Friday, October 09, 2009

They'll Be Some Changes Made!

Well there are indeed some changes being made at the SCU household, and some
major ones at that. So here's a hot version of this old (1921?) song - gee, Jazz fans, it's got Mezz on the banjo!
I'm not at liberty to reflect on those changes for another week, but it will probably be the most outrageous thing I've ever done - well maybe. The pluses of it (for me) are
obvious, the minus are also clear to me - it's an extremely drastic change. I believe that I know the negative effects, and am getting myself ready for them. I'll let everyone know next week what's up.

"Why, there's a change in the weather, there's a change in the sea,
So from now on there'll be a change in me,
My walk will be be different, my talk, and my name,
Nothing about me's going to be the same;
I'm gonna change my long tall one for a little short 'n fat,
I'm gonna change my number that I'm living at;
Because nobody wants you when you're old and gray.
There's gonna be some changes made today,
There'll be some changes made."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ballou quote of the day

The Universalist minister, Hosea Ballou said it so well (in this a modified version of his quote from his Treatise on Atonement):

“The moment we fancy ourselves infallible, everyone must come to our peculiarities or we cast them away. If we agree in love, there is no disagreement that can do us any injury, but if we do not, no other agreement can do us any good.”

Ain't Got A Home; part 2

One of the most interesting differences between Unitarian Universalist Association member congregations and other denominations or religions (besides some of us feeling we have to use the term "denominations or religions") is that as a non-creedial group, we often end up offending those of us who want a creed. Well, we might not want a real creed, just official recognition that our views are the right ones. After all, we don't want riff-raff in the pews next to us you know....who knows what they might believe. And if they don't believe like us, well we ain't got no home in this world anymore.

I know that between that opening and my previous post, I have probably angered anybody that might be still be reading this. Because yes, this is snarky, and snark is only good when it's used against the badguys and not against ourselves. We UUs have a tendency to try to be nice, to not offend, to try to heal - yes, even to try to heal those who refuse healing. We remove objects and words that might offend, without realizing that everything can sometimes offend. But posting and writing on the internet is so easy to offend - sometimes without even knowing it.
I do understand the pain of the feeling that one's home is gone. The religious denomination i grew up in took a strong turn to the right in the mid-1960s, and is still heading rightward today - my old religious home is gone, in my visits since, it has never been the same. The house I grew up in was sold decades ago, while the fields, woods, and swamp, and the outward appearance of the house still look the same; i can drive past and see the blocks that my father laid as he made the wall -- it isn't my home anymore. My best friend in high school has been dead for over 20 years now; I have large gaps of my life that i no longer know anyone who can reminisce with me about.
Some years ago, someone once told to me that Unitarian Universalism was an easy religion - I replied back that they had obviously never written a sermon for an UU service. The UUA is indeed non-creedial, people can sit in the pews next to you who dont believe any of the theology that you do. Or - as it keeps coming up - they may believe things that you despise. At which point one feels that ones home - which is supposed to be safe and secure - has been invaded. It's not my home anymore.
For decades UU Christians (and therefore UU theists of all stripes) have been told to just get out and join a Christian church. Obviously many UU Christian would have to hide their beliefs to attend most Christian Churches. It's not their real home. In the last ten-fifteen years, theists and deists have began to grow in the UUA - particularly if you include Pagans in the theist column as anti-theists often do. The non-theists are growing in the ranks of Buddhists (most of the UU Buddhists are non-theists), but their views are not the traditional non-theist language. So the non-theist, still slightly the majority view in the UUA, wonders if they will continue to have a home.
Living with people who arent the same as you, with different cultures, different classes, different races, different musical tastes, different theological orientation is not an easy task. One has to look at core values - one has also to want to live with the diversity. That's hard to do - it is possible. Many families now contain much diversity, from musical tastes onward. If a blood family can survive, so can a congregational family. It does take work; and to some, it might not be worth the work.
Is there strength in our diversity? Do we have to always be right in everything to be loved? Can we put up with the folks in the next pew over? Time will tell.....

Ain't Got A Home

the latest UU blog-o-versy -
did you know that theists and anti-theists ain't go no home in the UUA anymore?

Pardon my lightness, it's just that I've been hearing this same song for the past 30 years.
If it's a new experience to you, the below song is much more what you've been feeling:

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work hard with your fellow UUs to build a better UUA... for you and them

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Love Abides, It Does not Divide.

