Saturday, December 10, 2011

Moving from Intervention to Treatment... Occupy, part II

Picture: From October 9, 2011... "You Can't Evict and Idea" projection at Occupy Boston
  
The Occupy Boston camp was raided a couple of hours ago. The city of Boston was wise to wait until there were only a few dozen folks left at Dewey Square, versus coming Thursday night when there were 1000+ of us.  Apparently about 40 people were arrested, and apparently it went peacefully.   

I am concerned for the people who were homeless (that is, homeless before the Occupy Movement even started), who were receiving more shelter and food and help at the Occupy Boston camp than just being on their own. I hope we can still support them.

I can't help but feel sad that the Occupy Boston camp is gone, as I found the OB phenomenon pretty amazing and impressive in so many ways. I will miss visiting OB and feeling that spirit of idealism and hope.  I will miss the Sunday UU Vespers.  I will miss many things...

But I keep thinking of this sign that I saw at OB several weeks ago:


The sign says, "America, this is your intervention!" And that's how I feel about the Occupy Movement to date: It has been an intervention.  I think it has been a successful wake-up, or "intervention", and now it's time for Part II of the Occupy Movement:  "treatment".  May the movement continue, and may it continue to be nonviolent and creative!  To borrow from the chant, "We are unstoppable, another world is possible!"



Monday, December 5, 2011

Merrimack Valley Project... what a great organization!

Last night I went to the Annual Convention of the Merrimack Valley Project.  What an amazing organization!

The Merrimack Valley Project (MVP) has been around since 1992, uniting "leaders from across the Merrimack Valley to win improvements to our state and region that have benefited thousands of people".

MVP has increased opportunities for jobs; worked for immigrant rights; worked to create and maintain safe, affordable housing for all; and worked to create safer cities and neighborhoods.

I am hoping to get more involved.  I'm so grateful that they do the work that they do.  I'm proud that the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover is one of their member groups.

They have a current project that is very exciting to me:  "Fight Foreclosures and Evictions in our Neighborhoods!  No More Evictions: MVP is calling on banks and mortgage companies to stop all post-foreclosure evictions in the cities and towns of our region. Vacant properties hurt families and make our city streets and neighborhoods more dangerous. Let all families stay and pay rent!"

Click here to make a contribution to MVP.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!  I am very grateful for so many things, certainly including the wonderful Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover.

This year, as in many years in the past, I have "adopted" (sponsored) a turkey at the Farm Sanctuary.  It's part of my own Thanksgiving tradition.  I myself am a vegetarian, but you can adopt a turkey whether you're a vegetarian or not!

I adopted Antoinette this year: "Let them eat squash!"

Monday, November 7, 2011

Announcing new book by the minister emeritus

Announcement:  UUCiA minister emeritus, Peter Richardson, has issued a new book, Journey Beyond God: Religious Philosophy for Our Time. Many of the themes will be familiar to UUCiA members and friends from 1992-2002, when he was minister of the congregation. In four chapters, "Alone", "Together", "Between", "Among", the author explores the contrast of theologically based vs. humanist naturalist religion. Themes include nature and spirituality, spiritual practice, congregation, ethics, pluralism and world religion, ministry, worship, freedom and democracy, education, religious authority, mysticism, consciousness, reason, purpose and life goals. It is a quality paperback, 192 pp, 39 illustrations, 5 figures, study guide, bibliography, notes and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-9741152-8-3. Cost is 24.95 + 3.50 p&h via. www.redbarnrockland.com using either PayPal or the contact feature where you can be billed with the invoice.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Help the most vulnerable in our society"

This Sunday during announcements, I mentioned that there would be a vigil at Senator Kerry's office.  Here is more information, from UUMassAction: "Help the most vulnerable in our society! Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has an important spot on the 'Super Committee' that will be coming up with legislation to address the United States debt. Many voices in the public debate are targeting those who are most vulnerable in our society to take the brunt of these budget cuts. UU Mass Action, Promise the Children and UU Urban Ministry are calling on Unitarian Universalist across Massachusetts to tell Sen. Kerry to stand with us in love; stand strong: Demand shared responsibility. Protect Medicaid and Medicare; don't shift costs to states and the seniors, people living with disabilities and children who rely on these programs."

