Interdependent Web: Privileged distress

Interdependent Web: Privileged distress

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

Heather Christensen


Privileged distress

Claire Curole details the economic realities of a disappearing middle class.

I think of it like the water cycle: It rains in the hills; the water flows down through forest and farmland and city, being used and returned along the way, finally out into the ocean where it evaporates and blows inland and rains. . . on the hills. This works, until something starts pulling water out of the cycle—draining aquifers faster than they replenish, diverting streams, bottling tap water and sending it away. Ecology and Economy share some linguistic roots. What happens when we dam up the flow of money and divert it into tanks, I mean banks, where it can't cycle through the system? (Facebook, November 10)

Doug Muder addresses the recent uptick in death rates for middle-aged, white Americans, who are “dying of despair.”

What we’re seeing here, I believe, is the end result of privileged distress. It’s still not objectively harder to be white in American than non-white, but the traditional privileges of whiteness have shrunk, particularly for the working class, while visions of how life is supposed to be (for white people) are pegged to the achievements of our parents. Consequently, it gets harder and harder for working-class whites to live up to the expectations they were raised to have. By middle age many feel like failures, and live with a corresponding lack of self-regard. (The Weekly Sift, November 9)

The Rev. Andy Burnette responds to the vandalism of his congregation’s Black Lives Matter banner.

Vandalism of a banner pales in comparison to the theft and destruction of black bodies in the United States. . . .

We must keep the goal in mind. . . . The goal is love and justice, but the work is anything but easy. It wasn’t easy in the days of the underground railroad, it wasn’t easy in the civil rights era, and it isn’t easy now. But we are called by Unitarian Universalist values to continue, and over time to deepen, our witness for justice. (Just Wondering, November 9)

Where are you coming from?

The Rev. Tom Schade begins a series of posts putting UU humanism in historical context.

That sense of the cultural radicalism that one feels in Unitarian Universalist congregations does not flow from the few radicals of the 19th century Unitarian movement, nor does it flow from our participation in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. No, our sense of cultural radicalism is the result of many of our churches being formed in resistance to the overbearing and aggressive Christian nationalism of the Cold War Era. . . .

And so, joining a Unitarian fellowship was both an act of defiance and an act of camouflage. (The Lively Tradition, November 10)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden describes the form of religious orientation that social psychologist C. Daniel Batson calls “Quest.”

An individual who approaches religion in this way recognizes that he or she does not know, and probably never will know, the final truth about such matters. Still the questions are deemed important, and however tentative and subject to changes, answers are sought. (Quest for Meaning, November 11)

Consent lessons

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern teaches her young daughter another in a series of lessons about consent.

“But that might hurt someone’s feelings”: an important consideration as we make many of our choices, yes, but not a reason to kiss someone, let someone hug us, say yes to a date we don’t want, stay in a marriage that is making us miserable. . . .

Girls and women are particularly vulnerable to this pressure, and particularly around romance and sex. (Sermons in Stones, November 12)

Invited into covenant

The Rev. Mary Wellemeyer has a prescription for small UU congregations: “low-density ministry combined with interconnection among themselves.”

[For] small congregations to remain vital, they need connection to the larger movement and to each other, the kind that clergy might provide. And they sometimes need skilled help finding their way forward through the thickets of life together in a smallish group, another area where clergy assistance could make a difference. (Open Road, November 8)

The Rev. Tom Schade examines the ways in which our emphasis on covenanted congregations limits our ability to welcome the stranger.

[Most] of our congregations offer membership in the community as our path to spiritual growth, yet the culture around us is highly resistant to leaping into that sort of commitment.

Young families are undergoing the life-changing experience of parenting a new human being, a child. They want a ritual celebration of this new life, and an auspicious launch of their child's growth, and a chance to pledge to the child, their own parents and family, and the mysterious powers that govern the Universe, that they will try their best to be good parents. . . .

And they are turned away. Because they are not members of the congregation already. All talk of "welcoming the stranger" and "radical hospitality" notwithstanding, they are turned away. (The Lively Tradition, November 5)

Holiday ridiculousness

John Beckett is fed up—already—with “holiday ridiculousness.”

We’re not even halfway through November and the “war on Christmas” garbage has already started. I saw Christmas Trees for sale on October 3. What was a joyous and magical month in my childhood (the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Day) is now a three-month-long slog through endless advertising and manufactured outrage. I had planned to ignore it all, but the anger is building and I’ve got to say something… to pretty much everybody. (Under the Ancient Oaks, November 12)

Alison Leigh Lilly spoofs the controversy over red Starbucks holiday cups by detailing the Christian propaganda she sees in the cups’ design.

In several places, the cup includes a warning that “Contents are extremely hot.” Not only is this a nod to the Christian extremists that Starbucks is attempting to placate, but it also references how Jesus said he detests “lukewarm” believers. (Holy Wild, November 9)

We encourage you to engage with these bloggers by commenting on their sites.