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Showing posts from 2006

How opinions change

As the Foley sex-page scandal works its way through the national consciousness, we are beginning to see the opinion expressed that it is all quite unfortunate that this scandal is taking attention away from the "important issues", the War in Iraq, the National Intelligence Estimate, Bob Woodward's book, the torture and warrantless wiretapping, the slow pace of Katrina recovery.

Yet, it appears that it is against the war in Iraq that the public has turned, and that turning includes turning toward electing Democrats to Congress.

All this turning has apparently gone on with fairly weak Democratic Party messaging against the war and the Administration, and without a public anti-war movement with a strong voice.

It raises the question of how do people change their minds in this political and information environment.

Maybe active argumentation, and the political rhetoric of persuasion, does not work anymore? The powerful speech against the war made by a politician, the leaflet d…

A Puppy

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We have gotten a puppy.
Mrs. Tradition and I have not been dog people, neither of us having a dog since we were children. There was a while when we had two cats, but that experiment ended badly, and Mrs. T. never liked cats at all anyway. (We got them from a freakish situation. We had a neighbor who worked at OHare Airport, and these two cats were put on a plane to Chicago and never retrieved. We took them before they went to the Farm where all the cats go to play forever. I sometimes wonder what kind of person buys a plane ticket for a cat to get rid of it. I no longer wonder what kind of cat would cause a person to do such a thing.
Anyway, back to the dog, who is as cute as anything that walked the Earth, ever. It is the Scarlett Johannson of little dogs, early Friends (the TV show, not the Quakers) level cute, with little girls in Mary Jane shoes cutieosity.
Our daughters engineered the placement of a small dog in our home to get us to quit making sighing grandparental noise…

Torture and Indefinite Detention Bill

Well, there is not much to say. Tristeroover at Digby's Hullabaloo reminds us that the whole purpose of the bill was Kabuki theatre. The US Government is already doing everything we fear that it is. There were two purposes to the bill: one was to assert the theoretical right of Congress to regulate such activities by passing a law that legalizes the existing practices and, two, to lay a political trap for the DC Democrats by forcing them to vote against tactics the President says are necessary for the war on Terror.

Whatever small and vague limitations on executive power that certain Republican 'moderates' wanted to include in the bill were lost last week. Once it was clear that the bill would pass, the administration juiced up the bill with everything they would ever want.

The DC democrats did not rise to the bait offered. While opposing the bill, and reaching almost complete caucus unanimity on some amendments, it was clear that they did not plan a filibuster. …

Worship and GA

I am more than willing to cut the GA planning committee some slack around how they schedule worship on Sunday at GA. I think that going away from the Sunday morning worship is a mistake because I grew to like the Sunday morning seeker oriented service. But figuring this stuff out is not my job. And perhaps closing with a worship service will seem right when we do it.

Since I suspect that many people will be heading home before 4 PM on Sunday, the time of the closing worship service. There is a plenary at worship time on Sunday, so quite a few people will seek other worship options Sunday morning. Worship at First Unitarian in downtown Portland should be full.

I think that it is important that we have significant worship at GA, and by significant, I mean worship in which the elected leaders of the association play substantive liturgical roles. I appreciate the fact that the preaching duties are spread around and that we get to hear from a variety of ministers from the GA pulpits…

The Planning Committee Speaks

The Planning Committee states their position (from the comments section)


There will be a full Sunday Worship Service, complete with a sermon by Rev. Josh Pawalek and music by the 1st UU Portland choir. The difference is that it will be in the afternoon. We will end with closing worship instead of the usual closing ceremony. Sunday's schedule will include morning spiritual practices, a pre-plenary hymn sing, a plenary session, a GA choir concert, a workshop/featured presentation session, and the closing worship service. (Local folks can attend their own congregation's service in the morning and the GA one in the afternoon.)
Closing worship will be the last event, 4-6 PM. In response to feedback from 06 attendees, we're trying to give people a chance to stay for all of GA and still get home to get to work Monday morning. We think that ending with a worship service actually elevates the importance of communal worship, not diminishes it.