Join us at Sen. Kerry's office on Wednesday, October 26th at 5 p.m. One Bowdoin Square, Tenth Floor, Boston, MA 02114.

Whether or not you can come on Wednesday, please consider singing this petition.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"OccUUpy" Boston

Unitarian Universalists, for the past two Sundays, have had UU Vesper services at Occupy Boston.  I didn't make the first one, but I was there (along with three UUCiA members) this Sunday, October 16.  There was a wonderful homily by Rev. Parisa Parsa and great music by Matt Meyer.  Rev. Jason Lydon also led prayer.  All in all, a very moving service.  There will be another UU Vespers this coming Sunday, October 23, at 5:30 p.m. in Dewey Square (across from South Station).  Join us!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Boston, October 10 and 11...

Yesterday, October 10, I decided to go see Occupy Boston in the afternoon, before my Veterans for Peace meeting in the evening (in Cambridge). I was impressed and inspired by the peaceful demonstration that I saw.  (This picture to the left is one I took during the day.  You can see the Gandhi statue on loan from the Peace Abbey, as well as the tents.  The picture to the right is one I took of the Veterans for Peace flags that we had at the Assembly, and after.)

Later on, I went to said Veterans for Peace meeting. We heard during the meeting that "they" (police? mayor?) wanted to shut down Occupy Boston. We ended the meeting early and went over together. We got there around 7:45-8 p.m.

I was very impressed watching my first General Assembly. It was very peaceful, very democratic. The Occupy Boston folks (mostly from the Millennial generation) were something to behold. They welcomed us "old timer" veterans very kindly when we came, and they seemed happy to see us.

I just have to note that this Occupy Boston protest was the first protest that I've participated in, in my entire lifetime, where NONE of the people driving by us shouted negative or lewd things... the first time NONE of them made lewd gestures. People either drove by and did nothing, or they drove by and honked, and/or waved, and/or shouted something supportive and/or cheered.
 

(Photo to the left: I am proud to stand with my Veterans for Peace friends... photo by Iraq War veteran Rachel McNeill.) There were all sorts of rumors all evening and into the night about the police, and what was (or was not) going to happen.  Most of the night the word was that the police would come at midnight and close down the camp, possibly making arrests. Midnight came (and October 11 began), and midnight went. No police making arrests... just some police here and there as far as we could tell. (And the protestors were very reasonable about the possible upcoming confrontation, saying things like, "Remember -- it's not 'us versus them'... it's 'us versus us' -- the police are the 99% too!") 1:00 a.m. came. Same thing, no police. Still lots of rumors flying around, but no one knew if the police were coming. Some thought yes, many thought no.

My contact lenses were popping out of my eyeballs (I didn't realize I'd be up at all hours protesting when I left the house, or I would have worn my glasses -- and more comfortable shoes!), so I called it a night at sometime not long after 1 a.m. (I was personally convinced at that point that the police would leave us alone... ) Some other Veterans for Peace folks left at various times throughout the night too, but many stayed.

I walked from South Station to my car in the Boston Commons garage, a little afraid that it was unsafe to walk alone at night in the big city. I saw a few police here and there, but just enough to make me feel a little safer -- I didn't see a big gathering forming. I got to my car just fine, and drove all the way back home (about an hour).

On the way home, after about 30 minutes I made a pit stop.  I checked Twitter to see if there were any updates from Occupy Boston and the Greenway expansion controversy.  I read several tweets saying that the police had come and were "beating up" the Veterans for Peace.  My heart sank.  It turned out that the police came maybe about 20 minutes after I left. The Veterans for Peace who were still there were in the front line, and were the first ones treated roughly (pushed down and choked, and dragged off, from two I've communicated with) and arrested by the police. Apparently after that, the police went into the rest of the Occupy Boston crowd and arrested the other peaceful protestors. (See video below, posted by an Occupy Boston participant on Youtube.)



