Interdependent Web: Love’s fierce roar

Interdependent Web: Love’s fierce roar

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


Love’s fierce roar

More than a decade ago, Unitarian Universalists began to use the phrase “standing on the side of love” to describe their efforts for marriage equality. Since then, the work of love has drawn UUs to many forms of activism, including immigrant and racial justice. We have gathered in many places, wearing our bright yellow shirts. We are building momentum. We are finding our voice, and sometimes it roars.

This week, the Rev. Vanessa Southern was one of many to write about the light sentence given Brock Turner for three counts of sexual assault.

Someday, when I meet Brock Turner, I will tell him how he contributed to our family. I will tell him about our dinner discussion last night, when my daughter — just past puberty, wide-eyed and embracing of life — talked about the dangers she will face. I will tell Turner how he (and others like him) tarnished so much of what my daughter’s grandfather and father, uncles and our male friends — men who are among the most admirable human beings I know — worked her whole life to teach her. I will tell him about the look on her face when the idea of men as kind, oases of support and protection, got mixed with fear; but how I let it be, since that fear that might some day save her greater hurt. (Medium, June 6)

Like The Rev. Lynn Ungar feels outraged by Turner’s actions, but she also doesn’t believe in long prison sentences.

I want this young man, and his father, and the judge, and the whole of our racist, sexist, classist society to understand that there is no excuse for rape—not alcohol and not the fact that the rapist comes from a “good family.” I want the woman who was assaulted—and every woman who has been assaulted—to hear loud and clear that the victim is never to blame. I want people to see that our criminal justice system is badly biased and needs to be changed.

But I can’t bring myself to call for shame and extreme punishment because if I believe those things are wrong then I need to assume that they are wrong for the douchebags as well as for those I find more likeable. (Quest for Meaning, June 7)

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum agrees that many crimes deserve shorter sentences, but rape isn’t one of them.

How long a sentence should a rapist get? I think I'm willing to jail a rapist for at as long as it takes a woman who is raped to fall asleep with the light off, and for at least as long as it takes for her to go to bed without triple-checking the door locks. . . .

Yes, I believe in Brock Turner's inherent worth and dignity as a person. I believe he is a child of God, if there is a God. And I also believe he has to take some responsibility. (Rev. Cyn, June 9)

The Rev. Madelyn Campbell doesn’t believe Turner’s “crocodile tears.”

I’m a pastor. I believe in universal salvation. I do believe there’s hope for everyone. But I don’t believe in cheap Grace. Until Brock Turner, Dan Turner, and the judge can admit their grievous sins, they will be like the rich man who, in death, still sees Lazarus as a servant. They will never have peace. (The Widow’s Mite-y Blog, June 6)

The Rev. Theresa Novak notes the coincidence of Clinton’s clinching the Democratic nomination and the news about Turner’s sentence.

The ceiling may have shattered
But we still need to climb
Up through the broken shards
Hand over bloody hand
Before we can really see the sky
Before we can finally breathe free
And safely. (Sermons, Poems, and Other Musings, June 9)

Kenny Wiley hears his friends asking the men in their lives to speak up against Turner’s actions, and light sentence.

Many of us—sadly, I can't say most of us—are not Brock Turner. Yet we allow him to happen because we would, too often, rather be one of the guys than to say/do the hard thing. The right thing. . . .

It's not enough to just "not be Brock Turner." We have to be the ones willing to challenge him, to believe women as they share about harassment and assault and more, to speak up, and to be the ones willing to challenge ourselves.

If tomorrow you wake up and say, "I strive to be feminist. I strive to battle rape culture," you will fail. I will fail. But you can also succeed. I can also succeed. It's worth it. It's too important.

There are lives and futures at stake.

We are being asked to do more, so let's get to work. (Facebook, June 7)

The Rev. Lois Van Leer calls UUs to lead the fight against “rape culture.”

My only hope about this situation is that it be able to trigger an cultural shift in attitudes about women, sexuality, and assault. That we may move from a “rape culture” to a “respect culture.” I can only hope that we as UUs, will be on the front lines of ushering in this shift. (Woodinville UU Church, June 8)

The Rev. Maureen Killoran notes that the courage and honesty of the woman raped by Turner has opened a door for other women to tell their stories, too.

Hundreds of women are raising their hands, saying, "Yes, me too." Powerful conversations are happening about what this implies for how we raise our children, what we teach our sons and our daughters, how we treat one another as adults, and how we can nurture and support each one of us in our strengths and our pain.

Wherever you are, if you are part of this sisterhood of pain, know that you are not alone. Whoever you are, may you see yourself as I see you: beautiful and whole. (Facebook, June 9)

In smalltown Maine, the Rev. Erika Hewitt writes a letter to the editor, pointing out the racism she hears in the language of her community.

I’ve also come to believe that the single greatest obstacle to eradicating racism in our country is well-intentioned white people who insist that because they don’t see racism or experience it, it therefore must not exist.

So when I read, in a white person’s letter, the phrase “playing the race card,” I hear a stubborn refusal to accept that there is any truth or reality other than theirs — a demeaning position at best, and at worst, an arrogantly destructive one. In sociological circles, that’s called White Fragility. (Facebook, June 5)

The Rev. Tom Schade writes that protests in the streets set the agenda more than we realize.

Trump fans are not the majority: they are a minority full of bluster and bravado, but mostly afraid and amazed that the world is no longer theirs. Inside the hall, they chortle at the thought of Mexico paying for the wall to keep Mexicans out of the US and cheer the idea of deporting many of those already here. It all seems so easy and it's fun to say it all out loud.

But outside the hall, in the streets, those people, the ones so easily banished, are real and are angry. They do not plan to go quietly. And they remind us that in the American southwest, it is the white Europeans from back east who are the settler/invaders who have arrived last.

The spectacle is unsettling because we are not used to pitying the white racist, nor used to hoping that the riot police rescue them. (The Lively Tradition, June 4)

In her charge to the minister at the Rev. Jordinn Nelson Long’s ordination, the Rev. Kendyl Gibbons reminds us of the importance of spiritual practice in a world that no one of us can fix or save.

All you can do, all any of us can do, is to bring that pain and despair into a place of compassionate attention and truthful witness, which is where all healing starts. . . .

You must not try to absorb into your own heart the distress that you meet with in others; you must—believe me, now; I know you know this; you must—have a practice that enables you to ground that anxiety and sorrow in the larger life of all that is, in God, by whatever name you may know it.

That is your task—to be the one who is not crippled by the awareness of all the hurt in the world; who knows where to go for sustenance; who can stand in the presence of oppression and fear and heartache and let it run through you to an ultimate, infinite source where it can do no harm. (Raising Faith, June 7)