Saturday, March 24, 2012

Justice Delayed ...

There is a saying that "Justice delayed is justice denied."  Which of course means that we all want our injustice righted and as soon as possible.   Whether we are victims or those accused.

I am of course thinking of the case in Florida where a 17 year old unarmed male returning from a convenience store was shot by a gun toting man intent on stopping all crime in his neighborhood.   If it ended  here, we would  have a tragic and horrible event - but it went worse and became a complete tragedy.  The shooter claimed self-defense, and the police accepted that, and the shooter went home.

So the family of the dead child had to put away their grieving to put their energy into the legal and political aspects of the death.  Because officially their son was the aggressor and potential criminal, while the man who killed him was officially the victim of the alleged aggression.  I don't see how a family  can grieve and fight city hall at the same time.  To them, their son was killed - murdered by a man who seems to be getting away with it.
How can one deal with one pain, when you have to focus on another pain?  How does one heal even in the best of times?

and then there is the shooter and his family ...  It's clear to me that they are suffering as well, but with a different and no doubt more confusing  pain.  We can instinctively know   how a murdered child's family feels - how does a killer feel?

I've actually talked to folks who have killed and murdered, while they sat in jail wanting their day of
judgement - and I wonder if this man,who shot that child, thinks like they did.   If he feels the responsibility of
his deeds.  Or, if he deeply feels that he is the innocent victim, who only tried to do the right thing.  And when I think of murder, I of course think of the unsolved murder of my cousin.  Justice was delayed for some and denied for others.

When anyone is killed, whether by accident, manslaughter, or murder - there are no victors.   There is only the grieving. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sweeping the cobwebs ...

Over the next couple of days;  I hope to be sweeping the blog, clearing out the cobwebs,  and even changing the name - but not the address.  I began a regional denominational history blog (!) as my first blog, and then started this one to put my non-history stuff up. 

 I had  picked "UU-ing" as an obscure and oblique metaphor for the balancing act  that we all  have to live with in our lives.   It's been obvious that my seesaw has shifted positions.  In the spirit of my times, I had hoped to focus a lot on how living with one's feet in a denomination,  effects everything else. To that extent, it didn't work. I  missed diving down that road, and I couldn't enjoy the web scenery, cause I was to busy looking at the map, trying to figure out how to get back on that road..

It's been an interesting year as I live with increased health concerns and decreased capacities. Nothing major, but just the "normal" stages of life kicking me in the behunkas.  I hope that I find myself accepting these changes - both gracefully and even inquisitively. 
One of the things that I definitely believe is that there is no point in asking "why me?" - that the response to that is  "why not me?"    

And on that note - we'll see you down the road in just another mile or so.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving -
It is good that there is one special day a year for giving thanks. For although, it may be better to give thanks everyday, and several times a day - it's easy to forget, to rush, to expect things to be as they are, if not better.
So we are given one day a year for thanksgiving. Some people spend the time on getting together with family and friends, to eat, to watch parades and football games. Nothing wrong with that. To be in the joyful company of loved ones is a wonderful way to spend a day. To watch folks having fun is also a way to help us have fun.
But you can also be thankful when you're alone or not having fun. Fun is not a prerequisite to being thankful - just ask those folks with sinks of dirty dishes. Being alone does not necessarily mean being unwanted.
Sometimes we have to look ahead, to see the opportunities awaiting us. Sometimes we have to look behind, to see our accomplishments. The majority of us will never be rich or famous, but we will have things to be thankful for.

The question is never "Why me?", it's "Why not me?"
be thankful.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dear Ann and Abby:

Dear Ann and Abby:
I used to read your mother's advice columns in the paper when I was growing up, and now, I sometimes read y'all today. Growing up I felt that the column was quaint and old fashioned, and nowadays I don't know what to think: unrealistic and out of touch?
Of course with all these years gone, I may be the one who is quaint and out of touch.
I certainly am led to understand that the values I grew up with such as "fairness", "honesty", "empathy" and "generosity" are indeed quaint and out of step - but that's a different rant.
The other day I picked up the paper and snorted about the bad advice given. Today, my snort wasn't as bad or as long - indeed I mostly agreed, but thought the key thought was not given.