I came home safe, feeling guilty that I left just a bit too soon, as it turns out... but feeling lucky too. I've never been treated roughly by police and arrested before, after all. I feel horrible for my VFP friends and the other protestors who were treated harshly.  (Addendum: After talking to more friends from VFP and others who were there, it seems that there were a wide range of experiences in terms of how the police responded.  In many cases, the police were very low key and not aggressive at all.)

I'm still sort of in shock. I can't believe it "went down" like that -- that is, I can't believe the mayor told the police to intervene and make arrests. It really did NOT have to be that way. I'm thinking of my VFP friends who were arrested, and all the other protestors arrested... It must have been traumatic! I'm thinking of the police, too, and wondering how they feel about it all. As a veteran, I know the feeling of being told to do something you don't feel quite right about... and the police are definitely part of the 99%.  I am grateful for police; I really am.  They do a lot of good, and I've mostly had very good experiences with police in my lifetime.  It was a sad situation for all concerned, really.

Addendum: Below is an excellent video of the evening's events.


"What Democracy Looks Like: The View From Occupy Boston" from Michael Gill on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Occupy Hope...

Just last March, I wrote in the congregational newsletter that I had that early Quaker song in my head: “Through all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing. It sounds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing!”  The reason that hymn was stuck in my head was the historic revolutions against oppressive regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria during the spring.

But autumn is here, and as some have noted, the “Arab Spring” is turning into the “American Fall”.  I must admit, the song running through my head this time isn’t a hymn.  Instead, it’s the words of Bob Dylan:  “The order is rapidly fadin’ / And the first one now will later be last / For the times they are a-changin’.”

There are a few social actions in the works this fall, including “Stop the Machine –Create a New World” (starting in Washington, D.C. on October 6), organized by social justice leaders around the country.  The action will highlight “human needs, not corporate greed”.    

But as potentially momentous as “Stop the Machine” is, the social action that has taken just about everyone by surprise has not been organized by “the usual suspects” at all.  I’m talking about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, which has grown into an “Occupy Together” movement all over the USA, including “Occupy Boston”.  According to the declaration, “… the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors…. no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.  We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people… run our governments.”

Who organized this movement against “Corporatocracy”?   It’s hard to say!  It’s a leaderless, de-centralized action.  But what does seem clear is that it is largely the Millennial Generation making it happen.  I keep thinking about the things I learned last year when researching my sermon on the American generations – about how the Millennial Generation (those born between 1982 and 2001) tend to be good at working collaboratively; interested in issues of economic injustice; and civic-minded (see Howe and Strauss).  The “Occupy” movement so far does not have set demands.  It will go on indefinitely, seemingly a whole new kind of protest.  No one can say exactly where this is going; “the wheel’s still in spin / And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’”, to quote Dylan again.  But I must say that it gives me hope.  

In the upcoming days and weeks, I hope to visit Occupy Boston to show my support and deliver supplies.  In the meantime, I just signed up to join a virtual march that is happening today to show my support. You can join the virtual march too:  click here to find out more.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Rallying in the Rain" piece in UU World

This past June, at the UU General Assembly, I was among about 600 people who participated in a Standing on the Side of Love rally in Charlotte, NC, on behalf of BGLT rights.  There is a brief article on this rally in the Fall 2011 issue of the UU World magazine (cover pictured here).  You can read the article at this link.  (It appears on page 34 of the hard copy magazine.)  By chance, my photo appears!  I am the one in the yellow hat in the back.  (You can see the photo digitally at this link.)  We got soaked on the way back from the rally!  We were trying to use the banner as a canopy.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

UUCiA August 28 Sunday Service CANCELLED

Today's Sunday service at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover has been CANCELLED due to Irene. Governor Patrick has encouraged everyone to stay off the roads in Massachusetts today if possible.... Please be safe!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tar Sands Action

Have you been paying attention to the Tar Sands Action in Washington D.C.?  You can learn more about it at this link.

