Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Lord's prayer from A Course In Miracles

Bill Thetford: The Lord's Prayer (ACIM Version) from Foundation for Inner Peace on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Hallelujah at First Universalist Church of Rochester, NY on Easter 04/05/15

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Turning UU ministers into entrepreneurs begs the question of what are they going to sell?

The UU Ministers Association has a new program they are calling "Entrepreneurial Ministry" apparently designed to help UUs package and market the product to gain more market share.

While packaging and marketing are important, even more important is the product they are intending to sell. Without a clear sense of mission and vision and values, the business will continue to fail as it has been.

Unitarian Universalism, as a religion not a "movement," is badly in need of renewal. If UU has answers to the major religious questions people struggle with in our contemporary times it would sell itself. The secularization of UU as a business enterprise is not going to work. This effort of turning ministers into entrepreneurs is gimmicky, catchy, and inspirational in a counterfeit kind of way. UU needs to go back to its roots and engage in a radical renewal.

Some say that people are spiritually hungry which the population attempts to satiate with identification to sports teams and getting caught up in political fundamentalism of various ilks. Jesus said to be "in" the world, but not "of" the world. Jesus was other worldly and we have been warned about not espousing idols or false prophets. Thinking that UU is a business that requires entrepreneurial" pitch men and women is to go down a road that distracts us from UUs core mission which is to save the world from its ego driven nature and bring one another home to Godfulness.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ACIM and UU - Standing on the side of love is a miracle

The eight principle of the 50 principles of miracles in A Course In Miracles is "Miracles are healing because they supply a lack; they are performed by those who temporarily have more for those who temporarily have less."

The ego doesn't allow us to know what we lack. The ego operates on the scarcity principle meaning that we always have anxiety that we are inadequate or deficient in some way and so we spend our energy trying to soothe our anxiety by getting more. However, what we lack is God. We are suffering from the separation from God and from each other. UU is on the right track when it asks us to covenant together to affirm and promote the acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our third principle. Jesus tells us as much when he tells his followers that the way to the kingdom is "to love as I have loved."

What this eight principle points to is the observation that some of us have a more loving heart than others and those with a more loving heart are called to help those who are less loving. This is a temporary phenomenon until those with less love catch up with those with more love. Do UUs have more love than other members of our society? Are we further along on the journey to At-one-ment? Our marketing campaign of Standing On The Side Of Love may be a step in the right direction if it is miracle based. Returning to the Love of God is the root of our Universalist faith which tells us that we all are heirs of God's Love without exception. It is just that some are more aware of this than others. Love is all around us. Tune in and then broadcast it as you go about your daily routine not only standing but living on the side of Love.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sales are down because we don't know what we are selling

Richard Trudeau writes in his book, Universalism 101:

"First, in 1961, when the denominations joined forces, there were a total of 151, 557 adult UUs. Forty years later, there were 156, 968 adult UUs or a net gain of less than four percent. Meanwhile the population of North America went up something like fifty percent, so as a percentage of the population, we actually declined considerably in forty years. To me that's a symptom of a need for renewal." p. 25

UU is losing its market share as the marketers say, and one might wonder at the lack of attractiveness, the loss of vitality, the failure of engagement. In my experience, UU has difficulty not only in attracting new members, but in keeping the members it has. I am a case in point. I have tried to get involved in 4 different UU congregations and failed. I am no longer counted as a member anywhere and yet I write this blog and believe fervently in what UU has to offer. Why the disconnect?

Trudeau goes on to write:

"I interpret the talk about spirituality as a sign of deep seated hunger on the part of members of our congregations, and therefore as symptom of a need for renewal." p.25

Trudeau makes a good point that there is a deep seated hunger for spirituality but there is no coherent response. Not much nurturing going on. People cling to social justice as an external object of meaning, but it inevitably fails because spirituality is not about social justice, per se, but about personal transformation. UU has missed the boat and is flailing around drowning.

Trudeau writes even further:

"I believe a root cause of the spiritual hunger and anti-Christianity can be expressed in the phrase turning away. UUism makes it easy for people to turn away from big religious questions. UUism enables people to turn away from their personal religious pasts. UUism even turns away from its own religious past."  p.26

Having turned away from its religious past and turning away from the big religious questions UU has lost its identity, and has not forged a new one palatable with the public. Can the average UU explain his/her faith to an outsider with any degree of coherence and enthusiasm? UUs eschew missionary efforts and proselytising because they don't know what their product is.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

UU and ACIM - The Spiritual path requires the purification from bull shit

The seventh miracle principle in A Course In Miracles is: "Miracles are everyone's right, but purification is necessary first."

