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Showing posts from December, 2009

Garrison Keillor Is no "Companion" for Unitarian Universalists

Many Unitarian Universalists, myself included, are regular NPR listeners.  And among them, many listen regularly to Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion."  It's on weekly at about the time I leave church, so I have listened to it many times.  Garrison Keillor makes a regular practice of poking fun at Unitarian Universalists on his show.  I've often had church members come and tell me he mentioned us again, often with delight, because we're so rarely mentioned in the media.  One example of a Unitarian Universalist joke attributed to Garrison Keillor is: "A sign at the Unitarian church said: Bible study at 7:00. Bring your Bible and a pair of scissors."  So, yes, some of the joke are funny, some point out our foibles and idiosyncrasies.  But lately I've been turning off NPR whenever "A Prairie Home Companion" comes on.  Listening to him talk about us over the years it's becoming more and more evident that he isn't laughi…

December 17th: The Unitarian Christmas Holiday?

Last year I did a series of post about "Chalica," a holiday that's been invented in which Unitarian Universalists may spend the first full week of December reflecting and acting on the seven Principles. Last year I focused on Chalica for the whole week, and I did find that meaningful.

This year, however, I'm focused on a different idea for a Unitarian Holiday. December 17th is the day Unitarian Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol was published. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all spent every December 17th remembering the Unitarian ideals he brought to Christmas with that publication, and acting in a way consistent with Scrooge's transformation?

God is Love?

My uncle asks, "If God is love, how does that work?" To elaborate, he means does God still act in people's lives the way God does in the Old Testament? How is a God who is love different from a God who loves? Does it mean God is all kinds of love--eros, agape, etc.--or just some?

Paul Rasor writes in Unitarian Universalist views of God, "Others may use the term God to convey very different ideas, such as the creative power of evolution in the universe, or the power that makes transformation possible in our lives, or the ongoing power of love, or simply the ultimate mystery within which we all must live" (emphasis mine). God, in Rasor's description, is not the God of the Old Testament who acts directly in people's lives, who is a larger-than-human but human-like personality who speaks and makes demands and rewards and punishes. This God who is love is more like a power, as he uses the word in the two preceding phrases about God. God is the power of l…

Costs of Becoming a Minister - Part Two, Including a Modest Proposal

In Part One, I left off here: I think the only options that are really viable and just are to either fund our seminarians or ministers better or to decrease our expectations about the seminary process.

Decrease Expectations?

Some people have proposed interesting models of becoming a minister that are not seminary-focused. These are certainly intriguing. As a seminary-trained minister, I see the value in seminary and I am perhaps too invested in this system to step outside of this box adequately. I see our "learned ministry" as an important and defining tradition that is part of our make-up as Unitarian Universalism. It is also in keeping with the denominations that we are closest to. I'm not quite willing to drop seminary altogether. However, there are some interesting proposals about modifying the process. Here's mine.

Shortening seminary is entirely doable. A four-year process to become a minister does seem a bit outrageous. What about a one-year process of …

Costs of Becoming a Minister - Part One

A number of UU bloggers have been taking on the issue of the cost of becoming a UU minister. To see some of that discussion, check out PolityWonk, Elizabeth's Little Blog, iMinister, the Interdependent Web, Planting God Communities, Rev. Scott Wells... iMinister, in particular, has been doing a number of blog posts looking at every angle.

In a previous post I outlined the process for becoming a UU minister. The issue is that this standard process is too expensive, given the wages that many UU ministers will make, particularly in smaller churches, which we have a lot of in the UUA. (For full-time ministers, which right there is an assumption, the range starts at 37,600.)

The cost of seminary is around $15,000 per year for tuition alone, and then books and whatnot, until you're looking at a cost of around $35,000 for the year. Remember that four main choices for seminary for UUs are Andover Newton, Harvard, Meadville Lombard, and Starr King. They are in the Boston area, Bos…