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What in the World? Fall 2006
Questions for spiritual reflection and adult group discussions.
In her Forum article “Hungry for Democracy,” (page 14), Frances Moore Lappé describes Living Democracy as “a set of system characteristics, ever evolving and driven by human values that span all great wisdom and religious traditions. Among them are inclusion, fairness, and mutual accountability.” As examples of these she points to “fusion voting,” socially responsible investing, and “democratic schools.”
How have you and/or your congregation seen Living Democracy taking root in your life?
In the Wayside Pulpit (page 18), poet Kahlil Gibran writes, “Your daily life is your temple and your religion.”
Write down some of the things you did in the last two days. What do these things say about you and your values? Can you align them with “your religion”?
David Hubner writes about the danger of having overly high standards: “We face very high and constant expectations to be perfect, when in fact all that any of us can really hope for is to be a good human being.” (“Original Perfection?” page 22)
In which areas of your life do you have the highest standards? How do you feel when those standards aren’t reached? How do these feelings affect the quality of your life?
In “Poem for an Inked Daughter” (page 21), Jean Wyrick describes the way younger generations perennially try to shock their elders. Wyrick recalls that when she was young, she pierced her ears and wore dangly earrings. Her daughter now has a tattoo. “No, of course you know I don’t like it. / Another gauntlet thrown down / in the ongoing Mother-Daughter Wars.”
What did you do to rebel when young? If you have or had teenage children, what did they do to rebel against you?
W. Frederick Wooden describes a sense of insecurity that developed after the 9/11 attacks. “The attack rattled our minds and souls because it reminded us of something we have been able to ignore for generations: Existence is precarious. Our survival is never secure.” (“What Will We Build?” page 24)
How did the events on 9/11 affect your sense of security or the way you view the world? What was your initial reaction to the attacks? How has it changed over time?
Wooden talks about the American idea of freedom becoming detached from the idea that freedom is rooted in vast expanses of land. “Now our challenge is to define freedom spiritually, in categories not limited to physical forms but within the complex relationships between people and institutions and ideas.” (“What Will We Build?” page 24)
What does freedom mean to you? Has that meaning changed since the 9/11 attacks? What form should the new freedom take?
UUA and Congregations.
UUA President William G. Sinkford has been urging congregational presidents to attend General Assembly so they can more fully participate in the life of the UUA. “This is an association of congregations, not just of whatever delegates can find the time and resources to attend,” he said. (“General Assembly 2006,” page 36)
What role has the UUA played in your congregation’s life? How could the UUA serve your congregation better?
“This was the Year of the Environment at General Assembly,” writes Tom Stites in his report on this year’s General Assembly, referring to the various educational and advocacy activities. (“General Assembly 2006,” page 36)
What do you or your congregation do to protect the environment? Are there other things you could do?
In his book essay “Secularism and Tolerance after 9/11” (page 56), Doug Muder looks at the ways secularism has influenced religion’s development. Muder argues that some of the authors in the books reviewed have so defined religion that moderate or liberal religion, which espouses tolerance, cannot exist. Muder says, though, that “liberal tolerance . . . simply recognizes the incompleteness of all human religions, including one’s own.”
As a Unitarian Universalist, how did you religiously interpret the events of 9/11? Is your interpretation based on secular or religious ideas, or both?