Miss-iss-i-ppi

It seems that the train ride across the Mississippi invited Hughes to honor the flow of pain and promise experienced by African Americans, as well as his own deep wisdom.  

At our UUA General Assembly, which took place in New Orleans on the shores of the historic Mississippi, I received an invitation, too, of both a different and similar sort. There was much discussion this year about building greater awareness of the ways we unknowingly perpetuate systems of white supremacy within Unitarian Universalism. Congregations were asked to have courageous and beloved conversations about this so that we can discover where we are in our own awareness journey and what we might do to change and grow.

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Being an Ally: Race, Racism and Social Justice

But actual allyship and advocacy rarely involve a sustained sense of positive emotion. They exist perpetually in the “emotional ambivalence associated with [critical thought and action].” Being an ally calls for embracing a different type of emotion – that of discomfort, which another scholar, Berlak wrote was not just unavoidable but also necessary. And by discomfort what I mean is feelings of confusion or fear — What if I look like or live my life like the people we are organizing against? I am socioeconomically privileged. I’m a man. I’m straight. I’m white. I’m Christian. I am a citizen of this country. I am someone who can exercise their civic rights, like the right to vote, easily. What if the people I consider my family, friends, or community look and live like the people we are organizing against? Is my presence as an ally or advocate wanted here? Do I belong in this space? Do I belong in this movement? What role is it possible for me to play?

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From Father to Son

As Unitarian Universalists who affirm the worth and dignity of every person and promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations, I imagine we all agree that something needs to be done to stem the tide of black male deaths in our country and to put an end to systemic racism. We know of many movements and programs out there that are working to do that, and some of you are active in these.

I also believe it’s important not just to look at what needs to be done out there, but also what needs to change in here – within Unitarian Universalism – to end our own internal racism so that we can truly claim the just and beloved community that is our ideal and our goal.

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This Land Is Your Land

With school out and warm weather upon us, I want to explore with you this morning the dilemma we face as Park Lovers and Park Users. I would like to take a look at what we can do to enjoy our parks this summer while being mindful that it is our human activity – however well intentioned – that often does the most harm to the land we love.

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Blessing of the Animals

All pets offer us a Yes – if we’re willing to take them up on the invitation. They offer us a Yes to embracing our sweet and oft-forgotten child self. They offer a Yes to finding our inner wellspring of courage and compassion. They’re a Yes to experiencing the beauty and breadth of human emotion. They’re a Yes to play, a Yes to responsibility, a Yes to the mysterious and amazing birth-life-death cycle that we share with all living things.

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A Mother to Me

As we go from here, may we experience gratitude for those mothers and mother-figures that were extraordinary in their compassion and wise in their admonishments. May we embrace their examples and return the kindness, nurturing and warmth we have received to those in our lives who might need to lean on us for a little mothering, too.

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You Are What You Eat

Earth on a plate with silverware to either side

As Unitarian Universalists who strive to embrace our values in our everyday lives, to intentionally think about all aspects of our food is, perhaps, to also acknowledge that we are what we eat. In other words, if I say that my faith compels me to embark on a responsible search for truth and meaning and then I fail to investigate my food’s source and path to my table, then perhaps I’m eating irresponsibly.

We have the opportunity to approach our food with reverence, with joy and with mindfulness. And, as we do, I believe our mindfulness can lead us to curiosity and our curiosity can lead us to action and change.

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Easter Sunday and Flower Communion

My hope is that we’ll believe that our own lives and zest for living may be resurrected from whatever deadens us, especially fear, loneliness, despair and apathy. The gospel according to Luke . . . and the gospel according to Mark V. . . . tell us that life is never over. The good news – which is the meaning of the word gospel – is that we can each participate in our own restoration by not waiting but, rather, by acting on life.

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A Covenantal People

Covenants offer us a unique opportunity to build the beloved community right here, among people who are both like us and not like us . . . but with whom we share our highest ideals. What a gift our covenants are! They can help us strengthen our muscles of acceptance and understanding in here and then use them out there, where the differences may be greater and our common ground less apparent.

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