Interdependent Web: The difficult magic of welcome

Interdependent Web: The difficult magic of welcome

A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism.


The difficult magic of welcome

The Rev. Catharine Clarenbach challenges us to practice the difficult magic of welcome—and learn from the beliefs and practices of our neighbors.

Do we think so little of our own traditions that we are afraid to invite our neighbors in? Are we so frightened of other people’s practice that we dare not even ask them to come and teach us what we do not know?

We UU’s . . . are as ignorant as anyone else. We are as slow-going as anyone else. And I think that once we get a grip on those two facts, and bring ourselves humbly to the feet of our neighbors, members, and friends—especially our neighbors of color—then we can move forward toward Beloved Community, toward the world we dream about, toward justice and love. (Nature’s Path, September 16)

The Rev. Cynthia Cain struggles to minister both to fearful white congregants—and to new member Aaron and his family, who are black.

Aaron had told me that it was only in our church that he and his family could feel peace outside their home.. could feel, in other words. safe.

So we have this collision of worlds. People who think we are in great danger because we have posted a sign supporting Black Lives Matter.. and people who feel, finally, a haven. (Jersey Girl in Kentucky, September 15)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden acknowledges the difficulty of communicating across different life experiences, and suggests that our best strategy is to listen.

We can realize the validity of lived experience. We can encourage people to tell their stories. And we can listen to the pain in the stories. Our own stories are valid and true prima facie. . . .

Shutting up and listening.


That’s a challenge. (Quest for Meaning, September 17)

The legacy of racism

The Rev. Ken Collier writes about the legacy of racism.

Until we embrace fully the truth that African American lives are constantly in peril through police violence, through educational violence, through governmental violence, through cultural violence, and through other forms of violence, all lives will not matter. Until we recognize the rage the burns in the souls of Americans of color and accept our responsibility and accountability for it, all lives will not matter. And until we are able put aside our own privileged place in the world and open our hearts to what our neighbors of color are telling us, all lives will not matter. And so, it is important to say over and over that Black Lives Matter. (The Colliery, September 11)

The Rev. Robin Tanner refuses to choose between proclaiming that Black Lives Matter, and respecting the work police officers do.

We live in a world where we say you must choose between officer and black men as if they are separate souls.

I will not choose. I will work without shame for the change. I will see the dehumanization of the system and hold to the humanity of my community. (Piedmont Preacher, September 11)

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern reminds us of the role fear plays in distorting perception.

If we can acknowledge that our perceptions are not always accurate, and start acting on reality rather than on our fears, then we can get closer to our ideal of the land of the free and the home of the brave. (Sermons in Stones, September 16)

Congregational life

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein reminds ministers that it’s their job to speak out about serious moral issues.

Yes, some people might leave the congregation if you point out that the purpose of the Church is to engage people in the work of getting over ourselves, growing spiritually, changing and being agents of change in the world.

So let them leave. That’s okay. It is not your job to soft-pedal the mission of the church so that it remains perpetually palatable to those who are frightened of self-transformation. . . . It takes courage to lead with integrity. It’s your job. (Beauty Tips for Ministers, September 11)

Karen G. Johnston’s overview of the ritual of Water Communion includes some of its pitfalls.

[It] can seem like a game of show-and-tell, or worse yet, brinksmanship of economic privilege when folks reveal the source of their water (“Our water is artisanal-sourced and comes from the furthest place in the world from the most celebrated holy person who gave it to us personally filtered through the palms of their hands…” – okay, that last bit of snark is totally made up, but I hope you get my gist.) (Awake and Witness, September 13)

Thinking things through

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg thinks through Peter Singer’s writing about becoming less human-centric.

[Within] my own tradition of Unitarian Universalism, there is a small, but growing movement inviting us to ask if our Seven Principles — which thirty years ago were revised to become less male-centric — need now, especially in light of global climate change, to become less human-centric. In particular, the First Principle Project proposes that our support for the “the inherent worth and dignity of every person” be expanded to recognize “the inherent worth and dignity of every being” . . . . As important as our First Principle is—grounded in the opening lines of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights—there was a growing sense that we need to balance individual human rights with the common good of all beings on this one far-flung but beautiful and precious planet. (Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism, September 17)

John Beckett writes from a Pagan perspective about how to escape fundamentalism.

First, stop the bleeding. Stop attending fundamentalist churches. Stop listening to TV and radio preachers and stay off their websites. It may seem helpful to mentally argue with them, but hearing their message over and over again just reinforces the beliefs that were planted in your head long ago. Stop debating the Bible. When you argue from the Bible—even to make a religiously liberal point—you reinforce the idea that the Bible is a legitimate source of authority. It is not. (Under the Ancient Oaks, September 10)

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