Words and deeds
The Rev. Tom Schade writes that, when social movements become more powerful, congregations are likely to push back against ministerial activism.
The minister needs to be keep turning the question back to the congregants: “How are you going to relate to this social movement? This isn’t about me, and it isn’t about the church, and it isn’t about the number of prophetic sermons I preach in a month. This is about how you respond to this social movement. I can tell you how I am responding; I can explain my process, but in the end, this is about how you respond.” (The Lively Tradition, April 13)
Kim Hampton doubts that liberal religion has anything prophetic to say.
What would liberal theology and religion look like if it took into account those who have had to make a way out of no way? Those who have been plundered and pillaged for generations? Those who are condemned and pathologized just because? (East of Midnight, April 13)
Katy Carpman recounts the financial repercussions of her son’s recent hospital stay.
We are so very lucky that my spouse’s insurance covers most of this. The deductible is not painless, but it’s something we can handle. And thankfully I’m salaried (and have understanding employers), so we do not have to worry about lost wages for the days I had to be away from the office.
I recognize my privilege, and realize that the situation is far different for many. (Remembering Attention, April 9)
Kari Kopnick celebrates the return of the light, after a struggle with depression.
Someone asked me a few months ago how I could tell the difference between the grief of losing my dad and depression. . . . Now, some distance out, I know the precise difference—in fact it is more of a Venn diagram with no intersection at all. . . .
Grief is sadness, loss, regret for missed opportunities and a longing for things that will never be again.
Depression is hopelessness, feeling numb about everyday things (oh my God I have to choose what to eat? What to wear? Really?) and wishing the pain of living would just be over. (Chalice Spark, April 13)
Tina Porter shares a similar struggle.
It may not look like hard work from the outside, but I’m telling you right now, sometimes sitting on the couch is the hardest work of all. The work done in dormant times may very well be the work we were meant to do. (Ugly Hats, April 11)
The Rev. Kit Ketcham has a new pacemaker, and is “so happy to be alive.”
So happy to have a regular heartbeat after all this time of enduring the jumping-bean ticker. So happy to feel exhilarated by every new day. Thanks be to the docs and the friends and the power beyond human power, which infuses us with the will to live. (Ms. Kitty’s Saloon and Road Show, April 12)
Thomas Earthman writes that congregational growth depends on having something worth sharing.
Growth requires standing for something, and giving people something worthy of their trust and commitment. . . . [What] makes being in a community powerful and appealing is being able to add your strengths to those of the other members, and coming up with a somewhat stronger effect than you all would have achieved working separately. Success is always attractive. (I Am UU, April 14)
The Rev. Dawn Cooley continues her series on breaking down barriers to congregational participation, with a post about financial barriers.
Some congregations have instituted a fee for service payment method, where activities are broken down and participants pay for them separately. . . . The trouble with this method is that it puts up barriers to participation instead of removing them. Instead, I believe it is time for congregations to get creative. (Speaking of, April 10)
The Rev. Tom Schade responds to Cooley’s series.
[A] question occurs to me. What if we asked ourselves this question: What are the barriers to our congregation participating fully in the life of our wider community? (The Lively Tradition, April 13)
Love is the absence of judgment
Jacqueline Wolven learns that “love is the absence of judgment.”
Making the change from city snob to simple kindness wasn’t easy, but the lessons are ones that will live with me forever. Having a cool heart isn’t the life I ever wanted, softening into love is a powerful place to be and I am grateful that my neighbors and friends allowed me to stumble into their lives without grace or understanding. (Jacqueline Wolven, April 12)
Valerie Freseman writes about the power of folk tales, folklore, and folk superstitions.
One day my CPE supervisor arranged a tour of the neighborhood our hospital serves. The tour leader brought us to a botánica—a store selling herbs, candles, and folk-magic supplies for the practice of Santeria and other allied spiritual practices—and I was the only person in our team of five trainee chaplains who could explain to everyone exactly what a botánica was because of my own history and practice (if you are a Pagan in New York City, you cannot avoid the botánica!) If, when visiting a patient, I could discern evidence of their beliefs in conversation or at a bedside table, I had gained valuable insights into the other members of that person’s spiritual support team. (Nature’s Path, April 14)
Patrick Murfin values his participation in the UU Bloggers’ Workshop on Facebook, and share the poetry of two of the group’s members.
[One] of the most valuable and engaging groups I belong to is the UU Bloggers’ Workshop which offers support, advice, criticism, ideas, and community to Unitarian Universalist Bloggers. . . .
I actually learn a lot from them. . . . I am goaded into improvement as a human being even when I would rather stew in resentment and anger or cleave to comfortable, but unjust habits. I gotta admit, this group helps me fill my spiritual gas tank about as well as anything this side of one of Rev. Sean Dennison’s Sunday morning Sermons. (Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout, April 12)
If you’re tired of the subtle pressure to create a “bucket list,” read Karen Johnston’s “F*ck Bucket Lists.” You’ll be glad you did. (Irrevspeckay, April 12)