Those who care about the environment and the future of the planet have been converging in Washington, D.C. to call on the President to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline (which would go from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico).  The largest environmental and eco organizations in the USA are in agreement that the pipeline must be stopped.  You can sign a petition to President Obama at this link, asking him to block  the pipeline.  Read about how the Tar Sands Action was inspired by a UU's civil disobedience at this link.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

UUSC's Somalia and East Africa Relief Fund

Please consider making donation to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee's Somalia and East Africa Relief Fund at this link.  Learn more about the situation at this link.

Picture/drought map from uusc.org site, copyright OCHA.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"War Is Not the Answer, Never Was, Never Will"



Here's a new video for "War Is Not the Answer, Never Was, Never Will".  The song is written and sung by (Andover local) Pat Scanlon, Coordinator of the great Boston area chapter of Veterans for Peace (the Smedley D. Butler Brigade).  Lots of my VFP friends are singing here, along with other local peace activists.  You might see someone you know!  This is a great peace song...  share if you agree!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

GA ends...

I am back from GA.  Saturday was mostly plenary and voting...  one significant change was we delegates voted to reduce the size of the UUA's Board of Trustees from 26 to 14.  Hopefully this will make the Board less cumbersome.

Saturday night was the Ware Lecture, featuring Karen Armstrong.  Her talk was entitled "The Challenge of Compassion".  She is a very engaging speaker.  You can watch her lecture online (see embedded video below).

Sunday morning started off with worship, co-led by Rev. Scott Tayler and Rev. Kaaren Anderson.  After that, we hit the road and drove back to Massachusetts.

Another busy, but inspiring, GA!


Watch live streaming video from uuaga at livestream.com

Saturday, June 25, 2011

GA day 4

 (Picture:  Cool art in Charlotte.)

Today was LOTS of plenary, time for the official business of GA.  We heard reports from lots of folks, including the UU Women's Federation, the UU United Nations Office, and the UU Service Committee.  The election of candidates was uneventful as no one was opposed.  Then we voted to change the name of the Thomas Jefferson District to the Southeast District (at their own suggestion).  We also voted to change the conditions to appointment to the MFC.  Four Actions of Immediate Witness will move forward for consideration:  "Protest Rep. Peter King's Hearings on Muslim 'Radicalization'"; "Support Southern California Supermarket Workers' Struggle for Decent Wages and Benefits"; "Toward Ending the US Military Engagement in Afghanistan"; and "Oppose Citizens United -- Support Free Speech for People".

During the one program slot of the day, I went to the "Greeley Award Sermon: Ethical Aspects of Climate Change", a sermon co-written (and delivered) by Rev. Craig Schwalenberg and Sarah Summers.  The competition was supported by the UU-UNO, a wonderful organization.

After this post, I'm going back to plenary!  Lots of business today!

Friday, June 24, 2011

GA days 2 and 3

Busy, busy, busy!  This will be a cursory overview... Details to come at a later date! (Picture to left: Mass Bay District banner in the convention center.)

First, I'll tell you about the rest of my day yesterday, Thursday.  In the afternoon, I went to a discussion by the UUA President, Rev. Peter Morales, called "Our Future Depends on Three Things".  What are the three things, you ask?  He believes that we must 1.) Get Religion. 2.) Grow Leaders 3.) Cross Borders.  By "get religion", he means figuring out what we're passionate about, using our experiential tradition.  When people experience something together, it can be very powerful.  "Grow leaders" is fairly self-explanatory.  And "cross borders" means crossing borders of class and culture, intentionally.

Next, I went to a lecture called "The UU Great Commission", by Rev. Howard Dana and Tandi Rogers, both very dynamic.  Rev. Dana is the senior minister of the congregation in which I grew up, the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, PA (UCH).  He made me proud.

