Sunday, November 13, 2016

Interview With Jeanne Pupke

 A new UUA President will be elected at the General Assembly in June of 2017.

Three candidates are in the running: Susan Frederick-Gray, Alison Miller and Jeanne Pupke. All are ministers currently serving congregations.

Each of them have agreed to allow me to interview them on Zoom for this blog. I am hoping to do at least two interviews with each of them. The first will be about them, their family and religious background and their call to ministry. The second will focus more on their views about current issues in Unitarian Universalism. Each interview will be about 30 minutes. I hope that these interviews will provide a closer and more personal look at them than what has been usually available in these campaigns in the past. The first round of interviews are now complete.

For the record, I do not now have a preference for any of the candidates. I think that they are all capable and inspiring leaders of our faith.

Here is my interview with Jeanne Pupke:


Friday, November 11, 2016

Smothering Hate

I have been saying for years now.
After the Trump campaign, does anyone doubt it's true?
Trump is gonna Trump. The give and take of Washington politics will unfold as it will; there is very little that we citizens can do about that. Did all those marches and demonstrations stay Bush's hand when he was set on invading Iraq?

But the gravest danger of the Trump election is that it legitimizes and normalizes hate speech, bullying, harassment: speech that demonizes. It has the potential to normalizing bigotry and misogyny, allowing the most dangerous elements of the society to function openly and to intimidate the rest of us into silence and acquiescence.

That does not have to be.

We have to work every day for the next four years to contain hatred in the public sphere. What is unacceptable has to be remain unacceptable. Hateful, or bigoted expressions must remain to be seen as "beyond the limits." Bigots must continue to feel that they are constrained in expressing their views in public. It should cost them something whenever they inject poison into the bloodstream of the body politic. They should remain feeling that they are hemmed in and repressed by a culture of "political correctness," which is what they call courtesy, respect, mutuality and democratic culture.

We have to re-humanize this culture. We must all defend the humanity of every person or group that is being demonized by the conservative movement, which is now led by Donald J. Trump: Immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQI people, African Americans, poor people, women, and journalists.

We are holding the public space for an inclusive, big-hearted, and justice-oriented culture.

We are holding the space for beloved community.

It means calling out hateful speech whenever it is heard. It pushing messages of inclusion and justice into the public square by every means possible. It means that everyone wears a button everyday with a message that affirms the inherent worth and dignity of someone who is marginalized. It means that every car has a positive bumper sticker. It means that everyone refuses to be intimidated and that everyone else comes to the defense of the victims of intimidation. It means that we stick together.

Love smothers Hate.


Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Customary Election Day Comment

Just a reminder:

As odd as it sounds, the Founders of the Republic did not define who could vote in elections of federal office-holders, but left that decision to the states. The reason, of course, was to preserve the autonomy of states to protect their systems of slavery and disenfranchisement. The entire responsibility of running and managing elections for the Federal offices was left to the individual states. Which is odd, when you think about it....

Article II, Section 2

1The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

Stevens, John Paul (2014-04-22). Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution (p. 135). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

The result is what we see today. Not only do voter registration systems vary from state to state, but the administration of elections varies
widely.

Why shouldn't elections in the United States have uniform rules, procedures and systems? Why shouldn't there be national universal registration at age 18? Why shouldn't there be one standard method of identity verification used in all states? Why shouldn't the administration of elections be funded by the federal government, according to universal standards for equitable voter/machine ratios, wait-times, and voting hours?

Why should we put up with the shenanigans we see in which state officials manipulate the administration of elections for partisan purposes? Voter ID! Long lines! Arbitrary voter disqualification schemes! Restricted early voting! Inequitable distribution of machines ! Obsolete and sub-standard and insecure voting machines !

Why cannot we have uniform, standard, equitable, and well-run elections?

We cannot because of the heritage of slavery. Remnants of compromises made with slave-holders centuries ago still limit our democracy.

We need a constitutional amendment through which the federal government takes control of federal elections and guarantees the voting rights of all, concretely and practically.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

To Grow Deeper and to Have a Wider Influence, Part 2

To Grow Deeper and to Have a Wider Influence

To Grow Deeper and to Have a Wider Influence....

Unitarian Universalists must strengthen the covenant between them: to feel more responsible for each other, to expect more from each other, to offer each other more of our hearts and hands, and to be vulnerable to each other. 


