Unitarian Universalist Congregation East

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April 17, 2016 News and Notes about Ireland

Today Andy spoke to us about two Irelands.  Andy’s parents immigrated from Ireland, so he sees it from a different point of view than most of the rest of us.  The Ireland of parties and celebratory drinking is celebrated on March 17 in America.  Historic Ireland is a land struggling to regain its freedom from the British and is celebrated on April 24.  This year, April 24 is even more important.  Because April 24 is the day of the Easter Uprising, which occurred exactly a century ago, April 24, 1916.

England had subdued Ireland over the course of centuries.  The English had managed this partly because they had induced the Pope to give it to them.  Things became even more confused after England and Scotland united into one country.  Suddenly the border regions which had been in turmoil to everyone’s satisfaction, now was in turmoil to everyone’s distaste.  They rounded up many of the families in the region who had been cattle rustling across the border (the border reivers) and forcibly exported them to Ireland.  The exported border Scotsmen were predominantly Protestant, and Ireland was predominantly Catholic.  Land was taken from the native Irish population and given to the newly arrived Scots families.

English law superseded Irish law.  Irishmen were disenfranchised, not allowed to own property, firearms or a good horse.  Old horses to pull carts were fine, apparently.  Notably, the Irish were not allowed an education.  Although the disputes were over economic equality, economic justice, and good old fashioned real justice, the primary flames starting the trouble was usually over religious differences.  The newcomers were Protestant, and the natives were Catholic.

In 1649-1650 England sent an army to crush Ireland and crush it they did.  The radical Protestant leader of England at the time, Oliver Cromwell, passionately hated Catholics and blamed them for all that was wrong in Europe.  The Irish lost all political power in their country, and for the most part all economic power as well as their land was taken from them and given to Protestant Scots or Englishmen.

In 1916 England was in the midst of the desperate struggle in Europe we now know as WWI.  The Irish decided that they had a chance at a rebellion since the English Army was busy in France.  On April 24, 1916 about a thousand fighters rose up and took control of a large bit of central downtown Dublin.  But the massive uprising they hoped to inspire did not occur.  British forced wiped out the Irish fighters in what we now call the Easter uprising.

But it was not all fruitless.  A short 6 years later England granted freedom to the Irish in the 3 southern provinces.  Today, April 24 is a solemn memorial date in the Irish Nation.  St Patrick’s day is the nation’s day to celebrate.  Two Irelands, one heritage.




Posted 1 month, 4 weeks ago at 1:03 am.

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May 10, 2015 News and Notes about Mother’s Peace Day

Becca spoke to us today about Mother’s Peace Day.  Never heard of Mother’s Peace Day?  The first person to fight for an official Mother’s Day celebration in the United States was Julia Ward Howe. She had become famous as the author of the words to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  It was a stirring song, popular during the Civil War, that was intended to inspire young men to battle.  Julia Ward Howe wanted her legacy to be a little more peaceful, so she tried to get her Mother’s Peace Day made into an official holiday.  That did not come to pass, but her day, the second Sunday in May, became widely accepted as a Mother’s remembrance day.  and so it had staying power.  Becca explained this to us.

Becca added “The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering,” by Sharon Mehdi.  It is a story of two grandmothers standing silently in the local park as their way to help the world.  It is “a little story about peace for anyone who thinks she can’t save the world,” says Mehdi. It is a simple message of hope.

It turns out that there is a long tradition of women standing for peace.  There is a woman in Columbus, Ohio who stands at the corner of Broadway and High every Saturday at Noon for an hour.  She has been doing this as a plea for peace since the beginning of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

There are the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina.

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Spanish: Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo) is an association of Argentine mothers whose children were “disappeared” during the Dirty War of the military dictatorship, between 1976 and 1983. They organized while trying to learn what had happened to their children, and began to march in 1977 at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, in front of the Casa Rosada presidential palace, in public defiance of the government’s state terrorism intended to silence all opposition.(from Wikipedia)

In 2002, a community of women in Nigeria showed that woman’s bodies are enough to bring one of the largest oil companies to the bargaining table. When their words were not being heard, they made themselves be seen…by threatening to strip naked in public. – See more at: http://www.imow.org/exhibitions/women-power-and-politics/biology/curse-of-nakedness#sthash.2SaBAWVJ.dpuf

In the U.S. women of Black Lives Matter have joined with the women of Code Pink to work for peace in the streets of America.

And we learned today that Deepa’s cousin’s daughter in Sri Lanka has been working toward peace in that nation.

So, we ended our service with 5 minutes of silence for Women Standing for Peace day.

Peace to you all,


(I am remiss in my outreach.  I forget that I should be entreating you to come join us for on Sunday at 11AM.  We would love to see some new faces.)


Posted 1 year, 1 month ago at 11:51 pm.

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May 3 2015, News and Notes about Gender Roles

Today we had an interesting group discussion about gender roles in America today.  We discussed traditional gender roles first.  Inevitably, we had to get into how much of our gender role is biologically based.

This is a tricky topic to discuss.  In this part of America anyway, we don’t like to have roles assigned to us by our society.  We have, in our small midwestern UUCE community women scientists and engineers and we have a stay-at-home Dad.  We have men who cook and clean even while there is a group of women solving our water problems in the basement.  We don’t like to think of gender roles as having any basis other than an individual’s choice.

and yet…

The ideas of such psychologists such as B.F. Skinner who tried to prove that there was no inherent difference between males and females have been thoroughly discredited.  It is obvious that we biological differences.  There is something that we call a maternal instinct even if there are some women who are almost completely devoid of it and some men who are loaded with it.  On average, human males are stronger than human females so it is not by accident that firefighters are mostly men.

The most compelling arguement of all that there is a biological basis playing a deep part of our gender roles, is that we find that in the animal world, there are assigned gender roles.  Male lions take on the role of lookout while the female lions hunt down prey animals for dinner.  There is no societal push to make them do that.  In the bird world, in some species you find the females assigned the role of nest builder and in some species you find that the male is assigned that role.  Even among the great apes, the roles are different.  In the Bonobo species the females are the leaders of the group while in the Gorilla species the male is the leader of the group.  I don’t know how that happens.



Posted 1 year, 1 month ago at 1:15 am.

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April 26 News and Notes about Asian Religions

Today Andy told us more of what he knows about Asian Religions.  Unfortunately, I was missing because I had to attend a wedding in another city this weekend.  So I’m going to try to get Andy to write a summary of his own talk and as soon as I can get that, I will post it here.



Posted 1 year, 1 month ago at 12:56 am.

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April 19, 2015 News and Notes about Mythology

Today Elizabeth spoke to us about mythology and children’s stories as a metaphor for Religion.

We read “The Man In the Moon” as told and illustrated by Caroline Mallon and Mary Gehr.  The dust jacket says it is a story written to remove children’s fears of thunder, lightning and storms. In this story, the man in the moon is a benevolent being who talks to children.  We explored the consequences of telling fanciful stories to children to explain away scary things like thunder and lightning.  When the children are too young to understand the real nature of thunder and lightning, is it ok to tell them the stories of mythology in order to calm them (and entertain them?)  It turns out that the mythology we build around such things tells us a lot about our own society.  The myths reveal something about our world view… society’s world view and the parent’s world view.  Myths, it turns out, are not stories that never happened, myths are stories that continue to happen over and over again.



Posted 1 year, 1 month ago at 12:52 am.

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