Interdependent Web: An unfulfilled imagining, a culture of complicity, breaking open

Interdependent Web: An unfulfilled imagining, a culture of complicity, breaking open

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


An unfulfilled imagining

The Rev. Jim Foti asks how we and our ancestors have been treated—as objects, resources, or equals?

When Europeans began to invade this land—many of them persecuted themselves—they viewed Native Americans primarily as objects to be removed, like so many boulders or stumps in a farm field. . . . Africans brought over in the hulls of ships were also treated as objects, tools to extract wealth from those fields cleared of trees, stones, and other humans.

If you’ve had a relatively pleasant American life, it can be unsettling to accept that we live in a country built on domination, on hierarchies, on people acting on each other rather than with each other. But “one nation” is an unfulfilled imagining. (Jim Foti, March 5)

As part of a series of post about political misconceptions, the Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern writes that the Three-Fifths Compromise was much more than mathematics.

The Three-Fifths Compromise enshrined one of the most despicable facts of the U.S. slavery system: enslaved people were regarded as people when it benefited the enslavers, livestock when it didn’t. Thus, on the one hand, an enslaved woman had no rights her owner was bound to respect, as if she were a cow or sheep. On the other hand, the owner could have sex with her, something that would have been both taboo and illegal for him to do with non-human property, and their offspring would be considered human children (and, of course, the owner’s property). (Sermons in Stones, March 7)

A culture of complicity

UUA Board member Christina Rivera shares her reaction to receiving an anonymous, racist note in her mail at work.

When I finally took a breath it was to begin a keening cry of rage, anger, hate, hurt and sorrow. In my mind I was desperate to know where my children were and remembered they were at school. I ran from the building to my car and drove away. Do you feel it? Do you feel my humanity being stripped away in one quick motion? Do you feel a mother’s terror at thinking this person who has hate in their heart for me knows my children? (UU Christina Rivera, March 4)

The Rev. Meg Riley, responding to Rivera’s insistence that UUs address the UU culture of complicity, provides an instance of her own inadvertent complicity.

I posted a rant in which I talked about the differences in response given to kids of color who responded to Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson and the response given to overwhelmingly white kids (I see you Emma!) after the shooting in Parkland. And as part of a long series of sentences, I said, “No one talked about how ingenious they (young Black activists) were, how strategic, how effective.” Well, that’s not true. No one white and in power talked about it. . . . That kind of lack of clarity about who “we” are, who “people” are, who “no one” is . . . that’s complicity with white supremacy. (Facebook, March 4)

Breaking open

A novel by Alice Walker gives the Rev. Ken Collier unexpected compassion for Donald Trump.

I can imagine him alone at night, lonely and isolated and depressed, desperately wanting to be loved and admired but knowing he is not. I can even imagine him crying into his pillow without a clue why is soul aches. . . .

Who will show Trump where that deep wound was made, where he died? Who will break open the ice within his heart? (The Colliery, March 6)

Living with thoughts of suicide

Asked about “the Druid position on suicide,” John Beckett responds with an in-depth personal story of an almost lifelong struggle with suicidal thoughts, concluding with this summary of what he’s learned:

  • If you need mental health care, get it. If your doctor prescribes medication, take it.
  • If you feel trapped, make an escape plan, and then work the plan.
  • If you feel like a failure, keep looking till you find what it is you’re called to do and be. . . .
  • While you’re doing that, find what brings you pleasure and joy and embrace it, no matter how silly or fantastical or escapist. . . .
  • If you feel like dying would be better than dealing with life, realize that you’re stronger and more resilient than you think. (Under the Ancient Oaks, March 6)

The UU universal theological translator

The Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford writes that UUs have universal theological translators—and she urges us to use them.

By virtue of being a Unitarian Universalist, you have the universal theological translator. You are equipped with the openness to ask questions, and the commitment to religious pluralism to swap some of their language for words that make more sense to you. . . .

It is a gift to have this device, and the more you use it, the better it works. It means we can often have really good conversations with people seemingly very different from us. We can create relationships. And in doing so, we can model what it is to be in relationship with people with whom we may have very different understandings about religion. (Boots and Blessings, March 5)

Wombat and Dingbat

The Rev. Lynn Ungar has a new blog—well, more accurately, her two dogs do! “Wombat” and “Dingbat” answer readers’ questions using what they’ve learned about behavioral science. A reader asked for the dogs’ perspective on Trump’s suggestion that the death penalty for drug dealers might do away with the opioid epidemic. This is Dingbat’s answer:

Basically, if you leave a sandwich on the counter in my presence, I’m not thinking about what kind of punishment I might get for taking it. I’m only thinking SANDWICH!!!! Even if I’ve been punished for, um, liberating food before, that sandwich is toast. Get it? Toast? (Wombat and Dingbat, March 2)