Saturday, December 26, 2009

... sick...

Picture: Our dog Xena felt better on Christmas than I did...

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've had a horrible cold, and have been somewhat out of commission. I was sick all through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day -- and counting. And I realized, it's the first time I've ever been sick on Christmas! So I'm retroactively grateful for the 40 prior Christmas Eves and Christmas Days when I felt just fine. May I never take it for granted again!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Eve Service

There will be a Christmas Eve Service at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover (6 Locke Street) on Thursday, December 24, 7:00 p.m.

Plan now to join us for our traditional candlelight Christmas Eve service. We will have beautiful music, traditional readings, and lots of singing of the favorite carols. There will be refreshments following the service, a special time to greet new and old friends.

All are welcome! Please join us!

Friday, December 18, 2009

I am not amused. (Warning: rant.)

Picture: from Wikipedia Commons/Prairie Home Companion's website (

I just read Garrison Keillor's latest piece on You can read it at this link.

I was not amused.

I have been told for years that when Garrison Keillor does his "bits" on "Unitarians" (as he calls us), he's not laughing with us; he's laughing at us. And yet, I thought the pieces were mostly amusing, pointing out some truths about our tradition in a way that was mostly funny.

But I find his latest editorial downright offensive. There's anti-Semitism, for one thing. It has me so shocked, I'm not even sure what to say about it just yet.

And as for his comments on "Unitarians"... first, let me say that I don't always like the tinkering we do with the lyrics to traditionally Christian hymns, either. We should be mindful when we change the words of these sacred songs.

Having said that... Both the Unitarians and the Universalists come out of the liberal Protestant tradition. Christmas is as much a part of our own heritage as anyone else's. I believe we have the right to celebrate Christmas in our own way, just as various Christian denominations have slightly different ways of doing things. In our religious tradition, using language that is not gender inclusive (to give one example) is offensive; and so we have the right to change lyrics to make them in alignment with our religious beliefs. That's my opinion.

If he doesn't like the lyrics of our Unitarian Universalist tradition, he has every right to worship in a place that uses the original lyrics. There are many such places. I just wonder if he realizes that the lyrics were written by fallible human beings, not by God. The lyrics were not written by Jesus, either. They were written by people, just like you and me, from another era. In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, it is accepted practice to make the lyrics match our present times. In fact, we have even changed the lyrics to "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear", which was written by a Unitarian (and yes, Edmund Sears was a Unitarian, before the Unitarian Universalist merger).

And that reminds me. I'm tired of Keillor calling us "Unitarians". I'm not a Unitarian. I was born in 1968, after the 1961 merger of the Unitarians and Universalists. I know it's a mouthful -- and I know he constantly makes fun of how many "U's" are in our name -- but I wish he'd get our name right. I've been a Unitarian Universalist all my life. Actually, I feel closer to the Universalist part of our tradition most days.

I wouldn't normally complain about something petty like that, but Keillor's piece put me in a foul mood. If we can't change lyrics, he can't change our name.

And if we Unitarian Universalists don't have the right to choose our own lyrics out of respect for the original Christian lyrics, then what right does Keillor (a non-UU, clearly) have to mock us constantly?

He has lost me as a fan. It's true: he's not laughing with us; he's laughing at us. But I'm no longer laughing at all.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chalica: Day 7

Here we are at the final day of Chalica. This is the day to think about our seventh Unitarian Universalist principle and how to affirm and promote "the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part".

Since the UUA adopted the seven principles in the 80s, the first principle (the inherent worth and dignity of every person) has been central to our identity. It still is. But I would say that in the past 5 to 10 years, there has been a shift toward the seventh principle as our central identity. (There's even been talk by some of making the seventh principle the first one.) I think this is a healthy shift. The seventh principle is the one most often associated with ecological concerns. But it's so much more than that, to me. For me, the seventh principle points to Divinity.

This was my first year to celebrate Chalica (I did this at home, not at church). I have to say, even if the holiday is a bit tongue-in-cheek, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Cheery Chalica!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Chalica: Day 6

Today is Day 6 of Chalica (see posts below for a basic explanation, especially "Chalica: Day 1"). On this day, we think of our sixth Unitarian Universalist principle, that we will affirm and promote "the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all". That's a pretty lofty goal.

When I hear "liberty and justice for all", I think of the last line of our U.S. "Pledge of Allegiance" (I'm guessing most U.S. residents do, too). So the sixth principle notably talks about "world community and peace" as an ideal in addition to our U.S. cultural tradition of talking about "liberty and justice for all" as an ideal.

