Blog roundup: Responding to Baltimore

This week’s prayer

The Rev. Meredith Garman offers a prayer for the suffering in the world this week.

We pause to collectively acknowledge the world’s sadness, which is our own — and to face straightforwardly what is real. As we would be a people of love and compassion, let us open ourselves to take in the pain, and respond with kindness and care. (The Liberal Pulpit, April 25)

UU responses to Baltimore

A group of UU religious professionals of color issued a statement about responses to protests in Baltimore.

While we gather in solidarity with the oppressed, we are also deeply troubled by our own Unitarian Universalist Association and any religious body that has little or no response to Baltimore. . . .

We particularly call on the UUA to reevaluate its national prophetic voice after participating in the recent commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the events at Selma. Sanford, Ferguson, New York, Baltimore . . . these are our Selma. The time is past . . . we people of faith must gather with the beaten, the murdered and the oppressed. (A Full Day, April 29)

On this week’s episode of The VUU, the show’s regulars discuss events in Ferguson, Baltimore, and beyond with Leslie Butler MacFadyen and the Rev. David Carl Olson.

Real news, real people

As she awaits word from Nepal about the safety of a longtime family friend, the Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford reminds us that “There is real news today, with real people.”

Nepali people dig in the rubble for loved ones
Landslides, avalanche, no way to get supplies
And 2 real family members, a world away, listen
Hoping for a phone call that mama is okay
The ping of an email that the student has been located.

Turn off the analysis
The posturing
The replaying over and over
To elicit the emotional reaction
That means you’ll keep watching
And paying for them to do it all again

There is real news today
With real people. (Boots and Blessings, April 28)

The gift of the bees

The Rev. Catherine Clarenbach challenges heterosexist interpretations of Beltaine, and describes a lovely alternate ritual involving a celebration of bees.

So as we enter into the Tide of Beltaine, let us think on the profusion of Earthly delights the holiday has to offer. How delight, joy, love, attraction, flowers, animals, insects, fertility, fruitfulness . . . how all these and more can come together in the holiday that is also the celebration of the Pole and the Wreath. How people of all (not merely “both”) genders can embody the glories of the season. And how therefore, we—all and each—are called into the wonders of the gateway to summer, the beauty that is Beltaine. (Nature’s Path, April 30)

Having watched Diane Sawyer’s recent interview with Bruce Jenner, Andrew Hidas considers “the conundrum of the self.”

Who (or what?) was this female Self that Bruce Jenner claims resided too deeply within his thoroughly male physical Self for that male Self ever to supplant? That male Self could win Olympic gold, but it could not take up residence within the female Self that Jenner claims has always been his emotional core and identity.

All of which begets an even more fundamental question: Just what is a Self anyway? (Traversing, April 30)

The entrepreneurial church

The Rev. Tom Schade has a helpful reminder for those who doubt what the UUA can accomplish: “The UUA created a successful, self-sustaining, surplus-creating health insurance company.”

My colleague, Cindy Landrum, calls for a “relentlessly useful UUA.” She and others talk about the UUA providing back office services to congregations: centralized payroll, bookkeeping and accounting, member databases, web services, graphic resources, and more. . . .

But such improvements seem like impossible pipe dreams. . . . But remember, we created a health insurance company that works for us, when no other health insurance company was willing to cover us. And that should give us a model and some confidence that we could do what we need. (The Lively Tradition, April 28)

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum has a specific entrepreneurial idea for churches.

So what if we clergy each trained one or two entrepreneurial people to become our wedding chaplains, and to aggressively market our churches for weddings? We train these wedding chaplains, equip them with resources, and set a going rate for the whole wedding package including officiant for the church to charge, out of which the chaplain is paid, on a per wedding basis. Our churches get used, get income, and get hundreds of new faces through the doors. Maybe they’ll see something they like and come back on a Sunday, too. (The Lively Tradition, April 28)