“The most alarming rhetoric comes out of the dispute between the liberals and conservatives, and it’s a dangerous waste of time because they’re both right. The perennial conservative concern about high taxes supporting a nonworking “underclass” has entirely legitimate roots in our evolutionary past and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Early hominids lived a precarious existence where freeloaders were a direct threat to survival, and so they developed an exceedingly acute sense of whether they were being taken advantage of by members of their own group. But by the same token, one of the hallmarks of early human society was the emergence of a culture of compassion that cared for the ill, the elderly, the wounded, and the unlucky. In today’s terms, that is a common liberal concern that also has to be taken into account. Those two driving forces have coexisted for hundreds of thousands of years in human society and have been duly codified in this country as a two-party political system. The eternal argument over so-called entitlement programs-and, more broadly, over liberal and conservative thought-will never be resolved because each side represents an ancient and absolutely essential component for our evolutionary past.” -Tribe, by Sebastian Junger.
Does author Sebastian Junger make a valid argument? What does Love ultimately ask of us? What is the greatest common good? If this argument is true, how is it that countries in Europe have managed to create a fundamentally socialist system that cares for its people from cradle to grave? I also wonder if Calvinism with its false “God rewards the righteous with prosperity” theology is at play in this country as well.
Last month my mother and I took an incredible road trip to visit National Parks in the western United States. One of our destinations was the Grand Canyon. I’ve flown over it many times but had never been at ground level so during our trip, we visited the South Rim. The Grand Canyon is so huge it’s beyond words and I felt such awe and wonder. Mom had been there before so she was content to hang out and let me explore and hike. So I did. I enjoyed the ever changing vista (I took lots of pictures), I watched other tourists take selfies that were often too close to the edge, triggering my discomfort with long vertical drops, and found the Trail of Time fascinating with its collection of rocks from the various layers of the canyon, rocks that are millions and millions of years old. But for all the awe and wonder I felt, I noticed that I was also dissatisfied, a dissatisfaction I didn’t experience at other National Parks. I talked to a friend who’s been there a number of times and he knew exactly how I felt. He said that at the rim, you are still removed from the canyon and your experience is superficial. It is only when you descend into the depths of the Grand Canyon that you begin to truly experience it and know it in a way that is not possible from the rim. As I thought about his words, I also thought about Unitarian Universalism. It is certainly possible to spend one’s life engaged with our tradition in a superficial way, standing on the rim. But it is only when we go deep into the faith, engaging with others, learning about our long and incredible history, being active in our shared life and work, and discovering how to live our values out more fully, that we truly experience it and know it in ways that may lead to us feeling that our lives are richer, more fulfilling and our spirits stronger and more connected with the wonder and mystery of life itself. As our transition time comes to an end early this fall and we begin a new chapter in our new facility, are you ready to descend more deeply into the depths of Unitarian Universalism and the heart of Life itself?
I hope you are all staying healthy and happy. My first month of sabbatical is almost over and the time is flying by. Thank you again for the gift of this time to rest, to renew, to reflect. I’ve gotten some rest, spent time with some friends, maintained daily spiritual practices of meditation, reading, time in the garden, and walking (all of which are very renewing) and I’ve taken some retreat time to reflect and discern on my ministry and my life. Most of my reflection has been about rediscovering myself and asking how I will achieve a better balance of ministry and life. This has always been a challenge for me and sabbatical has made clear how out of balance I have been. It’s good to have the time to plan for a more balanced life.
This coming weekend (April 28th-30th), I will attend the Regional Assembly in Oakbrook, Illinois. I look forward to seeing a number of you there as we gather to learn, worship and practice our governance together. I am also planning to attend the Teach-In on Sunday, May 7th at UUSIC. Thank you to Alison Oliver, the Racial Justice Circle and the staff for collaborating to make this very important work happen. I encourage everyone to attend and to engage in this critical and yes, difficult conversation about white supremacy. Doing this work will help move us toward our vision of the Beloved Community.
Holding you in my heart and my thoughts,
Black Lives UU Organizing Collective was formed in 2015 in the wake of several conversations among Black UUs at the July 2015 Movement for Black Lives Convening in Cleveland, OH. Their website can be found at:
This last week the UUA Board met and in a strong act of solidarity approved funding for Black Lives of UU. You can read the article here:
View story at Medium.com
The article says that: “This work, led by Black Unitarian Universalists, is stronger and more complete because of our partnership with the UUA, and the emotional and logistical support of non-Black people of color, as well as white UUs and others.” In August, Black Lives UU posted a statement about the recent killings in Dallas, Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights. That statement, which you can read here:
View story at Medium.com
includes ways to take action as a people of faith. May we as a people of faith do the work we are called to do to create a world where black lives truly matter.
In a world that demands more and more of our attention, how do we nurture our spirits?
In an article online in the UU world, Alicia Forde says and asks:
“Sometimes, it seems like there are so few places in which we can show up and be as fully present as possible, so few places in which our unguarded selves are heard into being. What spaces can you and will you create to allow for the distillation of your musings? To allow for your inner knowing to emerge, be seen, and be accepted? Where is your sanctuary in the midst of life’s catastrophes and chaos? How will you take the time to nurture your soul?”
The article can be found here: http://www.uuworld.org/articles/personal-discovery-within-community?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=sep26
How do we care for our spirits? Does UUSIC provide a place where you can be as fully present as possible and be accepted, no, welcomed, for who you are as you are? How can our spiritual community provide ways to help you nurture your spirit?
Here is a link to a very powerful article in which a white woman explains what white privilege is and how she will use her power and her privilege to dismantle white privilege:
A quote from the article:
What I am realizing today is that I can no longer be silent. The ideas that have kept me silent are ideas of separation and to eradicate the horrors of what are happening today, we must all stand together.
As Unitarian Universalists and all those aligned with our values, including the inherent worth and dignity of every person, how will we stand together? How will we use our privilege and power to dismantle white privilege and bring an end to the deaths of black people in this country?
Unitarian Universalists are really good at naming what we don’t believe. But what is it we do believe? In this beautifully written article, Rev. Meg Riley names 10 beliefs that if held might make you uncomfortable in a UU church and states what we believe instead: