Showing posts from June, 2010

Blogging from GA: Arizona!

Well, it was an interesting discussion, dear readers.

Apparently what happened in the mini-assemblies was a lot of amazing, thoughtful, and hard work.  And they crafted from those mini-assemblies a resolution that bore little in common with the original resolution to boycott Phoenix by moving our General Assembly in 2012.  The full text of it is below.  What it was, in sum, was a proposal that we go to Phoenix and have a different sort of GA with minimal business and focused on working with our allies to effect change.

With the mini-assembly process completed, only two amendments were allowable in the plenary today.  One was to adopt an included by not incorporated amendment to strike the language about doing minimal business.  The other was to strike the whole resolution that came from the mini-assemblies and revert back to the original boycott resolution. 

First, there were a lot of procedural questions.  Then there was a lot of pro and con debate, the con folks mostly wanting to g…

Blogging from GA: Meadville Lombard

We have two Unitarian Universalist seminaries in this country, Meadville Lombard Theological School and Starr King School for the Ministry. Together they educate a sizable percentage, but not nearly all (or even half, I believe), of our ministers. I went to Meadville Lombard (although I attended Starr King for a semester, as well). One joy of GA is usually the Meadville Lombard Alumni Dinner, where we all get together and hear about how the school is doing, catch up with old friends, hear some wonderful speakers reminisce about the old days, and eat some good food.

This year, as we were setting out for GA, Meadville Lombard released a big announcement--one we knew was coming, but I didn't know the extent of it.  Meadville Lombard has been trying to both sell its buildings and merge with another institution, and now it is announced that they will merge with Andover Newton Theological School in Boston.  And while there is a great deal of potential in this new model, it gives both…

Blogging from GA: Settlement, Fear and Saving Lives

This minister skipped the morning plenary, but has learned that the following things happened:
We passed the Statement of Conscience on Peacekeeping.We failed to choose a new Study/Action Issue. Apparently even though there was a clear favorite emerging with the understanding that immigration is the big issue right now, and the anti-slavery group throwing their support to it, no study/action issue got a clear majority, so there will be a run-off election at the next plenary session. The prediction is that immigration will sweep the run-off.The reason I did not make it to plenary today was because I was in a series of back-to-back meetings. One of those was for UU Ministers Association chapter leaders. The exciting thing I learned there was that the new UUMA webpage creates profiles for individuals and groups (chapters are the first groups set up, but later there can be groups for all sorts of things, like study groups). Since I’ve been the webpage administrator, I’ll be involved i…

A New Humanism

Minneapolis, where we're holding this General Assembly currently, is really the birthplace of Humanism, or at least this modern incarnation of Humanism as it relates to our movement.  There's a wonderful all-day series on Humanism on Saturday which I will not attend because it conflicts with important plenaries, but which is a wonderful opportunity to experience and learn about Humanism here in its heart. 

But what I did get to do was go to a workshop with Greg Epstein, the Harvard Humanist chaplain, author of Good Without God.  Greg Epstein is a delight, and I say that not just because he's from Michigan and a University of Michigan grad, although that helps.  Greg Epstein is a pioneer of the "New Humanism," which stands in contrast to the "New Atheism."  New Humanism is a positive articulation of what we believe, and Greg Epstein's interpretation of Humanism is very much in keeping with interfaith work, rather than being opposed to all religion, a…

Books books books

One of the truly dangerous parts of General Assembly is what is found in one corner of the exhibit hall...  the UUA Bookstore.  I was very very good... the first time I went in.  I walked around and didn't buy anything.  When my ride called and was going to be 45 minutes late picking me up from the convention center, however, I was not so good.  I stuck to only the children's books, but there were too many gems...

This looks like it's going to be pretty ordinary, but it beautifully shows all the world's religion's versions of the golden rule.

A prayerful children's book about our earth.
Inside the universe is our planet.  Inside you is your heart.

Yes it is.

And saving the best for last...

