Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 and what did you do in 2007?

Mom To the Left wrote her list for 2007, and it makes sense to fit mine here.....

List your favorites from 2007:

Book: Here If You Need Me
Movie (DVD): Popeye The Sailor Volume 1
(although Im working on Treasures from American Archives III)
TV Show: none, I watched no TV shows this year
unless you count the DVDs of the Flatt and Scruggs Show,
Song: Now Be Thankful (Richard Thompson)
Singer/Group: Alison Krause
Christmas Gift: only present was the DVD of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (the spouse and I buy an ancestry subscription)
Dinner Food: Spinach pirogies, Porkchops with balsamic vinegar
Snack: wasabi covered anything
Ice Cream Flavor: Cherry
Drink: diet vault (can someone say caffeine....)
Color: green
Hobby/Relaxing Thing: reading
Toy: my new computer

Where did you go on vacation?
Universalist convocation in Bellville Ohio (and visited Berlin and Wooster and Ohio Amish country and my mother's family roots in Lutheran country)
ALA meeting in Washington DC (not being a member, I spent my time at the husker's room, also went to the Universalist National Memorial Church)
Also McCormick and Myrtle Beach SC for weekends

What is your proudest accomplishment this year?
Giving two sermons in North Carolina.

What will you remember this year for?
giving my first two sermons to a neutral audience.

Make 1 New Year’s Resolution!!
spend less

how about you?

Monday, December 24, 2007

I've been quiet.....

Today is Christmas Eve - forecast is for more rain ---it will be a nice 64 degrees later today.

I've been quiet, making a few comments on other blogs when I have time, but not doing much here. The reason being: Ive been busy.

My mother has been in the hospital for the past three weeks, and after work I have been there. As her health care power of attorney, I had to make tough decisions about her care, this means I had to make tough decisions about her life. There turns out to be no good decisions, just tough decisions. I had the fun of having a friend of the family lambaste my decision (which was to let her leg be amputated).
I did get some reading done while in the hospital though.... the rest of us are doing fine. My mother survived a year, so she's a tough woman.....

Ive got one gift under the tree - so I guess I havent been completely bad this year.
Ive got a couple gifts I bought for myself coming, which you're going to see if you read my southern Universalist history blog (assuming I get the time to read them anytime soon).

In the New Year, we plan to go to the Universalist Convocation in North Oxford Mass in May. Hopefully I'll be less quiet by then.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

What Makes a Good Worship Experience?

Over on Dan's Yet another UU blog, the question becomes "What makes for Kick-Ass worship".
I responded, maybe not too helpfully... ok, no "maybe" about it: I responded unhelpfully with the observation that one person's good service is another person's bad service. And admitted that I cant stand youth services and large churches. Those of things that would make me stay at home. If I knew the youth or their parents, I would be more inspired. But then I dont like drum circles either.... and large churches throw way too many things that I don't care for. Say can one bring binoculars to large churches? I should mention that I dont go to large concerts either.

Shelby Meyerhoff lists several great things to make up for my post
"Music that is vibrant and accessible, Preaching that has a clear message that is relevant to listeners’ lives, Worship leaders who are warm, friendly, joyful and expressive" and a few more - which you can find at Dan's website.

As I think back to a service I provided to a group in NC last week, I wonder how sucessful I was. I can certainly see what should have been better - audience feedback certainly told me what they found interesting. And what I should have emphasized - and If I ever give this sermon again - I'll have a better understanding of what works. (My grandfather had a list of many sermons and when and where he gave them - it helps to avoid repeating it at the same place). Obviously the questions and comments that people gave, were what they found most interesting, and most inspirational....

for someone who only gives 6-8 sermons a year, Im impressed by the pros who can give 52- or more a year!

I find songs very important, both in front of the pulpit and behind it. They engage the congregation - I like loud numbers with loud singing - anthems. I like the participation, being part of things.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I have sick for the past few days -
- and have just gotten out of the sick bed to go to be with family.

-- it was rough. Nobody was in a particular pleasant mood -

not us, because we have been sick.
not nieces and nephew - just because we're their aunt and uncle.
not brother and sister and spouses - because they were trying to fix up the house
and now have to figure out what do we do with all this stuff
not my mother, because this is now a year since her stroke that led he to leaving her house to live in a nursing home and not be able to think clearly and not to live her life the way she wanted to.

"why are we here?" I was asked, and the answer is because they are family.
In a few years, we wont be able to spend thanksgiving with them anymore,
they will be hoping to have their children come to visit them on holidays then,
we're here because we share a history with them,
... oh, and because we love them, and they love us - they're family.
They're not perfect, but they're family.
And Im thankful for them....

