Tuesday, May 31, 2011

goodbye, Mr. Tressel

I am deeply ambivalent about Jim Tressel’s resignation from the Head Coach position of the football program at the Ohio State University. There did seem to be a pattern of violations, including players trading memorabilia for tattoos, cars (and probably some for marijuana). Tressel seemed to be one of the good guys, earnestly trying to teach his student-athletes life lessons as well as win football games. However, when he could–and should–have been the one person that ever told the players that they were *not* entitled to the lush privileges that so many others showered upon them, he allowed them to accept cars, and undoubtedly many other favors. And then he lied about it, to the NCAA. Some may say that virtually all big-time college programs bend the rules; even if that were true, it would not make it right. Part of why there is such glee in some sports fans’ lives today–and such sorrow in many Buckeye fans–is that Tressel really did seem to be a rule-follower.

I think there are legitimate questions to be asked: whether college athletes should be paid, whether the memorabilia should be the property of the athletes, and most importantly, whether we can ethically support a sport that destroys men’s bodies, and shortens their lives (by as much as 25 years!). They are truly modern-day gladiators.

I absolutely believe that we humans can learn and teach life lessons through sport. I wish that some of those lessons were *not* that “winning is everything,” or “money talks,” or that trading your health for fame and fortune is acceptable.

Jim Tressel went 106-22 at OSU, and won a national championship in 2002. I hope his most enduring legacy will be the good things that he taught his players and fellow coaches–during and in spite of those 128 games.

(original post, with links, at So May We Be)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

None of Us Are Free

As long as "one of us in chains...none of us are free" sings Solomon Burke, in a video I found on Doonesbury's "Today's Video" This soulful reminder posted at So May We Be.

Friday, May 27, 2011

GRR lip dub

Called a “dying city” in a list linked to by Newsweek, Grand Rapids has responded. The people of this mid-Michigan city created a record-breaking lip dub video, with all kinds of folks singing Don McLean’s “American Pie.” I am a sucker for lip dubs in general, so one featuring places I’ve been–with much of the city collaborating–makes me quite happy.

I’ve always wanted to work with a youth group, to make a lip dub in a church building. Maybe sing “Stand!” while moving around and through the church, highlighting the social justice projects of the congregation. I’d like to sponsor a contest of such lip dubs; show them all on UU TV and feature the winner at GA and on uua.org. Maybe a $1000 to the justice organization stipulated by the winning group? $500 and $250 second and third prizes? Cool publicity for all, and outreach to younger demographics? Now all we need is $1750 and a lot of buy-ins…

(original post, with links, at So May We Be)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

memorial day observation

A simple ritual for honoring veterans, conscientious objectors, and their families for Memorial Day:

Darnell Arnoult was born in Virginia, in 1955. She is a poet and novelist, and identifies as a “cow-girl, sort of.” Like her uncle, and many others in the south, she refers to the soft drink “Coca Cola” as “Co-cola.”

In World War Two
the oldest
of my uncles
picked up
dead bodies
dead weight
some in pieces
and threw them
onto the beds
of trucks.
His work spread
far as he could see.
When he came
home he poured
salted peanuts
into a Co-Cola
and prepared
for life
with folks
who could
never know
some things
as long
as they lived.

Let us now honor those who *do* know those things—-our veterans.

If you are on active duty in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Merchant Marine or Navy, please stand and remain standing.

If you are a reservist in any of those branches, or in the National Guard, please stand.

If you are a veteran of any of the armed forces, please stand.

If you serve or served alternative service as a Conscientious Objector, please stand.

If someone in your family performs or performed alternative service, please stand.

If someone in your family is on active duty, please stand.

If someone in your family is or was in the reserve or the Guard, please stand.

If somebody in your family is or was a veteran of the armed forces, please stand.

...I invite us to look around, and see how many of us have been directly affected.

Finally, let the rest of us stand, as we are willing and able, in honor of all the veterans, women and men, who are still alive.

And may we remain standing as Bob plays “Taps” for all the veterans who have died.

