones have died?
I get more responsibilities even after death?? and they say G*d doesn't have a sense of humor....

Someone is wrong on the internet.....

3 July 2008 at 16:27
Like many of us, the temptation is to help those poor wrong souls who write all those things on the internet. It's doubly important when those poor misguided souls are UUs! Horrors that we don't help them see their folly..... why they might be embarrassed by their comments when they become as smart as us....
I say sometimes the best way to stay UU is to never talk to another UU - that way you will only be offended by what you hear in the pulpit....
this is of course exaggeration for comic effect, but only slight exaggeration..
while all groups and organizations have their conflicts, they usually can agree on the foundations of the group. UUs can't do that, as we cant agree on a core....
What brings this up to day are the usual shouting matches on a couple of UU mailing lists, with the usual response by some that they will just pick their ball up and go home. A blog response by someone very upset who wants the UUs to do something (I cant really tell what - other than we dont need to criticize what they like) -
I am resisting the UU tradition and jumping in a discussing / arguing back.... by looking at the b below cartoon - a new classic --
One does have to pick and chose what is important, not just spend one's life throwing water on someone who is trying to do the same to you....
Another reason to be thinking this way is all the UU websites Ive looked at this week because of the UU discussion that the spouse and myself had over which UU congregation to visit this weekend - we will be driving near 6 congregations having services (which is pretty good for the south) - the two sermon topics I liked best are congregations that we've already visited (the spouse thinks we need to spread our greatness around to all UUs) - of the remaining 4, one service is very local oriented, one has a speaker who specializes in spirituality of wealth building and two are on paleontology! Hard to chose -
So we suspect that we will be wealthier when we come back home ---
(in all honesty, that is the speakers specialty, not what they will be speaking on).
So, how many wrong statements are in today's UU-ing? You need to write in and correct me - after all we can't have anybody wrong on the internet, can we?

ADDED LATER: The current issue (July 15th 2008) of THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY has a short editorial on "Family Squabbles" or denominational squabbles. "Sometimes we think of denominations as families"; to which the late Jack Stotts, theologian and seminary president - pointed out that the families in the Bible tended to be dysfunctional. So all as it ever was!

Jesse Helms and Universalist attonement (note: G word)

7 July 2008 at 17:16
It's a little known fact that I lived in NC for a few years, I also rarely mention that my dad's family lived in NC from c1702-1952 (when my parents moved to SC). NC generally gets a nod over SC for progressiveness and social justice ---- even this weekend I had someone (in NC) tell me about the stench one smells when one goes south of the line.....
.... but neither of us thought of Jesse Helms. by 1972 when Jesse was elected, he could have considered Strom Thurmond a liberal - and certainly by the time Jesse retired - Strom would have been liberal (comparison wise - Strom was always a politician and pragmatist). Jesse and the then majority of NC voters believed in him, and believed as he did.....

a few cartoons

I well understand those who would cry for vengeance and hellfire for such a sinner - and such an unrepentent sinner - I note that the President of the United States said that
'Jesse Helms was a kind, decent, and humble man and a passionate defender of what he called "the Miracle of America." So it is fitting that this great patriot left us on the Fourth of July. He was once asked if he had any ambitions beyond the United States Senate. He replied: "The only thing I am running for is the Kingdom of Heaven." Today, Jesse Helms has finished the race, and we pray he finds comfort in the arms of the loving God he strove to serve throughout his life. "

How could anyone who ever met Jesse call him humble? seriously?

As a sometime Ultra-Universalist (those who believe in "death and glory") I think he may indeed be in the arms of the loving God, and if so, God is indeed comforting Jesse -- because Jesse is having to deal with the enormity of the wrong and sin that he has done and has fostered through the land. I have no idea how much suffering one would want to do for atonement. Some might argue eternity would not be enough. But I have no doubt that when Jesse saw God', he did indeed suffer at the enlightenment of his wrongdoing....
I would almost have sympathy......
I do hope that we of this world will now suffer less...

2 dead, 4 critically wounded at Knoxville UU Church

27 July 2008 at 12:34
1 member and 1 visitor has died and 4 members of the Tennessee Valley UU were critically wounded this morning at 10:15 AM by a gunman with a shotgun, while children were singing songs from the musical Annie Jr. The gunman was overpowered by members of the congregation.
The member who died delibertly shielded others from the attack.

the folks in Knoxville will need whatever help we might be able to give.

update: www.wbir.com seems to have the best updates

the Problem of UU Cultural Misappropriation.

