Showing posts from October, 2008

Making a Difference

I was experiencing writer's block, so I went over to my livejournal account and looked at their writing starters for writer's block. One, from about a week ago, caught my eye:

"When it comes to making a difference, some people donate money and others volunteer their time. What cause gets your time or money?" Apparently, October 25 was "Make a Difference Day." Well, I'm five days late to write on this, but I'll give it a go.

It's not surprising that our church and related organizations get the largest percentage of my time and my money. My largest charitable contribution is to our church, and I've only just started to increase my other charitable giving. Some of that is to denominational organizations I support: the UUA itself, Chalice Lighters, Meadville Lombard Theological School and Starr King School for the Ministry, and the UUSC. Sometimes I only give to these in little ways, like the "Guest at Your Table" effort that we'll b…

Old Fat Naked Women for Peace

My cousin Wes Weddell was in from Seattle and performed at our church a couple of weeks ago. Now, his parents have e-mailed me another West-Coast music sensation: the Righteous Mothers. Here they are singing "Old Fat Naked Women for Peace."

And if you missed Wes, here's one of the songs he performed for us:

Ballot Proposals

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've been at two conferences back-to-back last week and the week before, so I'm catching up from two weeks away. Here's a little something to chew on, though: a preview of November's minister's column in our newsletter, which won't come out for a couple more days.

I’ve been writing a lot about the boundaries of what we talk about and do not talk about in our churches, such as partisan politics. But it’s important to remember that in November we also talk about ballot issues, and that we as a church can take stands on ballot issues, and have in the past. We have not voted on any of the current ballot issues as a church, but there are many things we can say about the stands that Unitarian Universalism, as a whole, has taken.

Here’s what we have said as part of our larger association on one of the issues that’s before us: stem cell research. In 2006 the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association passed…

Eid, Muslim While Flying

Last night our family attended the annual Eid celebration hosted by the Muslim Association of Jackson County. It's a wonderful event every year, held at the Potter Center at JCC. It includes a wonderful dinner of Pakistani food, and a program to educate people about Islam. It also includes a program which has speakers who explain a little about Islam for the non-Muslims present, and a children and youth presentation, where verses of the Koran are recited , songs sung, and poetry written by the youth is shared. This year, they felt that they wanted to do something a little new, in addition, so they brought out a Muslim comedian from California, Baba Ali. There are a number of videos of him available on YouTube. Here's a clip in which he talks about being "Muslim While Flying."

And another one on the same subject:

Vote Yes on Library Millage!

In all the discussion about what we aren't allowed to say from our pulpits, I've been forgetting to say something I can legally say from the pulpit or anywhere: I hereby endorse the Jackson District Library's operating millage on their November ballot! I, personally (as our church has not taken an official stand on this), encourage people to vote in support of their local libraries!

Whew. Glad to have that off my chest.

Our church is very much blessed by the presence of our district library. We have banded together with the library to co-produce our very successful commUnity forUm series. The library also heads up the "Big Read" initiative with grant money from the NEA Big Read, and we've tapped into the Big Read program for the last couple of years (2009 book: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck).

This millage is not the same as the last millage for the library. That millage, which failed, would've provided for expansion of the library. We would've be…

Preaching Partisan Politics from the Pulpit?

This past Sunday, a group of 33 pastors preached a partisan message, endorsing a presidential candidate, from their pulpits in defiance of the tax code, which forbids such practice, the penalty for which is loss of tax-exempt status for the church.

Here's what I think.

The reason the average person gives for why this prohibition should be in place is "separation of church and state." However, this is a misunderstanding of what "separation of church and state" means. People often think that our country is founded on the idea that church and state are two totally separate things, therefore the state should say nothing about churches, and vice versa. In fact, what separation of church and state, as I understand it, is about is two-fold: First, there should be no state-sanctioned religion. The state should not endorse, promote, or show preference to any religion. Second, this is about freedom of religion. All religions should be free to practice as they see fit…