In “Struggling Up the Mountain,” (page 20), Paige Grant describes the process of pilgrimage in which “the faithful often undertake arduous travel . . . to places where the veil between the familiar and the spiritual worlds can be pulled aside for a moment.”
When have you made such a journey and where did you go? Did you undertake the travel as a pilgrimage—or did it surprise you by becoming that later?
In “Love First,” (page 23), Rebecca Parker describes reverence as a form of love: “[It] involves full-fledged devotion enacted in deeds of care and responsibility. It involves knowledge, study, and attention.”
Using these criteria, what do you have reverence for? Can you have reverence for possessions? What separates reverence from idolatry?
In “How Husbands Say ‘I Love You,’” Neil Chethik describes the “hopeful accommodations, wobbly compromises, and agreements to disagree,” that characterize many successful marriages. (page 14)
Is your experience in significant relationships like what Chethik describes? What did it take to arrive at that point?
In “Singing in the Shadow of Death,” Jonah Eller-Isaacs writes about music as both therapy and a means of educating African youth about AIDS. “In the HIV/AIDS pandemic, music is a form of creative resistance that provides hope, strength, and courage to stop the destruction.” (page 26)
How does music help you to process life events? Has music or another art helped you respond to calamities?
In “Human Reverence,” Kendyl Gibbons describes three different purposes for which UUs might need a language of reverence: “to respond in the moment to our experiences of awe and communion; to describe those experiences to others; and to solicit such experiences, both in ourselves and in others.” (page 33)
Describe some of the moments of reverence you have had in your life. Did you have adequate language to describe it to others? Did this language draw from different religious traditions?
Kendyl Gibbons refers to the 2003 sermon given by UUA President William G. Sinkford in which he describes an experience of reverence while at his son’s hospital bedside. This sermon launched the UUA-wide discussion about the need for a language of reverence. (“Human Reverence,” page 33 )
What role should a language of reverence have within Unitarian Universalism? Does adopting such language mean that other kinds of language must be given up?
In her article about the Rev. Waitstill and Martha Sharp’s daring rescue of children and adults from Nazi Europe, Michelle Bates Deakin also writes about the personal sacrifice the Sharps made when they left their two children behind. “Some may view leaving home, church, and children as a necessary sacrifice, while others may see it as abandonment,” she writes. (“Righteous Among the Nations,” page 38)
Under what circumstances would you consider leaving home to do humanitarian and peace work abroad? Were the Sharps justified in leaving their children?
In her “Bookshelf” essay, “From Islam to Unitarian Universalism,” Hafidha Acuay muses: “Islam seemed to put me in a box, with different labels on each side for those who viewed me from varying angles. Does Unitarian Universalism put me into a box, too?” (page 54)
Are all systems of belief boxes? When you identify with a particular religion or ideology, does that mean you have to give something up? Does it create limits or provide liberation?
Acuay describes a process of disillusionment with Islam that included the discovery that the Qur’an was a compilation of writings “pieced together over a period of years after the Prophet’s death,” rather than a divinely rendered text. (page 54)
If you came to Unitarian Uni versalism from another tradition, what was your experience? Have you revisited a meaningful text and found that it no longer had the same meaning for you?
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Jane Greer is a former senior editor of UU World magazine.