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Letters, Summer 2014
Readers respond to the Spring 2014 issue.
Erika Nonken’s essay “Following My Moral Compass” (Spring 2014) resonated deeply with me as a lifelong UU who—especially when engaging other global perspectives—struggles with the limitations of UU values/theology. I love her vision for Unitarian Universalism!
Brooklyn, New York
Posted on uuworld.org, March 3, 2014
Questions of comfort
Thank you for Sarah MacLeod’s essay “Questions of Comfort” (Spring 2014), which discussed the inherent cruelty of the idea that suffering always serves a greater purpose. Several years ago, my wife died under exceptionally miserable circumstances, and the last thing our daughter and I want to hear is, “Everything happens for a reason.” Beliefs aside, humans find comfort in time of trouble because doing so is part of our biological heritage. Our nonhuman ancestors evolved a predisposition to survive adversity, and they passed that resilience down to us. Victory over grief may feel miraculous, but the miracle at work is the miracle of life.
University Unitarian Church, Seattle
I’m impressed by Tim Kutzmark’s fair treatment of the situation in Afghanistan (“War Zone Sabbatical,” Spring 2014). Many Unitarian Universalists instinctively condemned our invasion of Afghanistan and everything our military has done in and for that country. I personally have heard a UU minister complain about our “interfering in those countries.” Kutzmark learned that most Afghans do not want our troops to leave. Afghanistan is now holding a presidential election in spite of Taliban warnings to those who participate. I hope more UUs will get the facts about a situation before forming opinions.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Community Church UU
Impressions of Haiti
As a UU who has traveled to Haiti since 2000, I read with great interest Michelle Bates Deakin’s “What Haiti Taught Me” (Spring 2014). With limited experience of the country, she still gets just about everything right: the enduring legacy of the country’s founding slave revolt and the world’s punitive reaction, international actors that take important decisions away from Haitians, and a Haitian spirit of collective strength and creative response to adversity.
My frustration at the difference between the beautiful Haitian culture I witnessed and the wretched stories about Haiti I saw in the media led me to form Crossing Borders Music Collective. This non-profit uses music by composers from Haiti and other under-represented cultures to tell stories too seldom heard. I’m thankful that UU World is also part of an effort to help people see Haiti differently.
Second Unitarian Church of Chicago
The Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley says, “We’ve never come up with a succinct way to share our faith” (“New Logo Part of Outreach Effort,” Spring 2014). I am less concerned about people who do not know about Unitarian Universalism hearing non-succinct messages than I am about people who did hear about us, visited for a while, and did not stay. If we cannot explain our beliefs with clarity, we don’t need a new marketing campaign; we need as individuals to focus on defining for ourselves who we are and what matters to us.
Rather than looking for people to fill our religion, we should spend our energy becoming a religion of solid faith that will fill the lives of people. And then people will look for us.
Plattsburgh, New York
Plattsburgh UU Fellowship
To fly or not to fly
Like the Rev. Dan Harper, I try to be careful about my transportation and aware of the fuel it uses and the emissions it produces (“Why I Don’t Fly,” Spring 2014). Harper chose to drive rather than fly across the country because he estimated the car trip would release about 750 kg of greenhouse gases, less than half of what would be released on a flight, about 2,000 kg. However, the odds are very high that the flight went anyway, and that his car trip thus released 750 kg plus the 2,000 kg released by the airplane.
Figuring out the ethics of long-distance travel is indeed a challenge. Personally, I would have flown.
UU Fellowship of Redwood City (California)
Editors’ Note: The 2,000 kg estimated greenhouse gas emissions for the roundtrip flight were per passenger, not for the entire plane.
I was a little confused by the tone of Kevin McCulloch’s article about St. Vincent (“The UU Hipster?” Spring 2014). He seemed to be trying to find contradiction and tension within this woman’s story and I’m not really seeing it. She grew up in a UU church, now she’s a famous musician, and she took time to play at the church and have the church choir sing on her record—what’s not to like here?
Shoreline UU Church
Posted on uuworld.org, February 24, 2014
McCulloch writes: “These are acts whose messages feel right at home in Unitarian Universalist sanctuaries—Woody Guthrie, the Beatles, Bob Marley, and U2 all fit this description. St. Vincent does not.” I really disagree with the last sentence here. Maybe this attitude is why we have congregations filled with people over 60.
Horizon UU Church
Posted on uuworld.org, February 25, 2014
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This article appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of UU World (pages 58-59). See sidebar for links to related resources.