12 September 2008 at 20:36
One of the big UU bloging topics this week is cultural misappropriation, and more exactly the use of that term in the upcoming revision of the UU β€œPrinciples and Purposes”.
The idea is one of those things that sounds good on the surface, but may not be. Because where will the line be drawn and who draws it?
Let me give an example from the other week. Person A was talking about a Native American cultural item that they were using that just wasnt what it used to be.... Person B jumped in all upset about cultural misappropriation of the item and chewed the Person A out. The major problem was that the item was given to Person A by a close family member, who was Native American. Is this cultural misappropriation or not?
This issue was brought up first by Rev James Ford - who questioned if the entire UU Buddhist community might be alleged by some to be guilty of cultural misappropriation. I've been to a Passover Seder, invited by a giyoret. Am I guilty of cultural misappropriation for accepting the invitation? In the UU hymnal, we have changed wordings from the original of certain songs - aren't all of those hymns cultural misappropriation? Since many of our Congregations are not Christian, can we sing Christian hymns without it being cultural misappropiation? One worried blogger even wondered if this whole thing was an attempt to force the UUA back to its old vision of Unitarian and Universalist Christians. - because that is the UUA's heritage.
The other worry with this whole thing, is that like most of the rest of the proposed P&P, it's full of legalize and academic speak. While the whole thing might be to force UUs not to treat it as a creed, what if they do? Do we want to affirm our Anti-Cultural Misappropriation every Sunday (assuming we could still meet on Sunday that is )?
Rev Ford nicely suggest a change of wordage to what is essentially "be sensitive". This is something that I could affirm, something that sends a positive message rather than a negative message. As for the whole idea of cultural misappropriation: we can simply remember that "if you dont know what you're talking about: dont ."

Bad Days and Hard Times

30 September 2008 at 19:24
Are bad days and hard times coming? or are they already here?
the pundits are talking about recession and depression - the folks who remember the last Great Depression are now mostly deceased - it's been that long. Indeed we as a society no longer remember or agree on the lessons learned from then... Is it don't have debt or don't have frivolous debt? pay down your debt or save for retirement? or is it too late for that? There are already places with long lines waiting for gasoline...
Today I spent four hours dealing with an out-of-control barely teenage child. There was sex, drugs, dysfuctional families, knives, blood, death, - and manipulation that seems to work very well. There were hospitals that didn't want to bother, and hospitals that were out of beds.
Across the parking lot is a small park, across that is a store - where the owner was murdered yesterday evening. Rumors are that he was killed for fertilizer. Now you can do more than plant roses with fertilizer, but still, killed for fertrilizer....

Our lives are filled with bad days and hard times - because bad days and hard times are part of life. None of us will live forever in perfect health and perfect joy. We can however strive for that joy, despite the bad and the hard. We can smile and sing yet. Indeed that is some of our call - to help those find the joy and to help find that anchor in life's storms . As the song (in the UU Hymnal and other sources) goes: "My life flows on in endless song above earth's lamentation. I hear the real through far off hymn that hails a new creation. Through all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing. It sounds and echoes in my soul. How can I keep from singing?" When your bad times hit you, look around for the singer and the music.

Barak Obama videos you might not have seen

23 October 2008 at 19:32
I live in a one-party state, so thanks to the Presidential election 8 years ago, I voted for third party Presentational candidates fours ago, and plan to do so this year as well. So I'm not praising my candidate when I post these videos. The last video does feature an Universalist (if a Primitive Baptist Universalist)

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

In the mailbox

24 October 2008 at 17:39
Many years ago, a SF fan used to publish a small press magazine about his mail. and he did this on a monthly basis -- as odd as this sounds, this is probably an interesting experiment back in those days pre-email, but still an interesting snapshot of "who we are" and in that spirit, I present the few items of P.O. Mail that came in today.

One magazine: NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS - NOVEMBER 6TH ISSUE -special election issue -
One License Plate - we get a new one every 4 years or so, after we pay our car tax and other fees. No envelop this year, just shrink wrapped with an address label and registration card.
one mail order catalog - Heifer International -

So what does this mail tell about me? And what does your mail tell about you?


what's so funny about peace, love, and understanding?

1 November 2008 at 17:32
What's so funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding? was a song written by Nick Lowe in the mid-late 1970s - and was on an early hit album of Elvis Costello (1978). Lowe and his cohorts in Rockpile were the last true rockers that I personaly listen to and followed, as i veered off at that time to roots music: blues, bluegrass, etc.
By 1978 the Hippie era was already gone, and punk music, and Rolling Stone and other rock magazines would made fun of the Hippie sentimentality and Hippie idealism and of course would laugh at the leading Hippie rock bands, like the It's a Beautiful Day -- thus leading up to this song. While I'm not going to try to guess Lowe's meanings back then, I do want to show this recent (2007) version, played less rock style and more as a lament than an anthem.
I often wonder what songs would make good UU Hymnal songs -I'm not sure if this would fit, it's somewhat tied to the late 1970s, and the birth of globial cynicsm, and I generallly do prefer anthems. but still 30 years later, the question does really remains "What's so Funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding"....