The decision to shift items in the Sunday …

Just A Comma

President Bush said to Wolf Blitzer:

"Yes, you see — you see it on TV, and that’s the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there’s also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people…. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is — my point is, there’s a strong will for democracy."

We are told that the President likes to read history these days, and is concerned about his legacy. His comment about the present moment being just a comma in the long history of Iraq indicates that he has succumbed to the grandiosity of the historical perspective: the ability to see place the present moment into such a long view of history that it loses its moral significence.

The President, with his Iraqi invasion spiraling into greater and greater failure and calamity, is retreating out of the present moment into a fantasy of a future history.

What on earth does he mean by the phrase "whe…

Sunday Morning at GA

The Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship has been negotiating to bring Kathleen Norris to General Assembly in Portland next June. And they have made that agreement and gotten GA Planning Committee co-sponsorship for the event. But along the way, the Planning Committee revealed that the Sunday morning worship service was being moved to later in the day and combined with the closing ceremony of General Assembly. Amidst our celebration of working this deal out about Kathleen Norris, this revelation almost slipped by unnoticed.

No Sunday Morning Worship at GA?

Sunday morning used to be set aside for the Service of the Living Tradition, at which ministerial transitions were honored and celebrated. Recently, the decision was made to move the Service of the Living Tradition to Friday night and reserve Sunday morning for a big UU seeker friendly service and make a strong effort to invite the hosting community to the service. I think that last summer was the first time that this was …

Cool Map Predicts Senate Races

I check this every so often, when I need a little cheer.

Ministerial Debt is a Systemic Problem

I was fortunate enough to go through seminary without incurring student loan debts. I went later in life, and my spouse has a good job.

Many of our newer ministers accumulate significent student loans while preparing for the ministry.


This is a not personal problem for them; it is a systemic problem in the way that ministers are formed in our present system.

Seminary education is expensive and getting more so all the time. We don't provide a lot of scholarships.UU's require an internship as part of the preparation, and yet churches pay very little to interns. Often seminaries require internships as well, and charge tuition for the intern supervision.UU's require Clinical Pastoral Education which pays nothing and costs money.The inevitable result is that the candidate not only has to pay for the expensive seminary education, they also must take considerable time out of their working life to fulfill requirements of the practical side of their education. Without independent w…

"Tis the Season

It's that season again, when the invitations to ordinations and installations start arriving at your ministerial mailbox. Once again, the time of the year to drag your weary tuchas halfway across the state to schmooz with colleagues in a church parlor while eating cheese and crackers and little bundles of grapes. Once again, the time to enjoy the delightful process of watching ministers trying to form themselves into two parallel lines in a particular order. Let's see, will we sing "Rank by Rank" or "Bring, O Past, Your Honor" as we stroll into the sanctuary, resplendent in robes and stoles? I actually love it. You hang out with friends and you hear good preaching and see churches at their most hopeful, purposeful and optimistic.
The offerings taken usually go to the Living Tradition Fund, a fund administered by that bureau formerly known as the Department of Ministry. The Fund pays out all of its money every year in the form of aid to indigent retired…

The Antiwar Movement since 9-11

As I sort through my own thinking and actions over the last five years, as a part of my own accounting for the War against Iraq, I come to my allergic reaction to the antiwar movement in this era.


If you know me, and have suffered through my frequently repeated autobiography, you know that I was an anti-war activist in the 60-70s and then progressed into more and more radical politics until I ended up in a pretty strange place, before I chucked all of that. Reclaiming my Unitarian roots was a huge step to the right for me.


I became politically, first a Jackson Democrat, and then a Clinton Democrat, mostly because I appreciated his pragmatism and his skills at political combat. I am usually repelled by what in Chicago used to be called "goo-goo's", or good-government types: idealistic, intellectual, policy-oriented, honorable. Give me Jack Kennedy over Hubert Humphrey; give me Robert Kennedy over Eugene McCarthy; Give me Bill Clinton over Paul Tsongas, and in the choice …

The Antiwar Movement since 9-11 Part2

Why did the antiwar movement repel me so much since 9-11, even though they were, on the issue of Iraq, right on the core policy question: to invade Iraq would result in a quagmire, which would make life much worse for the Iraqis, and have seriously negative consequences for the United States and the American people.

Emotional reasons: the peace movement never seemed to be on the same page emotionally with the rest of us.
Yes, they thought 9/11 was tragic and awful, but only in the context of a world full of tragic and awful things. Kind of like a friend who while sympathizing with the death of someone you love can't help but mention that a lot of people you don't know died even worse deaths.
Yes, they could understand how other people were angry, but they seemed more afraid of that anger than anything else. The anger expressed by ordinary citizens was a fearful problem that needed to be managed. Even the widespread display of flags etc. seemed to be worrisome to many anti-war…

The Antiwar Movement since 9-11 Part3

On a political level, the antiwar movement from 9/11 on was emotionally disconnected from the rest of the country.

It's substantive arguments were also off the mark, drawing the wrong lessons from history.

The unexamined premise of the peace movement's analysis of the world situation is still Maoist. On the one side is the Imperialist Superpower, the United States. And on the other side is the worldwide United Front Against Imperialism. While virtually no one in the peace movement defended the Taliban, or Saddam Hussien, no one seemed to have an analysis which did not start and end with the necessity for restraining the United States.
While not defending the Taliban or Saddam Hussien, the antiwar forces also did not analyze them, nor Al Qaeda. The antiwar movement had been silenced during the Iranian crisis of the Carter administration and has never regained its voice because it could not fit Islamic fundamentalism, as a political force, into its unexamined premise of the Uni…

9-11: The Day We Forgot Everything

In retrospect, it seems that the big shift in consciousness that occurred after 9-11 was that we forgot everything that we had learned in Vietnam. In particular, we forgot that there are our powers are not unlimited, that there are other actors in the world, and that there are times, when even the armed forces of the United States cannot acheive their goals.

George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other leaders of the administration had never learned these particular lessons from Vietnam, and had clung all these years to the delusion that the US was self-defeated there, by a failure of the will.

But many others, who did know better, forgot what they knew after 9-11. We had been hurt; we felt vulnerable; we were angry; the anger made us feel strong; the world seemed a different place because we were feeling strong.


It was said that "everything changed on 9-11", which is rather hard to believe. More accurately, everything looked different to us after 9-11, becau…

My 9-11 Recollection

Is there a rule that you have to post your personal recollections of 9-11 if you want to have a blog? I may have missed that it in the Blogger terms of use paragraph that I clicked without reading. Sorry. In case it is a requirement, here is mine.
It was a nice day. I was at home, doing nothing. Somebody called. I watched TV for a really long time after that.

There, that should do it.

Labor Day Election Preview

In 1994, Adrienne Rich wrote this poem:

And now as you read these poems
-- you whose eyes and hands I love
-- you whose mouth and eyes I love
-- you whose words and minds I love --
don't think I was trying to state a case
or construct a scenery:
I tried to listen to
the public voice of our time
tried to survey our public space
as best I could
-- tried to remember and stay
faithful to the details, note
precisely how the air moved
and where the clocks hands stood
and who was in charge of definitions
and who stood by receiving them
when the name of compassion
was changed to the name of guilt
when to feel with a human stranger
was declared obsolete.

(from Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1991-1995, W.W. Norton, New York, NY)

Religious Liberalism and Tolerance

The UU World Online site has been considering the question raised by Sam Harris as to whether the commitment to tolerance disarms religious liberalism in the struggle with fundamentalism. Warren Ross as a posting laying out the issue and asking:
So now, as freedom, reason, and tolerance are all under siege in our society, does self-preservation require religious liberals to abandon our commitment to religious tolerance?He quotes William Murray of Meadville Lombard as saying,"What I would say about tolerance is that we cannot tolerate intolerance."

This posing of the question as a paradox of the virtue of tolerance is quite silly, if you ask me.

How can the tolerant be intolerant of the intolerant without becoming intolerant themselves? What a deep Zen like koan to perplex the mind of deep thinkers everywhere.

Exclusivist, Universalist religions believe that they are called to convert the world to their single truth. The two largest religions in the world: Christianity and Is…

Accountability for the crimes against Iraq and the Constitution

It becomes more clear daily that war crimes have been and are still being committed against the people of Iraq, and that the Administration is conducting a illegal war and by illegal means. In Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, especially in its treatment of captured people, members of the armed forces of the United States have been given orders that violate the Geneva Conventions and have been thus, placed by the chain of command at risk of potential war crimes charges. The high officials of the Bush Administration bear the heaviest responsibility for these actions. They must be held accountable. The war in Iraq is the greatest military and political and strategic blunder made by the US in decades. It has has damaged our military, our international standing, and our overall safety. And it has brought Iraq, a nation that languished under a dictatorship before, out of its relative authoritarian calm, to the very gates of hell -- a society in chaos, disintegrating, where the lives of m…

On Vacation

This is the final week of the summer, and I am on vacation at last. As one of the few UU ministers I know who works through the summer, this one week break between the summer and the Ingathering service is always especially welcome.
We head to Minnesota, to a house on a lake to spend time with family. It's relaxing and I need it.
I always bring the wrong books on vacation. Serious books that are going to be useful for later -- I even spent some time today with a big book that I need to read for a study group. Eyes glazed over and off to sleep I went. Fortunately I have a Carl Haissan in the backpack.
I am also aware that last year on this vacation, we sat transfixed before the TV and watched the horror show that was Katrina in New Orleans unfold on the screen. I will never forget the slow emotional progression of those days. What started out as just another hurricane story on the news, turning to a serious story that required some real attention, and then on to that kind of news even…

"Islamofacsism" -- why I don't use the word anymore

In the period between 9/11 and the Iraq war, the word "Islamofascism" seemed to be a useful word -- a single word that described the anti-liberal current in some of the visible Islamic movements around the world.

But then, the War in Iraq actually happened, and then Iraq actually and really began to disintegrate into a Civil War. Most of the forces fighting against each other in Iraq could have been, or are right now, designated as "Islamofascist," including the Sunni Insurgents, the Shiite militias, the "foreign fighters", the Baathist "dead-enders." The reality of the Iraqi Civil War demonstrated that the word "Islamofascism" does not describe anything that actually exists in the real world.

Of course, there are anti-liberal and anti-modern ideas in some currents of Islam, and yes, there are some Islamic political actors who have totalitarian agendas.

Would that those who argued that "9/11 changed everything" would also rec…

Little Miss Sunshine

It's the heroin snorting, porn-addled, leather-vested, fanny-packing grandfather of Olive, Little Miss Sunshine, that is the ogre of the movie. He's played by Alan Arkin as an erupting fountain of genial obscenity. Stanley Klawans, in his Nation review of the movie, says that the no one explains the yellow VW bus, but the VW bus explains everything else, and I am following up on that comment. The bus must have been the grandfather's; there is no way that anyone else would have acquired it. The grandfather is a cartoon of the baby boomers, and the movie is about the legacy that we, the baby booming generation, have left our children and grandchildren. The movie, which is sweet and winsome, has, at its heart, a devastating critique of the Boomers, as parents. Our legacy is a VW bus which they cannot easily drive, doesn't have a first gear, has to be push-started, blows its horn uncontrollably, and when the chips are really down, the doors have to be removed for the…

Well, that was weird and unexpected

The guy selling movie tickets charged me the discounted senior citizen rate without my asking for it, nor even asking me how old I was. This particular theatre, in this particular neighborhood, classifies those over 55 as seniors, but the average age of those hanging around the theatre neighborhood seems to be about 22.

