April 16, 2017 Flower ceremony
Today we had the flower ceremony. Once again, we share something of our own lives and attribute the mystery of the experience to the flower. Not everyone participates, but you might be surprised how much social justice a person can experience in a year that can be symbolized in a rose. Some people are troubled that roses have thorns. Others are grateful that the thorns have roses.
If you are still reading about us, then you are probably more intrigued than you are letting on. Come join us. We aren't all thorns.
Apr 2, 2017 Service about Humanism
Today Bob spoke to us about the ten commitments of Humanism. The ten commitments Principles for teaching values in public schools.
Altruism is the unselfish concern for the welfare of others without expectation of reward, recognition, or return.
CARING FOR THE WORLD AROUND US
Everyone can and ought to play a role in caring for the Earth and its inhabitants. We learn that we are dependent on each other, on the natural world, and all that lives in it for food and shelter, space and beauty.
We gain reliable knowledge because we are able to observe, report, experiment, and analyze what goes on around us. We also learn to raise questions that are clear and precise, to gather information, and to reason about the information we receive in a way that tests it for truthfulness.
We human beings are capable of empathy, the ability to understand and enter imaginatively into another living being’s feelings, the sad ones and the happy ones as well.
Questions of fairness, cooperation, and sharing are among the first moral issues we encounter in our ethical development as human beings.
We live in a world that is rich in cultural, social, and individual diversity, a world where interdependence is increasing rapidly so that events anywhere are more likely to have consequences everywhere. We help others reach understanding about the interconnectedness of the welfare of all humanity.
Human rights is the idea that people should have rights just because they are human beings.
PEACE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
A curriculum that values and fosters peace education would promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among nations as well as among cultural and religious or philosophical groups.
Our behavior is morally responsible when we tell the truth, help someone in trouble, and live up to promises we've made. Our behavior is legally responsible when we obey a just law and meet the requirements of membership or citizenship. But we also have a larger responsibility to be a caring member of our family, our community, and our world.
SERVICE AND PARTICIPATION
Life’s fulfillment can emerge from an individual’s participation in the service of humane ideals. School-based service-learning combines community service objectives and learning objectives with the intent that the activities change both the recipient and the provider.
A lively discussion ensued. We Unitarians believe in the inherent goodness of all 10 of these commitments. However, in the political world we now live in, we know that many people in this world are very opposed to some of these principles. And so we had a long discussion about it. The writings of Ayn Rand, for example teach that altruism is the leading cause of the destruction of modern governments. Some evangelical Chrisitians in America have been teaching got wants us to take care of the earth as Adam and Ever were charged with taking care of the garden, but some evangelicals have been teaching that humans are put on the earth to use the environment not to preserve it. In Texas there was a faction that wanted to de-emphasize teaching critical thinking because it lead to questioning of traditional Texas values. And so it goes.
If you believe in Humanist principles, then please come join us some Sunday. We would love to meet you.
March 26, 2017 Service about Love (and perseverance, and justice)
Today Karen spoke on the topic of love and supporting communities under siege. (spoiler alert the sermon was cribbed from Victoria Safford of the White Bear UU Church in Minnesota.)
This is about love. It is a reminder that people have been struggling for a long, long time, against destruction, against disappointment and despair, against desecration of the planet and desecration of each other, devastations of the spirit and the body and the body politic, and people have been grieving for a long, long time; and for generations, those who came before us threw in their lots again and again, age after age, for hope, for compassion, for justice, for freedom, for human rights and civil rights (people with a lot more to lose than most of us here); they cast their lots for dignity and kindness, for beauty, truth and mercy. Perversely, ironically, against the odds and against powerful, normative rules and realities, people come together, people sometimes from very different places, backgrounds, histories, in every age, combine their ordinary powers and reconstitute the world.
And it is an honor and an act of love to sign on to that history and carry it on.
This is about love, not politics, or the kind of love that is politics, the faith that unfolds in the public square and the private heart, and everywhere. "It is midnight in our world," said Martin Luther King, "and the darkness is so deep that we can hardly see which way to turn."
The faith of a Unitarian Universalist comes from courage and moral clarity. We are on the threshold now of a terrifying moment in our country, in our world, when we will be called as never before to clarify, to testify, to a faith that sometimes even we cannot articulate. Sometimes it is hard being a Unitarian Universalist. What do we believe in, and what do you believe? The answer comes in whispers, when we’re most afraid, confused, unsure, when someone’s story touches us, someone’s courage, their humanity, and we remember: we are saved by love.
If this sounds like a community you would like to join, then we would love to have you come visit with us some Sunday morning... 11 O'clock.
March 12, 2017 Service about the ACLU
Today Gary Daniels, a representative from the ACLU, came to talk to us about the work of his organization. There was a lot to talk about.
Interestingly, he started off by saying there are two groups who are strong supporters of the ACLU and he didn't know which one was most dedicated. One was Librarians, and the other was Unitarian Universalists.
The big lesson for me was his explanation of the way the ACLU addresses religion and the constitution. The Constitution encourages the government to accommodate religious practices wherever practicable but it prohibits endorsement of a religion. This is a very difficult line to walk. The government should allow prayer, but never encourage or lead a prayer. Ironically, many of the protections for religious practice built into case law go back to a time when evangelical Christians were seeking protection (see Danbury Baptist Church letter from Thomas Jefferson.)
We also discussed a fair amount of the most recent bans on immigration from a list of middle eastern countries by executive order. He explained that even if the executive order didn't explicitly ban people of one religion, all the things that the President said on the campaign trail will be introduced as evidence of the true intent of the executive order. It will be up to the judge to determine whether those arguments are persuasive.
Terror has often been used as the underlying reason to suppress religious practices, especially in surveillance cases. He said the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) takes the lead in many of these cases when it comes to discrimination against Muslims.
If you are a strong believer in the mission of the ACLU, then you really should consider coming and hanging out with us next Sunday. (next Sunday we are going to have a service on Jobs, unemployment, and what the heck it has done to politics in this country.)