Showing posts from April, 2012

Liberal Religion's First Message -- from my sermon at the "Gathered Freely" Assembly

I say that we should spend less effort inviting people to become Unitarian Universalists and more time inviting people, and challenging people, to live out the core values of liberal religion however they can, wherever they are, whoever they are.

Liberal Religion, of which Unitarian Universalism is only one strand, is a moral, ethical and spiritual tradition.  It is a spiritual path, which when it is followed, leads people to happier and healthier lives. 

Being a religious liberal is a decision to live life differently. It is a decision to re-invent yourself, to re-make yourself, to re-boot and download some new apps.
Let us start with this basic fact:  for most of the people in this world, nobody cares about their hopes and dreams.  For most people, the message they hear from the world is “You’re not here to live your dreams, you’re not here follow your path.  No, you are here to sit down, shut up, show up for work on time, and not cause any trouble.  Face it, nobody cares if …

Professional Religious Leadership -- Problems and Trends

I serve as the UUMA representative on the Council of Church Staff Finances; the Council advises the Office of Church Staff Finances which is the part of the UUA staff which manages and oversees the benefit programs that the UUA offers -- the TIAA-CREF retirement savings accounts, the Health Insurance Plan, the other Insurances.  They also oversee the development of the compensation guidelines, etc.  Richard Nugent heads the office now; many remember Ralph Mero in this role. The Council also includes representatives all the other professional groups -- the Religious Educators, the Musicians, the Administrators and subgroups of ministers, community ministers, interim ministers.

The Council met last week and reviewed the general situation.  There are some problems.

Problem 1. Aspirations for a Professional Religious Leadership vs. the poor prospects for the Institutions that can support Professional Religious Leadership.

Unitarian Universalism has an aspiration toward full-time profess…

Big Issues/Ultimate Values

Earth Day, Blah-Blah

I am not going to preach about Earth Day -- or let’s say, I really hate preaching about Earth Day. 

In the liberal church, it is a waste of time and energy and a subtle reminder of our acquiescence in our powerlessness.  It is humiliating. 

Let me say what I am thinking on this: 

I believe that the human civilization has using the energy resources of the planet at a pace and in ways that will be life-threatening to billions of people and great numbers of other species.  Climate change is a part of this.  Encroachment onto other species habitats are another part of this.  Pollution another.

This is our global economic system, involving the livelihood of every person on the planet in our core economic and social roles.

Human civilization is a machine that extracts resources from the Earth, uses that energy to create other kinds of wealth, and spreads that wealth around to the Earth’s population.  How does this machine perform?  Well, it is very successful at ex…

What Will Not Be Said about Trayvon Martin's Case

The indictment of George Zimmerman is justice being done.  Everyone will say that.

What will not be said, at least, not very often, is justice would not have been done if it were not for the public outcry and protest that developed.  And, that social media activism was crucial in creating and sustaining a firestorm of protest

Social media activism also educated millions of people about this case.  The articles, the exposes, the information that put this case in context were shared with millions of friends and followers who would have been outside the information network of activists before.  I know that in the last 3 weeks, I have read many articles and comments in publications that I had not been familiar with before.

I call it another win.  Like the defense of Planned Parenthood from the Susan G. Komen's attempt to cut them off.  Like the Senate GOP dropping the Blunt Amendment.  Like the spanking of Rush Limbaugh when he slandered Ms. Fluke.

Andrew Sullivan's Crisis in Christianity

I like Andrew Sullivan a lot and have been reading him regularly for a long time. 

His piece "Christianity in Crisis" describes the awful corruption of Christianity that we now see in what he calls "Christianism" -- intertwining of Christian institutions's  with radical rightwing politics: he hold "Christian conservatism" to be neither.

He starts out by invoking Thomas Jefferson, who described himself as a "real Christian, a disciples of the doctrines of Jesus", but Sullivan's model for the alternative Christianity is actually St. Francis.

As Jesus was without politics, so was Francis. As Jesus fled from crowds, so did Francis—often to bare shacks in woodlands, to pray and be with God and nature. It’s critical to recall that he did not do this in rebellion against orthodoxy or even church authority. He obeyed orders from bishops and even the pope himself. His main obsession wasn’t nature, which came to sublime fruition in his fina…


Of course, religious liberals will be flummoxed by Easter. 

The day celebrates an event which the rational and reasonable mind knows is impossible to have happened.  The modern mind, and religious liberalism, is, in part, Christianity as touched by the modern, scientific, rational mind. 

So, impossible things, like the dead returning to life, flummox it.

To which, some people respond with “and that’s the point....”  Jesus rising from the dead is impossible, which says that it is a miracle, which proves that everything that was said about Jesus’ divinity is true.  With God, all things are possible.

No one in the early church, it appears, doubted the Resurrection.  By the time Paul writes -- which is the earliest Christian writer there is -- just 20 years after the death and resurrection of the Christ -- we have no trace of a debate about the story of Resurrection was true.

No one can be detected saying -- maybe it was just a metaphor.

We have no record of anyone saying maybe we have …

The Advocate

Homily from tonight's Maundy Thursday service

Homily:  The Advocate

According to the gospel of John, Jesus promises his disciples that even though He (Jesus) will be going away, going to the Father, the Father will send another to be with them forever.  The one who comes next is the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of Truth.  The Greek word is Paraclete, which also means Advocate, the defense attorney of the accused. 

Satan is, according to one strand of the Bible, the accuser.  Remember that in the book of Job, Satan initiates all the calamities that befall Job when he accuses him of being not really so righteous.  He is righteous, says Satan, because he has gotten everything he wants.  Job is, according to Satan and to use the language of today, living with great privilege, and so he can afford to be righteous.  Take it all away, says Satan the accuser, and see if he is still so devout.

Accusation and Defense.  How much of the life together is the endless repetition of accusation and d…