Letters from our readers, Spring 2020.
Thank you for the article by Becky Brooks and Erika Hewitt on meditation in the UU World Winter 2019 edition (“Allowing Meditation to Be Messy”). Meditation has reached faddist proportions, and is in great need of the wise and informative clarification provided by Brooks and Hewitt. Their quiet tone and gentle language enhance their point that meditation is “messy” because we are “human.” And that’s OK, because meditation is not a striving for perfection or tranquility.
Thomas W. Graves
Nancy Palmer Jones and Karin Lin’s “The Call of Our Faith” (Winter 2019) seems to miss the forest for the trees. It opens, appropriately for anything in Unitarian Universalism, with a question: “What is it in Unitarian Universalism’s core message that demands that its people work toward building multicultural, antiracist Beloved Community?” The answer, though, should take a paragraph, not a ten-page exegesis.
The answer right now, because we do not, yet at least, have an Eighth Principle, is, “Nothing.” Most of our congregations today are viable, but are not, yet at least, multicultural, so our ability to function as a denomination, without being multicultural, is established fact. We know from polling data that for every UU in our congregations, four more are “out there.” Are they still “out there” because we haven’t been multiculturally welcoming enough or because our social action agenda is too liberal? I’m not sure we really know.
UU World’s articles about the Global Climate Strike and Extinction Rebellion (“UUs Rally to Youth-led Global Climate Strike” and “The Existential Issue of Our Time,” Winter 2019) illustrate the courage of those who engage in nonviolent direct action. Protests raise awareness and could push governments to take action to stem the climate crisis. That said, I was disappointed that the Winter 2019 issue did not mention the sustained efforts of Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteers, many of whom are Unitarian Universalists. By engaging respectfully with other citizens, community leaders, and members of Congress, we are building political will for action on climate change.
Co-leader of the Morristown, New Jersey, chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby
I was excited to read Rachel Burlock’s “Faith in Finance” (Winter 2019). She said, “Money is not something that we often discuss in church.” I am so happy to say the UUs in the New River Valley of Virginia will be doing exactly that. I approached my congregation and asked if I could coordinate a small group discussion series exploring money. They said yes, and so I developed the “Money: Get Talking” series for us. My goal is simply to get us talking and break the silence. Each of us has a personal story about money. So, we will explore topics like the “American Dream,” retirement, and debt. If anyone is curious, you are welcomed to visit moneygettalking.com and maybe start your own discussions. I am so encouraged that Rachel Burlock wrote her article!
It was good to see information about Indigenous Americans in the “Families: Weave a Tapestry of Faith” pages in the Winter 2019 issue of UU World.
However, it was disappointing to see the seriously flawed map of some of the native languages. How could Hopi be placed in both New Hampshire and Delaware when it belongs in the Southwest? And Navajo is placed in both the Southwest and in New England? And Oneida in Pennsylvania? I could give several other examples of errors. They are disappointing to see in an otherwise nice and informative essay.
How could such a wrong map be included in your article?
Binghamton, New York
The editors respond: We received many letters expressing concerns about the Winter 2019 “Families” insert, which is produced by the UUA’s Lifespan Faith Engagement Office. The insert, with the theme, “We Are Still Here,” was meant to acknowledge the history and celebrate the resilience of Indigenous peoples in the land we know as the United States.
Readers particularly questioned a map of U.S. states that showed concentrations of speakers of Indigenous language today. The map, based on U.S. Census data, intended to demonstrate that dozens of Indigenous languages have life today, and in “surprising locations.” As the text above the map indicated, forced migrations—and, later, poverties resulting from racial oppression—moved many Native peoples far from their ancestral homes.
In order to prevent future confusion, we have removed the map from the online version of the Winter 2019 “Families” pages. A revision of the “We Are Still Here” “Families” insert to download and print can be found on the UUA website.
and Susan Lawrence
Lifespan Faith Engagement Office
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