Unitarian Universalist Congregation East

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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 9 months 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 9 months 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 9 months 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 9 months ago at 12:52 am.

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April 12 2015 News and Notes about magic

Today Maggie spoke to us about the various ways of magic.  Magic is a way of understanding religious practices where the mind can produce an action somewhere else.  There is magic that is performed by God(s)  and there is magic that is performed by humans.  We are to consider the latter.

The point of evoking magic is divided into “Tribute” magic and “Supplicant” magic.  Tribute magic is about praise.  Often songs or poems, but praise for god or gods is the center of tribute magic.  Supplicant magic is about asking for help.  It can include offerings, consecrations of buildings and temples, and sacrifices of various sorts.  All this is a form of asking for help which is the hallmark of supplicant magic.

We also talked about Theurgy magic.  Theurgy is, acording to Proclus, “a power higher than all human wisdom embracing the blessings of divination, the purifying powers of initiation and in a word all the operations of divine possession

The tricky part about offerings to God is to know how much has to be offered in order to achieve the desired effect with God.  Then if you have achieved the desired effect, how long will that last until another offering is due?  If you sacrifice an animal, can you just offer the blood or the entrails to God, saving the good parts for yourself?  Can you get away with just cooking the meat and allowing the smoke to rise to the heavens and let the smoke be your offering?  Or do you have to make a real sacrifice of the meat?  Its hard to know.  We discussed that in the Christian Tradition, the sacrifice of Jesus was enough for all humans for all of the future of humanity.  In other words, Christians don’t have to make alter offerings because they have already made their votive offering to god, which was Jesus.  The ritual of communion is a reenactment but not a real sacrifice.  However, if you believe in transubstantiation, then it would seem that the sacrifice is an actual one.

Magic is also used to evoke, summon, or invite a deity into our presence.  On the other hand, magic can be used to banish, exorcise, or abjure.

Magic is done in a sacred space, a sacred circle or by a sacred person.  Sacred spaces are specially sanctified places, temples or special geological formations.  If you don’t have that, you can consecrate a sacred circle on a temporary basis where you can use your minds and bodies working together to purify a spot.  Sacred people are those who are in some way sanctified by the deity to perform the magic.

Well, this is just a taste of the introduction to magic as best as I can determine from my notes.

Come join us next time.  (my attempt to use evoking magic)



Posted 10 months ago at 12:27 am.

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