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Showing posts from September, 2006

A Puppy

Image
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…