Interdependent Web: An opportunistic infection

Interdependent Web: An opportunistic infection

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


An opportunistic infection

Many Unitarian Universalists are struggling to understand—and counter—the rage Donald Trump exploits.

The Rev. Amy Shaw will use her voice, amid Trump’s blustering, to say “no.”

When you call for black people to be beaten, and excluded, and even removed— will say no.

When you attempt to silence Latinx voices—I will say no.

When you mock the disabled and threaten the oppressed—I will say no.

When you shout your plans for exclusion and division and terror over and over again I will say no, and no, and no.

If you build a wall, I will stand in the way of your builders. If they knock me to the ground, I will lay in their path.

If you come for my Muslim siblings I will force you to take me first, and I will not go quietly. I will say no.

If you ask that they register I will be Muslim, or Jewish, or black, or Baha’i.

And I will be at the head of the line, over and over, with each thing that you do.

Saying no. (Facebook, March 2)

Doug Muder writes that “Trump is like the opportunistic infections that attack people whose immune systems have been compromised.”

A healthy political party could have thrown off Trump’s candidacy with barely a sniffle, but today’s GOP is in grave danger.

Over the last few decades, the Republican Party has been systematically destroying all the habits and mores and traditions and standards that keep a political party stable and allow it to play a constructive role in governing a great republic like the United States. Those things function like antibodies: They may be invisible to the naked eye, but they head off outbreaks of all sorts of destructive nonsense.

Now they’re gone, and Donald Trump is running wild. (The Weekly Sift, February 29)

Andrew Hidas admits that he was taken by surprise by Trump’s success, and shares what he has come to understand about the Trump phenomenon.

Trump’s a Republican and supposed conservative, but his primary allegiance is to dealmaking, as he continually reminds us. And dealmakers don’t do ideology or cultural/political/religious fervor—they do deals.

This is why mainstream, true-blue conservatives are aghast at what they see as his highjacking of their movement; he’s not at all one of them. Trump’s conservative Republicanism is a front, the exoskeleton that allows him to hook up with the prevailing two-party system that is necessary to win the presidency. Though I suspect he is not even 10 percent as smart as he’s always claiming to be, he’s at least smart enough to know that independent candidacies win nothing but a few headlines in U.S. politics (and a rare Senate seat in Vermont). (Traversing, March 1)

Britton Gildersleeve admits to “wrathful compassion” in response to “the ongoing heartbreak of American racism.”

Today, in the wake of a Super Tuesday that saw the joyful victories of demagogues arguing for WWII tactics to ‘make America great again,’ and ‘reignite the promise of America,’ I grieve. I grieve for an America that is happy to make others the victims of our own fear & hatred. . . . I’m an engaged Buddhist—filled, these days, w/what Buddhists call wrathful compassion. Although I’m afraid the wrath (far too often!) outweighs the compassion…sigh. (Beginner’s Heart, March 2)

Til it happens to you

For Tina Porter, Lady Gaga’s Oscars-performance of the song, “Til It Happens to You” leads to a sleepless night, wrestling with how sexual aggression affects women.

[There] are no women who escape the sexual aggression of men. We try to live bravely in a world that still wants to tell us that our clothes incite rape. Or to just go ahead and smile at the creep who says “smile little lady,” so he won’t chase you down the road yelling vulgarities at you (if you’re lucky, that’s all he’ll do). Or to not make waves when the guy at work repeatedly makes comments about how you look because, well, it happens to all of us and is a representation of who he is, and not who you are.

Yep. That last one? That was what I was about to say to my 17-year-old daughter last night. Just deal, I wanted to say. We’ve all had to learn to live with it. But I stopped myself. (Ugly Pies, March 3)

For the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein, fashion at the Oscars shouldn’t be dismissed as “Disney Princess Dresses.”

I understand that there are ethical and moral issues with Hollywood, with capitalism, with the diamond industry and with the unrealistic and materialist and plastic standards of beauty peddled by the entertainment industry. I’m with you 100% on that.

But we can critique all of those things and still appreciate the art of fashion, the history of costuming and the aesthetic power of stunning human beings in stunning clothing. We can fight the patriarchy without hating an industry that provides jobs for thousands and thousands of women, who have historically been the seamstresses, the beaders, the dressmakers and the lace-workers—and respect what they do and advocate for their fair treatment and visibility. (Beauty Tips for Ministers, March 1)

The Rev. Robin Tanner writes about reproductive justice as more than individual choice.

What I think about most when I reflect on my own reproductive history and that of my close friends are the ways in which culture, economics, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender mapped to our overall reproductive justice. It would be impossible for me to tell my story without mentioning particular privileges that afforded me more justice as well as experiences of marginalization that changed my experience significantly. (Piedmont Preacher, March 1)

Leadership challenges

The Rev. Jake Morrill comes to term with his leadership style—“leading from the airship.”

[To] serve an organization’s mission well, it’s important to get really clear on our gifts, and spend as much time as we can sharing them, in partnership with others, who have other gifts. And the gift you have may be the very thing you have been running from. God knows I wanted to be buttoned-down, square-cornered, and doing things right in the thick of it all. I wanted to be an engine. I yearned to be the third pig. And I tried. But it turns out, perhaps, I was meant for other things. (Quest for Meaning, February 27

Claire Curole begins a series of posts about ministry and the balance of public and private, personal and professional.

For my whole adult life the internet has been one of the spaces where I can relax and be human, free from job and family expectations. But I’m increasingly finding that this freedom and familiarity goes against the emerging conventional wisdom I get from my colleagues—students and otherwise—for whom the online sphere is a kind of pulpit, inherently public and therefore automatically and exclusively part of the professional realm. . . .

But I’ve been online for as long as the internet has been available to the general public, since the early-mid 1990s. Online presence has been part of my personal life since way before my call to professional ministry–this blog is only the latest iteration of that. Having a personal life that’s entirely unplugged is not an option for me: that train left the station over twenty years ago. And I expect the same is true for many Gen Xers and Millennials, especially the younger folks for whom there has never really not been an internet. (Sand Hill Diary, March 1)

Jordinn Nelson Long admits that our UU process of calling ministers is arduous, and that we often wish someone would just “send us a minister.”

But in the end, I have to cast my lot with the committees and the quorums.

I choose this process for the same reason I choose our congregations, and I hang in when it’s hard for the same reason that we come back to the table, and to our covenants, time and time again.

I have, in the words of poet Adrienne Rich, no choice but “to cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” (Raising Faith, February 28)