Interdependent Web: Walking into a blizzard, it was the women, a third vision, and more

Interdependent Web: Walking into a blizzard, it was the women, a third vision, and more

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


A blizzard of fear

The Rev. Karen Hering says it feels “like we’re living in a blizzard of fear.”

Where do we find the courage to step into the storm and to follow our hearts despite fear’s fierce grip? To distinguish between the real and the imagined dangers, and to know when even the real dangers are worth risking as we hold our whole life in our hands and consider what we cherish most? (Karen Hering, January 11)

It was the women

Kim Hampton reminds us not to overlook the powerful courage of black women—and the overwhelming discrimination black women face.

King is such a overwhelming figure that so often it is overlooked that it was women–Black women–who sustained the Civil Rights Movement. . . .

So if you are a UU minister still trying to figure out what to say on Sunday, why not try to talk about some of these women. Or talk about how Black women (especially queer and trans Black women) are generally the hardest hit by white supremacy. How, often, Black women are expected to stand up for everybody else yet nobody stands for them when they need it. (East of Midnight, January 11)

The Rev. David Miller comments on the women’s activism at the Golden Globes.

As a male who looks back on how I was taught to be a man, how I experienced society’s view of maleness and how I embodied that in the past, I am moved, hopeful and listening. . . . I can’t help but feel that every time oppressive systems are confronted in such a public manner it can only help in the long term struggle to change the systems that live in us and around us. . . .

[T]oo many have sacrificed too much for us to give up now. (Facebook, January 8)

Religious freedom, then and now

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg writes that “This 450th anniversary of the Edict of Torda is also an auspicious time to reflect on the state of religious freedom today.”

Back in 1568, John Sigismund, history’s only Unitarian king, constructed a big enough tent to peacefully contain four religious groups: Lutherans, Calvinists, Catholics, and Unitarians. Four hundred and fifty years later, the religious diversity of our globalized, pluralistic, postmodern world is much deeper and vaster. . . . Nevertheless, even we religious liberals can find ourselves asking today if there are limits. If I claim that something is my sincere religious belief, does that mean that you have to tolerate it? (Carl Gregg, January 11)

Buyer beware

The Rev. David Pyle finds an unusual piece of common ground with the president.

I know what it feels like for people to underestimate your intelligence. I intentionally lost my Tennessee accent . . . so people would stop assuming I was not very bright. I am not a genius, and I do not claim to be. But I have only met a few people with whom I could not hold my own. And yet, for too long, for some reason, the assumption that I was less than intelligent happened so often that it became a pattern . . . and I see patterns.

So, I have deep empathy for the need to defend one's intelligence. Even on twitter. (Facebook, January 6)

The Rev. Chris Buice reflects on the power of simplistic thinking—and the reality that things are rarely simple.

Whether we like it or not, in the age of 24-hour cable news every idea will be reduced to a sound bite. In the era of Twitter every solution must be expressed in 280 characters or less. Otherwise your candidate will go down like the Vols to Vandy. Everyone must play the game or lose. A politician with one idea will be more formidable than a competitor with a thousand.

However, the problem with simplicity is it’s not so simple. Before you buy your “Make America Great Again” hat you might want to check to see if it was “Made in China.” Voters of every political party would be wise to remember another slogan: “Let the buyer beware.” (Knox News, January 5)

The Rev. Ken Collier lists the way the president has led America into retreat, rather than into greatness.

In short, a genuine leader would come into office believing that, even with all its faults and shortcomings, America is already great and would be dedicated to keep the a nation great by addressing those faults and shortcomings. Trump does not believe America is great, for what else could “Make America Great Again” mean? He is leading a once great nation into decay, isolation, and mediocrity. And he doesn’t even realize it. (The Colliery, January 9)

Teachers and storytellers

The Rev. James Ford explains three styles of Zen practice, including one that looks “like Western ideas of ministry.”

Now, Dharma transmission can be abused, and is. So, in the West we find people who long for the titles. And so, as it is sometimes said, we have snakes and dragons mixed up together. But when Dharma transmission is simply understood as a human thing, the acknowledgment of someone who has given their life to the way that someone who has studied with them has also given their life to the way, then it becomes useful. (Monkey Mind, January 6)

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern writes an appreciation of Ursula Le Guin’s book, Changing Planes.

It’s a volume of short stories, in a sense, though what draws my attention in each is less plot or character, and more what, if this were non-fiction, might be called ethnography. The narrator is writing as a tourist, though a reflective one, of fifteen societies. They are sketches: brief anthropological visits to some of the rooms of Le Guin’s imagination. It’s as if she decided to just play at world-creation for awhile, and it’s something she does with so much creativity, humor, and generosity of spirit that I feel possibilities expand. (Sermons in Stone, January 5)

A third vision

Doug Muder discusses the idea of a “gift economy” as the central idea of Cory Doctorow’s recent novel, Walkaway.

When you take a mountaintop view that lets all the gritty details blur into insignificance, most of our political arguments come down to two visions of how an economy might function. We might have a capitalist market economy, where good things are scarce and people compete to obtain them (and possibly fail to obtain necessities like food or medical care). Or we might have a socialist command economy, where central planners figure out how the work all of us do is going to produce the goods and services all of us need. . . .

There is, however, a completely different third vision, which for most of human history has sounded kind of crazy: an anarchist gift economy, in which people compete not to obtain scarce goods, but to give the most impressive gifts. (The Weekly Sift, January 8)