The day ended with the Service of the Living Tradition, a time to honor religious professionals.  I was moved when, among those UU ministers who died last year, there were two that I knew and loved.  One was Rev. Jean Cook Brown, who was the chair of my intern committee.  The other was Rev. Nancy Haley, with whom I attended Harvard Divinity School.  They are missed...  May they rest in peace.

This morning (Friday), I started out in plenary where we passed the Ethical Eating Statement of Conscience.  That was good news!  Then, off to a workshop called "Views from the Pews: Race and UU-ism".  The panel was moderated by Rev. Clyde Grubbs, and the speakers were Jacqui Williams, Karin Lin, and Gregory Boyd (who is a member of the UCH!).  Their stories were very moving and powerful... a powerful reminder of the importance of anti-racism work in our congregations.

Next, I went to "Theology in Practice for a Multicultural World", moderated by Gail Forsyth-Vail (our neighbor in Andover, and one who has preached for us a few times), with speakers Dr. Sharon Welch and Dr. Kat Liu.  They were both excellent.  Dr. Welch has long been a theologian that I have admired. 

Dr. Welch (pictured here) was also one of the speakers at the next workshop I attended, "Implementation Year for Creating Peace Statement of Conscience".  This workshop was put on by the UU Peace Ministry Network.  I learned a lot about what some other UU congregations are doing.  I wonder if the UUCiA could work toward becoming a Peace Advocate Congregation....  something to think about!

But wait, there's more!  It was time for the public witness at Marshall Park in Charlotte. Many, many UUs (with yellow "Standing on the Side of Love" t-shirts, pictured) walked over to the park to "Stand on the Side of Love with LGBT People Everywhere!"  According to the organizers, "In North Carolina, the only state in the south that has not written discrimination against LGBT families into its state constitution, proposals to ban marriage equality -- as well as civil unions or any legal relationship between same-sex couples -- have been introduced and could reach the ballot in November."  We gave witness on the side of marriage equality, and against any discriminatory proposals.  There were local clergy members from other faith traditions (including Jewish, Unity, and Lutheran, among others) who stood with us (and spoke), too. [Addendum:  Here's a link to a news piece and video on the rally.  Here's a link to the front page article in the Charlotte Observer.]

Phew!  I'm beat!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ministry Days end, GA begins

Greetings from Charlotte, North Carolina, and the UU General Assembly! (Picture: Charlotte Conference Center with UU GA banners.)

Yesterday started off with worship at UU Ministry Days. It was the annual “25/50 Year Worship.” This service honors those UU ministers who were ordained 25 years ago and 50 years ago. Each of these cohorts elects from among its members one person to deliver a homily at this service. Now, these elected sermonizers are the cream of the crop. Surviving 25 or 50 years in successful ministry is an accomplishment in its own right, and so the selected speaker from each group is the cream of the cream of the crop. Not surprisingly, these sermons are consistently excellent. This year was no exception. From the 25 year class, the Rev. Lindi Ramsden was selected. From the 50 year class, the Rev. Dr. Richard Gilbert was selected. Both sermons touched me, as happens each year. It was particularly interesting for me to hear Rev. Dr. Gilbert, who wrote the “Building Your Own Theology” adult RE curriculum from which I have been drawing for the past two years. He assured the gathered ministers that “the first 50 years are the hardest”. Imagine my relief!

(Picture: Banner detail.)  Whenever I come to GA, I always wish that you congregants could be here. It is inspiring to be with thousands of Unitarian Universalists from all around the country. But I am very much thinking of you all, and (as always) trying to figure out which workshops will be the most useful ones for me to attend, thinking of the year ahead.

UU Ministry Days ended yesterday late afternoon with the annual Berry Street Lecture, the longest-running lecture series in the United States.  The talk was called "Whence We Come and How and Whither" (about clergy misconduct), given by Rev. Dr. Deborah Pope-Lance.  Her talk was quite thoughtful and thought-provoking and very helpful to hear. 