Blogging from GA: Clergy Sexual Ethics

At the UUMA Annual Meeting this year we voted in a new code of conduct.  It reads:
I will not engage in sexual contact or sexualized behavior with any minor child or unwilling adult.

I will not engage in sexual contact or sexualized behavior in potentially exploitive relationships, including with any person I am counseling, with interns, and with any staff person I supervise directly or indirectly except my spouse or partner.

I will respect the relationships of those to whom I minister, and not engage in sexual contact or sexualized behavior with any married or partnered client or member of the congregation, agency or enterprise I serve, or with the spouse or partner of a client or member of the institution.

If I am married or in a committed partnership I will not engage in sexual contact or sexualized behavior with any person whom I serve professionally except my spouse or partner.

In pursuing any special personal relationship of friendship or romance with a client or member of the co…

What Makes Us Human

I've been thinking about Bladerunner (aka Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick) lately.  In Bladerunner, there are androids ("replicants") which look fully human.  There's one way to really tell if someone is human or android, and that's to subject them to a specific test.  The test measures emotional responses to questions about animals--eating animals, wearing animals, animals in pain.  Here's a link to a scene showing it from the movie with Harrison Ford (embedding disabled). 

Why have I been thinking about this scene so much?  Seeing the images of the animals in the Gulf Oil Spill (like these from the Boston Globe):
It seems to me that our response to this situation is a test of whether we're human or not.

Sarah Palin Provokes Me to Ask: What is Feminism?

I was strangely attracted to this Newsweek article this week on "Saint Sarah," which says:
Palin has been antagonizing women on the left of late by describing herself as a “feminist,” a word she uses to mean the righteous, Mama Bear anger that wells up when one of her children is attacked in the press or her values are brought into question. and also says:
In her speech to the SBA List last month, Palin derided the old feminism as a relic of “the faculty lounge at some East Coast women’s college, right?”—even as she wrapped the label around herself, channeling the pioneer wives who “made sacrifices to carve out a living and a family out of the wilderness.” Hers is a “mom of faith” movement, a “mom uprising.” It’s an emotional appeal, unfettered by loyalty to the broader policy agenda of traditional feminism. (Palin will praise suffragettes, abolitionists, and Margaret Thatcher, but not the early feminists who arguably paved the way for the 96 Republican women running for Hous…

Geeking Out Today: Theology and Science Fiction & Fantasy

Now for a break from UUA politics...

It's no secret that I'm a big nerd.  And like many other nerds or geeks, I love science fiction and fantasy, in movies, television, and books.  And as a minister geek, I love how there's so much in the genres of science fiction and fantasy that explores religion in really interesting ways, such as the complex religion that emerged in the Star Trek universe in Deep Space Nine, or the way Orson Scott Card took the hero's action of Ender in Ender's Game and turned it around and Ender became the Speaker for the Dead; or the way Philip Pullman takes on religion in the His Dark Materials series.  One of my favorite scifi books that creates a wonderful religion is The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.  It's very rich--God is change.  One of my favorite movies is Cosmos, which I know a lot of people who loved the book didn't like, but I really liked the way it dealt with religion and didn't make it oppositional to scie…

Arizona: Summing Up Where We Are So Far...

I don't know about you, gentle readers, but I'm having trouble keeping track of what's happening with the debate about whether or not to move the UUA General Assembly out of Arizona in 2012.  So for my clarification, I'm going to try to search it all out and sum it up here.

Calling for Boycott:
The UUA Board of Trustees met on May 6 and issued a letter on May 10 stating that they were recommending that we pull GA2012 out of Arizona.  A Business Resolution is scheduled for a vote on this recommendation at this year's General Assembly in Minneapolis.The White Bear UU Church in Mahtomedi, MN, issued a letter stating that they applaud this.The National Council of La Raza (according to the UU World, the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights group) has called for a boycott of Arizona.At the time of a  UU World article, 18 U.S. cities were calling for boycott.Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM) issued a statement supporti…