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Showing posts from August, 2013

Fast Food Workers Strike.

Question for Unitarian Universalists:

I don't suppose that any of us were shocked to see a photo of Dana MacLean Greeley, the President of the newly formed UUA, among the many religious leaders at the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, DC.  After all, many religious leaders were there and the UUA had committed itself to support the Civil Rights Movement. 
The March, however, was for "Jobs and Freedom", and it made demands for such things as a minimum wage increase.  
Would it be thought appropriate for the current UUA President to take a public stand on increasing the minimum wage?  Well, of course.  President Morales has, and the UUA has done so in the past.  In fact, many UU's consider one of the essential functions of the UU President to be making high-minded and lofty statements about important things that local congregations cannot get to, because pledge campaigns and teacher recruitment have so seized our attention.
But what about local congregation…

The Limits of Our Thinking

The limits of our thinking.
Most of the people I know from church don't say that they eat at fast food restaurants very often.  Most of the people I know from the Unitarian Universalist movement do not go to Walmart very often.  
So when fast food workers and Walmart employees conduct their "strikes", most of the people I know watch from a distance, as though they have no connection to it.
After all, they are neither fast food workers nor customers of fast food establishments.It makes a certain kind of sense.  
That this thought seems so self-evident is really a self-imposed limit on our thinking.
We define ourselves as consumers, and that gives us two choices: we either consume, or we boycott.  But what about the things that we don't consume?  Not consuming is not the same as boycotting. 
I am not boycotting women's high-heeled shoes. I just don't wear them, or buy them. But can I be unconcerned about them?  Were I to learn that the high heeled shoe factory…

Demons Among Us?

The Demons We Are Warned Against.
Demons walk among us.  They even hide among us.  They disguise themselves at times as friendly, or pitiful, creatures to ensnare us.  It takes constant vigilance to detect them and stern resolve not to fall for their blandishments. 
That is the meta-message of conservatives.  
Foremost among the demons to be feared is the black male criminal, essentially indistinguishable from any man of color from adolescence through elderly dotage.  
There are others, though.  The Queer. The Bitch.  The Lazy Poor.  The Intellectual.  The Irresponsible Young.  The Bureaucrat.  The Muslim. The Atheist.  The Prisoner.  The Illegal Immigrant.
The conservatives thinks of these as demons, because they have no purpose other than to cause destruction and damage to the social fabric.  There is no compromise to be made with them, because they are not just people with a different set of interests and needs.  Compromise with them is a compromise with evil, and a foolish mistak…

Rituals of Intention

Rites of Passage
The operative word that gets used in describing rites of passage that we UU ministers do is often "celebration."  A baby blessing is a 'celebration' of a new life; the wedding is a 'celebration' of a marriage; a memorial service is the 'celebration' of the life of the deceased. 
I have to admit that I find the word "celebration" to be insubstantial when talking about liturgy; it seems one-dimensional.
I have been thinking lately about framing these liturgical events as a community honoring the intentions of people at some of the transitional moments of life.  
I started thinking about the intentions of the wedding couple while preparing weddings.  What are we all (the community -- the congregation) doing here at this ceremony.  It occurred to me that we were really witnessing and honoring the intentions of the couple to be faithful partners to each other for life.  We gather to witness the vows and promises that they make to eac…

In Defense of Partisan Media

I really appreciate MSNBC, and because of that, I have come to appreciate the role of Fox News. 
I understand that MSNBC is both independent and partisan; it's not the same as the emails I get from the Democratic National Committee, or Organizing for America.  But it does represent the progressive coalition in the United States.  It has a point of view on current events and it presents it.   It informs me of what is going on, but more importantly, it equips me to be a progressive activist myself.  
Plus, it puts more journalists and activists of color on my tv to offer their analysis of events than all of the rest of the media combined.  
I now get what Fox News (which was talk radio with faces) did for the conservatives.  It equipped their activists with a fully detailed narrative about national events.  Their activists could then set about persuading their friends and families.
A fully functioning democracy includes an informed and activated public.  In the old model, it was ass…

Religion is Media with a Terrible Business Model

Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post has set off a flurry of discussions about the media and its various business models.  So, I started thinking....

Religion has always been, at heart, a media operation.  It is a social organization to spread certain information and create a particular worldview a group of followers.  "Teach them (all the nations) to obey everything that I have told to you," said Jesus.  

The ancient Hebrews put their writings in the Temple where the priests could read it, refer to it, and presumedly teach it.  It was the best way they knew to preserve and spread the information.

Now, information is everywhere and it's free.  Nobody wants to pay a fifty cents for a daily newspaper.  The teachings of all religions are freely available.

At one point the social organization of the church was the means of disseminating the information.  The gathered community engaged in a ritual which communicated the teaching; even the architecture of the building commun…

Institutes of Interdependence

Barbara Ehrenreich observes that in America, there are two "middle-classes".  One is a "Business" middle-class who work in the for-profit sector, from small business to corporations to the financial industry.  The other is the "Professional Intellectual" middle-class, whose good incomes and good jobs are dependent on their education.

The former is more an inherited status; the latter is more fluid.  There is room for upward mobility, as people go to college and get more professional degrees.

One difference between the two varieties of middle-class is institutional loyalty.  You get ahead in the business middle-class by fitting in and being loyal -- a team player.  You get ahead in the intellectual middle-class by being different.

This matters in UU churches and congregations which are religious hangouts for the intellectual middle class.

For a long time, the plurality of UU's were people who had already showed their lack of loyalty to another faith …

Class is a Consciousness, not a Category

Class is not about income.

Class is not about education.

Class is not about manners or gentility.

A class is a group of people who have had shared a similar life experience in economic life, enough so that it has shaped their worldview.  Classes are shaped by history, and the consciousness that they create persist through generations, even though the formative experiences may have faded, or have been transformed by memory.

Remember the Republican convention of 2012.  Who can forget such good times?  Speaker after speaker describes the story of their family over generations.  The usual elements were the ancestor who came from Europe with nothing, but a strong back and skilled hands, and how he worked hard, and made enough money to rise up the ladder, and then the war, and a more education and all culminating in me, a greasy lawyer/politician sleazeball who has turned myself into a corporate spokesmodel for the Koch brothers.  Yay America!

That story is the story of a class, and an expr…

Why the word "classism" gives me the creeps.

I know that I used the word "classism" in the title of a recent post.  I inadvertently left out the ironic quotation marks around it.  So sorry.  The word gives me the creeps because I hear the word used as though "classism" is another form of prejudice and oppression -- another addition to the long list of "isms" that starts with racism and ends, for now, with something like "lookism".   Along the way, there are few "-phobias" thrown in for variety, like "homo-", "trans-" and "fat-"  And if anyone suggests substituting the word "workerphobia" for "classism", I will lose my lunch.

Somehow including "class" in this list of traits that people use to oppress others strikes me as trivializing it.

I get the idea that people think that UU churches need some sort of 'welcoming congregation' program to make themselves less classist.

And I also get the idea that people view &…