Unitarian Universalist Congregation East

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Jan 11, 2015 News and Notes

Today Shawn spoke to us about Principles of Paganism.  Paganism is a catch-all phrase that describes a broad group of religious structures.  It is often referred to as a collection of world-views that are pantheistic i.e. exclude monotheism, but even that is a misnomer.  The word Pagan to the Romans really just meant the people of the back-country, what we today would call hill-billies.

That said, there is a commonality among the the Earth-Religions.  Many of them today are modern expressions of the ancient beliefs and practices of our ancestors, at least as nearly as we can discover what those practices were.  There are, however, three things that all seem to have in common:

1) The religions are, at their core, earth-centered hearth cultures.  Humans are connected to the natural world.  The earth does not need improving or subduing.

2) Humans are not “fallen.”  We do not need to be saved.  We are blessed.

3) Humans have personal responsibility to nurture creation.  There is no dogma to adhere to.  There are no easy answers and there is no easy rescue of the spirit by a leader who will pronounce that only good things will befall you.

Paganism is not for the feint of heart.

There are many religions that are called neo-pagan because they are trying to decipher the religious beliefs of ancient peoples who were assimilated by either the Romans or the Greeks or the Christians.  This is difficult because these people often did not write anything down. Nevertheless, here are what Pagans believe:

-Everyone chooses their own religious path

-You are responsible for your growth.  Most congregations don’t have professionally trained leaders.

-We dont have one truth.

-Everything is sacred.  You are part of the Universe.

-We have a responsibility to interact with the world.

All of these believes fit nicely into the religious practices of the Unitarian Universalist church.  Come visit us some Sunday.

Peace,

Rick

Posted 1 week, 2 days ago at 2:29 am.

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Dec 7, 2014 News and Notes

Today’s service was by Susan Ritchie.

Sometimes it is just amazing that we can all gather together here.  We all made this journey to this place.  To us, the gathering itself is the revelation of the spiritual.  When the Dalai lama was facing the diaspora of his people, he is said to have asked the Jewish fathers how they managed to keep their spiritual identity alive in their diaspora.  If the Dalai Lama were to go to UU headquarters what would we teach him?  What is our special gift?  Susan Ritchie would say that religion is not a container.  Religion is a matrix of relationships. Religion can be about mixing beliefs, so you don’t have to be afraid of your neighbors.  Getting to know one another makes us stronger.

There is a tie between every declaration of religious tolerance and the original declaration of religious tolerance, the Edict of Torda issued in 1568 in which Unitarians codified the mixing of religions that was going on anyway.  In modern times, the concept of purity has been confused with intolerance for other religious beliefs.  The urge to mix with others must not be repressed in the human spirit. If the person who taught you to pray, taught you to hate, then he was doing it wrong.

Peace,

Rick

Posted 1 week, 2 days ago at 2:03 am.

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Dec 14, 2014

Just in time for Christmastide,Betty organized an entire Sunday service around the joy that singing brings to the human heart.  No one knows more about joy in the human heart than our Betty.  We brought instruments, we brought our favorite songs on CD’s and we sang from songbooks.  Some of us brought stories.  Everyone had a chance to share some music, or memories of music that brought us Joy.  Joyful holidays are the best.

Peace,

Rick

Posted 1 week, 2 days ago at 1:29 am.

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7 Sep 2014

Today Betty lead us in a traditional water ceremony day.  In the past, we have talked about how precious water is in the world but this time Betty wanted us to show what water means to ourselves and to our little community.  Water is often central to our own lives and our own memories.  Because we are a community, and a community shares with one another, she wanted us to reflect upon where we have been this summer, but also upon the emotional burden and baggage that we carry to the water.  The web of life is all represented in the water.

Did you feel the interdependent web of existance coming alive in those moments?  A growing awakening of how this water is like the strands of the web, and how the web is us and is everything.

So one member went to a wedding that was held at one of the finger lakes of New York.  One member visited Lake Hudson, one went to Washington DC and one went to the islands of Washington state to collect water for the pool.

One member spent the summer fixing gutters and other things to make sure that the water stayed away.  One member commented that she did not go anywhere but was thankful that the water did the traveling to come to her house in a clean and usable form.  One member planted a garden and was fully prepared to spend the summer watering it had it not been such a wet summer here in Central Ohio.  One member visited Colorado where it does not rain very much right now, but she visited the “Garden of the Gods” in Colorado Springs where too much rain is actually not all that good.  One member contributed no water to our common pool because she was acting in solidarity with the State of California which has none to spare.  And so it was that water travels very effectively and affects many lives of people who are not traveling.

Peace

Rick

Posted 5 months, 3 weeks ago at 11:52 pm.

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Aug 24, 2014

Today we had an interesting discussion about the historical Jesus and how much we think we know about his life is likely to be based in fact and how much is likely to be mythology superimposed upon the historical Jesus.  Much of what we discussed came out of Part One of Zeitgeist: The Movie by Peter Joseph.

According to Wikipedia:  Part I questions religions as being god-given stories, stating that the Christian religion specifically is mainly derived from other religions, astronomical assertions,astrological myths and traditions, which in turn were derived from or shared elements with other traditions. In furtherance of the Jesus myth hypothesis this part states that the historical Jesus is a literary and astrological hybrid, nurtured politically.

The argument is that there are a set of things that have been attributed to virtually all spiritual leaders in the ancient world when nobody knew anything and the whole world was scared by disease, condemned to poverty and living in ignorance of science.  Among these things is an obsession with the sun, which had the ability to warm the world around you in spring and had an obvious effect on the plants which feed the world.

A recurring theme in widely scattered cultures is the god who dies and after three days is resurrected from the dead.  The movie indicates that the reason that this is such a widespread idea is that in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun moves across the horizon at dawn from North to South until  the time of the Winter Solstice.  At that time the sun appears to not move at all across the horizon but after three days the sun rises on the horizon slightly more Northernly compared to the previous day.  The sun begins moving again from South to North after three days.  The author postulates that there is no mystery why all ancient cultures appear to have adopted the same theme in their mythology.  Also, on at that time in the solstice the three prominent stars in Orion’s belt align with the point on the horizon where the sun will rise on the solstice.  This phenomenon, according to the author, explains why so many cultures have an equivalent to the Christian three wise men.

Dark and light are obvious analogies to the evil and good in the world.  Horace and many other heros also had 12 disciples.  So, we postulate that somewhere there was an itinerant preacher who had some pretty radical good ideas.  Over the centuries, a lot of mythology got superimposed upon the Jesus of history.  We just wonder if we have a good understanding of how to figure out what is truth and what is fiction.

Peache

Rick

Posted 5 months, 3 weeks ago at 1:24 am.

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