Anyway, I never got in anywhere before for the cheaper rate.

Expect many more movie reviews !

BTW, we saw "Little Miss Sunshine." A lot of familiar elements combined well.

More on that later. I gotta go to church !

What I Fear

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We have reached the point that the President of the United States and his administration no longer have any real credibility left. This has been true with the world at large for quite a while, and has also been true with the left side of the political spectrum in the United States. Now, it is true of the center, and even among some on the right side of the spectrum.

The nation has been poorly governed before, and has known that it was being poorly governed in the past, but this situation is particular and different. For it is in the matters of the utmost seriousness that this President is most untrustworthy: national security and commitment to the basic norms and covenants of democratic constitutionalism.

What I fear is that the United States will come under a terrorist attack. I believe that, at this point, so many people would doubt the official story of the event that it would trigger a political crisis.

What I fear is that the present administration would launch a preemptive at…

Unitarian Universalism in Context

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My "zeitgeist" windsock has been extended out in a new direction, which means that the weathervanes at the top of our old New England churches should start turning. I know that I tend to see the world turning more rapidly than it actually does, but it makes me alert to changes in the climate. I am the hypochrondriac canary in the coal mine -- "say guys, don't you think it smells a little funny right now?"

I want to consider the following possibility: that the long flow of the conservative reaction to the liberatory movements of the 60's has crested and is, now, ebbing. There is a lot of evidence for it, and, of course, the future has not happened yet, so I may be premature. But whether it is true now in 2006, it will be true someday, soon.

That rightward reaction, I think began in 1968, when Nixon was elected, co-opting the ideologically conservative, anti-New Deal movement of Goldwater as the ideologues of a much nastier mass movement against radicalism.…

No More Elevator Speeches !

The Lizard Eater over at the Journey contrasts the "elevator speech" (how would you explain Unitarian Universalism between the first and sixth floors?) and "testimony" (how would you explain how your faith has changed your life?). She calls for each of us to think through and write out our testimony, and provides a paragraph of instructions for thinking about one's testimony. Good stuff !

I think that she has taken an instruction for preparing Christian testimony and changed it to a Unitarian Universalist context. I guess that she did a "find and replace" of "Christian etc." with "Unitarian Universalist etc." And I guess that she did a "find and replace" of "Jesus Christ" with "my church." I don't know that for sure, but that is how it seems to me. Here is the quote.

Personal Testimony


One of the most helpful things Unitarian Universalists can do is write out their personal testimony. This exer…

Three generations, at least

Over at A People So Bold, Clyde asks the question: is the form of worship that we continue in most Unitarian Universalist congregations a product of a different time and a different social set up?

You bet.

And probably always so.

I am aware that the worship of the church I serve is speaking, with great difficulty, to at least three generations of worshippers.

There are the seniors, the boomers and the youngers. To the seniors, the form and tone of the service is crucial: they want a dignity, a stateliness, an unhurried formality; they want excellence. They want the worship service to have a smooth surface.

For the youngers, what is most important and real in the service is the spontaneous that pokes out of the smooth surface of the service -- the ad lib or extemporaneous comment, the unexpected happening. It is as though they want to see what is living beneath the surface, what is barely contained by the service.

I don't think that I could even begin to fully catalog the how the diff…

Consumerism, Entertainment and Worship

Before I was ordained, and still in seminary, a minister I knew and respected confided to me that he was afraid, at times, that he was becoming an entertainer, putting on a good show. I am aware of that in myself, as well. Certainly, I am aware that leading worship is a performance, and that people in the pews can like it, or not like it, and that they will let you know.