Last night was the official start of GA with the Opening Celebration, including worship and the banner parade.  The theme was the 50th anniversary of the merger of the Unitarians and the Universalists.  Along with the current President of the UUA, Rev. Peter Morales, and the current Moderator, Gini Courter, several past presidents and moderators participated (including Rev. John Buehrens, Rev. Bill Schulz, Rev. Bill Sinkford, and Denny Davidoff).

Today, I started off with an early meeting of the Board members from the UU Mass Action Network who are here at GA (I am on the Board of the UU Mass Action Network).  It was nice to see folks from home and to take advantage of the chance to be together.

(Picture: Opening Celebration and Banner Parade.)  After that, I attended the workshop "Creating a Congregational Focus for Social Justice", led by a team from the UU Church of Charlotte.  They shared with us their journey from being a congregation that took on multiple social justice issues and a bit of a "band aid approach" to a congregation focused on a specific social justice issue -- dealing with the causes as well as the symptoms -- and becoming known in the community for that good work.  (They chose homelessness and affordable housing, and their program/ministry is called "AHHA" (ah ha) for Affordable Housing and Homelessness Action.)  It was helpful to hear how they gained consensus around becoming more focused on one important area and trying to make a real difference in that area in Charlotte.

Now it is noontime, and I am pausing to give this blog update.  More news tomorrow!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Massachusetts Tornado Relief Fund

To left: UU church in Monson, with damage....  (picture from District website)

Please consider making a donation to the Massachusetts Tornado Relief Fund of the UUA.  Learn more at this link.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Give peace a chance...

Please consider signing a petition (link here) to save the US Institute of Peace!  The USIP is a non-partisan organization created in 1984, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.  Read about it here.  The cost of the USIP is tiny compared to our defense budget... truly tiny.  Please, let us invest in peace.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Road to Emmaus

This Easter, I preached a sermon based on the "Road to Emmaus" story.  Ever since, this song has been in my head:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dean Stevens, David Dodson and Friends in Concert at the UUCiA

From uuandover.org:

"For 25 years, Dean Stevens has delighted audiences of all ages throughout the Americas. An exuberant performer of distinctive style and wit, he combines an intricate, self-taught guitar style with a versatile and expressive singing voice. A formidable creator and interpreter of songs in English and Spanish, Dean explores a variety of personal and social topics, paints sketches of people and places, celebrates the Earth, and annoys the narrow minded.
 
"Born and raised in Costa Rica, Dean is a lifelong student of Latin America. He learned Spanish at an early age, and readily absorbed the musical and topical influences of the region. He travels frequently to Central America, and has become known for his humanitarian efforts on behalf of refugees returning to their homes in El Salvador and Guatemala.
 
"Dean will be joined by David Dodson and performer friends from Andover and vicinity. Join us for a very special evening of music."
 
When: Saturday, May 21
Doors open at 7pm, music at 8pm
 
Where: 6 Locke Street
Suggested donation: $15
Beverages and light snacks will be available.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

my appreciation....

On Sunday, March 27, I tried my best to express my appreciation for the Hindu tradition.



The service ended with kirtan, led by John Calabria on harmonium and dhotara (sometimes spelled "dotara").  John is pictured above with his dhotara (which means "two strings").  It was wonderful to have John's music and gentle spirit there with us.

Here's a picture of the sanctuary space on Sunday. You will notice a banner with Hanuman, and John's harmonium. You will notice that we used orange, too, as an important color in Hinduism.

Below is a close-up of the altar, where you will see Hanuman, Krishna, Ganesh, Lakshmi, Saraswati (very small) and Shiva... On the floor are Lakshmi, Ganesh, and Ram and Sita and Lakshman with Hanuman.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

There should be nothing casual about it.

Right now, our country is in the midst of the two longest wars in our history.  And with our actions in Libya, we are now fighting on a third front.

Why is it that so few people seem deeply concerned?

I commend this piece ("The Normal of War") by John Cory.