Bill Baar on his blog Pfarrer Streccius mentions that Universalists used to use the phrase
"Love abides. Love does not divide." This quote, no doubt based on letters by John and Paul (George and Ringo didn't write much), is worth mediating on.

for those of us who believe that we are indeed inspired by love, this sentence is a powerful look at one of these things that Love is supposed to do. i could go on (and on and on) with details, but I think this is another area where quiet contemplation works better.
Thanks again Bill for bringing back this wonderful reminder.

"Love abides. Love does not divide."

Saturday, June 06, 2009

UUA President election

No, I'm not endorsing a candidate.
I will state that on another blog, I did suggest "none of the above" as a suitable option.
It's not that they would be bad Presidents, it's just that neither of the two candidates seem (to me) to have a grasp on what problems the UUA actualy faces, and neither strikes me as being bold enough to shake the UUA out of its decades long slumber.
And to a certain extent, that makes sense; non-boldness is working. Most religious denominations are shrinking, the UUA is at least holding its own.
To make bold steps also means that one will alienate somebody - the UUA consists of a large variety of congregants, many of whom think that their religious and other views are the right and best and only good way to live. Look at the Pagan vs Humanist wars (mostly settled now, but still flaming in some congregations), or the ethical food folks vs the cheap food for the masses folks, etc, etc. I could go on, but I don't want to alienate anybody left reading this ;-) To point out the emperor's new clothes is to alienate folks. To look at a previous post, to make the UUA more culturally diverse, I think we would have to change things - and I suspect many of those things that we would need to change are things that the majority of today's UUs really really like. And therefore we "can't " change them. We can (and will ) follow the same apparent failed policies that have yet to work. How many years has the UUA tried the current plan of attempting multi-culturalism in our congregations? How successful has that particular plan been? Can we come up with a different plan?

And while I'm at it, can we make our elections democratic. A lot of our congregations allow those who can afford to travel to GA to represent the congregation and to vote however they want. How is this different than the old fashion political smoked filled back rooms?

At least I dont see either as a bad candidate, I suspect they will both be mostly status quo, which is what UUs mostly want.

Friday, June 05, 2009

"I Approve This Message" by Roy Zimmerman

you might like some of his other songs as well....

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Why are UU Congregations still so mono-cultured?

After decades of attempts to build multi-cultural congregations, why are UU still so mono-cultured? Which is a way of asking why are UUs still so upper middle class white?
Because of course, we are (or at least appear to be).

And the usual answer is because UUs haven't done enough consciousness-raising, haven't attended enough workshops, haven't had enough of the veils lifted from our eyes. Some of that is probably true -
but it doesn't explain why there are some organizations that have not tried any consciousness-raising and workshops, that are multi-cultural. What have they done that has made them that way, what answers do they get when they ask how to be more multi-cultural? Why can't this work for us?

My guess is that there are multiple reasons, here's a slight handful:

There are people who don't like to associate with you, and you have to give them some reason to put up with you. It doesnt matter that you're nice and don't talk about your car, your job, your love of music from opera to bluegrass; they still have nothing in common with you, why should they put up with you? and the reasons for this could be that they are poorer than you, or richer than you, it's still "what reasons do they have to come down and sit near you?"

You call them sinners for eating meat, or lunchmeat with nitrates, or not eating organic.
You call them sinners for allowing their children to join the military, and not feeling quilty about their children's decision.
You look at them funny if they dress different - like wear a tie or a nice hat.
You grimace when they say they watch "American Idol" or Fox News.
The congregation all smile in unison when they enter the door, and somebody checks off a box next to "multi-cultural" on the visitors stat sheet (well not really, just seems that way)
why should these people come to your congregation?

What's the most multi-cultural place you know? Hospitals? K-mart? What makes these places multi-cultural? Workshops (and they do have them) help, but it's that they are filling an obvious need.
You want your congregation to be more multi-cultural?
Start by Filling a Need that isnt being met. Or Filling a Need better than others in the area.
Come up with reasons that people not like you would want to come and sit next to someone like you.