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"A Heart Needs A Home" song

I have a sermon to give in three hours, but instead of finishing it - Im puttering with music videos - hey, if they want a fancy sermon, we can get a professional rather than an amateur to give it. and Im thinking, I might have to do a "John Murray" and just flesh out my topic at the time I give it.

"A Heart Needs A Home" was written by Richard Thompson and song (in this video) by him and his then wife, Linda Thompson. They were devote Muslims at the time of this video,
and it is believed by some that this songs represents Richard Thompson's conversion experience. The words are vague enough that it could fit about anything with an influence on our lives, that fills that yearning. Knowing that it's really a religious song adds a different element to it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Proof this is a real UU Blog

cash advance

Fast Payday Loans

OK, so this blog is written on a college level (and my history Southern Universalist blog is written on a post-graduate level), is this enough to make this a real UU blog?

sure, why not?
do you have a more surefire method?

(note that the force ad has had it's link changed to my other website - so sorry no loans there, just southern Universalist history.....)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

"Now Be Thankful" - the Richard Thompson song

I'm to write a sermon for next Sunday - it will be our Thanksgiving service (we won't have one the next week) -
and for some reason I keep thinking of the Dave Swarbrick and Richard Thompson song
"Now Be Thankful" -
of which you can read the words by clicking on the link, and hear the music by clicking on the video.
and before somebody asks, yes we all let our hair grow that long back in 1970. Clothes and songs were a bit Victorian romantic.
Dave Swarbrick (singer on this version) got to be fortunate enough to read his obit in the UK papers a few years back and he survived a lung transplant. Richard Thompson converted to Sufi Muslim not too long after he wrote this song; today he calls himself a liberal Muslim.
To play music in a Church, you have to have the proper music license - and we dont have one that covers this song, so I dont have to think about what the congregation would think.
And certainly that Victorian style romanticism is not for everyone -

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"Now be thankful for good things below
Now be thankful to your maker
For the rose, the red rose blooms for all to know"

Sunday, November 04, 2007

"Let Us Pray"

The Rev. Peacebang has a blog on "I'll Pray For You"
that reminded me of a few things, which means I will talk about them now.

Five years ago, just before the death of my father - when I would visit or stay with them, I was often invited to say grace for them. We had our standard graces, and I can easily move to the one I thought they preferred, my voice would deepen and enlarge in volume, as I would start "Let us pray:" and then at the end, I would say "amen" to be followed by my mother saying a 'thank you'.

A prayer and grace can serve many purposes, and even a standard grace needs to fit the occasion and the purpose. My standard table grace would include being thankful for those who sat with us at the table and being thankful for what we were about to eat - that there were indeed those who could not sure the abundance of what we shared.

All of my standard table grace was acceptable for my parents, who grew up in the Great Depression and knew hardships and hardwork. Wordwise it included those that gave them comfort and satisfaction. These are not the same words I would use in a grace for UUs. Some UUs wouldnt feel any problems with it, but many certainly would (and I confess that my parents liked Male pronouns).

I admit that the first thing that would go would be, the words "prayer" and the words "grace".
Let's put aside what the actual words mean, I forgo "words" to focus on the purpose. Yes, it's really not a table reflection, or pre-meal thoughts - but if the purpose is to be thankful - then that is what I do: remind us to be thankful, to count our blessings.

In the example Peacebang presents: folks are angry about folks offering to pray for others. Not the "I'll pray for you to be saved, you heathen devils" prayer, but the "I will pray for you not to suffer" prayer. My initial thought is to wonder if they worry that they will get cooties if someone prays for them. As an aging southerner, this in-your-face anger puzzles me - If someone tells me something bizarre - "I'm going to the moon and eating some green cheese", then anger isnt how I would react. Since prayer is an accepted by the majority of US and World citizens - does this mean that those prone to anger at prayers are angry all the time? Isnt that a waste of anger - couldnt that anger be more productive? Aren't there worse things to be intolerant of?

My usual table graces arent as long now, as when I said them to my parents. Indeed even in my inclusive vocabulary, they might not be a table grace any more. But I do thank the cook or the preparer of the meal, I am appreciative of the reality that even simple fare is more than many others have. Even in my shyness, I have no problem when other at my table say "let us pray".
Prayer helps us focus on what is important.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

our UU seminaries

Over on UUA Trustee Linda Laskowski's blog she asks some questions such as "Would we prefer more or fewer of our UU ministerial candidates to be attending non-UU schools, basically 'out-sourcing' most of the training of our ministers?"