There should be nothing normal about it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

UUA's Japan Relief Fund

If you would like to make a gift to Japan through the UUA, click here.  Thank you for your generosity!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thank you, bishops

I've been thinking a lot lately about liberation theology, a Christian theology that started with Roman Catholic priests in Latin America in the 50s and 60s. At the heart of this theology is the idea that God has a "preferential option" for the poor and oppressed. I've always thought this theology was beautiful and elegant.

Today, I see something in the Boston Globe that reminds me of this great tradition. Namely, "The state's four Roman Catholic bishops are urging Congressional leaders not to cut funding for a program that helps low income families pay for heat."  Read the whole article at this link.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Prayers...

Prayers this morning for all those impacted by the earthquakes in Japan... for those impacted by the resulting tsunami... Our lives are so fragile and precious.

Addendum: Read a note from the UUSC at this link.

"Voices of a Liberal Faith" - video by the UUA

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March 5 events

I want to mention two upcoming events. The first event is sponsored by the 16th Annual Women's Spirituality Series and being held at the UUCiA at 6 Locke Street, Andover, on Saturday, March 5th from 7-10 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) --

"Women are Rising: Women's Sacred Dance Journey" led by Janet Farnsworth with live drumming provided by Laney Goodman. (This will be followed with a group Drum Jam facilitated by Laney Goodman.)

Description: "Our bodies hold our deepest wisdom. Yet for women that wisdom often becomes silenced, stilled, or compromised. We 'hold in our stomachs,' 'cross our legs,' and 'get smaller.' We find ourselves feeling separated from our truest Selves, our most vital knowing. During this dance journey, we will invite the voices of our bodies -- which call out to our whole Selves -- to re-emerge. Using dance as our medium, we will 're-member' and re-connect to the deep inner wisdom that flows through each of us.

"Whether it is the impulse to move a finger, or the drive to shake our bones, each woman's movement is honored as her own best guide for connecting to her most authentic and sacred Self. During this journey we will answer the glorious call of the ancient drum provided by Laney and banish shame, self-doubt, guilt, while we invite in love; we will arrive home to Body Wisdom.

"The dance journey is followed by a Drum Jam facilitated by Laney Goodman. Bring your drums and rhythm instruments if you have them, or, just bring your dancing shoes. Come and celebrate the sacred waves of rhythm that all women remember when we come together in sacred circle.

"Note: This is a women only event; dear brothers, please pass this information on to the women in your life. Thank you."

No preregistration required.  Please join us!  Click here for directions.




Above: Jane Addams, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.  Addams was a regular attender at a Unitarian church in Chicago.

The second event is an event that I have been invited to participate in, in part because of my role as a member of the Smedley Butler Brigade of Veterans for Peace. The event is also this Saturday, March 5th, from 1-3 p.m. at the State House steps in Boston (near the Park St. T station) --

Rally, Speakout and March for Women's Day

To honor the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day... An event organized by CodePink and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

Description:  "Included are songs, chants and testimonials from women about how the war economy is working for them.  Special appearances by Raging Grannies, CODEPINK Pink Parasol Peace Brigarde.  March with bread, roses, pots, pans to Public Garden to form peace bridge, then surge to Copley Square."

According to their website, "CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities..... the CODEPINK Alert is a feisty call for women and men to 'wage peace.'"  And according to their website, "the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom was founded in 1915 during World War I, with Jane Addams as its first president. WILPF works to achieve through peaceful means world disarmament, full rights for women, racial and economic justice, an end to all forms of violence, and to establish those political, social, and psychological conditions which can assure peace, freedom, and justice for all."

Come and be a part of it.  (I will be giving very brief remarks toward the beginning of the event.)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Worship service cancelled... kirtan will be rescheduled

The February 27 worship service was cancelled.

We will reschedule the service, "Paths to God": An Appreciation of Hinduism, along with special guest John Calabria and kirtan.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Through all the tumult and the strife....

I cannot keep up with the world any more.  I keep hearing the words of that early Quaker song, "My life flows on in endless song above earth's lamentation. I hear the real though far off hymn that hails a new creation.  Through all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing. It sounds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing!"

