Friday, October 31, 2008

theology to the people!

How nice, to write about answers and not just problems--I was recently excited to learn about one solution for four of our most common UU challenges. Even our seminaries feel we are "theologically illiterate." Our inability to name what it is that we (as individuals) believe, hampers our efforts 1) to keep our youth, 2) to attract new members, and 3) to engage other faith traditions in meaningful dialogue, and therefore work together on justice issues around the world.

The Rev. Myriam Renauld has proposed a theology column for the UUWorld magazine. She would write it in conversation with other prominent UU theologians, and provide simple-yet-deep discussions for all the magazine's readers. I guess it could also address a fifth common concern: quality adult religious education curricula.

Here is a portion of a sample column she sent me: "A teen-ager in an RE class once asked me whether Unitarian Universalism was a religion. I was an intern minister then, and, although I was taken aback by her skepticism, I acknowledged she’d asked a tough but valid question...Although they may not have realized it, the teen-agers in my RE classes, and the grown-ups too, engaged in theological activity whenever they asked questions like: Do I have a soul? Why should I lead an ethical life? What does it mean to love one’s neighbor—in other words, what does this demand of me? Am I more likely to love my neighbor if I act as if God exists or if I put the question of God aside altogether? Why is there so much suffering in the world? Is there an Author of Nature? Why do certain hymns affect me in such a profound way? When I’m outside, why do I sometimes feel an overwhelming sense of connection? Is God beyond thought, or is God in everyone? etc."

Obviously, I cannot speak for Chris Walton, or anybody else on the UUWorld editorial staff. But in my occasionally-humble opinion, our movement needs this column. Our thirst for real theological reflection prompted our UUA to dedicate "Association Sunday" proceeds to theological education. Rev. Renaud's column will be a quick and inexpensive part of a comprehensive solution. Mazeltov and merci!

Monday, October 27, 2008

carve like a pirate

Probably my best Jack o'Lantern ever. I found the template in a book from Pumpkin Masters.

Monday, October 20, 2008

transpartisan politics

The Integral Life folks propose a "genuine transpartisan politics" that answers real-life issues without resorting to the usual centrist compromises, instead honoring and including people and opinions from the entire U.S. spectrum.

Here is a page with three short videos, describing how to get past cross-party and intra-party fighting, and how to interpret the candidates' cultural values.

The first, "A Tale of Four Americas," shows how there are really four distinct cultural worldviews, jockeying and jostling within our two parties; it also describes the three main political spectra--internal/external, individual/collective and progressive/conservative--along which every person and every candidate can be located. The second video, "Seeing Through the Talking Points," maps both McCain and Obama, and shows how their stances and platforms are all over these spectra. Finally, the last video, "Sleeping with Your So-Called Enemy," helps us to better understand people whose opinions differ from our own, and find true compassion.

To get beyond us-them polarized politics as usual, check out these videos

Friday, October 17, 2008

new UU holidays

Ohio River Group attendees were challenged to create new UU holidays, by Susan Smith (District Executive of the Southwestern UU Conference). The idea was to create something embodied, something authentically and wonderfully our own, not a derivative or partially-UU experience. It's a hard task, one I want to continue to chew on. We didn't create any holidays, but we did do some good work on other UU rites--a leavetaking ritual for a dying person and hir family & friends; a membership ritual for new members (including inviting them to bring a flower, to add to the bouquet on the chancel, symbolic that they are bringing their gifts to the congregation, not merely receiving, and a recitation of the covenant, so all members, new and old, recommit to their shared covenant); and a forgiveness ritual (we liked Les Kleen's music in the turquoise "Singing the Journey" supplement; I mentioned Post Secret).

Friday, October 10, 2008

interfaith snacking council

The "Grand Traverse Area Faith Diversity Council" just settled on that name last night. We are still tweaking things, so I am soliciting feedback on the name (I used to refer to us as the "Interfaith Snacking Council"), and on our mission statement and principles, below:

The Grand Traverse Area Faith Diversity Council's mission is that of community service through: actively supporting the advancement of better understanding, trust, communication and cooperation among the many faiths of our community; acting as a voice for education and illumination concerning local, national or planetary faith-related events/issues; actively supporting our First Amendment rights regarding freedom of religion (including the right to follow no religion).

Our Principles:
1. Belief in, and active support of, freedom of religion as guaranteed in our Constitution's first amendment, including the right to follow no religion.
2. Belief in, and active support of, the concept that no single religion, faith tradition or spiritual practice is right for everyone.
3. Belief in, and active support of, the concept that no single religion, faith tradition or spiritual practice is more, or less, valid than another.
4. Belief and active support of separation of Church and State.
5. Knowing that, because we are the most religiously diverse nation on earth, it is crucial that all faiths work together to build better understanding, trust, respect and cooperation among one another. Accomplishing this shall help bring about healing on an individual, community, national and planetary scale.

(snacking was left as an implicit value)

What did we miss? Are there any implications that might not be wholesome or helpful?