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Showing posts from May, 2015

The Most Accessible and Holistic Movement -- what would it take?

UU churches and congregations should devote their energies and resources to caring for the hundred of thousands, if not millions of people who hungry to participate in  social movements for radical social transformation.

There are people who want to be a part of the anti-racism movement, the environmental movement, the LGBTQIA movements, the reproductive justice movement, the immigrant movement, the movement for poorly paid workers. They are lots of people who see these things on TV, or online, and they want to do something.

But, it's a sad fact that most people do not have access to these movements. Not only do they not have access, they have other responsibilities in their lives that stop them from locking onto an anchor chain of a Shell Oil rig. They can't relocate to Cambridge to sit in at the Harvard alumni office for divestment.

For most people their only avenues for justice work are to send money to someone, sign an online petition, and share particularly insightful bit…

"the most holistic and accessible movement for radical transformation"

"Unitarian Universalism should be the most accessible and holistic movement for the radical  transformation of our culture."

Start with the goal: we want the radical transformation of our culture. Just read our Seven Principles; they are a description of a social order that is very opposite of what we got: a democratic world community of justice, equity and compassion, peace, liberty and justice. We've wanted that for decades; there are strains within us that have wanted it for centuries.

There are many organizations who share those goals; but they are not like us. The progressive organizations and networks in this country are usually small bands of professional staffers who lobby, litigate, campaign and fundraise off a passive membership on a mailing list. Most have no public meetings and are almost impossible to participate in with your body. Even political parties have very little actual activity going on. People can't reach them.

We are accessible: we have 1000 o…

Memorial Day: Expanding the Circle of Grieving

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This is the sermon that I delivered at the First UU Church in Toledo, Ohio. May 24, 2015 Memorial Day
Reading: From Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory by David Blight
African Americans founded Decoration Day at the graveyard of 257 Union soldiers labeled "Martyrs of the Race Course," May 1, 1865, Charleston, South Carolina. 
The "First Decoration Day," as this event came to be recognized in some circles in the North, involved an estimated ten thousand people, most of them black former slaves. During April, twenty-eight black men from one of the local churches built a suitable

the difference between "principles' and "virtues"

Unitarian Universalism backed into a type of moral reasoning based on principles when we adopted the Seven Principles.

A "principle" is a formalized abstraction. "The inherent worth and dignity of every person." The moral reasoning that follows the promotion of a principle is discerning what they principle means and how to apply it to real life situations.  Because we have seven principles, we have to also reason through how this principle relates to others. (Should the first principle be first, or should the last be first.?) And finally, because principles are generalizations, they can be tested by trying to find the boundaries and the exceptions, which leads to a lot of discussions about Hitler. Did Hitler still have worth and dignity?

"Virtues", in contrast, are character traits, habitual behaviors, and a mixtures of emotions and rational thought. A virtue is a way of being human. I have my list of the virtues of liberal religion: self-possession, hon…

From Principles to Virtues

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This is the sermon I preached at the First Unitarian Church of Toledo on May 3, 2015.

I was at one of those many conferences about growing Unitarian Universalism, 10 years ago, when it came to me to ask the question: Why would someone want to be a UU? Actually, the question was a little more sharply focused. For what purpose would a person be a Unitarian Universalist? 
What’s our invitation? 
That question led me to today’s reading: William Ellery Channing’s I call that Mind Free.  (#592 in the Singing the Living Tradition.) 
[WEC was the founding theologian of American Unitarianism: a Boston minister, active from about 1819 to somewhere in the 1840’s) The reading is an excerpt from a much longer sermon: Spiritual Freedom, which Channing gave in 1830. So, this comes from the very earliest days of american Unitarianism.
Reading "the Free Mind", and re-reading it, and reading it with the congregation I served in Worcester, MA, it came to me that when Channing described the Free Min…