The Rev. Dr. David Breeden draws connections between the neglected work of building character and the decline of religious affiliation.
[We] too often forget nowadays—that the purpose of inner work, the work of building character, is to accomplish outward work, the work of compassion and social justice. . . . Joy and character. This is what many of those missing from the pews have hit the road searching for. (Quest for Meaning, May 14)
Andrew Hidas is nearing the “bell lap” of his life.
So here I am, right about at that point in my life, coming into the bell lap, the jostling of the crowded early laps done, some of my energy spent but enough left in reserve—absent a sudden bolt of lightning or a stumble—to bring this thing home. And as I sneak a peek behind me, I note that my competitors have all disappeared.
It’s just me out here, on my own, chased only by the half-formed, uncertain dreams of my youth.
How am I going to play it from here? (Traversing, May 13)
The Rev. Robin Tanner has a pet peeve: being told to “have faith.”
In our faith, we believe the doubts are holy spaces too. In our trust of the world, in our faith, we try to open ourselves to the experience of doubt. We hold doubt to be a process that enables creative, cataclysmic and transformative energies to emerge. If you never doubt, then do you have anything but a theoretical faith? (Piedmont Preacher, May 9)
With permission, Claire Curole shares the Rev. Sarah Lammert’s response to her letter about changes to the ministerial credentialing process.
I’ve been concerned for some time about the overall ‘Economy of Ministry.” Seminary tuitions have risen as much as 300% in the past 20 years. Many seminarians are carrying debt forward from their undergraduate years, adding to the burden. At the same time, traditional forms of church are struggling to achieve funding goals and new entrepreneurial forms of religious community haven’t yet produced sustainable financial models that support fair compensation for their clergy leaders. Denominational resources are at best flat or shrinking. (Sand Hill Diary, May 8)
David Pollard reports that CUUPS leaders and UUA staff are talking about changes in how they relate to one another.
The UUA has developed a pilot program called “UUA Recognized Communities” which is a way to help UU organizations grow and prosper. . . . CUUPS would seem to fit into this because we serve UU/Pagan, Nature and Earth-Centered practitioners whose needs and gifts have not found other communities in which to flourish fully. (Nature’s Path, May 8)
Questions for congregations
The Rev. Scott Wells suggests that congregations—and the UUA as a whole—might look to their particular gifts as a decision-making guide.
[Among our gifts is] congregational polity, which is not the sell it once was. But it’s easy to underestimate it when there’s no bishop trying to shutter your church. And with it come some skills and resources for self-reliance. (Boy in the Bands, May 13)
Tim Atkins believes congregations shouldn’t pay religious education teachers.
Paying teachers is a sign of not only a religious education program in trouble, but it’s a sign of a dying congregation. . . . If the congregation doesn’t care enough about the spiritual development of their children and youth to volunteer to guide them along their paths then I have trouble seeing why that congregation should continue to have a religious education program. (Tim Atkins, May 7)
The work of justice
The Rev. Erik Walker Wikstrom reminds us that emotions are complicated—in this case, for gay and lesbian couples finally able to be legally married.
The (still new) opportunity to “get married” is also a reminder that in the eyes of many, and of the state, they haven’t been. It was one more reminder, one more example, of the way(s) their relationships have been devalued and dismissed. I honestly can’t imagine what that has felt, and still feels, like, but I do imagine that it is a lot more complicated than a simple, “Wee! Now we can get married!” (A Minister’s Musings, May 11)
Karen Johnston considers Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in the shadow of the Baltimore uprising.
What if it a concerned citizens group of mothers, perhaps of all races and colors, walked to the police line, arm in arm, and had said, “No more”? Of course, this happened as part of the peaceful protests that were not widely publicized, but they spoke to the young Black and Brown people resisting.
What if this group was of mothers of the other Baltimore, still claiming as their own these youth, but did so by saying, “Not this way. Not in our name.” to the police officers? (Irrevspeckay, May 10)
The Rev. Jeff Liebmann writes that some forms of religion can be abusive.
Just as an abusive partner uses coercion, intimidation, and threats to control another, some people seek to coerce, intimidate, and threaten others with their religious beliefs.
This religious intolerance represents a particularly insidious evil. By robbing us of a pure source of joy and enlightenment, these zealots seek to control our actions, our choices, even our thoughts. Through physical, emotional, and economic routes, religious bullies seek the power to limit our freedoms and cancel our basic human rights. (UUJeff’s Muse Kennel and Pizzatorium, May 9)