Interdependent Web: Speaking ill of the dead

Interdependent Web: Speaking ill of the dead

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


Speaking ill of the dead

Responding to the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, UU bloggers, and others commenting on social media, took different approaches to the taboo about speaking ill of the dead.

For Adam Dyer, Antonin Scalia’s death is a chance “to increase our capacity to embrace and live with difference.”

I’m a gay man and I’m saying don’t spit or dance on Antonin Scalia’s grave. I believe in prison abolition and radical police and justice reform including being staunchly against the death penalty and I say don’t curse his name. I am black and very aware that affirmative action is still very much necessary and I say do not remember him only as an ignorant or backward bigot. (spirituwellness, February 13)

When Michael Brown’s first heard about Scalia’s death, he cheered; after further reflection he writes, “I am truly sorry that he is dead.”

I am not sad that he can no longer impose his activist style of conservative jurisprudence on this nation, but the role of a minister is to love unconditionally and without bias. I imagine his wife, his nine children, and twenty-four grandchildren as they mourn their patriarch. I imagine them preparing for a funeral. I imagine them realizing that their husband, their father, their grandfather, will no longer be there to make them laugh or to provide comfort during hardship.

Being awake and alive and sincere means recognizing complexity and honoring it. Spiritual healing is rooted in recognizing the differences between one's feelings and the universal need for harmony between living beings. (Head above Holy Water, February 15)

The Rev. Scott Wells has no qualms about holding Scalia responsible for his actions, even in death.

I would caution people to not forgive Scalia because it’s the nice thing to do, or expected of them. He did not repent of his action, nor seek your forgiveness. Quite the opposite. It is the way of the powerful to expect rules to apply to you and not to them. Do not comply. You are not the unreconciled party. And now that he’s gone, Scalia will have to manage with God’s docket; you do not have to plead to him, or for him. (Rev. Scott Wells, February 15)

A national conversation about race

Kim Hampton responds to the announcement that “A National Conversation on Race” will be one of the proposed Congregational Study/Action Issues voted on at next year’s General Assembly.

Listen up my white liberal friends. America needs another “national conversation on race” about as much as the country needs to start another military conflict in the Near East. What America needs to have is a conversation about WHITE SUPREMACY.

American religious groups (including liberal ones, and especially Unitarianism and Universalism) need to have a conversation about how they, for most of their history in this country, have propped up WHITE SUPREMACY. American religious groups need to have a conversation about how they going to use their theologies in order to dismantle WHITE SUPREMACY. (East of Midnight, February 16)

Doug Muder considers the city of Ferguson’s contention that it cannot afford to police its citizens fairly.

Once we segregate poor people into their own city or town, how does that municipality raise enough money to provide the basic services civilization demands?

. . . The Justice Department may have no practical answer to the question of how Ferguson can afford to start policing its citizens fairly, with due regard to their rights as Americans. But nonetheless it must insist that the buck not stop there. If a Ferguson that respects the rights of its citizens is not financially viable and is doomed to bankruptcy, then the county and the state and even the nation have a problem. In truth, that problem already exists. The question is whether the rest of us will be allowed to hide it inside the borders of Ferguson and then look away. (The Weekly Sift, February 15)

The real spiritual you

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein challenges her colleagues to escape from the expected, pious pastoral persona, and to stop living “in terror of getting caught being themselves.”

The repression and level of conformity it requires to develop and maintain this persona within us and among us is not only unproductive, it is soul-destroying—and perhaps worst of all—it plays right into the dominant culture’s hopes and expectations that the clergy will continue to be easily manipulated milquetoasts who can be invited to speak on ceremonial occasions, provide a symbolic presence when important policy decisions are being made, and smiled at to their collars but smirked at as irrelevant boobs behind the hands of those who hold real power in this nation. (Beauty Tips for Ministers, February 18)

The Rev. Catharine Clarenbach models what it means to be “the real spiritual you.”

Among my many identities—fat, femme, flamboyant, pansexual, Pagan, disabled—I find that almost all of them somehow elicit dismissiveness of my ministerial identity in some contexts. Too extroverted. Too fat. Too out there. Too sexual. Too Pagan. All of these “Toos” are mine, but they may be yours, as well.

And I tell you these things about myself so you may tell others about yourself. Be brave, my friends. And be loving, my friends.

Let us love one another. Let us share with one another. Let us be real, and be real in our love and acceptance of the responsible search for truth and meaning. (Nature’s Path, February 17)

The Rev. Peter Boullata wants Unitarian Universalism to replace tolerance with hospitality.

I don’t want to be tolerated. I refuse to be erased. I want to be listened to, understood, taken seriously, affirmed and maybe even accepted – for who I actually am. These are the fruits of hospitality, a virtue that I daresay needs to become more central to who we are and what we do. (Held in the Light, February 16)

With a mix of trepidation and delight, Natalie Dinsdale demonstrates erotic dancing as a part of a fundraiser for the Unitarian Congregation in Saskatoon.

I reminded myself that Unitarians are open-minded. Some part of me felt deeply satisfied and mischievous—getting to move erotically and encourage others to do the same in a church seemed to fulfill a deep-seated need and fantasy for me. Take that past biblical eras of witch burnings and sex-haters!

The crowd was A DREAM: so receptive, loud, and fun. We did some moaning and hip-circling and touched our bodies. People blushed, giggled, and participated. I pole danced to an absolutely succulent and poetic song about love. . . . I felt present and serene. (Natalie L. Dinsdale, February 16)