Interdependent Web: Angry preachers

Interdependent Web: Angry preachers

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

Heather Christensen


As the saying goes, “if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Many UU ministers are indeed paying attention, and there’s plenty to fuel their strong feelings.

In a Facebook note she calls “A Word from an Angry Preacher,” the Rev. Amy Shaw shares a list of straightforward truths, beginning with a few about guns.

I don't want you in a militia. No, really. You are not Norman the Ninja or Judge Dredd. You are Norm from Accounting, or Steve from the Car Wash, or Lisa from the dog-groomers. You have never shot anyone. You vomit at the sight of blood and panic in a crisis. You have never used a weapon in combat conditions and your idea of military strategy is "Save the women and children first!" but you have no idea of how to do that well.

Stop wanting to play soldier. The original militias were intended to keep the US from having to support a large standing army. They were filled with crack-shot survivors who had made it through bears, wolves, the British, blizzards, crop failures, and various forms of disease that made your bits turn green and drop off. You can't make it through a day without coffee, and you cried when Chik-fil-a was out of chicken.

We have the largest, most trained military in the world. If we need you, we are already screwed. (Facebook, November 6)

The Rev. Jordinn Nelson Long’s vents her fury about gun violence in a blog post called “Fuck this, America.”

If you are more concerned about my saying the eff word—no, fuck that. If you are more concerned about my saying ‘fuck,’ and by concerned I mean moved to say something to me about it, than you are inspired to action by the slaughter of six and sixteen and sixty year olds who are doing things like going to kindergarten and attending a concert and, you know, praying, and by inspired to action I mean that you are actively saying something to power about it, then you are part of the problem. . . .

I want you to imagine a day when I can hold fucking worship without half an eye on the fucking door because I am responsible in that hour not just for your immortal souls BUT FOR ALL OF YOUR GODDAMNED LIVES. (Raising Faith, November 6)

The Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper pushes us to look beyond the guns themselves, and beyond issues of mental health.

Can we talk about emotional literacy? Can we talk about toxic masculinity? Can we talk about the ways that we do not teach or allow people of all genders, particularly male identified ones, to manage and express complex feelings like shame, guilt, and anger? (Facebook, November 8)

The Rev. Robin Bartlett wrestles with feelings of vulnerability during worship services, given that not even sanctuaries are safe.

[Every] couple of months or so when I’m preaching, a fleeting thought comes that I’ll be the one to spot the mass shooter easily and can use my phone to call 911 from up there. I have never shot a gun but today I actually thought “maybe I should purchase one for the pulpit,” for a moment, as if that might save us. (Facebook, November 6)

Responding to the revelations of sexual assault and sexual harassment that are emerging in so many contexts, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein explains why she finds the words “I never meant to hurt you” so infuriating.

“I never meant to hurt you” or its close cousin, “I never meant to cause you pain” are words that center the offender in a hurtful relationship and attempt to erase the experience of the one harmed. They are passive aggressive phrases that pull the energy and truth of anger out from under the hurt person and deflect the conversation.

They are silencing words that demonstrate a disregard for the difference between intent and impact. . . .

“I never meant to hurt you” is not a loving response. Unless those words are followed by, “… but I believe that you ARE hurt, I am sorry about it, I want to know what I can do to support you because you mean a lot to me,” they’re empty and cowardly. (PeaceBang, November 9)

The Rev. David Pyle writes that the “the Doctrine of the Violent Man” damages everyone.

The effect of this Doctrine on what it means to be a man is profound. It goes to the core of personal and societal assumptions about maleness. I am aware that I write this from a position of privilege... that of the male who "proved" his capacity for violence (through a state-approved means), and now restrains that violence and practices peace. But even this conception of male identity, celebrated though it is, has violence at its core.

The Doctrine of the Violent Man requires that almost every conception of male identity be measured by the relationship to and capacity for violence. It is a doctrine for which there is a lot of evidence, in society and even in my own heart. The reality of male violence will not change until we have deconstructed the doctrine that upholds it. (Facebook, November 8)

The Rev. Matthew Johnson struggles to honor conflicting strong feelings—including his own—when planning a vigil for a slain police officer on his congregation’s property, where a Black Lives Matter banner is displayed.

If I take down the banner, will the people who mistakenly believe that “Blue Lives Matter” and “Black Lives Matter” are in conflict now be willing to hear me and others teach them otherwise? If I take it down, will years and years spent building trust with leaders of color disappear? If I leave it up, do I close forever a door that’s open to change? If I leave it up, do I build goodwill that can help change our community for good? (Medium, November 9)