Rev Kalen Fristad, universalist Methodist Minister in NC this wek

7 November 2008 at 20:48
Rev Kalen Fristad is a Methodist minister, who works in both Iowa preaching to Methodists, and on the road speaking to others on universalism. He's also the chairman of the Christian Universalist Association. He will be in Trinity, NC on Sunday, November 9 and at Greensboro on Sunday, November 16

He preaches the more traditional Christian Univeralism (not a "death and glory" guy)
but since actions speak louder than words:

CC Memes the Universe

23 December 2008 at 07:51
The Chaliceblog: Another day, another meme

I got two Memes "today", one from a facebook friends who told me to send it to 25 of my friends!
I dont even have 25 facebook friends.... so I'm taking this as a technicality out.

But then Chalice Chick memed the Universe... since Ive been bad about blogging, why not join the rest of the Universe?
(how could I not mention not having heat for 2 weeks, or joining thousands of my co-workers in having a mandatory furlough
(5 days during the next 6 months - MDs are being furloughed too, so Im not alone)

1- My favorite pastimes are reading, listening to music, nature watching, historic site visiting

2- If I weren't doing this current job, I would like to be a refrence librarian (of course it could be that I'm only hearing the good points of the job and not the bad points)

3-I am irrationaly worried about - my rational worries.

4- If I were the opposite sex - I'd be a different person with different experiences. Not so sure in what way, or how it would have effected me, but things would be different.

5-The thing I miss most about childhood - is talking daily with my brother, sisters, and parents. Enjoy it while you can folks!

6- I like to collect: way too much stuff: 1800s religious books and magazines, 1940s humor comic books, pre-war country music,
etc, etc.

7-Though I’ve never been there, I feel inexplicably homesick for - Riverdale. Reading too many Archie comics, but it's near the beach, near the mountains and wilderness, surports local buisnesses, has a burger joint with a jukebox

8 - I’ve never really liked to eat - watermeleon. I dont dislike it, I just cant eat it.

9 - When I have nightmares, they’re usually about - they're the standard anxiety dreams....

10- magazines subscibed to: gee, I get tons of magazines - Universalist Herald, UU World, Journel of UU History, Christian Century, Triangle, New York Review of Books, Archelogy, Biblicial Archelogy Review, Utne Reader, synthesis, Bluegrass Unlimited, Darlington Flag,
UCA newsletter, Progessive Christian, and that's just a start...

SR - who doenst have to tag, as the universe has already been tagged....

Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll (William Zantzinger 1939-2009)

8 January 2009 at 19:08
"William Zanzinger killed Poor Hattie Carroll"
is the first line of the 1963 Bob Dylan tune. In that year William Zantzinger a young (24) man attacked Hattie Carroll (51) with a cane while she was doing her job serving in a hotel. She died as a result - and he has finally did 45 years later.

The song itself is considered a masterpiece of writing
- while one can argue (and folks do) with the exact interpretation of what happened,
but it a perfect example of while some details may not be inerrant, it is still truth.

this is a 1964 version - rough and uncomfortable--just like the song.

another culture

22 January 2009 at 17:56
The blog UU Way of Life is taking questions asked of the candidates for UUA President. One being:

"What experiences have you had that help you deeply understand the mindset and values of another culture?"

My lack of excitement concerning the two candidates led me to skip their answers, but i did wonder about both the question and the questioner. What actually were they wanting to know about this question? What exactly are they meaning by "another culture"? Does one have to have special experiences to understand another culture? Does understanding other cultures make a person special?