Hard to argue with that question.
Is there anyone who would argue for outsourcing all UU ministers?

To me, the question is "why dont more of our potential ministers want to attend our schools?"

Is it distance? too expensive? or something about the school? All things can be fixed - distance learning through computers is easy - getting money less so, changing the schools even less so. But still all possible - if we know why folks aren't going. I would assume that someone has done a study on this - haven't we? What was the results? why do our potential ministers pick other schools?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So what's new with you?

I've been mostly quiet on this blog - not that's there is anything wrong with those videos, but here's what's been going on over here.

the last issue of the UU World quoted me, so I can now say "as mentioned in UU World", right?
This lead to a slightly more email - all dealing with UU history.

i did a lecture at my local UU Congregation on " Buddhism for Beginners"; a basic primer on what the Buddha said, and how folks now follow his teachings. In early December i will be upnorth in eastern North Carolina talking to the good folks at Outlaw's Bridge Universalist Church at Seven Springs. They will be hearing about D.B. Clayton. The folks in NC want a sermon and not a lecture. We will see if I can do that - a sermon is much tougher than a lecture. I will be making my notes more orderly (I could probably give an all day seminar on the topic).
and I plan to re-read the autobiography and a debate book by Clayton. I will mention the G-word when I talk - probably in quoting Clayton.

Sinus issues have left me drained and tired. you can repeat that sentence about 3 times for maximum impact.

recent books read: Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson; currently reading Lost Stories by Dashiell Hammett. I should be finished reading this sometime this week. Not sure what I'll read next. Probably a children's book by Manly Wade Wellman (the only writer that my grandfather, my father and myself all three met - at separate times. Wellman did a lot of NC history books, and apparently convinced a lot of folks he was a southern writer). Or I might read a religious book - maybe I should get a pattern: reading religious books, non-fiction, and fiction in rotation.

so, what's new with you?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Thomas Thayer

"On this day in 1812, Thomas Thayer was born. He became a leading theologian of Universalism, writing eloquently about the tree of life, the unity of creation, and the human race as one great family growing into harmony with God. "

so says today's "New Morning with Timberly Whitfield" inspirational email newsletter. No idea if he was mentioned on the TV show or not.

His best known books are "Theology of Universalism" and "Over the River". I own the later, and at least the first is on Google Books.

The full title of the last is "Over the River; or Pleasant Walks into the Valley of Shadows, And Beyond: A Book of Consolations for the sick, the dying, and the bereaved."

His work is typical early victorian, so a bit hard to get into; but how nice to slip Universalism into the emails of 2007.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"On the Road" is 50....

" On the Road" is 50 this month, next year (i think) will be the 50th anniversary of "Dharma Bums". Ya know not many folks mention J.K. when they talk about folks who popularized Buddhism in the west....

Friday, August 31, 2007

Blog Day

this is about as off-topic as I can get....

I see on a couple of UU blogs that it's "Blog Day" - apparently you're supposed to recommend 5 blogs you've just discovered ---

-- well I cant do that ---
i can list some non-UU blogs I read -both religious and non religious

a Christian Universalist, who would have fit it wonderfully in the UCA of the 1780s-1920s.
a liberal Christian political news site - "Christian alliance for Progress"
Hate Watch: for those serious about watching Hate
blog of Mark Evanier, writer of TV, comic books, animation, and articles. (so yes, a professional writer). I've mentioned in at least one of his non-fiction books..... blog is a mixture of politics, LA culture, and writing for animation, TV, and comic books.

Bill's another professional writer (of crime novels), to be honest I'm not sure if I've read any of his fiction or not (we are on some of the same mailing lists). Unlike Mark, I'm sure Bill has no idea who I am. He sure can find some odd ball stuff though......

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tom Lehrer "National Brotherhood Week"

Tom Lehrer was one of the highlites of the early 60s -
for those of you who dont know him: this is satire.
To a certain extent, this particular piece is dated satire....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Here if You Need Me" book review

"Here If You Need Me: A True Story" Kate Braestrup (2007)

My Amazon review:

"Plucky Widow's Story", August 22, 2007

In the middle of the book, author Kate Braestrup speaks of a "Plucky Widow's Story" - thus providing herself with another hook for her own book. If you like an author this aware and with this ability to smile at herself, then you will probably like this book. For a book filled with tragic death, it is both fun and breezy, however she treats both death and those who died with respect. That's a hard balancing act, which she accomplishes quite well.
This is not a theological book (although you can find some theology toward the end of the book), those seeking that need to look elsewhere.
Emergency ministrial work is a hard field to be in, and many burn out quickly. I am impressed enough by this book to wonder, if she stays in that field, what she will be able to write in another ten years.

