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Money, prejudices, war, family rituals, and more

Questions for spiritual reflection and adult group discussions.
By Jane Greer
Spring 2008 2.15.08

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Talking money. In his column, UUA President William G. Sinkford reflects on the way that our use of money reflects our values. “For many of us the subject of money can sound unpalatable, uninteresting, or maybe even offensive, but if ‘money talks,’ as they say, what does it sound like in public? Do you ‘put your money where your mouth is’?” (“Our Calling,” page 7)

If your “money talks,” what does it say about you and your values? Where do you put your money?

Sundown towns. James W. Loewen describes the phenomenon of “sundown towns,” communities that intentionally excluded people of color. He gives suggestions for investigating whether your town was one of them. (“Was Your Town a Sundown Town?” page 13)

How do towns that no longer have a specific policy of being sundown towns still manage to exclude people of color and other minorities? How would you approach the process of reconciliation if your town was a sundown town?

Praying with UUs. The Revs. Wayne Arnason and Kathleen Rolenz offer suggestions for leading prayer with UU congregations, including the use of different invocations, allowing time for silence, and the importance of sincerity. They also stress the need for a personal practice of prayer. “The single most effective thing a person can do to create meaningful prayers is to have a rich private prayer life oneself.” (“Praying as Unitarian Universalists,” page 18)

What kind of prayer life do you have? How might personal prayer complement communal prayer?

Fundamental prejudice. Esther Hurlburt writes about her experience co-officiating at a funeral with a fundamentalist preacher who seems disappointed when he finds out she is UU. (“Universal Love,” page 23)

What have you said when people have either challenged you—or said nothing—about being a Unitarian Universalist?

Just war? Paul Rasor looks at the common ground between pacifism and just war theory in light of the UUA’s study/action process, which asks whether the UUA should “reject the use of any and all kinds of violence and war to resolve disputes between peoples and nations and adopt a principle of seeking just peace through nonviolent means.” Rasor calls his proposal “prophetic nonviolence,” which he tries to root in Unitarian Universalist theological principles. (“Prophetic Nonvio­lence,” page 27)

How has your congregation responded to the UUA’s peacemaking study/action issue? What values do you hope to see reflected in the answer the UUA develops?

Bringing religion home. William Doherty looks at ways that Unitarian Universalism could better ground itself in home teaching and practice, drawing upon the support of the larger UU community. (“Home Grown Unitarian Universalism,” page 39)

Doherty describes new traditions such as “Source Suppers” that might give children and adults a sense of history and connection to the UU community. What other home-based practices or rituals can you think of that would give UUs this sense of connection?

In fellowship. Holley Ulbrich discusses the history of the UU fellowship movement, in which 600 to 800 lay-led fellowships were founded all across the country between 1948 and 1967. Although these groups were sometimes controversial, Ulbrich describes some of the changes they brought to the rest of the Association, such as shared ministry, women’s leadership, and (in time) a collaborative approach between laity and clergy. (“The Fellowship Movement,” page 40)

How is the fellowship movement’s legacy reflected in the life of your congregation?

The classics. W. Frederick Wooden takes refuge in the classics because he can’t keep up with the flood of newly published books. “As I get older and the time I have gets smaller, it seems obvious that spending time on a book that is new and uncertain, when I could spend it with one that is undeniably good even if it is old or well known, is by far the best choice.” (“Why I’m Sticking with Classics,” page 64)

Why are the classics so frequently avoided when they have so much to offer? What books are on your night table and why?

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