Does understanding other cultures' values and mindsets make one worthy enough to be UUA President? I talk and interact with folks from a large variety of cultures - I hear people's dreams and visions for their and their family's future. I don't always agree with them (particularly those who's dreams include types of criminal behavior) but I understand it.
To a certain extent it's easy to get information from other cultures - you keep quiet and you keep hanging around. Understanding is a bit harder, because that takes listening - and thinking. Why do people say that - why do people act that? Not judging, but listening is the key to understanding. It's not the American way to listen. Of course if one wanted to be President of the UUA, you could just say that you attended several Cultural Competence workshops - we UUs love workshops .*
What makes us not aware of other culture's values? Arrogance and assumptions.
It's easy to be guilty of that.... Indeed it would be easy for me to bring out my own arrogance and assumptions to mention my fellow UUs arragonce and assumptions. Let me instead ask you to ask a question that Kim Hampton asked awhile back. (Actually I'm pharapraising her greatly) What books have your read this year by someone not of your culture?
- I'll go further, what music have you listened to that you don't normaly do? What TV show or movie? If you generally dont read best selling fiction, have you? If you never listen to hiphop or MTV or gospel, then do so. Now - as you might guess, that's not enough. You have to watch MTV without gasping for air, or gospel without getting your smelling salts. You have to listen and try to see clearly why the audience responds as they do.

I admit to the experinces that shaped me: my father lived in mainland China for about 4 years, I have family members in Thailand now. I grew up in a vastly poverty stricken area and most of my friends growing up were poor. As a kid we didnt know they were poor. i've lived with folks of different races for years. And to repeat the above: I've heard the dreams of those in many different cultures. To me to hear the real dreams is to hear who they are.
It isnt difficult to hear other culture's dreams, but you do have to open the door of your comfort zone.

* I assume everyone knows the joke about how St. Peter (at the golden gates of Heaven) finds UUs - he has a sign pointing to Heaven, and a sign pointing to a workshop and lecture about Heaven - and all the UUs go to the workshop.

Question on UUSC

17 March 2009 at 21:18
Their website is non-informative (really really non-informative).
can anyone give me some good reasons to give money to the UUSC?

(my usual charities are individual churches, environmental groups, heifer international, and Kiva)

books bought from library sale

18 April 2009 at 11:07
The small local library had an off-season booksale today, to lessen the amount of stock they had in their closet... The books were semi-separated, but not too well...

Here's what I got (for a total of $4.25) - keep in mind that these are impulse items, and that by rules of the this house for every two books in, three go out.

THE GOSPELS OF MARY - by Marvin Meyer with Ester A. DeBoer (2004 Harper Collins) - can one have enough gnostic Gospels? well, probably one can....but this book says it takes the gnostics and the gospels to give the real story of Mary Magadalene, Jesus' closest disciple.

NORTHWEST OF EARTH - By C. L. Moore (2007 Planet Stories) - short stories written in the 1930s by Catherine Moore in the 1930s for Weird Tales, Planet Stories, etc. This should be swashbuckling space opera - she's best known as the co-writer of Mimsy_were_the_Borogoves.

ALBERT SCHWEITZER: AN ANTHOLOGY - edited by Charles R. Joy (1947 Beacon Press, Harper and Brothers) this is an "relgious book club" edition of the book. a recent discsuuion on the Unitarain Universalist Historical Society email list, reminds me of his connection with UUs and his influence on the mid20th Century. He apparently hasnt aged well - but it still should be interesting to read his words.

AROUND THE WORLD WITH THE NATIONAL JEWISH OUTREACH PROGRAM - by Shimon Apisdorf (2000 National Jewish Outreach Program, Jewish Literacy foundation). The Jewish Calendar and Jewish Holidays

EXPLORDING JUDAISM: A RECONSTRUCTIONIST APPROACH - By Rebecca T. Alpert, Jacob J. Staub (1988 the Reconstructionist Press) this is a book about what it means to be Jewish to the Reconstuctionist - the 4th major group of Judiasm in the USA.

THE GREAT STILLNESS: TAO MEDIATIONS VOLUME 2 - By Bruce Frantzis (1998, 2001 North Atlantic Books, Energy Arts)

MAGIC TIME by Doug Marlette (2006 ) this is an autographed Advanced Reading Copy. Marlette (1949 -2007) was a pulitizer prize winning editorial cartoonist. I read his work and met him when he was the cartoonist for the Charlotte Observer (1972-1987) - I confess that Ive not read his fiction.

UNCLE SILAS by J. S. LeFanu (1899 - this edition by Dover) actualy publsihed in 1864 - this is considered to be one of the major works by one of the major writers of ghost stories in the 19th century. What I've read recently of LeFanu, I admit to enjoying. We'll see if I say the same for this.

so does anyone see the themes in all this? ;-)
and no, I wont be posting on what 10-11 books are removed from the house.....

Rural Heritage

26 April 2009 at 06:59
I had some interesting experiences yesterday. I went to a Rural Heritage Festival in the next town over here in SC, and later went to a meeting with co-members of an environmental group concerning "mountain top removal" in WVA and SC responsibility for it. One of he major commonalities of them for me, was that the majority of folks that I talked to at both were farmers. We'd expect that at a Rural Heritage Festival, but at a meeting about coal mining?

