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Showing posts from September, 2008

White Privilege & Election Fever

The UUBlogosphere has been abuzz with discussion about an article titled "This Is Your Nation on White Privilege" by Tim Wise. To read what other UUs are saying, a brief description of some of the responses can be found at the Interdependent Web, along with links. I will say that I find the article snarky and abrasive, and at a couple of points I took exception with it, but there were a lot of places where I thought it was, sadly, right on in its analysis.

What you think of this article, I believe, comes down to what you believe about the concept of "white privilege." If it's a new concept for you, the classic essay by Peggy McIntosh, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," is a great place to start reading. White Privilege is a concept we've been discussing at our church in our adult religious education group on "Building the World We Dream About," if you're interested in discussing it more and are in our area.

White priv…

Should We Have a U.S. Flag in Our Sanctuary?

Our worship committee has been thoughtfully discussing this question, "Should we have a U.S. flag in our sanctuary?" for the last few months. And we have not arrived at a final conclusion yet. We have, however, done a few things:


Asked members of the church for their opinions,
Read articles from other denominations and individuals,
Talked to individual churches about their policies,
And talked to UU ministers about their beliefs.
I believe this is an important question, with strong feelings on both sides, and needs to be approached slowly, deliberately, and thorougly.
And I believe that emotions are too strong right now on the issue. I, personally, would like to see any decision delayed until at least a month after the upcoming presidential election, so that the political feelings that have reached a fever-pitch have some time to die down first.
However, we do, in the mean time, intend to do a couple of things:

We'd like to continue to hear feelings and impressions on an indivi…

More Thoughts on Cultural Misappropriation

Since the Interdependent Web quoted my previous post on cultural misappropriation, I've been doing some more thinking on the subject.

It's not that I don't think cultural misappropriation is to be avoided. We all should strive to be as sensitive to other cultures as possible. It's that I think a code of conduct, at this point, on the issue is not really possible. (And putting cultural misappropriation in our bylaws feels close to establishing a code of conduct on this issue and may, indeed, lead to one.) We haven't defined sufficiently what is and what is not cultural misappropriation. I was at a workshop on this issue at our General Assembly a couple of years ago in which it was seriously suggested that, essentially, if something is done well, it's okay, if a piece of music is done poorly, then it's misappropriation. I have significant disagreement with that rule, as one is who is not the greatest musician! Can I never, therefore, be using something from a…

Hurricanes, Reaching Out, and Our Interconnectedness

We spent a rainy weekend here in Michigan this weekend. It was a reminder, every time we stepped outdoors, of what was happening on the other side of the country from us, down in Texas.

Some may remember that I served a congregation in Houston briefly before heading North again. I checked that church's webpage and other church's webpage as we anxiously awaited news of how our fellow UUs were surviving the storm. The Southwestern Unitarian Universalist Conference now has more information posted here. No news of my old congregation, the Northwest UU Community Church, has been posted, but there's a lot to learn about other UU congregations, especially, the UU Fellowship of Galveston, which is presumed flooded.

The UU world is a small one, and the interconnection easy to observe, from the fact that I served a church in this area and a former minister of our church, the Rev. Susan Smith, is now district executive of the Southwestern Conference. Our thoughts and prayers go out to …

Cultural Misappropriation and More on the P&P

UU minister James Ford has written a very thoughtful piece on one piece of the proposed revision of the Principles and Purposes here. It's definitely worth reading. He focuses in on the proposed sentence in the section on "sources":

“Grateful for the traditions that have strengthened our own, we strive to avoid misappropriation of cultural and religious practices and to seek ways of appreciation that are respectful and welcomed.”

I completely skipped this sentence when I gave some of my thoughts a week ago, so let me address this sentence, as well.

James Ford says (I've deleted some, show by the elipses; the entirety is worth reading):

The problem is enshrinement in By-Laws, and therefore raising the possibility of institutionally defining appropriate behaviors and with that the possibility of punishment and expulsion for offenders, particularly ministers.

And this is not paranoia. Already a trial balloon of this sort was raised for the minister’s ethical guidelines. Obje…

Banned Books

Between my sermon series of last month on books that changed my life, and the discussion of banned books happening in the media and blogosphere due to recent political events, it seemed like a good time to remind you that Banned Books Week is coming up later this month.

New Principles and Purposes?

The UUA's Commission on Appraisal (COA), which is an review body independent of the UUA board, takes on a different subject pertinent to the UU association every three years. Recently, they have been studying Article II of the UUA bylaws, better known as our "Principles and Purposes," as Article II was required to be reviewed every 15 years (we're a bit late). The COA has just posted their draft of a proposal for the P&P, including many large changes. If you're interested, they can be found here. It's important to note that the COA can't change the P&P document, which is part of the UUA bylaws. Nor can the UUA board of trustees. It has to be voted on in two subsequent general assemblies by the delegates--that means representatives of churches and their ministers. If you follow the link and read the draft document, you will find a survey there where you can leave your thoughts and feelings. Then the COA will meet again and consider the survey respo…