I have been reading the comments—some of them long letters—that so many of you included with your survey responses. Thank you for caring, often passionately, about this magazine and about the ways UU World links you to other Unitarian Universalists. I find it gratifying, challenging, and deeply moving to read the comments you sent back. Of course, many of your responses—in good Unitarian Universalist fashion—were blunt in their assessment of where we need improvement. The assessments contradicted each other, but I find them provocative and helpful nevertheless. Most were rooted in the strong sense that a Unitarian Universalist magazine serves vital purposes for our religious movement. I can’t wait to engage my staff in reviewing the survey results and your comments as we develop plans for the magazine’s next chapter.
In this issue, be sure to read Michelle Bates Deakin’s heartbreaking profile of the parents of 18-year-old Lauren Dunne Astley, who have focused their grief over the murder of their daughter on a campaign to help teens learn how to avoid abusive relationships.
Nicole Sweeney Etter visits a vibrant, new, lay-led congregation in Ohio where almost every part of congregational life has been reimagined from the ground up. My favorite detail about the “un-church” called Harmony, in a small town north of Cincinnati: They modeled aspects of their children’s religious education program on martial arts training, “but with less kicking.”
Kimberly Paquette describes Unitarian Universalism's powerful ministry to her when she was a 20-year-old Army recruit: “The Sunday service was the only hour of my week when I could be my true and whole self. . . . It was the only time anyone called me by my first name.” Doug Muder offers a way to engage in genuine dialogue with friends and relatives whose politics are worlds apart. Tom Schade says it’s time for Unitarian Universalists to move beyond celebrating the value of religious community; our communities have to be about something more than themselves. Kris Willcox explores the Unitarian roots of the Christmas tree in America. And Parisa Parsa explores the significance of a controversial new biography of Jesus, by the Iranian-American Muslim scholar Reza Aslan.
And that’s only a sampling of what you’ll find inside.
This article appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of UU World (page 4).