Interdependent Web: Building up and tearing down, learning from others, marking anniversaries

Interdependent Web: Building up and tearing down, learning from others, marking anniversaries

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


Building up and tearing down

The Rev. Jordinn Nelson Long writes that we cannot afford to be so critical of institutions that hold our common life together.

My friends, our institutions are what a people, trying to live together, have created. . . .They took time and resources to build. It takes energy and commitment to reform. It takes little, in relative contrast, to merely tear down. It takes little, and it requires little to no accountability.

Our institutions may at one point have been impervious to feedback, but they have never been secure. They are not now. And the skills I observe us learning and practicing in the social square are tearing-down skills. (Facebook, May 9)

Doug Muder discusses two terms—religious freedom, and the rule of law—that no longer mean what they used to mean.

The problem with assigning new meanings to words and phrases is that the old meanings might still be important. . . . If the neologism takes, it may drive out the original meaning, making the issues related to that concept difficult or even impossible to discuss.

To a large extent, that is the point of Newspeak: to win arguments by making the opposing position inexpressible, or to avoid dissent entirely by keeping possible objections out of mind. (The Weekly Sift, May 7)

Learning from others

Kim Hampton remembers how all the Black churches of her childhood had at least one bus for transporting people to church.

What does it mean that no UU congregation I can think of offers a transportation ministry?

What avenues would be opened if UU congregations did have a church bus? Who would get to be included? (East of Midnight, May 8)

The Rev. Erica Baron considers how the principles of pagan rituals might help her create better UU services.

There are people who come to ritual to have a good time, to experience the joy of life and ritual, and a good ritual should meet this need. Then there are people who come to ritual for self-development of some kind, and a good ritual will give these folks some avenues for that. Finally, the ritual itself generates energy and that energy is used for something. (Nature’s Sacred Journey, May 6)

Marking anniversaries

The Rev. Jake Morrill marks the fifteenth anniversary of his call to serve his current congregation.

When the church voted to call me, I thought what it meant was that, against the odds, I’d finally managed to get myself a real job. But the blessing through the years has been the profound opportunity to witness (and take part in) real joy, real loss, forgiveness, radical trust, jaw-dropping sacrifice, honor, and grace. . . . And to see people flourish in the steady sure light of God, who is Love—even through heartbreak, anger, and disappointment. Even through human failings, not the least of all mine. (Facebook, May 4)

The Rev. Beth Johnson marks the anniversary of the brain stem stroke that eventually killed her mother.

She was at least 85% dependent. She did speak, but her speech was very impaired, and she did swallow, but had to eat pureed foods. She was very disabled, and susceptible to pneumonia, but she had an indomitable spirit, a wicked sense of humor, and a fierce will to live. . . .

I’m telling this story so publicly because I want everyone to know that my mother, Jane O’Connell Johnson, was a remarkable, brave, brilliant, and beautiful woman. She is my hero and my role model. (Facebook, May 4)

Words and numbers

Halcyon Westall explores how the “ worship of numbers harms our congregations and our spirits.”

White supremacy culture values quantity above other forms of success. Things that can be measured are more highly valued than things that cannot. We can count how many people show up on a Sunday morning. We can count how many people sign the membership book. White supremacy culture says that the church with a bigger membership is richer in complexity and deeper in spirit. . . .

I don’t want to throw away Church Size Theory. There are some helpful frames for understanding how to work in systems when we notice patterns by size. But let us recognize that valuing larger sizes over smaller and rewarding growth just for the sake of numbers is damaging to our movement. We can be more complex than that.(for most this amazing day, May 3)

Liz James writes—as a lover of words—about changes in language as we learn about words that can be painful.

Words are not territory to be defended. This is not a tug of war. It’s like a partnered dance, where the lead moves back and tugs slightly on your hand, and the invitation is for you to spin gloriously, and move—on feet or on wheels—in a new direction. . . .

You may grieve the loss of words—words are living creatures. Love everything you have ever written. Every sentence has a story it calls home. Let nothing be erased.
But do not claim that you have been silenced, or even that it is even possible for another person to silence you. We both know this is not how creativity works. (Liz James Writes, May 10)