The purification mentioned in this principle refers to our mind not our body. The Course teaches that the body is an illusion, it merely is a conduit of our spirit. In itself it is nothing and to focus on it is to miss the point or distract us from where the effective focus should be our mind.

Our egos are so full of drama, resentments, grievances, attacks that to be miracle workers it needs purification. If we are to be more aware of Love's presence in our lives we must remove the obstacles and barriers to Love's presence. It is this removal of these barriers and obstacles to the awareness of Love's presence that the Course is referring to when it says that "purification is necessary first."

Miracles are not something only certain very holy people can do. They are everyone's birth right. In fact, for humanity to achieve its ultimate purpose all people must become miracle workers because a miracle, in the terms of the course, is simply right thinking and right awareness. We come to the place where we understand what is really important which is to love. Kenneth Wapnick in discussing this principle quotes St. Augustine who said "Love and do what you will." The ego distracts us from loving and so whatever blocks our loving awareness needs to be removed so that our awareness can be purified. In Unitarian Universalism our principles help us with this purification when we covenant "to affirm and promote the acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth" and when we support the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. A free and responsible search should involve a purification of bull shit so that we get closer to our authentic and genuine selves which involves the awareness of the inherent worth and dignity of ourselves and every person.

Here is a moral tale of purification of a prosecutor who made terrible mistakes because of ego:

It is interesting that so much of our justice system is motivated by "winning" rather than the truth.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Humanae Vitae, Catholic Identity, and the state of the world today

From "Does Method Matter? Contraception & Catholic Identity" from Commonweal, March 20, 2015, by Lisa Fullan, pp.20-21

Humanae vitae also presumes a degree of self-determination that many women do not enjoy, especially (but not exclusively) in the developing world. Paul VI warned that contraception would leave women vulnerable to sexual exploitation by men. Sadly, such abuse long predated the Pill. What reliable contraception does—especially contraception that women control—is give women greater determination over their reproductive lives, even if their partners are indifferent to their well-being and that of their children. What Humanae vitae described as self-indulgence sounds to many women like self-defense, or at least self-care and more responsible parenting.
During the papacy of John Paul II (one of the few members of the birth-control commission who had supported the line taken by Humanae vitae), adherence to the church’s teaching against artificial contraception became an unofficial criterion for ecclesiastical promotion, a policy that eventually unified the church’s leadership in opposition to a practice accepted by most lay Catholics. Over time, a culture of silence took hold in parishes; people stopped confessing the use of birth control, believing in conscience that it was not sinful (even as confession itself became rare for most church-going Catholics). Priests, many of whom also harbored private disagreements with the teaching, largely dropped the question.
And now? The church stands uneasily divided: many bishops continue to argue that the teaching of Humanae vitae is an important marker of Catholic identity, giving this aspect of moral teaching an unwarranted significance. Most of the laity find the teaching unconvincing and so disregard it. Priests stay quiet, lest they be caught between their congregations and their bishops. A few bishops are calling for a new look at the teaching in light of its near-universal lack of reception by the laity. It remains to be seen whether Pope Francis will revisit the question.
Doctrine should reflect the way those basic values are incarnate in the lives of Catholics, and especially women, whose voices have largely been absent from the formulation of the church’s teaching on this question.
To double down on a doctrine that presents an unnatural vision of sex to Catholics who know better would only exacerbate the atmosphere of distrust between the laity and their bishops. Silence is not the answer. 

  • My ex-wife and I had 9 kids. We were married in the Catholic Church and raised our children Catholic. We used birth control and Natural Family Planning to space our children.
  • I have never found the RC's teaching on birth control convincing but its teaching on human sexuality has some good aspects to it which I find empowering and affirming.
  • It could be argued that the RC's teaching on birth control has been more oppressive and disempowering to women than respectful and protective.
  • Jesus, the God of Christianity, had very little to say about sex and I think would be supportive of birth control as a means of limiting reproduction while supporting what the RC calls the "unitive" contribution of human sexual behavior.
  • Unitarian Universalism has little to say about sex other than it needs to be respectful of the inherent worth and dignity of every person and it should promote justice, compassion and equity in our human relations.
  • Roman Catholicism has been hurt by the teachings of Humanae Vitae because it does not fit with the lived experience of most Catholics who have followed their own consciences which has brought them into opposition to the teachings of their church. This phenomenon has led to demoralization and defection from RC to other Christian denominations or religions or none.
  • It would seem that at this point in human evolution, the limiting of human reproduction is a desirable thing for the planet and the survival of our species and other species. Out or respect for the interdependent web it would appear the teachings of Humanae Vitae, while perhaps well meant, are unethical and immoral.
  • I don't regret having nine children and I believe it was God's will for me and my partner, but today this might be considered self indulgent and anti-social.