Highlights from the Unitarian Universalist conversation online, October through December 2019.
After seeing the musical Hamilton, Lynn Ungar wrote that “U.S. 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 looked back over “the decade of democracy’s decline,” offering both a warning and a glimmer of hope: “Trends are not fate. George Orwell once wrote: ‘Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.’ So it is a mistake to despair. Trends often reverse right at the moment when they seem most unstoppable, and often the reversal is only apparent in hindsight. But it is also foolish not to notice the trend, which for the last ten years has run counter to democracy, particularly in the United States.” (The Weekly Sift, December 30)
Carl Gregg also suggested a reason for hope in a time of despair: “Here’s the thing: no one really knows what the future holds. But we do ourselves and our forebears a disservice when we forget how much unlikely change has already happened.” (Carl Gregg, November 4)
Jordinn Nelson Long asked, “The next horrific thing you read this morning . . . what would it look and feel like to engage the issue with a moral touchstone? What would leaders be doing or pointing toward or talking about if they did the same?” (Facebook, October 10)
Peggy Clarke wrote about Facebook’s pernicious ubiquity: “On the one hand, this is where everyone is, where social norms are created, where organizing happens, where we build much needed community in this age of isolation. At the same time, FB is collecting and selling our data and bending all kinds of ethical standards to the detriment of both us personally and our democracy, which, let’s face it, is struggling mightily.”
(Facebook, October 28)
Barbara Stevens wrote that, “Patience, acceptance, tenderness, and faith in ourselves and in life is what allows us to grow and become. Transformation happens when we look inside, understand our emotions, and take care of them. . . . When we know ourselves, and when we accept that self we see, we can behave according to the values we know are right and good and kind.” (Universalist Recovery Church, December 28)
Sarah Stewart found a “new mind” at the gym: “This is the honest mind, the working mind, the beginner mind that is hiding inside my bravado and laziness. . . . This mind, which is so useful for spiritual work and family life and accomplishing any difficult task, is always to be found at the gym. This mind says there is no such thing as failure, only learning. It is for the presence of this mind that I keep coming back.” (Facebook, October 15)
Sean Dennison reflected on twenty-three years of being out as trans: “What I have learned is that while I hope people see a kind, thoughtful, honest, and loving person when they look at me, what matters most is that I have self-respect and love my own life. . . . I don’t make room in my life for people who don’t choose to grow in love or acceptance. . . . I work to let them go. It’s not easy. It hurts. And it releases them and me from the pain of ongoing wounding. It is another way of choosing life, of choosing wellbeing. It is part of being trans. It is part of being trans in a culture that deeply resents our presence, our integrity, our freedom. It is choosing life.” (Facebook, November 21)
David Breeden wrote that the purpose of awe is self-transcendence: “Every human being experiences awe and wonder somewhere across the artificial boundaries of science, art, and religion. . . . Which brings us to the ‘why?’ of awe and wonder. Why? Self-transcendence. Getting out of the ego and into relationship with the planet and her people.” (Medium, November 21)
John Beckett advised modern pagans about building a foundation for their spirituality: “Ground your practice in the land where you are, in your ancestors, and in the worship of the Gods who call to you or who you choose to call to. Develop a magical practice that works for you. Gather with those who are doing the same things in the same way. And leave the world a better place than you found it.” (Under the Ancient Oaks, December 5)
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The Rev. Heather Christensen wrote The Interdependent Web, UU World's weekly guide to Unitarian Universalist blogs, from 2011 until 2020. She lives with her two young children in Bellingham, Washington.