May our gratitude for their sacrifice not diminish our resolve to create peace; and may our resolve for peace not diminish our gratitude for our veterans’ service. Please be seated.

Thanks to the Rev. Dr. Lisa Presley, who inspired this ritual.

(full post, with links, at So May We Be)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

growing UU spirit

UU membership may be in flux, but spirits are high, in at least some of our congregations. I have been searching for an Interim Ministry for the last couple weeks (which is why I haven’t posted much here), and all four of the congregations I engaged are right at the cusp of making significant advances. All four had clear visions of what they wanted to accomplish, and how they saw a minister helping them achieve their goals. Three of the four had big plans for improved building situations. I know the sample size is too small to be significant, but the spirit–the enthusiasm and commitment–that I have experienced over a host of conference calls has me excited for our future.

I know this chart shows some gains and some losses, including an over-all decline in UU membership, over the past decade. I am sure there are a number of reasons for such a decline, and some of those reasons may still exist. Nevertheless, if other congregations are showing the vision and the resolve that I’ve seen in these few churches, then Unitarian Universalism may be in a good place for the coming decade(s).

So may we be!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Arc of the Universe Study Guide

A study guide has been published for "The Arc of the Universe is Long: Unitarian Universalists, Anti-Racism and the Journey from Calgary." The Rev. Ms. Leslie Takahashi-Morris has written a clear guide to lead discussions about the book, and about racism in general. Because I did not write it, I feel justified in praising the study guide: as much as it is possible, Leslie’s guide makes it safe to explore the complex issues and painful experiences around race and racism, especially within the context of Unitarian Universalism.

Leslie writes that this guide is about “making the space respectful and a place of deep listening. The point is not to promote a certain perspective or to ‘teach’ a body of knowledge. The point is to help people listen across difference and learn from our collective history as Unitarian Universalists.”

The study guide is here (PDF)

Original post at So May We Be.

Monday, May 09, 2011

thank you, Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson retired yesterday, after taking a record eleven teams to NBA championships. His basketball statistics–as a player and as a coach–are amazing, but I respect him more for his wisdom. He once wrote, “In basketball—as in life—true joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment, not just when things are going your way. Of course, it’s no accident that things are more likely to go your way when you stop worrying about whether you’re going to win or lose and focus your attention on what’s happening right this moment.”

He also said, “Like life, basketball is messy and unpredictable. It has its way with you, no matter how hard you try to control it. The trick is to experience each moment with a clear mind and open heart. When you do that, the game–and life–will take care of itself.”

Thank you, Phil, for the beautiful basketball your teams played, and for the life lessons I learned therefrom.

(original post, with links to more Phil quotes, at So May We Be)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Mother's Day and bin Laden

We call upon the ghost of Julia Ward Howe,
dead now one hundred years,
yet still alive in our imaginations and our hearts—
we call you forth in our consciousness
to echo your cry
for a Mothers’ Peace Day
to end the unnecessary bloodshed
which we humans all-too-often employ.

We call you, dear Ms. Howe,
to help us make sense of the death of Osama bin Laden.
You, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic,
know that self-defense and war are sometimes necessary.
Yet you, as a mother,
who lost her own mother as a child
and who lost a child herself,
know the tragic sting of death.

Mindful of the chaos and destruction
and the many, many deaths
on September 11, 2001,
and through the war-torn years since,
we honor the losses and the sacrifices
and we rejoice at this possible turning point
in the war on terrorism.

We rejoice at the possibility of peace,
but let us not rejoice at the loss of life.
Mother Julia, remind us
that every life has inherent worth,
that each person had a mother somewhere.
Help us to use this moment for self-reflection,
that we might grow and evolve.
Urge us to take this opportunity
to rededicate ourselves
to justice and compassion for all:
help us to end terrorism
by ending the injustices which fuel it.

Let us honor this Mother’s Day
as if it were your own Mothers’ Peace Day.
Let us honor mothers of all kinds,
and those who serve as mothers,
and those who would be mothers,
by creating a more just and peaceful world
for all children.

So May We Be.