Responses to the tragic shootings at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville July 27 (see page 38) included condolences and prayers, analysis of the shooter’s motivation, anger at the right-wing media for its perceived encouragement of anti-liberal violence, and pride in Unitarian Universalism’s history of commitment to social justice. See “The Interdependent Web” (August 1) for a guide.
Several TVUUC members offered eyewitness accounts. LiveJournal user bekitty wrote, “I’m never going to be able to hear balloons popping or cars backfiring without ducking under a table. Ever again.” (July 29) LiveJournal user writingjen attended the service with her family, including her father John Worth, who was injured in the shooting. Her 8-year-old daughter observed, “All those times when I was having a bad day and said it was the worst? Well, this was worser.” (July 29)
The Commission on Appraisal released its draft revision of the UUA’s Principles and Purposes in September (see page 50). The Rev. Sean Parker Dennison at “ministrare” praised the Commission for “providing us the opportunity to have this conversation.” (September 2) The Rev. Christine Robinson at “iMinister” disliked the new text. “I don’t like the way the Purposes and Principles have moved into a creed-like place in our life together. People are taking them way too literally.” (September 2) But Plaidshoes at “Everyday Unitarian” wrote, “ I know we claim to be a faith of ‘deeds not creeds,’ but why can’t there be a creed and deeds?” She added: “I sometimes feel that we have an unspoken and not so subtle creed. Why not formalize it so it reflects the best of UU thought?” (September 17, 18)
One sentence in the revised “Sources” caught special attention: “Grateful for the traditions that have strengthened our own, we strive to avoid misappropriation of cultural and religious practices and to seek ways of appreciation that are respectful and welcomed” (Section C-2.3: 26-27). The Rev. James Ford at “Monkey Mind” objected to making concerns about cultural misappropriation part of the UUA bylaws: “I am absolutely convinced there are those among us who will volunteer to become the purity police, attempting to enforce private and wrong-headed definitions of cultural misappropriation.” (September 10)
UUA President William G. Sinkford’s participation in a September 24 meeting of American peace activists with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (see page 43) provoked angry reactions in the UU blogosphere. The Rev. Victoria Weinstein at “PeaceBang” called Sinkford’s participation “so monumentally naïve as to be deeply humiliating.” She added: “If we claim to ‘Stand on the Side of Love,’ then our president should have been among the protesters at the UN, not at the table with the human rights abuser being protested.” (October 1, 2) The Rev. Kit Ketcham defended Sinkford’s participation at “Ms. Kitty’s Saloon and Road Show.” “[W]hat he did was incredibly courageous . . . He stuck his neck out, trying to get to know and understand the other side.” (October 1)