To be in covenant, people must see themselves as a people.
To see themselves as a people, they need a story they share.


To have a story, they need storytellers. 






I wrote those words a few weeks ago, and people want more clarity about them: What am I saying, and what am I not saying?

I am saying that Unitarian Universalism is a half-hearted religious movement. 

You can see this half-heartedness from many angles. The leaders and staff of our association see it in the half-hearted support that the UUA gets from congregations. Our congregational leaders and activists see it in the half-hearted engagement of so many of the members of their congregation. Our ministers see it in the low participation in congregational activities, especially those that are aimed at deepening spiritual lives.
It can be sensed in what can seem like a shallow motivation of our social justice work.

We see it whenever people find that the values of the religious community contradict their political loyalties and they think their religious community should change to resolve this conflict. Whole hearted politics; half-hearted religion! 

But the damage done by our half-heartedness is mostly done to ourselves. 

Can we imagine living a whole-hearted Unitarian Universalist life?

A life in which we mutually support and challenge each other to live lives of reverence, honesty, gratitude, openness, humility, solidarity, and self-possession.

Would not our lives be more? Our friendships deeper, our courage braver, our grieving more profound, our happiness more joyous, the earth more solid beneath our feet, water wetter and the stars closer at hand.

We cannot imagine it. 

We cannot imagine it because what we have experienced as a people is that our aspirations to such a life are foolish, and ineffective, and probably irresponsible and unrealistic. We cannot imagine it because people like us have been told for decades that nobody likes people like us. And as a result, we don't particularly like ourselves and each other. 

The story that we tell about ourselves as a people blends together the mockery of those who don't agree with us with the criticisms of those who warn us that we fall short of our intentions into a toxic stream of self-talk that is self-negating. We are seething stew of self-doubt for which we over-compensate with UU boosterism, UU  uniqueness, and UU paraphernalia. 

And so, we are half-hearted. 

And the cure to that half-heartedness is get grounded in our reality as a people on a path and a journey together. We need to get grounded in the dialectical relationship between ourselves as a people and the historical situations we have been in. 

We need to learn our 20th and 21st century history, and we need storytellers who can make that history accessible to all of us, in a way that is realistic, self-critical, inspiring, and empowering.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Interview with Alison Miller

 A new UUA President will be elected at the General Assembly in June of 2017.

Three candidates are in the running: Susan Frederick-Gray, Alison Miller and Jeanne Pupke. All are ministers currently serving congregations.

Each of them have agreed to allow me to interview them on Zoom for this blog. I am hoping to do at least two interviews with each of them. The first will be about them, their family and religious background and their call to ministry. The second will focus more on their views about current issues in Unitarian Universalism. Each interview will be about 30 minutes. I hope that these interviews will provide a closer and more personal look at them than what has been usually available in these campaigns in the past. The first round of interviews have already been scheduled.

For the record, I do not now have a preference for any of the candidates. I think that they are all capable and inspiring leaders of our faith.

Here is my interview with Alison Miller:




Sunday, October 23, 2016

Susan Frederick-Gray: An Interview

A new UUA President will be elected at the General Assembly in June of 2017.

Three candidates are in the running: Susan Frederick-Gray, Alison Miller and Jeanne Pupke. All are ministers currently serving congregations.

Each of them have agreed to allow me to interview them on Zoom for this blog. I am hoping to do at least two interviews with each of them. The first will be about them, their family and religious background and their call to ministry. The second will focus more on their views about current issues in Unitarian Universalism. Each interview will be about 30 minutes. I hope that these interviews will provide a closer and more personal look at them than what has been usually available in these campaigns in the past. The first round of interviews have already been scheduled.

For the record, I do not now have a preference for any of the candidates. I think that they are all capable and inspiring leaders of our faith.

Here is my first interview with Susan Frederick-Gray.



Monday, October 10, 2016

To Grow Deeper and to Have a Wider Influence

To Grow Deeper and to Have a Wider Influence....

Unitarian Universalists must strengthen the covenant between them: to feel more responsible for each other, to expect more from each other, to offer each other more of our hearts and hands, and to be vulnerable to each other. 

To be in covenant, people must see themselves as a people.
To see themselves as a people, they need a story they share.

To have a story, they need storytellers.