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Blog roundup, Spring 2012
Online responses to UU World.
Quite a few bloggers engaged with the selections from the Minns Lectures that were featured in the Winter 2011 issue of UU World.
Jacqueline Wolven, who was raised among humanist Unitarians on the West Coast, has felt increasingly unwelcome in the UUA. She responded at MoxieLife to the Rev. Marilyn Sewell’s essay, “Our Shadow Side”: “I am not afraid of the sacred—I think you make things sacred . . . from the human experience. They are not of spirit, god, or any other outside force—you, a human, make them sacred. And if I don’t share that experience with you it isn’t because I am afraid, it is because I don’t share it.” (November 15)
The Rev. Tony Lorenzen responded from a different perspective. At Sunflower Chalice, he wrote that we need more spirituality, more mysticism, if we’re going to be an effective and prophetic religion: “Unless and until Unitarian Universalism wants to get mystical, it relegates itself to the discount rack of religion, culture, and social justice.” (November 14)
The Rev. Christine Robinson’s essay, “Risk Blessing,” inspired Kari Kopnick to evaluate her congregation’s flat growth. Kopnick wrote at Chalice Spark, “Maybe I’ll go out and see if someone has put signs up that say ‘Church Closed’ . . . not real signs, but those secret signals that you can’t see anymore after you’ve been a part of a group for a while, I guess they are real, but not in a wood and paint kind of way: ‘go away, you don’t fit in here, go back to the Sunday morning paper and a nice, spiritual-but-not-religious life.’” (December 8)
The Rev. Krista Taves used Robinson’s essay as a reading in a “State of the Church Address” to her congregation and shared the sermon at And the Stones Shall Cry. Responding to concerns about declining UUA membership numbers, Taves wrote, “It is possible that Unitarian Universalism as a whole is going to shrink for a while. But as long as there are . . . people like you who are willing to walk into these changing vulnerable times with open hearts and minds in the spirit of love, I think we have a hope in hell of coming out of this stronger and more truthful to our liberal religious tradition and to our own souls.” (December 18)
Charles Kinnaird at Not Dark Yet responded to the Rev. Victoria Safford’s uuworld.org essay, “Are You a Wretch?” (November 21) Suggesting that both “wretch” and “soul” can be appropriate choices when we sing “Amazing Grace,” Kinnaird wrote, “If we accept our own humanity, we must accept that we ourselves possess all the potential goodness and evil that exists within the human spectrum.” (November 30)
The Occupy Movement was a persistent topic for several months in late 2011.
Despite his years of activism, the Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle struggled with whether he can support the Occupy Wall Street movement. Blogging at The Indefinite Article, he wrote, “I simply think better strategies and tactics could be employed to fix a broken economic system that is the pulse of our capitalist (or is it socialist?) nation, for better or worse.” (October 6)
The Rev. David Pyle of Celestial Lands was among those bloggers who applauded Occupy’s lack of definition: “Not having a clear handle on the meaning of the protests, who is organizing them, and who the leaders are is threatening to institutional power structures, because it means they cannot react to said protests using traditional institutional means.” (October 11)
Doug Muder suggested at The Weekly Sift that a lifetime of computer gaming has created a rising generation of persistent activists: “If the authorities think they’re going to get rid of these protests through slow escalation, they’d better think again. They’ll just be training the protesters to reach ever-higher levels of proficiency.” (October 17)
The Rev. Peter Boullata provoked a vigorous conversation about the mission of UU congregations at Held in the Light. He asked, “How does ‘You are responsible for discerning your spiritual path’ become ‘Whatever you think, believe, or feel is what the religion is’?” (December 29) He attracted 95 comments on his website and many more on Facebook.
Other bloggers responded, too. “When each individual UU is obligated (or invited) to create their own religion,” replied the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein at PeaceBang, “it follows that each individual has to defend their own religion.” She argued that it is time for UUs “to admit that we have honored free thought over love as an institutional commitment, and to consider the possibility that our obsession with personal freedom of belief has caused our organizations spiritual harm.” (January 5; see also January 4)
At thelivelytradition, the Rev. Tom Schade argued that “our mission is more important than our institutions and our mission is evangelism,” adding that “our mission is to spread liberal religion,” and that “evangelism is spreading a message, sharing good news, entering the public square to contest the foundational ideas that shape the social order.” (January 2)
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