Interdependent Web: New leaders are mission-driven

Interdependent Web: New leaders are mission-driven

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


New leaders are mission driven

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum discusses a statement about the mission-driven quality of “new leaders,” put out by the Mid-America Region of the UUA.

When a congregation turns its focus from making its members happy to serving the larger community, there will be people upset. And there will be people who leave. And they may not say it's because of the change in focus and direction. They may say that they felt like they were insulted by something, or that something was done wrong, or that they dislike the preaching style. If you watch your back door too closely, afraid to let anyone slip out of it, and worry too much about each member's unhappiness with the system, you erode the confidence in taking a bold direction. (The Lively Tradition, January 6)

The mystery of the many

Alison Leigh Lily continues her series about a Druid’s experience of Unitarian Universalism, commenting on its preference for unity over multiplicity.

[My] lived experience of progressive values leads me to the conclusion that it is not a unity of agreement that we are seeking, but the freedom to disagree in a multitude of astounding and beautiful ways, each seeking our own paths. Some paths lead to the mountain peak, but others are perfectly content to wander among the foothills. Some dwell in the intimate harshness of the desert, while others strive to cross it and reach the sea. Each path is its own reward, each reveals its own experience of the landscape. And each path opens up myriad unique relationships and realizations that cannot be discovered or lived in any other way. The more we embrace diversity as a guiding value, the more obvious it becomes that diversity, multiplicity, is a good in itself, to be valued for its own sake and not simply for the imagined unity that it might one day promise. (Nature’s Path, January 8)

The Rev. Catharine Clarenbach writes that aspens illustrate the first and seventh UUA Principles.

[They] appear to be individual trees: They may be injured, cut down, they have bark and leaves and roots. And yet, and yet… Stands of aspen are held together and grow out of an inexhaustible underground clonal colony. A clonal colony is sort of like what gives rise to some kinds of mushrooms: It is a vast web of root runners that connects each tree—each individual manifestation of the whole—with all the others. (The Way of the River, January 10)

The Rev. Tom Schade recently read a 45-year-old sermon written by his father, and found its message remarkably contemporary.

There is very little that is new under the sun. Far from being enthralled with individualism, Unitarian Universalist ministers have been pointing out its oppressive consequences for at least 45 years, and probably much longer. If my dad was in any way typical, UU ministers have been talking about 'deep and abiding love' for that long and longer, as well. I think that liberal religion, in its efforts to always be on the cutting edge, tends to think that every new generation is making a bigger break with the past than is warranted. I suspect that questioning individualism is more our tradition than individualism itself. (The Lively Tradition, January 9)

Blogging the news

Kim Hampton urges Unitarian Universalists to get involved with helping the people of Flint in the aftermath of their water tragedy.

If there is anything that a religious people who are named after two Christian theologies should be doing it’s using some of its money to get fresh water to the people of Flint. The UUA should be calling out other religious groups to get them to use some of their money to get fresh water to the people of Flint. The UUA and other religious groups should be calling for a coordinated national response to get the people of Flint fresh water. (East of Midnight, January 8)

The Rev. Suzi Spangenberg relates how David Bowie’s music helped her as an “outsider kid,” and influenced the direction of her life.

As I absorb the news of Bowie's death, I find myself reflecting on all the times his music has saved me. I think about how important music has been my whole life, and wonder if that would have been the case if I hadn't connected with Bowie's so deeply. I reflect on the influence he had on the vast majority of my favorite musicians and bands. I am grateful to have fallen asleep to Blackstar (his latest album released just days ago). Now, although I grieve, instead of the loneliness and solitude I experienced as a youth, I join thousands and thousands of other outsiders like myself who grabbed the lifeline David Bowie provided, and feel grateful he brought me to shore. (Soozarty, January 11)

Accumulated wisdom

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg provides an overview of Tom Rath’s research into how to make the most of the limited time we have.

Overall, Rath’s summaries of social scientific research shows us that to become more fully charged and make the most of our limited time, we should focus on three areas:

  1. cultivate meaning, engaging in activities that have intrinsic value, use our strengths, and help make the world a better place for others

  2. seek positive interactions that leave us feeling connected, energized, and grateful — while letting go of people, places, and habits that leave us feeling alienated, enervated, and resentful

  3. increase our energy through choices around how we eat, move, and sleep. (Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism, January 14)

During the northern hemisphere’s season of dormancy, Allison Ehrmann has begun practicing technology Sabbaths.

Now when I wake up on Sundays, I no longer grab my cell phone while I’m still in bed to read the latest political news and my friends’ Facebook statuses. Instead, I read a book or cuddle with my husband. I don’t stare mindlessly at videos of cats swatting dogs over breakfast. Instead, I savor the meal. I’m more focused and relaxed during the service at my UU fellowship. Then in the afternoon I have more time for housework, reading, meditating, yoga, personal rituals, napping, creating and listening to music, exercising, and talking with my family. I spend less time looking at the clock and more time enjoying my day off. In short, I’m doing all of the things I love best but didn’t seem to have time for before. And the day doesn’t seem to fly by like it used to. I end the week relaxed and go into Monday with a brighter attitude and a better perspective on life. It’s glorious. I highly recommend this practice to anyone who feels their lives are too controlled by technology and the Internet. It may not be possible every week, but now I look forward to my technology sabbaths. (Nature’s Path, January 14)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden offers a short, lighthearted list of accumulated wisdom for seminarians. (Quest for Meaning, January 14)

The Rev. Aaron Stockwell shares some of the sources that support his practice of poetry reading. (Sandlot Rev, January 8)