Additional comments:

This book has been getting fairly good reviews. She is an recently graduated UU minister who works as a Chaplain for the Maine Game Wardens. She entered the ministry after the death of her husband, taking on the role that he had picked for himself.
I liked the book, and expect that it could serve as a good way for Christian UUs or Universalists to share with others how their faith works. She has the spirit of a new minister and the knowledge of someone who knows the lessons she has learned and how to share those lessons.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

little kid in my office

A little kid was in my office, about 5, and putting a rubber medical glove over his bare foot; and then putting his shoe back on.
I looked at his mother and grandmother and said: "You know you're old, when the thought of putting a rubber glove on your foot never even occurred to you"

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Storage Lockers

I cleaned up and turned in my key to my Storage Locker earlier this week.
You know that there are only one basic reason to have a storage locker: one has too much stuff.
How one gets too much stuff is a different thing. I've known collectors all my life, and they need space to store their collections. I know someone who has his barn filled to the rafters with his collections. I recently gave a collection of magazines to a gentleman in Ohio, it went straight from my mother's closet to his brother's attic! Obviously these kinds of folks dont mind getting a storage locker - it's just another room in the house.
Another reason to get a storage locker is when you have too much stuff and literally no place to put it. One is either homeless or near homeless. Sometimes the stuff in a storage locker, if sold, is enough to make one non-homeless. There is an artist, who is presumed dead, who when the contents of his unpaid storage locker were auctioned would have been enough to pay for many years lodging (the person who ended up with it - sold it for enough to buy a small house); of course even homeless artists can be both ignorant of the value of their belongings and hopeful that they one day would be back on their feet and able to enjoy their long owned treasures.....
As for me? I was homeless...and needed a place to put most of the rest of my stuff. Furniture, dresser, desk, my grandfather's old office chair, camping gear, and way too many collectibles. My parents nicely gave up their garage and a bedroom - so no, I was not homeless in the "on the streets" style, but I could have easily been. (Besides my parents, a female friend offered me a room - in the "you stay on your side, and I'll stay on mine" roommate style, but considering our personalities that would have been Oscar and Felix for sure). Since I paid off the locker and writing this short essay, all the thoughts and feelings of that time have made this a rather bitter-sweet weekend. I am fortunate that my experience has turned out for the best, but it's more of a "There but Fortune, Go You or I" type of experience, not because of my skills or hard work.
You never know what's going to happen in your life- dreams turn sour, and things that seem impossible become miracles.
I'm still only a step or two away from homeless - I don't have parents who can put me up, that female friend is getting married this month, I've been married myself for a few happy years.
If I ever need storage space again, I also know where to go....
I still have too many collectables....

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

OT - My spouse is in DC and gets a major gift

My spouse is in Washington yesterday and today - ordinarily I wouldn't hear about her day until she got home -- but this time it made the AP newswire including on Newsday -
-despite this donation, you can still give, as the fund raising continues - this is in a poor rural area.,0,7939242.story?coll=ny-region-apnewyork

Friday, July 20, 2007

Miracles - what do they mean?

Miracles - what do they mean?
(written in the hours in the middle between bedtime and awakening time -so not an article but a discourse)

I was reading tonight the 6th of Osamu Tezuka's 8 volume BUDDHA "graphic novel", "magna" or otherwise huge comic book. As usual when reading a fictionalized biography, I wonder how much is "true" and how much the author made up. While reading this volume of the BUDDHA, I seem to recognize some of the characters from various books on Buddha that Ive read - although a quick googling shows that much of what I read seems to be solely the work of Tezuka.

A couple of things strike me, but the parallels between Jesus and Buddha teaching, I will just point out that JESUS AND BUDDHA: THE PARALLEL SAYINGS, by Marcus J. Borg is one such source. I (and the book) make no call about any Buddhist influence on early Christianity (and I'm skeptical myself).

