Interdependent Web: Spiritual practice in chaotic times

Interdependent Web: Spiritual practice in chaotic times

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


Chaotic times

The Rev. Jordinn Nelson Long shares her colleague the Rev. Aaron White’s take on this week’s State of the Union address.

Whoever wrote the State of the Union made a conscious choice to use language of fires, shootings, storms, and adversity in the first few minutes. This speech wants your amygdala active, your fear centers. (Facebook, January 31)

Doug Muder writes that “Trump’s Evangelical toadies are destroying the Christian brand.”

[Some Christian leaders] may be working hard to undo the damage . . . [but] it will be an uphill battle. For more and more Americans — especially young Americans — the word Christian itself is stained. . . . White Evangelicals would like to attribute this stain to the slanders of a hostile secular culture. But outsiders could never manage such a feat. The stain comes from the leaders that so many Christians have chosen to follow. (The Weekly Sift, January 29)

On a recent visit to Kenya, Liz James spent time with Maasai warriors, and learned that they are encountering dangers that cannot be fought off with a spear.

This visit, the cows are much thinner and weaker than they were when we came four years ago. The land that the Maasai have lived on has been divided up, and deeded to the individual Maasai men, so the tribes can no longer live nomadically. Climate change has been hard on this area, and without the ability to move, I am told that most families have lost half their herd. The silent fingers of drought have invisibly taken the animals one by one—taking with them the milk to feed children and the calves to sell for school fees—and no amount of bravery has been able to change that. (Liz James Writes, January 29)

Spiritual practice

Surrounded by personal crises, the Rev. Cat Cox works to find the calm at the center of the storm.

In the midst of all this, the most important thing I can do is also the hardest: keep coming back to the spiritual practice of being mindfully aware of my own internal state. Am I getting frantic? Am I getting panicky and desperate? Am I flinging myself into whatever action seems for a moment as though it might help me get back my life back in control?

The most important question I can ask myself is not what do I need to do next, but am I coming from a calm, centered place in whatever I choose.

I want to access the still place within, the eye of the storm. (One Step on the Path, February 1)

The Rev. Dawn Cooley provides an update on her practice of wearing a clerical collar when she flies.

Instead of asking me about it, I’ve found that most of the people who catch the collar quickly look away as if they don’t want to be caught staring. . . .

Here is what I think is going on: people still don’t know what to do with a female cleric. It makes them confused from the get-go. . . .

It seems a small thing, this little piece of plastic tucked into my shirt, but it makes me a walking, breathing testament to what should be impossible in many people’s minds, and it makes me move in the world with just a tad more grace. (Speaking of, January 26)

The Rev. Kimberley Debus has just completed a monumental task: singing through both UU hymnals, and writing about each hymn.

Over the course of this practice I’ve written about gendered language, the language of Empire, cultural misappropriation, calls to justice, meandering lyrics, and awkward rhymes. I’ve waxed poetic about favorite songs, favorite composers, favorite lyricists, favorite messages. I’ve sung through the darkest days and the brightest. I’ve shared personal stories and collective ones. I’ve linked to dozens of video versions, and I’ve bemoaned the lack of tune recordings. I’ve discovered some new favorites and those I would never use. I’ve considered just how far we’ve come on this arc of justice – a journey reflected in our theological and linguistic choices.

Perhaps most importantly, I have learned that you all care about our hymns as much as I do. . . . (Notes from the Far Fringe, February 1)

The Rev. Erika Hewett shares her commitment to a particular form of kindness.

I learned a long time ago that women* offer each other sisterhood that’s uniquely fierce and transcendent. About that same time, I learned that women* will also eat one another alive.

I try super-hard to be in the first category, and avoid the second. Specifically, I’ve chosen not to mock other women for how they look -- whether “she’s born with it” or whether she chooses it. (Facebook, January 25)

The Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd’s congregation has recently adopted—unanimously—a congregational covenant.

This Covenant serves to guide our interactions, as we engage with the world as it is and work toward shaping the world as it could be. We draw strength from our diversity and seek to form a Beloved Community through bonds of fellowship, spirit, and service. We choose connection over isolation and support each other in our free and responsible search for truth and meaning. (Facebook, January 28)