(comments rule: on topic, non-abusive only. The blog owner reserves the right to allow you to post your off-topic, abusive posts on your own blog. Sometimes the blog owner will allow you to post your almost off-topic, not quite abusive posts on your own blog - depending on blog owner's mood at the moment)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Universalist Convocation - in Birmingham May 15-17, 2009


held on May 15-17 (Friday evening through Sunday dinner- lunch) at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birminham in Birmingham Alabama. For more information see the website at

(and yes, I'll be there)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rural Heritage

I had some interesting experiences yesterday. I went to a Rural Heritage Festival in the next town over here in SC, and later went to a meeting with co-members of an environmental group concerning "mountain top removal" in WVA and SC responsibility for it. One of he major commonalities of them for me, was that the majority of folks that I talked to at both were farmers. We'd expect that at a Rural Heritage Festival, but at a meeting about coal mining?

Most of us here living in the United States do have rural heritage, although further back than this festival was celebrating. Up to the 1910s, most people in the US lived in rural areas. Currently 21% of the United States is still rural, with 4 states mostly rural (Mississippi, West Virginia, and Maine and Vermont). My father's family were farmers from at least the time they moved to North Carolina (around 1795 from Virginia), up to my grandfather. My father used to say that it's good that my grandfather was a "hobby farmer", because the farm never made any money. I grew up in a rural area (and still am in a rural county), the neighbors farmed - we didn't. I read my grandfather's copies of "Progressive Farmer" and "Organic Gardening and Farming" and later my own copies of "Organic Gardening" (they had spun New Farm into its own magazine) and "Mother Earth News" - but I never really developed my own green thumb. I do remember the neighbors plowing with mules, and the smell of spring: organic fertilizer on the fields. In my 20s, I spent five years leading month-long wilderness trips, such things as being able to build fires during a snowfall - while rural, its not what we think of as "rural heritage". Because, RH is nostalgia talk for farm life.

We bought some things at the RHF, wine from a "local" winery (is 76 miles local?), rice from the local rice farm (22 miles, less if we could go as the crow flies). The rice farm uses renewal energy, and is organic. The local organic sheep farm (15 miles) will be in town next week at the marketplace (bringing more items), so will buy our cheese then (no, its not sheep cheese). Other exhibits including "marsh tacky horses", fishing rods casting, medicinal plants, birds of prey, bluegrass, "water watch" , tips for gardening, recycled water barrels, boiled peanuts, and BBQ sauce (vinegar based for Eastern Carolina folks). The big tech thing was growing switchgrass for bioenergy and the hopes for farmers for that. the local papermill is building biofuel (corn however) mills.

the environmental meeting was held on Saturday night, at a home not that far distant so that I was able to go. There was someone down (literally) from the Appalachians to talk about Mountain Top removal - strip mining removal of mountains. and the removal of said coal here to SC (and various other places, SC is not in the top 5 - just the top 10), and what we can do about it. Informative, but i want to continue to talk about farmers - because i spoke with a couple of farmers there. Yes, farmers there to hear about non-farming environmental news. I listen to their concerns - and yes,as farmers they have big concerns : their lives and livelihoods depend on it. I find fascinating the farmers who have web pages and those who ship their products direct to consumers. Carbon footprints? Depends - at least from farm (to processor) to you makes it at least somewhat more direct, without the wondering the food goes through otherwise.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

books bought from library sale

The small local library had an off-season booksale today, to lessen the amount of stock they had in their closet... The books were semi-separated, but not too well...

Here's what I got (for a total of $4.25) - keep in mind that these are impulse items, and that by rules of the this house for every two books in, three go out.

THE GOSPELS OF MARY - by Marvin Meyer with Ester A. DeBoer (2004 Harper Collins) - can one have enough gnostic Gospels? well, probably one can....but this book says it takes the gnostics and the gospels to give the real story of Mary Magadalene, Jesus' closest disciple.

NORTHWEST OF EARTH - By C. L. Moore (2007 Planet Stories) - short stories written in the 1930s by Catherine Moore in the 1930s for Weird Tales, Planet Stories, etc. This should be swashbuckling space opera - she's best known as the co-writer of Mimsy_were_the_Borogoves.

ALBERT SCHWEITZER: AN ANTHOLOGY - edited by Charles R. Joy (1947 Beacon Press, Harper and Brothers) this is an "relgious book club" edition of the book. a recent discsuuion on the Unitarain Universalist Historical Society email list, reminds me of his connection with UUs and his influence on the mid20th Century. He apparently hasnt aged well - but it still should be interesting to read his words.

