Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

Readers respond to an erroneous photo caption, the legacy of the Transcendentalists, and the often forgotten Universalist Church of the Larger Fellowship.

Staff Writer


Mariela Pérez-Simons lights the chalice during the opening celebration of the 2019 UUA General Assembly in Spokane, Washington, on Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Mariela Pérez-Simons lights the chalice during the opening celebration of the 2019 UUA General Assembly in Spokane, Washington, on June 19, 2019. This image originally appeared on page 18 of our Fall issue with the incorrect name. The editors apologize for the error. (© 2019 Nancy Pierce/UUA)

© 2019 Nancy Pierce/UUA

I am a somebody

Since the publication of the Fall 2019 issue of UU World, I have received nearly 100 messages from UUs who were shocked at the misrepresentation of a person of color and how my photo was used while erasing my identity.

The first thought that crossed my mind was: “Of course, I’m just a nobody!”

The term “nobody” here comes from a poem (“The Nobodies”) written by Eduardo Galeano, a writer and journalist from Uruguay. The poem captures clearly the subtle ways in which systems turn people like me into “nobodies” . . .

Who don’t speak languages, but dialects.
Who don’t have religions, but superstitions.
Who don’t create art, but handicrafts.
Who don’t have culture, but folklore.
Who are not human beings, but Human Resources.

I do have a name. My name is Mariela Pérez-Simons. I’m a candidate to the Unitarian Universalist ministry, an intern at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, and a third year M.Div. student at Meadville Lombard Theological School. I was born and raised in Cuba and migrated to the United States with my family in 1995 as asylum seekers/political refugees. I am a lover of life, a seeker of beauty, and a multi-passionate individual with many interests, including art, nature, photography, writing, dancing, exquisite self-care, community building, and finding ways to make the revolution “irresistible.”

I am this and so much more. I am a somebody.

Mariela Pérez-Simons
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Spiritual friendship with trees

I read with enjoyment John Buehrens’s article on the Transcendentalists (“Spiritual Friendship and Social Justice,” Fall 2019), which so clearly showed how these early American thinkers provided an idealistic vision of how to move forward in a pluralistic society. As an interpreter for the National Park Service in Sequoia National Park charged with introducing visitors to the majesty of a 2,000-year-old tree, I note that while Buehrens called the Transcendentalists “urban,” they also included John Muir, whose views led to the foundation of the National Park Service and protection of the Giant Sequoia, which he called “the greatest of living things.” Muir and Thoreau did not limit their spiritual communion to human beings when they embraced plurality of view and rejected individualism.

Thanks again for the refreshing view on a familiar topic.

Elizabeth Erickson
La Crescenta, California

Don’t forget the Universalists

After perusing your article on the Church of the Larger Fellowship (“ Always in Beta,” Summer 2019), the casual reader could be forgiven for thinking that CLF was a purely Unitarian endeavor prior to UU merger.Nothing could be further from the truth. While the Unitarian CLF was indeed founded in 1944, the Universalist Church of America launched a comparable effort just three years later, in 1947, under the leadership of my grandfather, the Rev. Dr. Clinton Lee Scott, then superintendent of the Massachusetts Universalist Convention. The Universalist CLF remained a vibrant independent organization until merging with the Unitarians in 1961.

We have a tendency in our movement to consistently privilege the Unitarian side of our history. Proud as I am of that side, it is the predominately wealthy, urban, intellectual side. As we strive to overcome our various legacies of oppression, we would do well, I submit, to consider this pervasive internal bias.

Michael L. Scott
Rochester, New York