Interdependent Web: Building a resilient movement

Interdependent Web: Building a resilient movement

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


Building a resilient movement

Earlier this month, controversy broke out over the Beverly Unitarian Church’s decision to remove “Black Lives Matter” from its electronic signboard. (Facebook, September 8)

In response, Ashley Horan wrote an open letter to white Unitarian Universalists, noting that she has been alternately heartsick and hopeful.

[As] a white person who has been taught by lots of patient and brilliant people of many races about the ways that white supremacy colonizes the hearts and minds of even those of us who claim to be anti-racists, I also understand that we white folks are often far too willing to throw each other under the bus. . . . We respond in ways that assure that other politically astute white folks—and, more importantly, people of color—know that we have a great analysis, and we’re among the “good white people.” I have been guilty of this behavior more times than I like to admit. . . .

But, at the end of the day, it matters more to me that I am a part of building and participating in a movement that will be resilient and powerful enough to actually dismantle white supremacy. (Facebook, September 18)

Chris Crass wrote an open love letter to congregation’s minister.

Many white people don't take the first step, don't take the chance of risking and failing. We don't need white people who never fail because they never risk challenging injustice. We need white people who risk and when they make mistakes and the going gets tough, open their hearts and fortify their souls, knowing this is the work our faith calls us into. We don't need white people who have the right language and only critique all the other white people's racist failings. (Facebook, September 15)

The newly formed organizing collective, Black Lives of UU, issued a statement about congregations posting Black Lives Matter signs.

We . . . see congregations that have been attacked and are stepping away from the unifying Black Lives Matter message, creating their own alternative statements. While we affirm the right of every congregation to choose how they relate to Black Lives Matter as a movement, we are left with questions about the potential impact of removal of BLM signage from public spaces when hateful people point their anti-blackness toward UU congregations. . . . Do black lives matter only when people are not mad at Unitarian Universalists for having boldly said they do? (Black Lives of UU, September 20)

Black Lives of UU has also created the “Seven Principles of Black Lives.” (Facebook, September 20)

People who believe they are white

Theresa Soto responded to the question, “Is it cultural appropriation for white people to participate with Black Lives Matter?”

White people have a call to heed when it comes to Black Lives Matter, but it is worthwhile to examine exactly what that means. It means being willing to start at a place of being supportive of Black leadership without having to set an agenda and take charge. Specifically, showing up for Black Lives Matter is not taking from another culture disrespectfully; rather, it is collaboration for the purpose of creating justice in the place of injustice. (Emerging Voices, September 15)

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg writes about, “What Ta-Nehisi Coates taught me about people who believe they are white.”

Growing up, I can remember multiple ways in which I was taught both implicitly and explicitly that blacks and whites were different. (Can you recall episodes in your life of “learning to be white” or “black” or “brown”?) I can remember, for example, my budding friendship with a young black girl my own age being discouraged because “Birds of a feather fly together.” I wasn’t born “white,” but I quickly learned to be white — in a way that was about far more than noticing the color of my skin. (Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism, September 24)

A terrible, beautiful presence

The Rev. James Ford describes the experience of the holy that occurs when we can be quiet enough.

If we want a meaning in a world that exists beyond meaning and meaninglessness, I suspect this encounter with, if you’ll excuse the image: the face of the divine, is it. Not the god who created heaven and earth, but the god beyond all ideas of a god. The silence on the other side of our chattering about a god. Another name: Presence. Another name: Love. This place this presence is a path to walk. It is a sea in which to swim.

Our source and our sustenance and our destiny.

A terrible and beautiful presence. (Monkey Mind, September 22)

The Rev. Dr. Meredith Garmon began to practice Buddhism when he was asked as a first-year seminarian if he had a spiritual practice.

I told them that while I was exercising on my ski machine, I liked to put on a CD of the chants of the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos. The regional subcommittee on candidacy was unimpressed. Their advice to me: get a spiritual practice. They didn’t define “spiritual practice.” They just said, get one. And I am forever in their debt for changing my life on that day. (The Liberal Pulpit, September 24)

As part of a series about deities, the Rev. Dan Harper asks, “What is a deity, anyway?”

I don’t believe we should accept without question the U.S. Protestant Christian definition of deity as a single transcendent god in whom one either believes or doesn’t believe. Humans in the U.S. today venerate a variety of deities, many of which look nothing like the U.S. Protestant transcendent God. And that veneration can take a variety of forms, from overt public worship to more covert forms of veneration. Given that, don’t you think that there is a lot more religion in the U.S. today than is captured by polls which ask whether people believe in “God” and attend “church”? (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, September 24)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden considers what it means to be religious.

We all strive to fulfill the sentiment of an old hymn: “Earth shall be fair and all her people one.” That’s why we keep talking. We all feel called to maintain, strengthen, and pass on the tradition that each of us has found so meaningful, but we also believe in a higher purpose, one of peace and justice.

Whatever “religious” means, its opposite is not secularity. Its opposite is not thinking about it. (Quest for Meaning, September 24)

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