Friday, January 20, 2017

On this day.... fighting fear, committing to loving resistance

Today, I take hope from all the good people out there who are committed to loving resistance.

I love this art (left) by Shepard Fairey. The caption is "We the people are greater than fear."

Today I am in solidarity with all of those in marginalized groups who are feeling afraid. I own that, as a lesbian, I am one of them. But I know we will be greater than our fear.

I have been concerned lately that we seem to be living in a "post truth" era. It seems that we have become too lazy for critical thinking, and that scares me too. But I know we're better than that.

A colleague recently shared this on Facebook, and I will leave my thoughts today with this:


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Going to the Women's March on Washington

This Saturday, I will be heading to participate in the Women's March on Washington. Because I'm on sabbatical, I'm able to make the trip to D.C. I will be going with some of my family members who live closer to D.C. than I do.

Last I knew, quite a few of the congregants from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover were planning to attend the march in Boston, which should also be quite large.

Here's hoping that this is the beginning of some meaningful solidarity in loving resistance to racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-immigrant attitudes, and more.

The United States of America of the 21st century has such promise. Now is the time to make sure that it is our dreams, and not our nightmares, that become a reality.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Excited about the forming Merrimack Valley SURJ

One of the great things happening while I'm on sabbatical is that the congregation (UUCiA) is starting to get involved in the locally-forming chapter of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice). Here you can find the Merrimack Valley chapter of SURJ page.

SURJ is "a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills and political analysis to act for change.

"Our focus is on working with white people who are already in motion. While in many activist circles there can be a culture of shame and blame, we want to bring as many white people into taking action for racial justice as possible. We envision a society where we struggle together with love, for justice, human dignity and a sustainable world."

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sabbatical musings on what [fill in the blank]s believe

The Monolith from "2001"
There's something that's been gnawing at me for a while. Namely, it's that way we have of saying, "Christians believe..." and "vegans believe..." and "democratic socialists think that..." Why do we pretend that various groups are monolithic in their beliefs? They simply aren't.

I know that there's a human tendency (need?) to put things into categories to make it easier to wrap our heads around them. And we have to start with some assumptions to have a conversation about any group. But we end up (in my opinion) making far too many assumptions.

Sometimes people ask me things like, "Do vegans think it's wrong to wear leather shoes that they've owned for ten years, pre-dating the time they became a vegan?" There's no way I can give a straight-forward answer to that. Some vegans would say, pitch them now and buy vegan shoes! Some vegans would wear them until they became unwearable and then replace them with vegan shoes. And on and on.

Or people will say, "Christians believe that same sex marriage is wrong." Nope. Nowhere near that simple. Lots of Christians are fine with it and support it. But even the statement, "Christians believe that Jesus Christ resurrected, in the flesh, from the dead" is not true. Some believe that literally, and some metaphorically, and some Christians simply don't find that to be a crucial part of the story because they're more focused on what Jesus did and said before he died.

On and on. We could do this for any group.

I wonder what could make us stop talking about groups in such overly-simplistic generalities...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sabbatical fortune

This was in my fortune cookie tonight. "Real is all a vision. You have to see it for yourself."

I like that.

Day ten of sabbatical was stressful. I spent two hours in a panic trying to find my passport. I always put it in a specific drawer in the house. But today it wasn't there. I tore that bureau apart looking for it, went through all kinds of bags and drawers where I couldn't really imagine it was -- but it had to be somewhere! I kept coming back to the drawer. Emptied it completely. Couldn't find it. Looked all through the sofa, my car... Every place where I have anything. Went back to the usual drawer. Pulled it out of the bureau completely. Pulled out all the other bureau drawers. Looked at the bottom where I found some ancient papers that had fallen back there, but still no passport. Looked through my file drawers in my room. No passport. Went back to the usual drawer. Among all the papers, there was one box, an old Microsoft Office software box. Shook it in frustration. Discs flew out... and, my passport. Yes, it was in the usual drawer. How it wedged into that box, I don't know. But it really is always in the last place you look! (ba dum dum tsh! That was a joke. But a true story.)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Sabbatical musings on religion with help from Bart Simpson?

Religion is such a fascinating phenomenon, really.

There's a quote by Bart Simpson that has stayed with me since I heard it. The way I remember it, there's a dispute about what is Christianity (Catholicism? Protestantism? etc.). And Bart says, "Easy on the zeal, Churchos… I've got something to say. Don't you get it? It's all Christianity, people! The little stupid differences are nothing next to the big stupid similarities!"

There are endless fights about religion. There are the fights within religious traditions (among denominations or sects) about what is orthodox and what is the essence and what are the rules, etc. And then there are fights between religions. And some days I want to paraphrase Bart Simpson with "Easy on the zeal, religious fanatics… I've got something to say. Don't you get it? It's all religion, people! The little stupid differences are nothing next to the big stupid similarities!"

Osho wrote and talked a lot about religion -- about every religion as being inherently limited. He wanted to replace religion with something like religiosity. There's a part of me that is sympathetic with this. But then again, specific religions bring us specific gifts. Maybe a better paraphrasing of Bart Simpson would be, "Lighten up, seekers… I've got something to say. Don't you get it? It's all religion, people! The little beautiful and idiosyncratic differences are nothing next to the big beautiful similarities!"

Another thing I've been pondering on sabbatical is, what is a "cult"? It's one of those words that people love to throw around. And you can find checklists about the characteristics of a cult, of course. But most of it is relative. Yesterday's cult (for instance, early Christianity) is today's huge, respectable world religion. And many of the cult checklists would turn any "Utopian community" into cult status. But is that always fair? If a group is asking for total control over your life -- including your unquestioning obedience -- that's obviously a problem. But it's possible -- I believe -- that a beautiful Utopian community might asking for you to share money and possessions. Wasn't Jesus asking for that, really? To leave it all behind and come along on a quest to bring the realm of God/heaven here on earth?

Just pondering, here on day nine of sabbatical.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Eight days of sabbatical a week?

Guru Ram Das Gurdwara in Millis this morning.
Eight days in! I'm feeling a little more in sabbatical mode today. Perhaps because I knew that my congregation would have to make a decision about having a service with the snow (they did have one), and I wasn't part of that decision.

I continue to study Punjabi. My Instant Immersion program froze, though, so I'm not sure what to do about that. I listened to my Pimsleur CDs instead.

Thursday evening I went to a service in celebration of the 350th anniversary of the Guru Gobind Singh at the Milford Gurdwara Sahib. This morning, the Miflord Gurdwara was in Millis to worship with the Guru Ram Das Gurdwara folks, so that's where I went. First time there. Lovely grounds.

I've had lots of good quality time with my dog, so that's been nice!

Otherwise, it still feels a little strange, this sabbatical thing. I'm sure I just need more time...