So on this day, and at this time in history, I think it's important for Unitarian Universalists to think about world community and peace in particular. How can we work toward this in our congregations? What can you do to promote world community and peace today?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hanukkah! And Chalica: Day 5

This picture of a menorah on the first night of Hanukkah comes from, which seems to be a sweet blog...

At sundown tonight, Hanukkah began. Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish sisters and brothers and to all who celebrate this holiday!

Continuing in my "Chalica" series, this is Day 5 of Chalica. On this day, we think about how to affirm and promote our fifth Unitarian Universalist principle, "the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large."

I must confess, it is late as I type this, and I find that the words are not coming. So I'll take the easy way out tonight and link to this piece on congregational governance in light of the fifth principle.

Jazz Concert Party!

Enjoy an evening with friends and wonderful music... there is a Jazz Concert party this Saturday, December 12, at 7 p.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, 6 Locke Street.

The featured band is “Day For Night” with Patty Brayden on vocals and John Finbury on keyboard.

Snacks and desserts will be available. Drinks available for sale. Suggested donation $10.00 – proceeds to benefit UUCiA.

I have heard wonderful things about Day for Night and am personally looking forward to this very much! Hope to see you there!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chalica: Day 4

Above: Last summer at the UU General Assembly in Salt Lake City, I took a break and caught the "Ultimate Universe" show. At first, I thought "UU Matinee" was a nice gesture to all the visiting UUs in town... then later I realized - d'oh! - it stands for "Ultimate Universe", not Unitarian Universalists!

This is Day 4 of Chalica -- the "hump day" of Chalica, if you will. (Learn more about Chalica in the posts below, particularly "Chalica: Day 1".) Today, we light the chalice and think of our fourth Unitarian Universalist principle. Namely, we affirm and promote "a free and responsible search for truth and meaning".

I once heard Unitarian Universalism described as "being open to truth and meaning wherever it may be found, and working compassionately for social justice". Many of our principles speak to "working compassionately for social justice", but our fourth principle speaks directly to "being open to truth and meaning wherever it may be found". Ours is a creedless tradition, which is an aspect I cherish. But "creedless" shouldn't mean "believing in nothing".

We UUs have a great freedom to decide what for us is truth, and what for us has meaning. But as always, with great freedom comes great responsibility. As UUs, our faith will only be as deep as we make it with our "free and responsible search for truth and meaning". On Day 4 of Chalica, may we remember the importance of this quest.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chalica: Day 3

Above: Interesting abstract chalice found on website.

It's Day 3 of Chalica... See posts below, "Chalica: Day 2" and especially "Chalica: Day 1", for a basic explanation.

Today, we light the chalice and affirm and promote our third Unitarian Universalist principle, "acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations".

You can learn more about Chalica at the Facebook page: click this link

Interestingly, I have seen debates about Chalica among Unitarian Univeraslists on the Internet. Some UUs love the idea of having our own holiday, others think it's a little silly to invent a holiday out of the blue. Some (like me) think the whole thing is a little playful, and take it lightly -- enjoying it for what it's worth. Some think that a light attitude toward Chalica is insulting to UUism, sort of implying that we are to be taken lightly in general.

We UUs all have different ways of looking at things. And on the 3rd Day of Chalica, we can accept one another and our differences of opinion (and other differences). This sort of debate, hopefully, will encourage us toward spiritual growth! May it be so.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chalica: Day 2

Above: YouTube video #2... a second version of the "Chalica" song, with some new lyrics... recorded just this past Sunday, in fact.

So, today is Day 2 of Chalica. (See the post below, "Chalica: Day 1", for a basic explanation). Today, we light the chalice and think about our second Unitarian Universalist principle, how to affirm and promote "justice, equity and compassion in human relations".

For those who live in Massachusetts (including the Merrimack Valley), ONE good thing to do would be to VOTE today for the candidate that you believe promotes justice, equity and compassion....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chalica: Day 1

Above: A YouTube video of "The Chalica Song"...

There is so much happening right now that is hard. The war in Afghanistan is escalating, which is making me personally feel quite sad. The economy is still trying to recover. There are many more things that I could list, of course.

But this week, I am trying to focus on the light. I am celebrating Chalica, and I will post each day of Chalica.

What is Chalica, you ask? It's a vintage 2005 Unitarian Universalist holiday, seven days long. Each day we focus on one of our seven Unitarian Universalist principles. You can read more about Chalica at this link. (It's just a touch tongue-in-cheek, and so it can take some of the "holiday season" pressure off. If Chalica is adding pressure to your life, you're not celebrating it correctly!)

Today is Day 1, and so we light a chalice and think about "the inherent worth and dignity of every person". What could you do today to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person?