Most of us here living in the United States do have rural heritage, although further back than this festival was celebrating. Up to the 1910s, most people in the US lived in rural areas. Currently 21% of the United States is still rural, with 4 states mostly rural (Mississippi, West Virginia, and Maine and Vermont). My father's family were farmers from at least the time they moved to North Carolina (around 1795 from Virginia), up to my grandfather. My father used to say that it's good that my grandfather was a "hobby farmer", because the farm never made any money. I grew up in a rural area (and still am in a rural county), the neighbors farmed - we didn't. I read my grandfather's copies of "Progressive Farmer" and "Organic Gardening and Farming" and later my own copies of "Organic Gardening" (they had spun New Farm into its own magazine) and "Mother Earth News" - but I never really developed my own green thumb. I do remember the neighbors plowing with mules, and the smell of spring: organic fertilizer on the fields. In my 20s, I spent five years leading month-long wilderness trips, such things as being able to build fires during a snowfall - while rural, its not what we think of as "rural heritage". Because, RH is nostalgia talk for farm life.

We bought some things at the RHF, wine from a "local" winery (is 76 miles local?), rice from the local rice farm (22 miles, less if we could go as the crow flies). The rice farm uses renewal energy, and is organic. The local organic sheep farm (15 miles) will be in town next week at the marketplace (bringing more items), so will buy our cheese then (no, its not sheep cheese). Other exhibits including "marsh tacky horses", fishing rods casting, medicinal plants, birds of prey, bluegrass, "water watch" , tips for gardening, recycled water barrels, boiled peanuts, and BBQ sauce (vinegar based for Eastern Carolina folks). The big tech thing was growing switchgrass for bioenergy and the hopes for farmers for that. the local papermill is building biofuel (corn however) mills.

the environmental meeting was held on Saturday night, at a home not that far distant so that I was able to go. There was someone down (literally) from the Appalachians to talk about Mountain Top removal - strip mining removal of mountains. and the removal of said coal here to SC (and various other places, SC is not in the top 5 - just the top 10), and what we can do about it. Informative, but i want to continue to talk about farmers - because i spoke with a couple of farmers there. Yes, farmers there to hear about non-farming environmental news. I listen to their concerns - and yes,as farmers they have big concerns : their lives and livelihoods depend on it. I find fascinating the farmers who have web pages and those who ship their products direct to consumers. Carbon footprints? Depends - at least from farm (to processor) to you makes it at least somewhat more direct, without the wondering the food goes through otherwise.

Universalist Convocation - in Birmingham May 15-17, 2009

1 May 2009 at 06:15


held on May 15-17 (Friday evening through Sunday dinner- lunch) at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birminham in Birmingham Alabama. For more information see the website at


(and yes, I'll be there)

Why are UU Congregations still so mono-cultured?

24 May 2009 at 07:39
After decades of attempts to build multi-cultural congregations, why are UU still so mono-cultured? Which is a way of asking why are UUs still so upper middle class white?
Because of course, we are (or at least appear to be).

And the usual answer is because UUs haven't done enough consciousness-raising, haven't attended enough workshops, haven't had enough of the veils lifted from our eyes. Some of that is probably true -
but it doesn't explain why there are some organizations that have not tried any consciousness-raising and workshops, that are multi-cultural. What have they done that has made them that way, what answers do they get when they ask how to be more multi-cultural? Why can't this work for us?

My guess is that there are multiple reasons, here's a slight handful:

There are people who don't like to associate with you, and you have to give them some reason to put up with you. It doesnt matter that you're nice and don't talk about your car, your job, your love of music from opera to bluegrass; they still have nothing in common with you, why should they put up with you? and the reasons for this could be that they are poorer than you, or richer than you, it's still "what reasons do they have to come down and sit near you?"

You call them sinners for eating meat, or lunchmeat with nitrates, or not eating organic.
You call them sinners for allowing their children to join the military, and not feeling quilty about their children's decision.
You look at them funny if they dress different - like wear a tie or a nice hat.
You grimace when they say they watch "American Idol" or Fox News.
The congregation all smile in unison when they enter the door, and somebody checks off a box next to "multi-cultural" on the visitors stat sheet (well not really, just seems that way)
why should these people come to your congregation?

What's the most multi-cultural place you know? Hospitals? K-mart? What makes these places multi-cultural? Workshops (and they do have them) help, but it's that they are filling an obvious need.
You want your congregation to be more multi-cultural?
Start by Filling a Need that isnt being met. Or Filling a Need better than others in the area.
Come up with reasons that people not like you would want to come and sit next to someone like you.