I also remembering preaching a sermon in a class at seminary, in which I "made 'em squirm" by being provocative and confrontational. One of my fellow students remarked that his folks "liked it when I beat em up a little" before preaching the gospel. So, there is an entertainment value even in making the congregation uncomfortable.

These anecdotes from years ago are only meant to say that some ministers have been aware of the temptation of entertaining the congregation for a while.

Recently, I hear this critique of the temptation faced by the minister sliding into a critique of the shallowness …

No, It's not true

that I killed off my old blog, Prophet Motive, because I am trying to cover up the fact that the aforementioned Prophet was on the record as endorsing Joe Leiberman for President. Really, it was just technical problems and I had run out of things to say at a certain point. And, to be honest, after endorsing Joe Leiberman for President, is there anything left to say?

I refer you to my profile regarding my claims of Olympian Wisdom.

I do believe that all of us must make a moral accounting for where we were, what we did, and what we did not do, and how we evaluated the results of our words and actions when our country permitted its government to reach out and bring the people of Iraq to the gates of hell. It was a systemic failure of our entire political culture. My congregation has heard me address my own thinking about my own practice on this question, but not yet in a systematic way. My summarization is still in process, and it is not easy.

I also think that the anti-war movement…

the Manifesto

If anyone doesn't get Peacebang's Beauty Tips for Ministers, here is the whole good news of it, summarized, enumerated, explicated, broken down for ya, encapsulated, made flesh so it might live among you, and preached without fear or favor.

Beauty Tips For Ministers: Love And Care For All Of You

Troubles in Academia

In a terse statement, it was announced that the 18 month long discussion about merging Starr King and Meadeville-Lombard have come to naught.

Both of these schools are in financial trouble.

Over 60% of our new UU ministers are preparing at other theological schools.

I am not sure that I can tell what the essential task of Unitarian Universalist scholarship is now.

The UUA gives about a quarter million dollars each year to each of these two schools, making it, and consequently, all of us rank and file UU's, stakeholders in this situation.

Elementary principles of good management suggest that it is folly to keep investing in organizational structures that are not succeeding. It seems like this is a good time to take out the proverbial blank sheet of paper and start thinking afresh about how to best spend a half-million dollars a year for the purpose of educating our future religious leaders.

Lee Barker, President of Meadville-Lombard has since sent out the following message.

Meadville Lomb…

Frank Schulman's Worship Manual

I should tell you first of all that Frank Schulman was my minister growing up. He followed my father into the pulpit of the First Unitarian Church of Youngstown, Ohio, a pulpit which became suddenly vacant as my father lasted only a year there. After a few years of wandering in the wilderness in the general vicinity of the Warren Ohio fellowship, my family joined the church in Youngstown and stayed there for 20 plus years. In a further odd circumstance, one can say that I now occupy a ministerial position that Frank Schulman occupied before he went to Youngstown.

The UUA has posthumously published a worship manual by Frank, and it may be connected to the extremely generous bequest he made to our movement after his death. So, I turn to the manual and I am completely predisposed to like it. And there is a lot of good stuff there.

But mostly, it is a picture into the mindset of a whole group of ministers who took a sceptical position, and who served as a loyal traditionalist opposi…

The Gifts and Graces of Ministry

Chutney has been writing on the question of what makes a minister a minister. In his summary post, he lists six points. The first four are general statements of the accepted opinion among free churchers and congregationalists everywhere. But in numbers 5 and 6, Chutney tosses a couple of wild pitches.

5. At times it seems we “believe” that seminary and denominational proceduralism makes someone clergy, that there is an ontological change that takes place upon the approval of academy and guild. This is not just a violation of congregationalism. Behind this notion is a hidden doctrine of “ministerial transubstantiation,” that is, the belief that the Words of Academic and Denominational Institution transform a person into the Body and Blood of Ordained Ministry.