Part of the reason I had some difficulty in knowing if the characters and stories in BUDDHA are fictional is that my main source of the life of Buddha, are various western versions where the miracles are cut out. Sorta like the Thomas Jefferson Bible. As a rule I dont have much problem with that -- I think of the miracles in both Buddhism and Christianity as pointers to the truth. Indeed, I call the big miracle stories in the New Testament: "book jackets for the story". But tonight as I was reading about Buddha preaching to crocodiles, chopping wood with his mind, and of course healing the sick in body and mind -- it powerfully struck me that ignoring the miracles - is missing the story. Missing the story almost as badly as those who only see the miracles.
While I continue to believe that miracles in scriptures are pointers to truth, items designed to wake us up, to make us understand that their words are worth pondering; miracles are important in themselves. We need miracles. They make see that things can change, that things wil be better.
Simply put miracles are things that are rare, that isn't suppose to happen, "something wonderful". A man gathering deer as disciples is indeed something wonderful, healing the dying is indeed something wonderful. Feeding the hungry either on the side of the sea, or over the world is a miracle. Can miracles happen to us now? Yes, it can; I don't mean like winning the lottery, that's not a miracle. Winning the lottery when you only buy one ticket a year, and either need the money or give it to someone/thing that needs the money - now, That's a miracle: something wonderful. Getting a call from a long lost friend after thinking of, but not hearing from them in a long time - that's a miracle. Being able to smile and laugh after losing or suffering a loss -and mean it: that's a miracle. Helping someone without thoughts of reward or even notice, is a miracle for both.

I wont go on and on about what would happen if the earth actually did stop rotating, and the sun stopped moving, that's not really important - and misses the whole point of miracles....What's important is that if you see or feel a miracle, that you touch it, that you thank it, that you embrace it, and that you ponder it, deep in your heart.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

looking at a Book Catalog and thinking UUCF

I got a copy of the Abingdon Press Fall and Winter 2007/8 Trade Catalog ("Trade" in this case means for retailers and librarians). Abingdon is an United Methodist imprint. And they have Study Bibles, books on theology, hymnals, children's books, sunday school books (including "One Room Sunday School") books for youth - including theology, DVDs for youth, Adult Sunday School Material including DVDs,
Some of this looks very good: such as Adult studies on Hospitality, Forgiveness, Discernment, and Intimacy,and death and dying. "How to act like a Christian". Some look disappointing: The "Christianity Family Tree" mentions many of the current Christian traditions, but liberal Christians arent mentioned in the title of the sessions. There is even "Preaching Annual 2008" which sermons to print out - apparently one for every week of 2008!
Now the UUA catalog is fine, but it's small, and lacks many of these type resources and themes (hard to believe the UUA is that far behind in DVDs....) And as I was looking at these books, I wondered ... what would be right for UU or other liberal Christians?
So, I thought this would be a good starting place to ask:
What books are good for UU Christians? and by that I mean those who are mostly unitarian and universalist - who spent more time with the words in red in the middle, and less with the stuff at the begining and end....(knowing that there are UUs Christians who arent unitarian or universalist or even thiest). These books must be "in print"!

Please add or link by including the book and why, dont just say "Books by Borg" - say which ones and why.... write like you're trying to sell the book to other UUs.

Let me start by adding:
Christian Voices In Unitarian Universalism (2006) Editor: Katleen Kolenz
15 personal stories by those who heard Jesus while being UUs, and their joys and sorrows while doing so....

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Folks try to sell me and give me books!

Books distributors like to sell books, and if they think you might buy $1000s of dollars of books from them, they will try to give you catalog's and discounts and even free books. I dont buy $1000s of books, but my wife does - (you know I was about to figure out how much $ I spend on my personal books and I dont want to go may be in the 1000s range ... burr....)
Ok, I own way too many books already - but when the opportunity to get more books is here, I will do so! and with a happy face.

I do draw the line at books that I "need" for my library - or in the case of free books, might buy others from the same publisher, etc.

So I picked up history, books about pre-1950s comic strips and books, silent movie books, psychology books, and religious books.
In this blog, I will mention what religious books I got and why - I wont review them, I havent read them! I will note I saw folks from Abington, Tyndale House, and Moody - but not Beacon or Skinner House, or anyone distributing them.

FROM TYNDAL TO MADISON - Michael Farris - (2007) Advanced Reader's Edition. B& H publishing co. I see that this company descends (or is) the one of the first USA publishing Company - from Christopher Sowers 1743 press. That will almost forgive them from publishing Oliver North novels. I cant tell from their website, if they are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention or not..... The author is the founder of Patrick Henry College, the controversial so-called Christian college best known for providing job opportunities in the George W. Bush administration. This book is due out July 1, 2007.

