Interdependent Web: Courage at the edge of catastrophe

Interdependent Web: Courage at the edge of catastrophe

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


Courage on the edge of catastrophe

Andrew Hidas writes that we “live on the edge of catastrophe.”

Born vulnerable and utterly helpless, we become, in the best of circumstances, less vulnerable only by degrees if we are fortunate enough to avoid early death. . . . The fires now ravaging Sonoma County, from where I departed less than two months ago, serve as stark, harrowing reminders of the fundamental truth of our situation. . . .

Whether we’re ill at home, evacuating from disaster or taking stock on our deathbed, what do we most respond to? The touch of a human hand, words of care, assurance we are seen, and cherished. Simple, baseline religion, encompassing its foundation in love, and wholly of this world. Easy to understand, nothing complicated to believe in, no litmus tests for practicing it, receiving it, passing it on. (Traversing, October 27)

Sarah Stewart shares her story of scrambling down the slick, exposed granite above the treeline on Mount Cardigan, terrified, focused only on reaching a fire warden’s hut.

Sometimes the things we are afraid of are genuinely dangerous. Sometimes we are really in trouble. And sometimes there is no one to help us do what we must do. It is at those times more than ever that we need our inner strength and courage, our spiritual connection, and a willingness to look silly if it helps us reach our goal. (Facebook, October 29)

Alix Klingenberg remembers the bullying she experienced as a child—and sometimes participated in—because of “mean girl” culture.

Women in our culture are taught to compete. We’re taught that there’s only enough wisdom, beauty, intellect, and love for some of us—that we need to climb over each other to survive.

Unlearning my mistrust of women is some of the most important work I’ve done as an adult. Learning to listen, to receive love, to be seen, to see, to admire and adore women in my is a gift. (Highly Sensitive Extrovert, October 31)

Cultivating attention

Joanna Fontaine Crawford challenges her congregation to notice the movies playing in their “skull cinema.”

Skull cinema (hat tip to Rev. Meg Barnhouse for the term) is that moviehouse we have in our own heads. The stories we make up that involve other people. Like, I’m at HEB picking up a pint of ice cream. A total stranger walks by me and glances at me, and the ice cream. BOOM – I AM IN SKULL CINEMA. In my mind, I have a film going about how that stranger gave me a strange look because she thinks I should be getting something other than ice cream. A salad. Maybe some kale. (Live Oak UU, October 24)

David Breeden compares Eastern and Western metaphors of attention—for the west, a chariot, and for the east, an elephant.

For Westerners, attention is something to be paid and directed.

Taoists, Hindus, and Buddhists, on the other hand, have paid considerably more attention to just what attention is. In Eastern thought, attention is a way of using the mind to explore consciousness.

In the chariot metaphor, it’s about firm control. Eastern thinkers also used a mode of transportation as metaphor for the mind: the elephant. In the elephant metaphor, it’s about management, not control. It’s about the mahout’s life-long relationship with a particular elephant. Relationship, not control.

A question: which is more useful, paying attention or cultivating attention? (Medium, October 31)

Without the spirit of democracy

After seeing the musical Hamilton, Lynn Ungar writes:

US democracy has always been messy, and is designed to be robust in the face of conflicting ideals. It is not, however, proof against the utter lack of ideals and a broad commitment to serving only oneself. . . . I suppose it is impressive that our democracy has lasted this long before being so deeply threatened by utter lack of principle. (Facebook, October 30)

Doug Muder shares a recent sermon about “the spirit of democracy.”

Without the spirit of democracy, the processes of democracy become an elaborate performance with no underlying reality, like a ritual to honor a god no one believes in. (Free and Responsible, October 29)