A woman wrote in, saying that she divorced her emotionally abusive husband 7 years earlier, he remarried first, she just recently. Her adult children blame her for the breakup, and she is concerned that she will miss opportunities to see her grandchildren, because of this conflict. Abby says to concentrate on her own life. Good advice as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough... because what's missing is the truth that you can't make somebody love you.

"You can't make somebody love you." is important enough that I'm staring a new paragraph for it. You can encourage people to love you, by doing various things to be loveable. You can most definitely do things that would make someone not love you; but you can't make someone love you. And after the years have gone by, it's even harder to do the various things to make one loveable. Debating with your children, spouse, parents, family, church, neighbors will not make them love you.

Aren't our children supposed to love us? Aren't our parents required to love us? How about our spouses - didn't they promise to love forever?

If we love someone hard enough, why can't they love us in return? What if we break our backs working morning to night, trying to win their love? What if we do all the things that we know they want us to do? What if we change ourselves so completely as to be a new person? What if we walk the straight and narrow?

If I had that woman in my office, I would ask her what's she done over the past 7 years to show her children that she still loves them. While we can't force someone to love us, we can show them that irregardless we still love them. Little notes, doing things, remembering holidays, birthdays, special occasions - not asking anything in return.

By the way, this doesn't apply to EXs. While I'm sure some EXs would appreciate you coming over to do chores, give them money, hop in the sack, mop the kitchen floor, etc.; as a general rule, this is not a good idea. A betting person would find it an easy bet that it would end bad. Don't do it.

As for our children and parents, we have to get our minds used to the idea that they might not love us, they might never love us, irregardless of what we do or have done. If the past post-trauma seven years of our showing them our love hasn't worked - then bluntly not much else will. We extend the olive branch, mean it, and we go on with our lives.

Friday, May 27, 2011

From Fun to Study (my spirtual disiple plan- part a)

I gave my talk on D. B. Clayton at this years Universalist Convocation, showing them my 4 inch thick binder of material. Five days later, I find out more "important" information: he gave a talk at a local gathering of the Greenback Party. Now his son was active in the party (and it looks like everyone listed moved over to the Independent Republican Party), but does this mean that Father Clayton was a Greenback too? And of course, how much charisma did he have? Will I ever come to an conclusion on exactly who was Clayton? Probably not... but that's part of the fun.

I haven't been doing a systematic study of Clayton, just whenever it strikes my fancy. After the convocation, it began to become clear to me that I haven't done that work (or others) with much

Listening to folks at the Convocation, I heard the word "spiritual discipline" and "spiritual study". Disciple? Study? Isn't this taking the fun out of it?

Are study and discipline bad words? I've been blessed with the hereditary gift of reasoning and memory, but cursed with the hereditary gift of poor attention-span; so I really dunno. I read books in bits and pieces, and always have. I often have 5-6 books at a time, that I am reading.... not including magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes, etc.
I certainly find this an interesting mosaic of thoughts and ideas. But does it lead to clear thinking on one issue? It does mean that it may take me months to read one short book.
(Novels are excluded). I've spent 50 years reading this way - can I muster up the discipline to change? I've gained 30 pounds in 2 years - one would hardly think I could even spell discipline.
So I'm going to try - both to lose weight (which won't be focused on here) and to study.

Now, I'm still going to be reading too many books at the same time (some things take time to change), but I'm going to pick deliberately two books to focus on. And yes, they're religious books.

One will be scripture or ancient wisdom. Pre-1500, so this copy of Declaratio doesn't count, nor does Swedenborg - at least not yet.
One will be Unitarian, Universaist, or Unitarian Universalist Association related.

I will be traveling a lot this month, so I will start with separate travel books A Calfiornia Pilgrimage (1915- Frederick A. Bisbee), and The Cotton Patch Version of Paul's Epistles (1968 - Clarence Jordan). At home, it will be the Harper Collins Study Bible, New Revivised Stardard Version (c1989) and the Biography of Hosea Ballou ( 1853-M.M. Ballou). I plan to read about a chapter of each a day. Ballou should take 16 days (minus the days i'm on the road).