6. Why would anyone hold this view? Because it makes them feel safe. Ministerial transubstantiation allows congregants to skip past the relationality that makes someone their minister to the quick fix of certified clerical auth…

A Livelier and More Exciting Worship Service

Doug Mudar, in his comment on the previous post, says "Actually, I wouldn't mind having a "livelier and more exciting" adult worship service."

A sentiment shared by almost everyone I know, including most ministers. I would even argue that our liturgical history in Unitarian Universalism for the last few decades has been shaped by this underlying dynamic: how to make worship more exciting and livelier? I think that there are two two circumstances that shaped this dynamic:

1. The authority of the minister over worship, a situation which places the minister in the position of having to balance and resolve all of the contradictory and competing worship desires of the congregation. It causes all of the liturgical conflicts within the church appear to conflicts with the minister. Almost everyone who is not a minister thinks that the First Parish Church of East Overshoe would have a much more exciting and livelier worship service were it not for old Rev. Fuddy Dud…

Ministry to Children in a Worship Centered Church

Thanks to everyone who has contributed in some way to this discussion about worship in liberal religion.

If we think of our common religious lives as being grounded, first and foremost, in the experience of worshipping together, how does that change how we think about ministry to children and youth? You can tell that I have a definite opinion by the fact that I even pose the question as "ministry to children and youth" and not as "religious education."

I don't like imaging the process of religious growth as "education". I don't like it as a way to think about it for children, and expanding it to Lifespan Religious Education only makes me more uncomfortable, and not less. O God, a school from which I can never, ever, graduate !

While I think that passing along some information is a necessary part of working with children and youth, it is hardly the most important part.

We need to give our children opportunities to worship.

I don't mean making the…

Mission and Worship

We have been discussing the relationship between worship and mission, especially in UU churches.

My cynical perception for years has been that the default theory of UUism is that what matters most is social justice mission work of the church. (Deeds not creeds). The UU congregation is a community defined by an unexamined "like-minded-ness." The community tries to recruit more people to join it, and the worship service is a show that the community puts on to attract new people. Unfortunately, most people don't particularly like the show. And those that do, a bunch like the show so much that they don't want to do anything but be consumers of it. Some people become invested in the community that they really take on the tasks of institutional maintenance. And finally, there is a small group, the cream of the crop, that tries to be disciples of the underlying values and do the mission work out in the community. These are the blessed ones and they are truly wonderfu…

Why What Happens In Worship Matters

In the previous post, I noted that thinking about the worship experience as preparing us "to go out in the world and face another week" suggests that worship is a refuge from the world where we rest and recharge, but where nothing actually happens.

The division between the world out there where things really happen and the world of worship where we think about, reflect on, pray about, preach about the real world is so built into liberal religion as to be a part of the air we breathe.

Our colleague, the Rev. M. Jean Heriot has a wonderful book, "Blessed Assurance" which is her study of an evangelical Southern Baptist community in the South, with whom she spent many months.

She argues that for those folks, what happened in church was not a world apart from the real world, but, in some ways, perhaps the realest and most important part of life. After all, the individual soul was brought into a contemplation of ultimate reality and asked to make a decision about the direc…

A growing liturgical tradition

UUA President William Sinkford addresses the question of worship here in a recent entry to the UU world online. He points out several elements of the worship that seem to becoming more common in UU worship. He probably knows because I doubt that there is anyone who attends more UU worship services in different settings every year than him. Wouldn't it be great to get his absolutely candid evaluation of every UU service he attends all year long, with pictures, quotes and audio recordings? I mean with all the loving and generous brutality of Peacebang discussing inappropriate footware. I earnestly suggest that President Sinkford blog his worship experiences of his final year in office; it would be as great a gift as any inspirational words he might compose for those occasions. But I digress.....

Rev. Sinkford sees as our hopeful signs: more singing, more chalice lightings, and
Sermons about real-life issues are becoming more common, appealing not just to our minds but also cal…