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Antioppression, Buddhism, and 'Second Life'

Questions for spiritual reflection and adult group discussions.
By Jane Greer
Summer 2007 5.15.07

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Welcoming ministers.

UUA President William G. Sinkford describes a plan for more sucessfully welcoming and settling ministers of color. “Our record of supporting their ministries has been abysmal,” he writes in his column, “Our Calling.” “It breaks my heart every day.” (page 7)

How could your congregation support a minister of color? What changes would need to be made?

Hospitality to all.

In the Reflections piece, “The Spiritual Practice of Hospitality,” (page 20) David Rynick writes that we often think we know people, which prevents us from being open to them in the moment. “In every interaction, whether it is with a stranger or our longtime partner, we can be surprised by what we have not yet seen or even imagined.”

When have you been surprised by someone you’ve known well? When do you think you’ve been pigeonholed by someone else?

Our stories.

Marshall Hawkins writes in “Reading Our Lives” (page 24) about the centrality of stories in our lives. “We write the stories of our lives all the time with the choices we make—our decisions about how we spend our time and the things we do with it. But as we write, we need to periodically stop to read what we’re writing, to take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going.”

What is the plotline of your story? What key moments or events have influenced your story’s course?

Contradictions.

In “Love the Contradictions,” Robert Hardies writes that we have to love the imperfect and the complex both in ourselves and in others. He cites the example of liberation theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez, who lectures around the world and is still concerned about his parishioners at home. “I simply try to find a balance between being a theologian and being a pastor,” Gutiérrez said. “And in the midst of all the suffering . . . I try to be happy.” (page 41)

What are some of the contradictions in your life? How do you stay balanced? What do you do when you’ve lost your balance?

Antioppression agenda.

In “The Future We Hope to See,” Don Skinner and Tom Stites review UU congregations’ actions to make themselves antiracist, antioppressive, and multicultural, and the UUA’s commitment and history of action in this area. (page 33)

What has your congregation done to become antiracist and antioppressive? Has opposing racism and oppression become part of your personal life?

Buddhism.

In “What Is Unitarian Universalist Buddhism?” James Ishmael Ford describes how Buddhism has become attractive to many UUs. “The ongoing interest in Buddhism among Unitarian Universalists has not been exclusive to humanists,” he writes. “Pagan, Jewish, and Christian UUs have also been attracted to the practical mysticism of Buddhism. And a number have tried various Buddhist meditation disciplines; some make those practices central to their spiritual lives.” (page 32)

What does Buddhism have to offer Unitarian Universalists, and vice versa? How might the use of certain Buddhist practices seem like cultural misappropriation? What does it take to maintain a dual religious identity?

Religious characters.

Rosemary Bray McNatt reviews two books related to Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women—a book that had a strong impact on McNatt. “The more I think about it, the more it seems that the March family planted the seeds of my liberal faith,” she writes. (page 55)

Which book characters or books have influenced you religiously?

Second faith.

Kenneth Sutton describes a new Unitarian Universalist congregation in Second Life, a popular virtual reality program, in “Second Life Has Thriving UU Community” (page 44).

How can virtual Unitarian Universalism support “real life” Unitarian Universalism? What might be the pros and cons of an online religious community?

Responsible investments.

A news story, “UUA’s Shareholder Activism Pays Off” (page 47), highlights how some of the UUA’s investment choices and actions have resulted in corporate change.

How does the way you manage your money and investments reflect your social and religious values? Do you plan to make changes?


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