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Showing posts from January, 2014

Pete Seeger & Generational Mourning

The Rev. Erika Hewitt launched a long Facebook discussion this week with this tweet:
Gentle reminder to clergy mourning #PeteSeeger: too much of his music on Sunday & you'll exclude Gen X & Millennials. #NotJustBoomersInPews
— Rev. Erika (@UUYogini) January 29, 2014
She later clarified and qualified that statement. But I think she was pointing at something that's important to remember, not unlike what I was saying a few months ago here.  The point I think is worth taking away from Hewitt's post is that while yes, certain people, Pete Seeger among them, were very important to history and have a strong connection to our Unitarian Universalist values, that it's not wrong or misguided or unfortunate to be someone who did not connect to Seeger's music, and that the sorrow that many are feeling at his death shouldn't be assumed to be universal, even among Unitarian Universalists.  The problem comes when people assume that their cultural memories are universa…

Spread Like the Squash Plant

What follows is the text of a sermon I delivered on Sunday, January 19, 2014 at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, MI January 19, 2014.  I gave a very similar sermon at the Universalist Unitarian Church of East Liberty on January 12, 2014.  They were each tailored to those specific audiences, and the text for Jackson included how Jackson is now being seen as part of the Ann Arbor region, and was a longer version than this.  Earlier versions (without the Marge Piercy metaphor, and with several other substantial differences) were given at the Universalist Unitarian Church of East Liberty in January of 2013, at as the winner of the Heartland Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association sermon prize at the Heartland District Assembly on April 13, 2013 just prior to our vote to become part of the MidAmerica Region, and the next day at the Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church in Southfield, MI on April 14, 2013. 

Good morning!  As Gail said, I am the minister of…

More Than You Can Bear

I came across this blog post today where the author debunks the commonly expressed phrase "God will never give you more than you can bear."  It was a well-done article, but from a very Christian perspective.  The sentiment has always been a particular pet peeve of mine, so I thought I would take it on today as well.  I understand that almost always when someone says it, it is is meant as an uplifting thought -- "You can and will get through this" is the message.  But it is, in my opinion, just a poor way of expressing it.  Here's what's wrong.

First, it's got God all wrong.  As I've said before, I may not know if God exists or not, but I have some pretty firm ideas about what God is like if God does exist.  And sending you problems is not part of what God does.  See my article after the Sandy Hook shootings about that.  God is not choosing to send you pain or suffering or death or financial struggle.  That's not God.  That's life.  And life …

Art and Spirituality

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A year ago, a friend of mine introduced me to Zentangle, a spiritual practice based in meditative doodling.  I was at her house and noticed a small box with the word "Zentangle" on it, and asked her what it was.  She showed me the book One Zentangle a Day.  I was instantly interested, and purchased the book for myself, and started working my way through it.  The book starts you off with a few patterns, adding about three new patterns (called "tangles") per day.  On the third day, I started making Zentangle chalices.  This is my first one:
It incorporates pretty much every pattern I had learned at that point.  Within a couple of weeks, I started doing a chalice every day that I Zentangled, and pretty soon I was Zentangling chalices almost exclusively.

You can Zentangle in a very meditative state, or you can do it more distractedly while doing something else, from watching TV or sitting in a meeting.  I find that Zentangling chalices even when doing it in a more dist…

Plantations, Difranco, and Me

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I have been reading about Ani Difranco and her response -- and the responses to it -- to her misstep of holding a retreat at Nottoway Plantation with great interest.

For those who haven't been following it, Ani Difranco is a white feminist singer/songwriter.  In late December, she announced that she would be holding a "Righteous Retreat."  This was an occasion where people could join her and friends for 3 days/4 nights singing and songwriting in the Big Easy, with a price tag of $1000.  The location of the retreat was to be Nottoway Plantation, the largest antebellum plantation in the South.  Difranco made the large misstep of choosing a site for her retreat especially burdened with the history of slavery, and a site that seemed to gloss-over and even glorify that history.  Furthermore, her statement said, as others have noted, (emphasis mine):
We will be shacked up at the historic Nottoway Plantation and Resort in White Castle, LA, for 3 days and 4 nights exchanging id…