THE QUR'AN translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali 1995 Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an. This is the most common translation (in English) of the Qur'an - sorta the King James version.....I dont think I have tried to read the Qur'an - so i look forward to it. Note I said "try", most scriptures arent easy going. I've read the BIBLE, many of the non-canon "gospels", an abridgment of Ramayana and Mahabrata (not quite scriptures). I didn't finish The Book of Morman, and will admit to still struggling with Ballou's. a short sermon is easier reading than many scriptures.

A HISTORY OF THE AMISH revised 2003 Steven M. Nolt, Good Books. I believe that Good Books is an independent Mennonite press, owned by the Good family. They are best known for their slow cooker cook books. but they also publish quilting and peacemaking books. I've read the earlier edition of this, so I have no doubts that it will fit well on my shelf of denominational histories.

I also got the current issue of SCIENCE AND SPIRIT - looks good, I cant say I was familiar with it before ------ but again, I havent read any of these yet --

Friday, June 29, 2007

UU Affliliates

I've been out of town for most of the past two weeks -
in Charlotte and Washington -- hope to say somethings about both.... but first....

UU Affliates
There have been around 60 UU Affiliates, but affiliate status was changed and now there are only 7 affiliates.

Council of Unitarian Universalists Camps and Conferences
Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry.
Universalist Convocations
UU Women’s Federation
UU Service Committee
UU United Nations Office

The applications for three other groups, Partner Church Council, UU Ministry for Earth, and the UU Small Group Ministry Network, were held for consideration at the next board meeting in October.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Today for memorial day, my wife went and sold poppies, and I mowed the lawn. Both standard Memorial Day activities. For lunch, we had corn on the cob, baked beans, and I had some blue fake-gateraid (not finished mowing the lawn). With the exception of my blue drink, a mostly standard memorial day lunch.
Mowing the lawn without headphones, you do some thinking.....

Memorial Day is a day for remembering those who died for us in wartime. As usual, I think of my uncle, who was killed in the south pacific - one of the first casualties from North Carolina. I never knew him, but he was only 10 months different in age from my father, and as a teenager, i was given his Eisenhower jacket and his leather flight jacket. the Eisenhower jacket is now in a museum, and the leather jacket hanging in my closet. If I could lose 50 pounds, I could fit into it again, like I could when I was his age. His age, I think of soldiers of ww2 of being in their 30s-50s, because that's how old the veterans of ww2 were when I began to think of them. But like all soldiers, they were young. My uncle would have been around 20 - 21 when he died.
All of his brothers went on to get graduate degrees, he was successful in high school, got a college scholarship - he could have had a long happy life past 1942.... but he chose to enlist in a war. I dont know his motivation, but I suspect that he wanted to do the right thing for his country - which was clearly the right thing to do for his family. His father did not serve in ww1, nor his grandfathers in any war - but he had heard the stories of wars - a great grandfather had died in the war of the 1860s, and both sides of the family were full of stories of sacrifice and hardship from that war. No 20 year old believes that they are going to die, but Im sure he knew it was a possibility. But he thought that that risk was worth it. With hindsight and bluntness and possible selfishness, he was right. The sacrifice that he and others made was worth it, The USA has and had plenty of problems - but it would have had more problems had the result of WW2 gone differently. I raise my poppy and give thanks to him and to all of those who gave their lives for me. Thanks so much.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Songs to sing

Over on "Mom to the Left"'s blog - I left a comment about hymn singing, and I mentioned that I had intended to mention it on my blog- so let me do so.

On the way to Shelter Neck, I took a hymnal; and while my suffering spouse drove, I sang every hymn I knew. I discovered a few things about our current hymnal.

1) I dont know many of the songs. I know a few by heart, but most I dont even know by looking at the words.

2) there are a fair amount of Charles Wesley hymns in there. that being so, let me plug (unheard by me - so buyer beware) Maddy Prior's upcoming CD "Paradise Found" - a collection of Wesley tunes. Prior is famous for singing in her own band and in Steeleye Span (and for having an X-men named after her). It should be good - as Wesley knew how to write a tune.

3) we have a few old classic folk tunes (and a lot of civil war era spirituals), but some of the classic folk tunes arent there. Why not the classics like Pete Seeger's (who is an UU) - "Turn Turn Turn" or more dated "Where Have All the flowers gone". Why do we have wimp folk songs (cough cough) and not more with passion or conviction? Why not "No Man's Land" (AKA Willie McBride) or even "Last Night I had the Strangest Dream". ok, well maybe not - and probably not "Positively 4th Street" either....

4) being on a hymnal committee must be the thankless job ever.........


I assume that most folks have been to the Belief-o-Matic at Beliefnet.....

