Interdependent Web: You got to love it, being made a people, love beyond beliefs

Interdependent Web: You got to love it, being made a people, love beyond beliefs

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


You got to love it

The Rev. Nathan Ryan, a Louisiana native, offers General Assembly attendees a primer about New Orleans, beginning with the effects of climate.

Don’t get fooled by the temperature. It will be hotter than you’d expect. Think getting out of the shower hot, but all the time.

Take your time. Walking slow and taking breaks are strategies we use to keep from getting overwhelmed by the heat. Expect everything to take a little longer. Expect to wait longer for your food. Expect the street car to be late. Expect to be late to everything. (Facebook, June 17)

The Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith shares his “You Got to Love It” strategy for well-being during General Assembly.

This week, I am creating myself as an incarnation of joy. Joy that flows from my deep appreciation for this faith tradition that welcomed me in those many years ago when I was a seminary-trained, formerly closeted gay-identified young Black man with no religious community to call home. Joy that celebrates the hundreds and hundreds of beautiful, extraordinary people I’ve met and loved, worked with and struggled with, cried with and laughed with. Joy in the miracle of being together once again—in beloved *New Orleans* this time—uncertain of what will happen from moment to moment, but holding countless memories of when grace abounded just the same. I know this joy will be my strength.

Through it all, *I* have to love my body, my mind, my spirit . . . my *life*. From the overflow of love in my heart, I will speak, act and share. I’m going to love myself as if the whole UUA depended on it, because it does. And I’m depending on all y’all to love yourselves, too. (Facebook, June 20)

As the administrator for LREDA, Kari Kopnick is “tired and tired and tired and tired and tired” by the time most people are just getting started at General Assembly.

The work. It’s not easy. But I love seeing the faces that belong to the names I move around on a screen all the time. And a chance to feed them chocolate or invite them to sit in a comfortable chair for a moment of respite during a very, very busy and fraught time? Well, that’s about as good as it gets. (Kari Kopnick, June 23)

Being made a people

From her perspective as a scholar of religious covenant, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein believes that Unitarian Universalists struggle with the first task of covenant—being willing to be made a people.

Here’s what I see: Unitarian Universalists mistake enabling for grace.

We have an impoverished theology if we worry that one person’s extravagant thanks to God will harm or exclude someone else.

We conflate WASP emotional cultural norms for “covenantal” behavior, continuing to value and enforce niceness over goodness or righteousness.

We fake large group right relation and retreat to small, affinity group safe spaces where we can actually admit what we feel, tell the truth about how we have been treated, and do the real work of strengthening our souls for the next onslaught of hypocrisy and failure. (PeaceBang, June 17)

The Rev. Dan Harper explores an idea from religion scholar Walter Bruggeman, that the dominant script of our time is “therapeutic technological consumerist militarism.” Harper notes that Unitarian Universalism has two alternative scripts, but does not use them.

Unfortunately, instead of serving as powerful counterscripts, Unitarian Unviersalists tend to subsume these two alternatives into therapeutic technological consumerist militarism. We think we’ll find something to counteract every little ache and inconvenience we have. We think we’ll fix everything ourselves. We think we can find the resources to do this without bothering our neighbors. And we believe we can impose our solutions on the rest of the world.

No wonder, then, we are failing to address our own racism and patriarchy. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, June 21)

Former UUA moderator Gini Courter discusses some of the issues currently facing the UUA.

I am not alone in thinking that our Association would be better served by a more economically diverse board. . . . We should commit to examine our expectations of volunteers and systematically begin lowering the barriers to service, not just nationally, but in each of our congregations and communities. That's where the leadership of our future trustees and moderators is being encouraged or discouraged today. (Facebook, June 18)

Love beyond beliefs

The Rev. James Ford shares a letter he wrote recently to a search committee, after they asked how much he needed to use Christian imagery.

Me, I find our contemporary Unitarian Universalism is, if you’ll forgive another Christian image, meant as a resting place for the birds of heaven. Ours is an experiment in the contours of universalism. And it is, no doubt, a strange and wonderful gathering.

And I fear if . . . [this] church cannot embrace that more dynamic spirituality, one that is comfortable with theism, and even with Christianity, as well as with other spiritualities, it is not going to thrive. In your case, precarious as it is, I even fear for your long-term survival. And I think it would be a tragedy if [this church] simply became a hospice for our old humanism, waiting for the last of that gang to die—and then the property passes on to, well, I have no idea to whom they would will it. (Monkey Mind, June 20)

Ford followed that post with a positive statement of his understanding of Unitarian Universalism.

Unitarian Universalism’s core theological principle and great image is the interdependent web. As I see our engaging the interdependent web as deeply important. We are in various ways exploring an intuitive sense of the preciousness in every individual, while noticing no one exists in isolation. Bringing this to consciousness, and seeing how it manifests and does not manifest in our own lives creates a cascade of spiritual and ethical consequences.

Much of our current work arises out of digging into that interdependence as an expression of that ever mysterious word love, and what it might mean to us, and in our times. We are a spiritual tradition, after all. Now absolutely some like to stay in the shallows of love. As with any spiritual tradition there are those who play and those who go for it. (Monkey Mind, June 22)