Showing posts from May, 2012

Nothing is More Powerful than a Made-Up Mind

Another eccentric billionaire is in the news -- this Ricketts guy wants to buy the election for Romney by funding an ad campaign recycling every racist suspicion of Obama.  There must a whole cottage industry of political consultants writing proposals for ad campaigns to be funded by eccentric right wing billionaires.  If they stroke the right zones on the right old guy, the consultant is in the money.  Kind of like building mansions on spec. 

Big money in politics buys television ads.  Television ads are not very effective in Presidential races.  Or, to be more precise, television ads are really only useful defensively in races where most voters already have opinions.  Supporters lose confidence if they do not see their candidate's ads.  Very few people are actually persuaded one way or another by an ad campaign.  Once voters makes up their mind about who they plan to vote for, not much can change. Nothing is more powerful than a made-up mind.

It's important to remember this …

Mother's Day

Today is Mother’s Day.  A day in which we each think of our mothers, and of course, our childhood’s,  I hope that for most of you those memories are warm, and bring back feelings of safety and security and nurture, like the mother and child nestling together at bedtime in our reading today.  And I pray for all of you, whose memories are more difficult,and are colored with tragedy, and especially for you who remember pain and terror as your companions in your youngest days.  May each passing year put more healing time between you and those days.

And I think of all those who are actively mothering right now, with all its frustrations and anxieties and demands:  may you be graced with moments that will become sustaining memories as these pass.  May you be assured that you are probably doing better than it seems.  May we all hold mothers in a warm and comforting embrace, recalling, remembering, reliving, forgiving.  Let us be motherly to mothers: intercede for them against harsh judgement…

Some things that must be said

Before our Mother's Day sermon, I made a few comments about President Obama's approval of same-sex marriage.

Before we turn to Mother’s Day, a word about a current event.  I am glad that President Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage this week.  I don’t think that anyone doubted that this is, and has been, his true position for quite a while now. 

Now, what I am going to say is going to sound like bragging, but it must be said.  President Obama has caught up with the Unitarian Universalists.  The Unitarian Universalist Association officially endorsed marriage equality in 1996.   The earliest known “ceremony of union” for a gay or lesbian couple by a UU minister was in 1974, when Barack Obama was 13 years old. 

I know that sounds like bragging, but I think it is necessary.  A recent survey of young people showed that over 90% associated “Christianity” with “anti-homosexuality”. That to be “Christian” meant that one was necessarily anti-gay.  90% of the young.

Now, I…

Our "Betters"


The news of Mitt Romney's cruelty toward a fellow student at the posh Cranbrook School, combined with the recent stories about how future financial titans currently enrolled at Dartmouth haze the pledges in their fraternities, plus the casual sadism of George W Bush at ultra-elite Skull and Bones at Yale, should make that clear.

These are, of course, just "youthful pranks," but they still have an unconscious purpose: to inure the future leaders of the nation to the suffering of others.  Specifically: to teach that fitting in with one's peers has a higher value than one's natural compassion or reluctance to cause another person pain or humiliation. 

The object of this teaching is not the ringleader, who is already well on the way to the sociopathology called executive leadership, nor the victim, who doesn't matter, but the boys in the middle.  What remnants of a moral code are they willing to give up for the approval of the leader?  It starts with…

Obama and Marriage Equality

Lesson:  Once you are behind the curve historically -- there is no time that trying to catch up doesn't look exactly like what it is -- trying to catch up.  Your friends will be very happy because they don't have to be embarrassed by your tardiness anymore.  Your enemies will be mad at you because you are getting right when they were enjoying your error.  The only thing to do is to try to catch up as soon as you can, do it with dignity, and hope that you give some space for other late-comers to catch up too.

Marriage, Obama, North Carolina

Just saying those three words together gives a person a headache.

North Carolina just passed their amendment One -- a nasty slap in the face of every gay, lesbian and queer person in the state. 

North Carolina voted for Obama in 2008 and could well again in 2012.  If the current predictions of a closer 2012 election come true, North Carolina might make the difference between Forward and Backward.

Obama is a mush and muddle about marriage equality.  He makes every dog whistle he can that he favors marriage equality, but he will not say so.  And when I think of the awesome goose-bumptious speech he could give on behalf of marriage equality, I want to cry that he won't, or hasn't yet, or can't.

Of course, my default on Barack Obama is that he is melanin-enhanced version of myself -- a warrior for the great progressive cause, a man of the Left, as they say in Europe.  I am willing to crow loudly for marriage; but Obama seems to cluck like a chicken on the subject. And how coul…

Is Spirituality a Skill --

I am a pragmatic guy -- a “by their fruits, you will know them”, especially when it comes to religion and spiritual paths.  Whatever seems to work in allowing people to develop the essential virtues of life is OK with me.   Does your religious approach result in you embodying reverence and awe and gratitude, as a start?

In fact, I think it’s the only way to define spirituality in a theologically inclusive way.

Spirituality is a way of thinking and feeling, rather than specific thoughts, or beliefs.

So, the question is whether it is a learnable.  Can one develop a deeper spirituality?  Can one learn how to be more grateful, more reverent, to hold the world in greater awe?    Can one learn how to discern what is the next right thing for you in your life -- the way forward that brings you into greater balance and harmony with the universe? 

Because if there is, doesn’t it make sense to try to develop that skill?  Isn’t that one way to think about being, as we say, “on a spiritual journey.”…

More on Troubling Trends for Professional UU leaders.

Responses to the troubling trends in professional leadership.

My recent post has gotten an interesting mix of responses, especially in the area of creating “super-congregational’ hiring bodies for religious professionals.  (Again, using the word “super” in its meaning of “above” rather than “better” or “greater”.)

Several satellite church experiments were reported.  One model is that the flagship congregation plants the satellites.  My questions:  are the people in the satellite members of the flagship congregation?  What are the local staff requirements, beyond the ministers?  How does the money flow?  How do they get started -- do locals approach the flagship?  Or vice-versa? Somebody enlighten me.

I am interested in First Houston’s creation of satellites by merging smaller congregations into the flagship.  I am pleasantly surprised by this happening.  I would have thought that smaller congregations would resist merger.  In some cases, isn’t their reason for being exactly their desi…