I go every couple years to see what I am "today".
Now, that's a rather UU thing to say, isnt it?
However I was an UU long before the internet -

5-10 years back, Belief-o-Matic had me as 100% UU, but I've been slipping

"today", I'm
1. Reform Judaism (100%)
2. Unitarian Universalism (98%)
3. Liberal Quakers (94%)
4. Mahayana Buddhism (81%)
5. Sikhism (80%)
6. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (80%)

This is the first time that sikhism has been this high -- and as I was thinking "what has changed in me? do i listen to too much Richard Thompson music or what?" when the question to me became "is it me changing? or does Belief-o-matic keep up with changes in the religion themselves? A Baptist today is a long way away from a Baptist 40 years ago - the same for a Methodist .... and the same for an UU ----
- so not only how do we keep up with who we are, how do we B_O_M keep up with who the religions are?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

When someone leaves the fold (taken from another's blog)

I googled, looking for info on N. P. Walker for my other blog -- and I found these quotes by me...
I thought it was worth moving over here.
this from where someone who was leaving the UU for a more Christian denomination, I wrote

"it’s like a divorce - does one remain friendly or social (particuarly if there is no children) - or does one forget all the past, good as well as bad? - or then there’s the folks who try to conivence the rest of us that their joy at their new life means the rest of us are wasting our lives associating with their ex. If God wanted a hell, it would be full of folks complaining about their ex- (spouse, religion, football team, drinking habits, etc)

Seriously, we only given a short time to live our lives,so we have to do what we feel right and best. to do what’s right. To grow, to learn, to celebrate and live one’s faith to the best we can.

“Oh let me live from this day forth to sing
The prasies of earth’s victorious God and King.
Oh send me out to tell the nations of a love
That bars no soul outside that heavenly home above.”
—Rev. Athalia L.J. Irwin, portions of her poem “Heaven”, written on her day of ordination to the Universalist ministry November 1902.

In my tiny monthly UU Fellowship, I dont go for worship, as I worship everyday. Certainly the sermons that I give (when I give them) would not be fulfilling for those looking for worship. I hope they are fulfilling in other ways…even if the word Jesus and God aren't mentioned every time.
One of the good things about Universalism and Universalists, is that when someone leaves the fold - we miss them, we wish they would come back, but unlike other religious views, we don't worry about their souls….

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter, indeed!

I was scheduled to give the service, this past Easter Sunday.
I made the mistake of asking what folks wanted, and what they wanted was a traditional UU Easter service. So I asked around, I read old Hymnals, I asked around more. I got the Celebrating Spring and Easter book by Carl Seaburg.
I found the 1938 Hymnal very indicative of traditional U and U service, it contained both a very traditional Christian service and a very traditional Humanistic service. So I did readings and hymns and wrote a sermon including both the Humanists and the (UU) Christians.

I had the opportunity to try it out at an UU camp, where we were doing volunteer work that weekend. So I can now say that "I preached twice on Easter - doing a circuit of 150 miles.... just like the old Universalist preachers did....." If only the crowd at either place was big enough to be impressive..... That was fun, but what I want to mention here is that the preaching was volunteer and the work at the UUCamp was volunteer work too. I have nothing against paid preachers and paid workers - but we need more volunteers - at Church - and elsewhere. Modern life does seem to be a big time trap, making it harder and harder to volunteer to do things - but the need still is there. There are needs for little league coaches, umpires; PTA/PTO members; choir members; red cross bloodmobile workers; some of these things dont take going around 150 miles, you can go around the block; some of thse things dont have to take hours of time either - you can probably do some valuable things for society in under an hour a week (and bless those of you who spend more than that!!) - consider helping at the soup kitchen, or meals on wheels; ask your church, your council on aging, join a civic club, pick up trash on the highway --
Now how am I going to tie this in with Easter? Easily! Jesus went around volunteering his time. He didnt get paid for his curing sick people, comforting the ill and oppressed. He did it because it was the right thing to do - regardless of our theological orientation, go thou and do likewise! (gee, I wish i had had that part in my sermon!) As we celebrate Spring and the renewal of life; let us recall the ways we can let our light shine.....

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Universalist Convocation - OHIO

I've posted some material earlier
concerning this years Universalist Convocation - first weekend in May 2007
in Bellville Ohio.

I havent yet gotten permission to distribute the forms to folks who might ask me,
but if you havent signed up and want to go, i can give you the email address to get an application form.

It should be fun - it'll be my third UC.

It you dont want to attend the whole weekend, the church service Sunday will be filled with Universalists,
might be worth going to see just to see what a church filled with Universalists looks like.