Not that all of the tumult and strife has been good.  But it has been an interesting few weeks.

So many things have been happening... in Egypt, Libya, Wisconsin (see "There Is Power in Union", a UUA guide to supporting worker justice)... along with threats to funding for Planned Parenthood (read UUA statement on this) as well as NPR and funding for a US Institute of Peace and on and on.  Too much for me to process in writing right now.  My head is spinning.

And today, President Obama declares DOMA unconstitutional.  It has always seemed obvious to me that it was unconstitutional, so this is very welcome.  Here's the UUA response to this turn of events.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The warmth of the sun, the warmth of love...

I was fortunate enough to spend the last several days in Monterey, California, for the UU Ministers Association Center Institute for Excellence in Ministry. In addition to enjoying some beautiful weather, and a beautiful setting, I was lucky enough to experience inspiring worship services and an excellent workshop/seminar.

The workshop I attended was "Facilitating Cultural Change" with Beth Zemsky.  Over the years, I have attended various trainings for anti-racism/anti-oppression/multi-culturalism.  But this workshop really opened my eyes in new ways.  I learned more than I can say.  It's such important work, understanding different cultures -- including one's own culture -- and the ways that institutional racism lives.  Sometimes it is painful to realize how much I still have to learn.  I try to remind myself how far I have come, and pray that that "moral arc" continues.  But it can continue only with persistent intention and learning and love.  It's also very exciting, however, to realize the potential for change!  And this workshop gave me a new mantra for the work: "Authenticity trumps perfection".

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Announcing UUA/UU-UNO LGBT Uganda Fund

Pictured:  LGBT activists in Uganda, picture from uua.org 

From the Rev. Peter Morales, President of the UUA:

"Right now in Uganda, we have seen an alarming rise in violence and prejudice toward people who are even assumed to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Right now, Ugandan citizens, including members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Uganda, fear they will be killed because of this growing culture of oppression against LGBT people.

In response, I am honored to announce that the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), in partnership with the UU United Nations Office (UU-UNO), has launched the UUA/UU-UNO LGBT Uganda Fund, to help LGBT human rights activists—including members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Uganda—protect people whose safety is threatened and fight for social justice and LGBT rights."

Read and hear more at this link.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Words that heal...

Last night, President Obama delivered remarks at a memorial service for the shooting victims in Arizona.  You can watch the video or read the transcript at this link.

I thought his words were moving, and that he said all the most important things.  It is critical that this tragedy not be turned into another place of vitriol, or another opportunity to point fingers angrily. The discussion should be, as the President noted, worthy of the ones we have lost.

As many have pointed out by now, the tragic shootings were not caused by political differences.  The shootings do remind us, however, of the importance of civility and of the importance of stating disagreements with love and respect.

It seems that the shootings were the doing of a mentally ill young man, acting alone.  It is tragic that such a person was able to obtain lethal weapons.  And so, the shootings do remind me that our gun control laws are inadequate.  I hope that this tragic reminder moves us to rethink these laws.

Having said that...  It's also important to remember the inherent goodness of people, and to note that many people even act heroically, as was the case on January 8.  I thought President Obama did a nice job of remembering the stories of heroism, too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Chance to Stand on the Side of Love

From the UUA's Standing on the Side of Love efforts.... a response to the tragic shootings in Arizona.


"Tell your members of Congress to stand on the side of love by denouncing vitriolic language in the public discourse."


Click here to send a message to your Senators and Representative.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why?

I continue to be saddened by the tragic shooting in Arizona this past Saturday.  In addition to the horror of the deaths and injuries, I am left wondering why this country is so violent.  Why?  Why is it so easy to have access to a lethal weapon, even if one has a mental illness?  And why has political discourse in this country become so angry and violence-prone?  Prayers for peace continue....  and prayers for wisdom for all of us to re-think gun control laws in the meantime.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - Eleanor Roosevelt

May 2011 be a beautiful year!