The temptation is to say what I'll read next: the Lotus Sutra? George Rogers Commentary on Romans? But that might cause me to be distracted, so I won't say what's next.

I note this is part A; part B is always how we implement what we read.

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions!

I'm the only person I know that makes New Year's Resolutions. And at one point, I used to ask about about 50-60 folks if they made any. As noted, they ddin't.
There are actually good reasons not to make any, the most common being that folks feel bad about themselves when they can't live up to them. As the joke goes, breaking the resolution before noon on January 1.
To be honest, sometimes it's ok to feel bad about yourself. It's a good tool for growth and wisdom. Just don't overdo it. You did something wrong, feeling bad helps you motivate for change.
Some folks pick a resolution that is unrealistic. yes,like "I will become a rock star this year" and "I will become God's gift to women" not that somebody won't succeed on those resolutions, but they are ones of limited success.
If one wanted to really be "God's gift to women", then the first thing one might want to do is to find out what women want - and then go to congress and start lobbying. Ok, that's probably not what the person who wants to be GG2W would do, but that's at least a plan toward that goal.
Want to lose weight? what's the first step? exercise more - when will you do that - the goal should be "I will exercise for a half hour when i get home from work, despite how tired I am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday" or "before I eat out, I will remind myself that i no longer have a reason to 'clean my plate'" or "after I eat, I will not have seconds or more food for at least 1/2 hour' or something that fits you, and that if you forget (you will), you can easily start over ago.
or if you resolution is to give more to charity, or save more; then you say things like "I will give $20 a week to a charity. I will do this Sunday morning" or "I will put $200 in savings when i get my paycheck". Concrete steps with the first step first.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

UU Salon - Universalism

I'm behind on my blog reading, so I missed the UU Salon's May 31st request for blogging about Universalism until today. Since I am so far behind, I haven't read blogs (I did read the beginning of Scott Wells and the UU Salon).

I see that folks are still confused about what Universalism is. That doesn't surprised me, I know some Universalist theologians who are confused about what Universalism is today. That's been the case for long time, for as Lewis B. Fisher wrote, back in 1921 "Universalists are often asked to tell where they stand. The only true answer to give to this question is that we do not stand at all, we move. or again we are asked to state our position, Again we can only answer that we are not staying to defend any position, we are on the march."

If that is indeed still true, what is universalism, and how do we catch a snapshot to show what it is today? Can all those different things be universalism?

Putting aside the issue of universalism in the early days of Christianity, Universalism was reborn as part of the revolutionary spirit of the 1700s. It was a radical idea for radical times. Dwell on that for a little bit, it believed that there was no elite in the eyes of God, that the prodigal son was as worthy as the obedient son. Is it any wonder that the same congregation included rich and poor, white and black, and that Universalists were pioneers in ordination of female clergy, and prisoner rights. And any wonder that universalist churches sprung up unconnected in many places in the USA.

Universalism was never a faith for the complaisant or those needing a impressive and status church home - Various locals kept trying to made it illegal for Universalists to give testimony in court; other churches gave sermons and wrote books on the disrespectability of belonging to such a radical faith. Even Unitarians.

Universalists reached it's peak in the 1830s, with the change of the mood of the country, and some folks knocking on spiritualism's door. It was one of the few religious denominations that did not split prior to the Civil War. However it had trouble dealing with the cynicism of the 20th Century. And various theories of
Universalism was advanced. A humanistic Universalism in the 1910s - 1920s, a pan-religious view of Universalism in the 1940s-1960s.

To a certain extent, part of modern day Unitarian Universalism has adopted the pan-religious part of 1940s-1960s Universalism. However while we embrace the idea of Radical Inclusion, it is - as you may expect - hard to implement. Who is our brother (and sister)?: How do we treat those who persecute us? How do we treat people who aren't as successful or rich or educated as us? Or eat meat, or watch TV or shop at Wal-mart, or like Praise songs? Tough going to be inclusive.

There's more to Univeraslism than that - lots more. And you note I haven't done any of the theological steps to Universalism, I didn't even mention the J- or G- names (hey, I know the audience here) --but just to remind us, that Universalism of any kind is a difficult and still radical faith.