Monday, March 19, 2007

My mother is dying

My mother is dying. It seems strange to put that in black and white, just like that. My mother is dying. The words do indeed sound odd as I mull it around in my head.
It shouldnt come as any surprise - she's really been dying for the past 4 years, ever since my dad died. Her stroke on Thanksgiving Eve and then this past weekend her recent episode where her heartbeat refused to go over 52 even with the external pacemaker were just the most recent manifestations.
Yes, Friday morning when the doctor called and asked what we, the family, wanted to do - did put the words in motion... what did we the family want to do.... As the only local child and the health care power of attorney, it was my responsibility to call my brother and sisters. What did we want to do? Could she survive surgery? My mother is dying.
And as one of the family asked "Does she have the will to live?" And bluntly the answer is "no". She's been dying for a long time, and for many reasons. She doesnt have the will, the desire to live, to see new things, to hear new songs, to laugh.

Historically, my religious faith, Universalism, has been derided by others as not "a good faith to die in". Not having died yet, I cant really say for sure; but my mother's faith (not the same as mine) doesn't seem to be a good faith to live in. At least for her. I hope it gives her some strength, but it doesn't seem to give her enough - we are not just folks born to die (although we do), what we do and say does matter (although I will grant not as much as we want) -- our life does have meaning - and my faith sustains that for me.

Bob Dylan (recently declared a false prophet - a term he might agree with) once said that "he is not busy being born, is busy dying"... our life has to stay involved, to stay active - even if the active part is the brain, even if the active part slows down ....

there are poems to write, there are songs to sing, there are birds to watch,
you can do some of those things from your bed or chair.

I expect to say sometime later this year, that my mother is dead. The body doesn't last forever... I'd like to say that like Universalists of old, she could see the joy and love of life; and the joy and love in life.........

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Universalist Convocation 2007 Bellville Ohio Schedule

2007 Universalist Convocation: Universalist Peace Wittness
Friday May 4
welcome by Justin Lapoint
worship led by Derek Parker

Saturday May 5
Worship by Wells Behee (his sermon draws from his experience in WW2)
Adress by Dr. Stephen Potthoff (Deptartment Religion and Philosophy at
Wilmington College (Willmington Ohio)
Group Photo
workshops: Musical Workshop; Supreme Worth of Every Human
Personality; Peace Wittness; Historic Tour of Bellville;
dinner at an Amish Restaurant
entertainment: Cedar Creek High School Jazz Band

Sunday May 6
Annual Buisness Meeting
Morning Worship by host pastor, Rev. John Martin
Church will provide sack lunches when we depart around noon

nearby airports
Columbus, Cleveland, and Akron (regional airport at Mansfield)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

My time behind the Pulpit

My grandfather was an United Brethren minister. For those for whom the name means something, this was not the current denomination, he was under the new constitution. The UBs were basically german methodists. Around 1946, they consolidated with the Evangelical Church to become the United Brethren, Evangelical. In the late 1960s, they merged with the Methodist Church to become United Methodist Church.
He had his doctorate from Moody. He wasn't a minister by the time I was around, but he still read religious books, still planned to write a religious book; still listened to George Beverly Shea on record... He did however think I would be a fine minister when I grew up....

So, I had least was grinning for that reason, when I stood behind the pulpit up in Fayetteville the other week. I talked about the history of the Universalist Church (the other U), trying to spotlight on local Carolina material. I ran out of time before I ran out of the 19th century...
While I'm more of a Ballou guy than a Murray guy, it's so fun to talk about Murray. His ups and downs in England, the UU miracle story - at Good Luck! Even the rock --
I mentioned the Carolina Universalists who were barred from being witnesses in court, and of course the theory (on wikipedia ) that the first Universalist Church was in South Carolina.
Fun, i could have gone on and on.

Ive given talks to my local UU group, but that was local. This was different, this was folks I didnt know in a town I could (and did) get lost in.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Universalist Convocation at Bellville Ohio May 2007

this post is an advance notice of the upcoming Universalist Convocation at
Bellville Ohio the first weekend in May 2007.

Bellville is just south of Mansfield and north of Columbus Ohio.

I will be attending and this will be my third convocation.

usually starts Friday evening and ends Sunday afternoon.
a nominal charge is involved (but dinner is provided)
Sunday worship service is open to everyone.

The convocation doesnt have a website - but I will be passing on official information as I receive it (Ive heard various unofficial news that sounds good). And am mentioning this early just so that those of you in Central Ohio who might consider going will mark it on your calendar.