Thursday, February 24, 2011

work part of human dignity, not sole source

“The rights of workers to join together and bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions is not just a civil right, it is a fundamental way we recognize that human beings have an inherent dignity and worth,” writes Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, in yesterday’s Washinton Post. Thistlethwaite quotes Walter Rauschenbusch, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pope John Paul II as including the centrality of work to our human dignity.

She writes, “What makes us not only people, but human beings with dignity and transcendent worth, is our capacity to work creatively in this world. When a society exploits our contribution to the whole, and refuses to recognize that we have a moral obligation to one another to insure decent working conditions, living wages and the means to support our families, it violates our human dignity.”

I agree, and I want to urge caution. Our human dignity is not *solely* from our work. Those who cannot work do not lose their dignity. Yes, we can and should be creative about finding work for as many as possible–whatever a person’s challenges or disabilities, there is *something* they can contribute, and thereby foster their own dignity and self-worth. Yet there will always be a few who cannot work; and they still have dignity and worth. I imagine that Thistlethwaite would agree, but the point was not made in her article. I felt it needed to be made explicit.

See the rest of the post, with links, at So May We Be.

Monday, February 21, 2011

pizza from Egypt to Wisconsin

Egyptians who support the protests in Wisconsin have paid to deliver pizzas to the firefighters and teachers, et al, as have people from 11 other countries and 38 of our 50 states. You can call Ian's in Madison, to donate your own pizza, at (608) 257-9248.

More details (and some commentary from Paul Krugman) at So May We Be.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lillie and Gov. Walker

After the third time Lillie dropped her ball at my feet, I finally looked up: “I’m sorry, girl, I am too upset to play.” “What’s the matter?” she asked (Lilly is our dog, but she sometimes talks to me. Nobody else ever hears her, but I have grown used to it). I told her that I was worried about union workers. In Wisconsin, and in a dozen other states, newly elected lawmakers are attempting to roll back long-held benefits and bargaining rights. “Oh, right,” Lilly laughed, “that’s why the Wisconsin Democrats are hiding out across the state line.” I told her that does sound funny, but the whole issue was not a laughing matter. Other than government workers, we the people have not seen an increase in our real wages (adjusted for inflation) since the 1970s. If our unions get weaker, our wages and benefits will shrink even more rapidly. “Please don’t start ranting about tax cuts for the rich, and all the waste in the prison system again,” Lillie whined, “we dogs are very sensitive to human emotions, and you are hard to be around when you get this way. Why do you think I’ve been asking you to play ball?” You’re right, girl. Let’s go play. I’ve already signed a petition against Gov. Walker calling out the National Guard, at We need some recreation, to keep up our strength for the long struggle for justice. Go fetch!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

UU apostasy?

Who would be a UU apostate?

An apostate is someone who renounces and leaves a religious body; while a heretic is someone who differs from the religious teachings while remaining within the body, according to Lauren Winner’s article on Writing about Paul Haggis’ apostasy from Scientology, she notes that Scientology makes recognizing apostasy simple, because of its clear boundaries about who is inside, and who is outside, the “church.” Because apostasy requires such distinct divisions, few apostatize from mainline Christian denominations. With nothing truly unique against which to rebel, those who leave “simply…float away.” Ms. Winner continues, “It is hard to imagine a Unitarian-Universalist apostate.”

This, of course, makes me want to prove her wrong. While rejecting any temptation to use words like “apUUstate,” I do want to explore the concept.

As a noncreedal, covenantal tradition, any UU apostate would not *believe* something different than the others in a congregation. Rather she would refuse to abide by the congregational covenant. Perhaps she regularly disrupts the public worship services, or maybe he won’t stop hugging people inappropriately. A real UU apostasy would be accosting others and telling them that their beliefs were wrong—and then leaving the congregation when told to cease doing that.

UU membership is less about a particular theological identity than it is a statement about one’s theologically-grounded commitments. So UU apostasy might be reneging on one’s prior commitments. Now, the road back into covenant is well-trod; we all fail to live up to our covenants once in a while. We all (should) help each other to come back into right relationship. When a person breaks the covenant, and resists reasonable invitations and accommodations, and leaves decrying the original commitment, that would seem to qualify as a UU apostasy. I have heard of a few examples.

One example, of which I have *not* heard: if a UU member continues to insist that her right of conscience is absolute, and that she has not only the right, but the responsibility, to block the rest of the congregation’s work if it displeases her, then the congregation might ask her to leave, and declare her an apostate for not living up to their shared covenant.

..or so I think, today. Other opinions are welcome.

{rant reproduced, with links, at So May We Be}

Saturday, February 12, 2011

February Peace Vespers

Speaking only for myself, the more that I suffer, the more I am able to feel compassion for the suffering of others. The deeper my sorrow, the softer my heart, the next time I see a teardrop fall.

Each new *kind* of suffering I experience—-losing a job, losing a loved one, undergoing surgery, treating another harshly, and hearing my own words echo in my head—-each new type of suffering opens my soul a little wider to the many ways that my fellow human cousins are brought low by the circumstances of their lives.

And, the longer I live, and the more sorrow that I see (in my own life and in others’), the more I see compassion and human decency.

I do not pretend that this creates some kind of balance; it would be obscene to suggest that every crushing blow and grievous injustice is somehow remedied because a child pulled a thorn from a pet rabbit’s paw, or a shopper let another person go ahead in the checkout line.

…and yet…because injustice and hatred and fear and sorrow and oppression *are* so prevalent, it is refreshing to see the uncommon act of common courtesy.

I believe that we humans have a remarkable amount of tenacity and courage and plain old stubbornness.

And, for whatever reason, or from whatever source—-by a thousand names we call it, from the depths of our grief we gasp it and in the moments of our liberation, we shout it—-however it happens, sometimes, as we are walking along, the heavens break open and love comes down.

Sometimes, my heart lifts and I feel joy. Sometimes, my heart yearns and I share that joy, that strength, that peace with another who needs it.

And *that* is the miracle that we come to celebrate, tonight. If we need healing, may we find it. If we need strength, may we feel it. If we need direction, may it be made obvious which person we are meant to help, next.

So may we be.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

U U UU History Notes

Too-Brief Outline of Unitarian, Universalist & UU History
collected & idiosyncratically presented by Rev. Chip Roush

heresy is Greek for choice

c. 0 Jesus
<=232 Origen: bible as allegory; no hell
<= 336 Arius’ Unknown Unbegun; one Source (Jesus not coeternal w/God)
325 Council of Nicaea rules in favor of Trinitarians, Arius anathematized
<=418 Pelagius: no original sin; human agency
553 Second Council of Constantinople condemns universal salvation as heresy

[1517 Luther’s 95 Theses published]
1523 Anabaptists Menno Simons & followers move to Holland
16th c. Anabaptists: pacifist, adult baptism, separation of church & state
1539 unitarian Katherine Vogel burned in Krakow after 10 years in prison
1553 Servetus burned in Geneva – no biblical support for Trinity
discovered lung fcn, escaped Inquisition, critiqued Calvin
1557 Isabella decrees of toleration in Torda, Transylvania

See the whole list at So May We Be.