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"I Approve This Message" by Roy Zimmerman

5 June 2009 at 20:42

you might like some of his other songs as well....

UUA President election

6 June 2009 at 13:37
No, I'm not endorsing a candidate.
I will state that on another blog, I did suggest "none of the above" as a suitable option.
It's not that they would be bad Presidents, it's just that neither of the two candidates seem (to me) to have a grasp on what problems the UUA actualy faces, and neither strikes me as being bold enough to shake the UUA out of its decades long slumber.
And to a certain extent, that makes sense; non-boldness is working. Most religious denominations are shrinking, the UUA is at least holding its own.
To make bold steps also means that one will alienate somebody - the UUA consists of a large variety of congregants, many of whom think that their religious and other views are the right and best and only good way to live. Look at the Pagan vs Humanist wars (mostly settled now, but still flaming in some congregations), or the ethical food folks vs the cheap food for the masses folks, etc, etc. I could go on, but I don't want to alienate anybody left reading this ;-) To point out the emperor's new clothes is to alienate folks. To look at a previous post, to make the UUA more culturally diverse, I think we would have to change things - and I suspect many of those things that we would need to change are things that the majority of today's UUs really really like. And therefore we "can't " change them. We can (and will ) follow the same apparent failed policies that have yet to work. How many years has the UUA tried the current plan of attempting multi-culturalism in our congregations? How successful has that particular plan been? Can we come up with a different plan?

And while I'm at it, can we make our elections democratic. A lot of our congregations allow those who can afford to travel to GA to represent the congregation and to vote however they want. How is this different than the old fashion political smoked filled back rooms?

At least I dont see either as a bad candidate, I suspect they will both be mostly status quo, which is what UUs mostly want.

Love Abides, It Does not Divide.

25 July 2009 at 10:34
Bill Baar on his blog Pfarrer Streccius mentions that Universalists used to use the phrase
"Love abides. Love does not divide." This quote, no doubt based on letters by John and Paul (George and Ringo didn't write much), is worth mediating on.

for those of us who believe that we are indeed inspired by love, this sentence is a powerful look at one of these things that Love is supposed to do. i could go on (and on and on) with details, but I think this is another area where quiet contemplation works better.
Thanks again Bill for bringing back this wonderful reminder.

"Love abides. Love does not divide."

Ain't Got A Home

27 August 2009 at 14:50

the latest UU blog-o-versy -
did you know that theists and anti-theists ain't go no home in the UUA anymore?

Pardon my lightness, it's just that I've been hearing this same song for the past 30 years.
If it's a new experience to you, the below song is much more what you've been feeling:

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work hard with your fellow UUs to build a better UUA... for you and them

Ain't Got A Home; part 2

27 August 2009 at 21:12
One of the most interesting differences between Unitarian Universalist Association member congregations and other denominations or religions (besides some of us feeling we have to use the term "denominations or religions") is that as a non-creedial group, we often end up offending those of us who want a creed. Well, we might not want a real creed, just official recognition that our views are the right ones. After all, we don't want riff-raff in the pews next to us you know....who knows what they might believe. And if they don't believe like us, well we ain't got no home in this world anymore.

I know that between that opening and my previous post, I have probably angered anybody that might be still be reading this. Because yes, this is snarky, and snark is only good when it's used against the badguys and not against ourselves. We UUs have a tendency to try to be nice, to not offend, to try to heal - yes, even to try to heal those who refuse healing. We remove objects and words that might offend, without realizing that everything can sometimes offend. But posting and writing on the internet is so easy to offend - sometimes without even knowing it.
I do understand the pain of the feeling that one's home is gone. The religious denomination i grew up in took a strong turn to the right in the mid-1960s, and is still heading rightward today - my old religious home is gone, in my visits since, it has never been the same. The house I grew up in was sold decades ago, while the fields, woods, and swamp, and the outward appearance of the house still look the same; i can drive past and see the blocks that my father laid as he made the wall -- it isn't my home anymore. My best friend in high school has been dead for over 20 years now; I have large gaps of my life that i no longer know anyone who can reminisce with me about.
Some years ago, someone once told to me that Unitarian Universalism was an easy religion - I replied back that they had obviously never written a sermon for an UU service. The UUA is indeed non-creedial, people can sit in the pews next to you who dont believe any of the theology that you do. Or - as it keeps coming up - they may believe things that you despise. At which point one feels that ones home - which is supposed to be safe and secure - has been invaded. It's not my home anymore.
For decades UU Christians (and therefore UU theists of all stripes) have been told to just get out and join a Christian church. Obviously many UU Christian would have to hide their beliefs to attend most Christian Churches. It's not their real home. In the last ten-fifteen years, theists and deists have began to grow in the UUA - particularly if you include Pagans in the theist column as anti-theists often do. The non-theists are growing in the ranks of Buddhists (most of the UU Buddhists are non-theists), but their views are not the traditional non-theist language. So the non-theist, still slightly the majority view in the UUA, wonders if they will continue to have a home.
Living with people who arent the same as you, with different cultures, different classes, different races, different musical tastes, different theological orientation is not an easy task. One has to look at core values - one has also to want to live with the diversity. That's hard to do - it is possible. Many families now contain much diversity, from musical tastes onward. If a blood family can survive, so can a congregational family. It does take work; and to some, it might not be worth the work.
Is there strength in our diversity? Do we have to always be right in everything to be loved? Can we put up with the folks in the next pew over? Time will tell.....

