Showing posts from 2011
Elz Curtiss writes in a comment on a post in Beauty Tips for Ministers (part of an extended multi-sided discourse on Almy's introduction of a clerical shirt in the hello yellow of the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign.)

It is my contention that today’s Unitarian Universalst Association has adopted demonstrations as a sacramental faith-revival tool, such as The Lord’s Supper used to be. Getting arrested is our new adult Baptismal ritual. There is no question that many UU Facebook threads brook no compromise on many political issues. This raises questions about our openness on political and cultural issues. Do we really want to be as politically narrow as the Religious Right tries to be? Many of those congregations, by the way, are reconsidering whether that is the best way to serve their God and members, as people leave when their politics soften or change. I believe that she means for us to be shocked into recognition by her assertion that some religious liberals see the demons…

What to do about the "1%"

Remember, the 1% is political poetry.  There is nothing inherently wrong with making more than some arbitrarily chosen number of dollars.  There will always be a 1%.

The problem with our system is that too much of our national wealth is being invested by the financial markets: Wall Street.  Wall Street only knows how to do one thing: invest capital in order to produce the maximum short term profit.  It very efficiently moves money around to put money in the hands of enterprises which will make the most money right now.

What if Goldman Sachs announced a mutual fund that would invest in the creation of mass transit.  It would promise to spend whatever money it took to build a first class mass transit system.  It would not get any profits for decades if ever.  I don't know about you; I'm not putting my 401k in that fund.

The history of socialism and capitalism has shown that you cannot replace financial markets with government planners and still get efficient capital utilization…

The 1% is Political Poetry

The 1% is a piece of political poetry.  It is not a scientific measurement, to be taken literally.  It conveys succinctly and powerfully the extent to which the few rule the many.    

Class is not about income.  Class is not about whether you have an income, a profession, a job or a benefit.  Class is not about culture.  Class is not about wealth.  A "Class" is a historically formed group of people who have a particular relationship to economic order.  

There is a group of people whose relationship to the economic order is that they operate and control the capital markets. They own the large investment banks, the stock brokerages, the trading companies.  Every other person and business and institution in the country is dependent on their economic activity: for credit, for capital investment, to hold their money.  Through the Federal Reserve Board, they make the rules that determine whether that spunky little credit union you moved your money to will prosper or fail.  They cann…

A 99 Percent Consciousness

We all have to work on developing a 99 Percent Consciousness, which will be hard.

We see the start of it when Occupiers relate to the Police as people in the 99%.   The police are ordinary people who have done what they needed to do to make their way in this society.  Their best instincts and motivations have been co-opted to serve a system that is not benefitting them.

All but a tiny handful of the people you know are in the 99%.  A 99 Percent consciousness relates to them with an open heart and with sympathy for what they have done and are doing to make their way under a system that is not working for them.

The 99 Percent includes most of the people who disagree with you; most of the people whose taste and cultural style disturb or amuse you; all of the people you instinctively look down on; all of the people you have 'risen above' or 'left behind.'

It approaching others with empathy, curiosity and solidarity.  It is trying to find the way that you can step over y…

Black Friday

"Black Friday" is a challenge to one's spirit, isn't it?

As we emerge from our feast-induced slumber, all enumerations of our blessings flee from our minds, but one: we have might have an unmaxed out credit card somewhere.  Off to the mall!  Start the Christmas shopping now!

It's a challenge to keep up the gratitude, that sense of well-being in the world, that family and friends and love are enough, that we felt on Thanksgiving.

Black Friday is now big news.  Thanksgiving was slow news day, so the TV news would fill the time with stories about the hopes of retailers for the Christmas season.  First, came the Early Bird Sales, which soon escalated to Door Buster sales.  Then the news folks started interviewing shoppers/campers in the parking lots. The sales got bigger. The crowds got bigger.  And as many as enjoyed the frenzy of the shopping, there were as many at home, tut-tutting and fretting about how awful all this was.  Even cheaper fun

But Events a…

It seems normal to them

Think about it -- the leaders of our universities, cities and police are baby boomers.  It seems normal to them that the authorities would respond to any politically minded gathering of students with riot police.  There isn't a riot going on -- no destruction of property, no harm to people, no rampaging mobs -- but it seems normal to send riot police.  It seems normal when we watch it on the news.

It seems normal to the police that the proper thing to do is to draw a line in the sand and dare people to cross it.  It then seems normal to the police to arrest people, pepper spray people and beat people who cross that line.  There is no crime actually happening -- but it seems normal to everyone that the police would invite defiance and criminalize it.

It is shocking to watch students being pepper sprayed.  But the underlying situation seemed normal to us -- students were sitting in a circle on their own campus in a place where police said that they could not sit, and so something ha…

The Prudent People

Today I am going to put in a word for the older brother in the Prodigal Son story.  You know the story, the younger son of a wealthy father asks for his share of the inheritance before his father has died.  His father gives it to him and the younger son takes off for a far country, I figure California, and runs through the entire fortune on wine, women and song and ends up working as the junior assistant deputy intern pig slopper on a pig farm, which for a Jewish boy, is not a good career move.  So, he finally decides that he would rather admit defeat and go back home.  The hired hands on his father’s farm live better than he is and so he heads home.
When he gets home, his father sees him coming from far away, and orders his servants to prepare a huge celebration for his returning son.
Here is the biblical text of what comes next:This story is in the 15th chapter of Luke.
 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called…

"What Time Is It? Questions from James Luther Adams to Unitarian Universalists of Today."

I was honored to be invited by Rev. George Kimmich Beach to respond to his lecture at the 16th Annual conference of the James Luther Adams Foundation.  His topic was "What is Past is Prologue:  James Luther Adams and Unitarian Universalism."  Dr. Michael Hogue, of Meadville-Lombard Theological School also responded to his essay.  I understand that all of these works will be gathered up and published at some point.  But in the meantime, here is my response, not as it was given, and not as it was planned, but as I now would have liked to have delivered it.

If there is anything that I take from James Luther Adams, it is the necessity of a lively historical awareness.  Not only the knowledge of previous history, but also an awareness of this present moment as the product of that history.  And more, this present moment is also a valve moment; a moment through which the past enters into the future.  How do we, standing here, tonight, understand the historical currents that have bro…

Occupied ! Sermon of 10/23/11

Occupied! Delivered 10/23/11 First Unitarian Church of Worcester, MA
The book of Leviticus was written, scholars think, about 2500 years ago.It was part of a great movement of formalizing the religion of the Hebrews, establishing rules and procedures and laws to govern all aspects of life.And as we have heard, they called for a Jubilee year every 50 years, a time when all the debts accumulated, all the service indentures, indeed all the land sales of the previous half century would be reversed.It is not clear how this was implemented if ever.I bring it up not because I think that we are supposed to do this, but because it shows that even 2500 years ago, justice minded people were trying to figure out ways to clear debts in an orderly fashion.
As the newspaper today shows, this is still a problem, or a problem again.The world is awash with debts that there is little hope can be repaid.From whole countries like Greece to individuals that you know who are underwater in their mortgages or enc…