Saturday, March 17, 2012

NACCS address take two

I attended the “Save Ethnic Studies” fundraiser at the 40th annual National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS) conference because I believe that cultural diversity makes us stronger, and sharing *all* of our stories is one of the best ways to foster healthy diversity. I was happy to donate a few dollars to support the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies program, in its battle against HB2281, which makes illegal all ethnic studies programs (which is cultural genocide, IMHO).

As I expected, I got to hear from various Mexicano, Hispanic, Latina and Latino student groups, from the various universities in Chicagoland. We heard supportive statements from the Chicago Teacher’s Union, the Teachers for Social Justice, and the local Teamsters. A woman representing Occupy Chicago and Occupy el Barrio spoke; and a teacher from the TUSD brought a video of high school students occupying a school board meeting, preventing a vote on the noxious plan to eliminate Mexican American Studies.

We also got to hear from poet Dr. Ramon Del Castillo, the Chair of Chicana/o Studies at the Metropolitan State College of Denver, who read his famous “From the Corazon of a Bato Loco!” and a new poem, telling his granddaughter, “You are not ‘too brown.’”

What I had not expected was that Dr. Raoul Contreras would invite me to speak as well. I don’t think I did a very good job, so here is what I wish I had said:

“Thank you, Professor Contreras, and thank you, NACCS. Congratulations on 40 years. I am here because, as a Unitarian Universalist minister, I affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all people. No matter a person’s gender, or ethnicity, or language – everyone has the same dignity, and should have the same rights. Our Unitarian Universalist Association has been working with local groups, protesting SB1070, for a couple years. You may know us as ‘the yellow shirt people.’

As Dr. Contreras said earlier, this attack on ethnic studies is a continuation of the same fear and hatred that spawned SB1070. We UUs will be back in Phoenix this June, demonstrating against these injustices, educating ourselves about the Doctrine of Discovery, and standing in solidarity with all oppressed peoples.

I also hope to work with groups here in Chicagoland, on June 23rd, a National Day of Witness and Service, and at other times, as we unite against those who would eliminate ethnic studies. Please contribute generously, here tonight or at

Thank you and may God bless our work. So may we be.”

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

Monday, March 05, 2012

UU spiritual 1%

In our second reading this morning, Mary Oliver’s fox says,
“…I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.”

All too often, we UUs engage in passionate debate, philosophizing and arguing and talking about God as if she were an idea instead of an active force evolving in and through us, changing us in ways we cannot change ourselves.

What if all our many theories were real? What if we took ourselves seriously?! What if we stopped mentally attaching “if” or “maybe” or “this is only my opinion” to all of our theological musings…what if we allowed ourselves to feel the full miracle of the caring, vibrant community around us?

If we really opened ourselves both to the precious wonder of this congregation, and to the great need in the lives of the people around us, how would we respond?

I think we’d be shocked. I think, if we truly awoke to the fact that in spiritual matters, we are the one percent, then our inborn compassion would flood over and we would naturally begin to share our religious riches with our neighbors, the lonely and disconnected 99% around us…

(original post at So May We Be)