Interdependent Web: ‘Hella white’ Unitarian Universalism, a broken leader, and insider politics

Interdependent Web: ‘Hella white’ Unitarian Universalism, a broken leader, and insider politics

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

Kenneth Sutton


Conversations about white supremacy, racism, and power

Kim Hampton asks, “ Why should any UU of color assume ‘good will and common purpose’ when it comes to things UU/UUA?” (eastofmidnight, 4.6.17)

Beth Leyba says Unitarian Universalism is hella white.

Let me be clear: I still believe that I have found my people. Let me also be clear: I wasn’t fully aware of what I was getting into. As a mestiza (mixed) woman I am in the minority both on staff (cough, cough — the only one) and in the congregation (not the only one — but one of few). (Medium, 3.29.17)

Christine Slocum considers how power behaves in an institution.

I think that moving beyond reinforcing current structures of power will require completely changing how people in my religious community conceive of legitimate authority. That is much harder than staring closely at one brick and wondering if the building it belongs to is white supremacy. It probably does. May we be brave enough to reimagine our faith institutions so they may become the beacons of equity and models of dignity we so strongly aspire towards. (a few words here and there, 3.31.17)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden asks, “can a document flawed at its very inception ever become an ‘unflawed’ document?”

In the United States, many citizens see freedom as a zero-sum game: my freedom ends where your rights begin and your freedom ends where my rights begin. This is wrong, says Jean-Luc Nancy: I have freedom and rights only because you have freedom and rights.

If you don’t have freedom and rights, I don’t have freedom and rights—all I have is domination. (Quest: A UU Collective, 4.6.17)

The Rev. Chris Rothbauer encourages white people to get past defensiveness.

Yet all of that defensiveness misses the point that it was never about them or me or anyone else. It’s about a system that we can either choose to dismantle or continue to ignore by giving voice to our feelings of insecurity rather than living into our highest religious values. The reactionary nature of this sort of response perpetuates unjust systems by making it look like marginalized people are in the wrong when we should be following Jesus’s admonition to take the beam out of our own eye. (Radical Rev., 4.6.17)

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern considers magical thinking and white supremacy.

“I’m not being racist!” we white people tend to insist, holding up our good intentions as the magic amulet that will keep us from perpetuating white supremacy. But the intentions will not do that. Only our actions will. (Sermons in Stones, 4.6.17)

The Rev. Dan Harper asks (and answers) practical questions on teaching about white supremacy.

How can we teach young people about “white supremacy” within the constraints of a typical Sunday school? What are some of the theoretical considerations, and what are some practical considerations? (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, 4.5.17)

A broken leader

The “Unitarian Universalist Missional Cohort” responds to the arrest of the Rev. Ron Robinson.

We are grieving. We are questioning ourselves. Did we exalt one of our own so much that he couldn’t bring a prayer of confession to any of us?

We gathered together online for a conference call, (the technology that facilitated his crimes, also brought us together in pain and fellowship) the night the story broke. We expressed our disillusionment, our grief, our anger.

We wept. (Sunflower Chalice, 4.2.17)

The Rev. Robin Bartlett breaks her Lenten Facebook fast to write about “the brokenness and depravity of humanity.”

God weeps with us over human suffering, and redeems even the tomb of our grief. So for those of you who are wondering “where is God? If God had showed up earlier, we wouldn’t be in this mess,” may we be surprised by a resurrection and an unbinding we weren’t expecting. (Facebook, 3.31.17)

The Rev. Elz Curtiss looks at the pitfalls of centralized and decentralized polity.

For those who don’t know, we have had, on the same day—March 30, 2017—not one but two earthshaking ministerial downfalls. What can’t be overlooked is that they come from the two opposite poles of polity. It’s as if God wanted to wake us up to both dangers, and to do so with enough clarity that none of us can miss it. So without commenting on the content of either event, here are my evaluations. (Politywonk, 3.31.17)

Daily life

Sky Yardley and the Rev. Jane Dwinell have started a new blog about Sky’s diagnosis of “probable early stage Alzheimer’s disease.” (Alzheimer’s Canyon)

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg points to media fasts as a form of contemplative self-care.

That’s a profound insight: the fruit of spiritual practice is not necessarily what happens on your knees or on your meditation cushion. Instead, the more important aspect of contemplative practice may be the way it changes how we are in world, such that every part of our daily life becomes “part of our contemplation and meditation and invites us to a free and fearless response.” (Carl Gregg, 4.6.17)

The Rev. Kathleen McTigue recommends paying attention to our fear.

A deliberate act of will won’t let us banish all anxiety and replace it with courage or equanimity. But there are lots of practices we can adopt that will give more space for the things we find life-affirming. (onfaith, 3.29.17)

Insider politics

Suzyn Smith Webb provides snarky commentary on a candidates forum. (The Chaliceblog, 4.3.17)