Interdependent Web: God is an earthquake

Interdependent Web: God is an earthquake

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

Heather Christensen


God is an earthquake

The Rev. James Ford comments on the the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake—and its theological lessons.

When it was over sixty-three people had died, and something approaching four thousand people were injured enough to be counted. The financial losses are estimated in the area of six billion dollars.

One of the big experiences of my life.

And it brought home the truth of something the rabbi Abraham Heschel once said.

God is not nice.

God is not your uncle.

God is an earthquake. (Monkey Mind, October 17)

The Rev. Thomas Perchlik examines the role of religion in the movie, The Martian.

If, on the other hand, “religion” is a set of shared values and actions that shape the meaning and obligations and ethical decisions that people make, then this movie has a strong religious element. Shared values like loyalty, cooperation across differences and a desire to help others are all factors that drive character’s actions. Watney, while talking to his fellow astronauts, speaks of the fact that they are willing to give their lives to “something greater.” (Rev. Thomas Perchlik's Weblog, October 19)

John Beckett doesn’t feel that men’s experiences require separate men’s groups.

My religion and my spirituality are ungendered. I relate to the Gods, ancestors, and Nature spirits as a human, not as a man. Now, perhaps there are elements of my practice I think are ungendered that are examples of male normativity and I’m unaware of it. But I look at what I do as a Druid and as a priest and I see women and gender non-conforming people doing pretty much the same things in the same ways. I look at the people I consider my religious role models and sounding board and I see more women than men. If you tell me about a great spiritual retreat I should attend the people I think about taking with me are mostly women. (Under the Ancient Oaks, October 18)

Allison Ehrman explains the psychology of tarot.

The cards never told me my future, but they did tell me my present more clearly than I had ever been able to see it. (Nature’s Path, October 16)

Complex conversations

The Rev. John Buehrens' reaction to the new luxury condos at 25 Beacon Street sparked a lively conversation about UUA spending and collegiality.

May I just say how very sick to my UU stomach this makes me? The building at 25 Beacon St., built in 1925 as a headquarters for the American Unitarian Association, with contributions from all over North America, now symbolizes sell-out to the wealth divide. (Facebook, October 22)

Kim Hampton challenges mostly-white UU congregations to be aware of the experiences of people of color—both members and vistors—during conversations about racism.

Something is going on in UU churches, and I’m not sure congregations are ready for it. And people of color are going to be hurt in the process.

How are UU congregations supporting people of color in their midst during this time of learning for the majority of white UUs? (East of Midnight, October 19)

After visiting with a small, Western congregation, the Rev. Mary Wellemeyer considers the complex issues faced by fellowships considering professional ministry.

The big question is, can the congregation's leadership make room for a minister who is more than a chaplain? Or is the chaplain role all they can imagine? That making room takes a surprising amount of internal adjustment. People who have been doing it all, and successfully, are invited to share with this credentialed stranger. How does that work? (Open Road, October 18)

Life experience

Karen G. Johnston writes about the “super virtue” of mudita, particularly in the context of collegial relationships.

Just what is mudita? Sympathetic Joy. Sharing in the joy of others—their accomplishments, their good fortune, their well-being, their existence. Sharing not just in the joy of those close to us, but in others. ALL others. Even the guy who just cut you off in traffic and made it through the light, while you are waiting at the longest. red. traffic. light. ever. It is moving away from any sense that the happiness of others might in some way threaten or impinge upon one’s own happiness or success. That, my friends, is not what they taught me in high school. (Awake and Witness, October 21)

The Rev. Dr. Nori Rost celebrates the appearance of her first gray hair—as a badge of adulthood.

I have never dreaded the graying of me; rather I have eagerly awaited its advent. Now, finally, at the ripe age of 53, I am able to proudly join the ranks of the Gray! What does this mean, I wondered as I drove home from my friend’s house. I prodded my mind like a loose tooth;was I any wiser? I gently palpated my heart from within; did I understand more about love and compassion? (sUbteXt, October 21)

The Rev. Cynthia Cain celebrates a long, strange, wonderful, love-filled, sadness-and-joy-filled trip.

[Every] once in awhile, you just gotta testify, something truly beautiful happens. Love walks right in the door and stays awhile. And we get the strength to rise another day. (A Jersey Girl in Kentucky, October 19)

The Rev. Deanna Vandiver tells a story about being a perfectionist who’s hard on herself—and everyone else.

I often tell the story of the time my Chaplain Supervisor told me, “Deanna, I wish you would stop being so hard on yourself”
She paused here and I had a moment to think sweetly, “Oh, she really cares about me.” This tenderness quickly faded as she continued, “Because then you would stop being so damn hard on the rest of us.” (Quest for Meaning, October 21)

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