Interdependent Web: When worlds collide

Interdependent Web: When worlds collide

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


When worlds collide

The Rev. James Ford believes that, at a time when humanity faces daunting challenges to its survival, the collision of different religious beliefs may be a source of hope.

[If] we can hope to thread the needle and make it from here to a there that’s worth being at, the secret will most likely be found within the clash of religions. Now, I don’t believe all religions are equal. I don’t believe all religions are taking us up separate paths on the same mountain. I don’t believe there is an essential truth to be discovered. . . .

What the religions all show is that we must learn the ways to let go. Let go of our ideas of what is true, what must be, and open ourselves. Religions bring the many faces of wonder.

The secret is found in that opening to wonder. Then all the secrets begin to tumble out of that mysterious moment when we find we don’t know. Our opening, our not knowing is a cornucopia of possibility. (Monkey Mind, May 25)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden acknowledges his discomfort in using the word “God,” or any of its substitutes.

When I have tried to use the term “god” in discussion, I’ve had the feeling that I’m playing some sort of secret drinking game in which every time someone misunderstands what I mean by “god,” I get to drink a shot. . . .

What does each of us mean by “justice,” by “democracy,” by “god”? We have not examined our own meanings until we begin to listen to the meanings [of] others . . . . If we don’t talk about [them], how are we going to create common understandings?

So, I listen respectfully. But I don’t feel that I can use the term “god”—or any of its, shall we say “wiggle words”—with any personal integrity or authenticity. (Quest for Meaning, May 26)

Showing up for racial justice

Christine Slocum attends—and recommends—a racial justice training for white people, created by the group Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ).

Perfection is the expectation of white supremacy, the facilitator, Rev. Anne Dunlap, said. Aha, she is right. Your actions are unworthy if not perfect, you shouldn’t speak up unless you have exactly the right thing to say, your tone of voice and delivery have to be perfect. The person needs to be in the right sort of relationship with you. The stars need to align and then you can talk about racial oppression, this giant machine that pushes forward with every turn of even the littlest gear’s teeth. Your work is slowing the machine, sanding down the teeth, maybe even dismantling the gears. White supremacy demands waiting for the perfect sized hammer that will never come, instead of the one you can reach. (Christine Slocum, May 24)

The Rev. Deanna Vandiver notes that at GA 2016, there will be “ explicitly Black UU healing spaces that White UUs will respect and honor with our absence from them.”

The religious institutions of Unitarianism and Universalism have historically prioritized access and care to White people—and this pattern must be changed if we are to have a future living faithfully into the promise of our principles and values. (Quest for Meaning, May 18)

Ministry takes new shapes

The Rev. Ken Beldon shares his thoughts about transitioning from full-time to three-quarter-time ministry.

[As] my activity starts to still and as the awaited for change takes shape, a greater depth of feeling is stepping forward. Gratitude, so much of it. And grief as well. Even the necessary and right changes are a letting go. A season is ending. A season of my life I will treasure for as long as I have memories. I am honoring its goodness by mourning what is passing, which also makes space for the new forms to come. (Facebook, May 23)

Walter Clark outlines several ministry changes in his life, including explaining the repercussions of no longer serving as ministerial intern in a congregation where he is a member.

But we can still be friends, right? Well, it’s complicated. As someone who has served in a ministerial position for the past two years, it can be hard to distinguish between ministerial presence and friendship. In order to make sure your spiritual needs are being met by UURVA, I am going to “go dark” for a while. I am going to clean out my contacts, unfriend all of the members of the congregation on Facebook and steer clear of the church as much as possible. THIS IS NOT EASY. I don’t know if any of you are aware of this, but I love you all. It is going to be very tempting to walk into that building on a Sunday just to be among you all, but one of the most important lessons that I need to learn as a minister is when and how to say good-bye. So don’t think I don’t love you. Know that I do this so you can love the interns that come after me. (Coffee in My Chalice, May 22)

The Rev. Dan Harper reviews three promising new models of youth ministry.

The old model of youth ministry—inward-focused intensive overnight experiences like cons or rallies, plus weekly youth groups focused on community-building—still serves a significant minority of youth in our congregations. We shouldn’t abandon it, but my observations seem to indicate this model is slowly declining. My guess is in our increasingly multicultural, market-fragmented world, we are no longer going to have one single model of youth ministry that will serve the majority of youth in our congregations. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, May 23)

Political anxieties

Doug Muder gives voice to his fears, and attempts to talk himself down.

What I want to believe—and do, most of the time—is that Bernie Sanders is going to the convention looking for the kinds of things Hillary can offer: platform concessions on progressive issues, rules changes that will make the next insurgent candidate more viable, a prime time speech to inspire his supporters to become a long-term movement, and so on.

But after Nevada, I started worrying about something else: What if the thing Bernie wants out of the convention isn’t a concession? What if it’s a fight? What if the culmination he sees for his “political revolution” rhetoric and his narrative of persecution by the Democratic establishment is to have his supporters dragged out of the convention hall by force? That would probably hand the White House to Trump, but it might also rupture the Democratic Party in some way that leads to an overall realignment of the two-party system.

What if that’s the goal? (The Weekly Sift, May 23)

The Rev. Tom Schade downplays talk of a new, left-wing political party.

[The] dream of new electoral party remains the go-to dream of frustrated progressives whenever their candidate loses. As a threat to Democrats, it has a certain power, but as a sustainable organizational strategy, it is laughable. And its power as a threat is not that the new party might outpoll Democrats, but that it is an organized way to urge people to abstain from the election.

If you step back, it is not surprising that new party formations don't work. Instead of going to where the people are, it is going to where the people are not and waiting for them there. (The Lively Tradition, May 22)