Ballou quote of the day

27 August 2009 at 22:43
The Universalist minister, Hosea Ballou said it so well (in this a modified version of his quote from his Treatise on Atonement):

β€œThe moment we fancy ourselves infallible, everyone must come to our peculiarities or we cast them away. If we agree in love, there is no disagreement that can do us any injury, but if we do not, no other agreement can do us any good.”

They'll Be Some Changes Made!

9 October 2009 at 21:57

Well there are indeed some changes being made at the SCU household, and some
major ones at that. So here's a hot version of this old (1921?) song - gee, Jazz fans, it's got Mezz on the banjo!
I'm not at liberty to reflect on those changes for another week, but it will probably be the most outrageous thing I've ever done - well maybe. The pluses of it (for me) are
obvious, the minus are also clear to me - it's an extremely drastic change. I believe that I know the negative effects, and am getting myself ready for them. I'll let everyone know next week what's up.

"Why, there's a change in the weather, there's a change in the sea,
So from now on there'll be a change in me,
My walk will be be different, my talk, and my name,
Nothing about me's going to be the same;
I'm gonna change my long tall one for a little short 'n fat,
I'm gonna change my number that I'm living at;
Because nobody wants you when you're old and gray.
There's gonna be some changes made today,
There'll be some changes made."

Still moving, but almost home....

26 January 2010 at 08:09
Herb and Jamaal

"Herb and Jamaal" make a good point, and one that if i had the time to get into, I would.
Why do we do certain things? To please ourselves or to please others? or is that to think we are pleasing others? what is doing the right thing?
if we have not love in our doing something, is it worthless?

I'm still moving, but getting close to the end, and getting close to starting this blog back up again.

UU Salon - Universalism

8 June 2010 at 19:41
I'm behind on my blog reading, so I missed the UU Salon's May 31st request for blogging about Universalism until today. Since I am so far behind, I haven't read blogs (I did read the beginning of Scott Wells and the UU Salon).

I see that folks are still confused about what Universalism is. That doesn't surprised me, I know some Universalist theologians who are confused about what Universalism is today. That's been the case for long time, for as Lewis B. Fisher wrote, back in 1921 "Universalists are often asked to tell where they stand. The only true answer to give to this question is that we do not stand at all, we move. or again we are asked to state our position, Again we can only answer that we are not staying to defend any position, we are on the march."

If that is indeed still true, what is universalism, and how do we catch a snapshot to show what it is today? Can all those different things be universalism?

Putting aside the issue of universalism in the early days of Christianity, Universalism was reborn as part of the revolutionary spirit of the 1700s. It was a radical idea for radical times. Dwell on that for a little bit, it believed that there was no elite in the eyes of God, that the prodigal son was as worthy as the obedient son. Is it any wonder that the same congregation included rich and poor, white and black, and that Universalists were pioneers in ordination of female clergy, and prisoner rights. And any wonder that universalist churches sprung up unconnected in many places in the USA.

Universalism was never a faith for the complaisant or those needing a impressive and status church home - Various locals kept trying to made it illegal for Universalists to give testimony in court; other churches gave sermons and wrote books on the disrespectability of belonging to such a radical faith. Even Unitarians.

Universalists reached it's peak in the 1830s, with the change of the mood of the country, and some folks knocking on spiritualism's door. It was one of the few religious denominations that did not split prior to the Civil War. However it had trouble dealing with the cynicism of the 20th Century. And various theories of
Universalism was advanced. A humanistic Universalism in the 1910s - 1920s, a pan-religious view of Universalism in the 1940s-1960s.