AROUND THE WORLD WITH THE NATIONAL JEWISH OUTREACH PROGRAM - by Shimon Apisdorf (2000 National Jewish Outreach Program, Jewish Literacy foundation). The Jewish Calendar and Jewish Holidays

EXPLORDING JUDAISM: A RECONSTRUCTIONIST APPROACH - By Rebecca T. Alpert, Jacob J. Staub (1988 the Reconstructionist Press) this is a book about what it means to be Jewish to the Reconstuctionist - the 4th major group of Judiasm in the USA.

THE GREAT STILLNESS: TAO MEDIATIONS VOLUME 2 - By Bruce Frantzis (1998, 2001 North Atlantic Books, Energy Arts)

MAGIC TIME by Doug Marlette (2006 ) this is an autographed Advanced Reading Copy. Marlette (1949 -2007) was a pulitizer prize winning editorial cartoonist. I read his work and met him when he was the cartoonist for the Charlotte Observer (1972-1987) - I confess that Ive not read his fiction.

UNCLE SILAS by J. S. LeFanu (1899 - this edition by Dover) actualy publsihed in 1864 - this is considered to be one of the major works by one of the major writers of ghost stories in the 19th century. What I've read recently of LeFanu, I admit to enjoying. We'll see if I say the same for this.

so does anyone see the themes in all this? ;-)
and no, I wont be posting on what 10-11 books are removed from the house.....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Question on UUSC

Their website is non-informative (really really non-informative).
can anyone give me some good reasons to give money to the UUSC?

(my usual charities are individual churches, environmental groups, heifer international, and Kiva)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

another culture

The blog UU Way of Life is taking questions asked of the candidates for UUA President. One being:

"What experiences have you had that help you deeply understand the mindset and values of another culture?"

My lack of excitement concerning the two candidates led me to skip their answers, but i did wonder about both the question and the questioner. What actually were they wanting to know about this question? What exactly are they meaning by "another culture"? Does one have to have special experiences to understand another culture? Does understanding other cultures make a person special?

Does understanding other cultures' values and mindsets make one worthy enough to be UUA President? I talk and interact with folks from a large variety of cultures - I hear people's dreams and visions for their and their family's future. I don't always agree with them (particularly those who's dreams include types of criminal behavior) but I understand it.
To a certain extent it's easy to get information from other cultures - you keep quiet and you keep hanging around. Understanding is a bit harder, because that takes listening - and thinking. Why do people say that - why do people act that? Not judging, but listening is the key to understanding. It's not the American way to listen. Of course if one wanted to be President of the UUA, you could just say that you attended several Cultural Competence workshops - we UUs love workshops .*
What makes us not aware of other culture's values? Arrogance and assumptions.
It's easy to be guilty of that.... Indeed it would be easy for me to bring out my own arrogance and assumptions to mention my fellow UUs arragonce and assumptions. Let me instead ask you to ask a question that Kim Hampton asked awhile back. (Actually I'm pharapraising her greatly) What books have your read this year by someone not of your culture?
- I'll go further, what music have you listened to that you don't normaly do? What TV show or movie? If you generally dont read best selling fiction, have you? If you never listen to hiphop or MTV or gospel, then do so. Now - as you might guess, that's not enough. You have to watch MTV without gasping for air, or gospel without getting your smelling salts. You have to listen and try to see clearly why the audience responds as they do.

I admit to the experinces that shaped me: my father lived in mainland China for about 4 years, I have family members in Thailand now. I grew up in a vastly poverty stricken area and most of my friends growing up were poor. As a kid we didnt know they were poor. i've lived with folks of different races for years. And to repeat the above: I've heard the dreams of those in many different cultures. To me to hear the real dreams is to hear who they are.
It isnt difficult to hear other culture's dreams, but you do have to open the door of your comfort zone.

* I assume everyone knows the joke about how St. Peter (at the golden gates of Heaven) finds UUs - he has a sign pointing to Heaven, and a sign pointing to a workshop and lecture about Heaven - and all the UUs go to the workshop.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll (William Zantzinger 1939-2009)

"William Zanzinger killed Poor Hattie Carroll"
is the first line of the 1963 Bob Dylan tune. In that year William Zantzinger a young (24) man attacked Hattie Carroll (51) with a cane while she was doing her job serving in a hotel. She died as a result - and he has finally did 45 years later.

The song itself is considered a masterpiece of writing
- while one can argue (and folks do) with the exact interpretation of what happened,
but it a perfect example of while some details may not be inerrant, it is still truth.

this is a 1964 version - rough and uncomfortable--just like the song.