To a certain extent, part of modern day Unitarian Universalism has adopted the pan-religious part of 1940s-1960s Universalism. However while we embrace the idea of Radical Inclusion, it is - as you may expect - hard to implement. Who is our brother (and sister)?: How do we treat those who persecute us? How do we treat people who aren't as successful or rich or educated as us? Or eat meat, or watch TV or shop at Wal-mart, or like Praise songs? Tough going to be inclusive.

There's more to Univeraslism than that - lots more. And you note I haven't done any of the theological steps to Universalism, I didn't even mention the J- or G- names (hey, I know the audience here) --but just to remind us, that Universalism of any kind is a difficult and still radical faith.

New Year's Resolutions!

31 December 2010 at 14:14
I'm the only person I know that makes New Year's Resolutions. And at one point, I used to ask about about 50-60 folks if they made any. As noted, they ddin't.
There are actually good reasons not to make any, the most common being that folks feel bad about themselves when they can't live up to them. As the joke goes, breaking the resolution before noon on January 1.
To be honest, sometimes it's ok to feel bad about yourself. It's a good tool for growth and wisdom. Just don't overdo it. You did something wrong, feeling bad helps you motivate for change.
Some folks pick a resolution that is unrealistic. yes,like "I will become a rock star this year" and "I will become God's gift to women" not that somebody won't succeed on those resolutions, but they are ones of limited success.
If one wanted to really be "God's gift to women", then the first thing one might want to do is to find out what women want - and then go to congress and start lobbying. Ok, that's probably not what the person who wants to be GG2W would do, but that's at least a plan toward that goal.
Want to lose weight? what's the first step? exercise more - when will you do that - the goal should be "I will exercise for a half hour when i get home from work, despite how tired I am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday" or "before I eat out, I will remind myself that i no longer have a reason to 'clean my plate'" or "after I eat, I will not have seconds or more food for at least 1/2 hour' or something that fits you, and that if you forget (you will), you can easily start over ago.
or if you resolution is to give more to charity, or save more; then you say things like "I will give $20 a week to a charity. I will do this Sunday morning" or "I will put $200 in savings when i get my paycheck". Concrete steps with the first step first.

Happy New Year

From Fun to Study (my spirtual disiple plan- part a)

27 May 2011 at 07:24
I gave my talk on D. B. Clayton at this years Universalist Convocation, showing them my 4 inch thick binder of material. Five days later, I find out more "important" information: he gave a talk at a local gathering of the Greenback Party. Now his son was active in the party (and it looks like everyone listed moved over to the Independent Republican Party), but does this mean that Father Clayton was a Greenback too? And of course, how much charisma did he have? Will I ever come to an conclusion on exactly who was Clayton? Probably not... but that's part of the fun.

I haven't been doing a systematic study of Clayton, just whenever it strikes my fancy. After the convocation, it began to become clear to me that I haven't done that work (or others) with much

Listening to folks at the Convocation, I heard the word "spiritual discipline" and "spiritual study". Disciple? Study? Isn't this taking the fun out of it?

Are study and discipline bad words? I've been blessed with the hereditary gift of reasoning and memory, but cursed with the hereditary gift of poor attention-span; so I really dunno. I read books in bits and pieces, and always have. I often have 5-6 books at a time, that I am reading.... not including magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes, etc.
I certainly find this an interesting mosaic of thoughts and ideas. But does it lead to clear thinking on one issue? It does mean that it may take me months to read one short book.
(Novels are excluded). I've spent 50 years reading this way - can I muster up the discipline to change? I've gained 30 pounds in 2 years - one would hardly think I could even spell discipline.
So I'm going to try - both to lose weight (which won't be focused on here) and to study.

Now, I'm still going to be reading too many books at the same time (some things take time to change), but I'm going to pick deliberately two books to focus on. And yes, they're religious books.

One will be scripture or ancient wisdom. Pre-1500, so this copy of Declaratio doesn't count, nor does Swedenborg - at least not yet.
One will be Unitarian, Universaist, or Unitarian Universalist Association related.

I will be traveling a lot this month, so I will start with separate travel books A Calfiornia Pilgrimage (1915- Frederick A. Bisbee), and The Cotton Patch Version of Paul's Epistles (1968 - Clarence Jordan). At home, it will be the Harper Collins Study Bible, New Revivised Stardard Version (c1989) and the Biography of Hosea Ballou ( 1853-M.M. Ballou). I plan to read about a chapter of each a day. Ballou should take 16 days (minus the days i'm on the road).

The temptation is to say what I'll read next: the Lotus Sutra? George Rogers Commentary on Romans? But that might cause me to be distracted, so I won't say what's next.

I note this is part A; part B is always how we implement what we read.