Sunday, June 25, 2017

Unitarian Universalism and the good life and good death

Nothing can provide a spur to one's spiritual life like a brush with death. Facing one's mortality square in the face brings existential concerns front and center. Considering one's imminent death leads one to reflect on what one has done with one's life and what is left to do - the so called "bucket list."

For me consideration of the end of my life left me feeling full of gratitude and thinking of all the people I was grateful to and wanted to say good bye to. It dawned on me that getting to the end of one's life and being full of gratitude is the sign and largest criterion for what we call "the good life."

The "good life" is one, the philosopher's tell us, comprised of virtue. Has one lived a life based on honesty, kindness, compassion, effort, good work, appreciation of beauty, recognition of evil, and awareness of one's Higher Power?

A life of reverence is better than a life of cynicism although cynicism has its place. "Don't mistake my being kind for being a fool," is an important principle. However, love and forgiveness trumps everything else.

Facing one's imminent death focuses one's attention and priority setting becomes much more desired. What is really important? "Will this make a difference after I am dead for the world left behind" becomes the navigational North Star by which one can make decisions.

People have said that they never started living until they were faced with their imminent death. Nothing focuses one's attention as well on what is really important.

What does Unitarian Universalism have to teach us about how to die well? Having lived a life based on the seven principles and using the six sources is a blessing. Perhaps Unitarian Universalism could flourish more if it promoted its principles as a way of life that leads to a good death full of satisfaction and fulfillment because of a life well lived.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Unitarian Universalism cannot be a "movement" if it is survive and flourish

Salted With Fire: Unitarian Universalist Strategies For Sharing Faith and Growing Congregations edited by Scott W. Alexander and published by Skinner House Books in 1994 leaves a lot to be desired and indicates why Unitarian Universalism is losing membership and not growing as a religious denomination.

A major flaw occurs when Unitarian Universalism is referred to as a "movement" rather than as a religion. If UUs consider their religious faith to be a social movement rather than a deep well of spirituality, it is doomed to increasing irrelevance.

While Unitarian Universalism has articulated its six sources, it has done a poor job of articulating the perennial theology than flows from these sources. Rather it has become distracted by social justice issues which are better dealt with by NGOs who specialize in those problems. Religious faith, while it is made manifest in good works, is not based on those works but on the beliefs, values, preferences, and intentions which motivate them. It is in the failure to nurture this spiritual foundation which contributes to the demise of Unitarian Universalism as a well spring of religious faith.

Consequently, there will be fewer posts on this blog, UU A Way Of Life, and more on Notes on the Spiritual Life. Readers of UU A Way Of Life are welcomed at NSL

Saturday, October 15, 2016

UU witness is needed to redeem the U.S. from the sin of Trumpism

Trumpism manifests the dark underbelly of American culture characterized by sexism, racism, religious intolerance, xenophobia, and fear mongering intimidation. This shadow side of American culture is partially hidden most of the time even though it erupts continuously in pockets of subjugated and oppressed subcultures where victims are powerless to combat it. The majority of the population politely ignores these manifestations of injustice with excuses such as "I didn't want to get into it," "there was nothing I could do anyway," and "it has nothing to do with me." Now, Trumpism is rubbing our proverbial noses in it with a societal drama that is a caricature of what has been present all along, but which we, as a society, have preferred to ignore and deny. Americans and people around the world have been woken from their slumber by the wolf at the door threatening the stability and well being of a whole nation and people around the world.

Unitarian Universalists have a far different view of the world that the one presented by Trumpism. UUs with their seven principles affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person not just the wealthy, the beautiful, and the powerful. UUs with their seven principles affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations not predation, unequal treatment, and contempt and disdain for those unwilling or unable to comply with the requirements and expectations of the more powerful. UUs affirm and promote a free and responsible search for truth and meaning not lying, manipulation, and blaming and shaming of those who would disagree or question the assumed righteousness of the powerful. UUs affirm and promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all not the "pay to play" "give to get" mentality that characterizes Trumpism.

If there is a modern example of sin one need look no farther than the statements and behavior of those who espouse Trumpism  where assault is encouraged at rallies and disrespect for others is cheered with vicious emotional arousal bordering on riot.

At this time, more than ever, the UU witness is needed in America to counteract the toxic poison of Trumpism. UUs need to call the nation to repentance with the goal of redeeming our nation from the scourge of the hell being envisioned and the Trumpists are attempting to create.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

All UUs must reject Trumpism and promote and affirm the inherent worth and dignity of very person

Donald Trump's lewd conversation with Billy Bush on the Access Hollywood bus is not locker room talk. It is the talk of a sexual predator. Rudy Guliani trying to normalize sexual predation saying on the Sunday morning talk shows that "all men talk like that" is sadly mistaken. The men I associate with do not talk like that, think like that, or behave like Trump described himself as doing "I moved on her like a bitch."

Trump's attempt at normalizing sexually assaultive talk, thoughts, and behavior is antithetical to UU principles and should be identified and rejected by all courageous men and women of UU faith. Donald Trump's vision of making America great again where men are men and women are the targets of their lustful assaults is a vision of a hell on earth which all  UUs must reject as they continue to work on building a world where the inherent worth and dignity of every person is affirmed and promoted.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The effect of Trumpism in our nation's schools

From a Southern Poverty Law Center report:

"Our report found that the campaign is producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. Many students worry about being deported."

Trumpism violates many Unitarian Universalism principles and is causing harm to children in our nation according to a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. We haven't seen this kind of dynamic in our society since the time of McCarthyism in the 1950s when lives were ruined with the accusation that targeted people were communist.

The covenanting of Unitarian Universalists to affirm and promote very different kind of values in our society offers an antidote to Trumpism. The time is ripe for UUs to offer sanctuary of love and compassion for our brothers and sisters being targeted. It is also time for UUs to bear witness to the evil of Trumpism and to offer more positive beliefs in justice, equity, compassion and truth.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Donald Trump in violation of the ninth commandment and many of UUs principles

People are taught in our Judeo Christian society that it is wrong to lie. It is the ninth of the ten commandments, "One shall not bear false witness against one's neighbor." Donald Trump has born false witness repeatedly when he accused Barack Obama of not being in the presidency legitimately because he was not born in the United states when it has been well established that Barack Obama is an American citizen having been born in Hawaii from a mother who was an American citizen.

Why would Donald Trump lie about Barack Obama's birthplace over the course of many years? He benefited from the lie politically as polls show that as many as 72% of Republicans believe this lie which is called "birtherism." Trump's lies have been fueled by cable news stations so often that people skeptical have come to believe the lies because of the the repetition.

Donald Trump birther lie is not only in violation of the ninth commandment, it is also in violation of the second and fourth principles of Unitarian Universalism. UUs covenant to affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

Since it is one of UUs principles to engage in the free and responsible search for truth and meaning, it is incumbent upon us as UUs to witness to the truth and to denounce falsehood especially when it is manipulatively disseminated for personal gain of obtaining personal power over others at the expense of truth, equity, and compassion. The birther lie in and off itself has been disproved and can be put behind us, but what about the character of the person who has promoted such harm? Has he taken responsibility? Has he apologized? Has he done anything to repair the years of harm that has been done to the President and to the American people?

As is stated by Mark Hertsgaard in his article in the October 10, 2016 issue of The Nation entitled, "Trump's Media Enablers," "The birther issue goes beyond mere partisanship and the strong differences between Trump and Clinton on specific policy matters like climate change and Obamacare. It raises fundamental questions of democratic governance and national identity: Is the United States still a nation of laws or, as many Trump supporters apparently believe, a tyranny of stealth?" It may be that Hertsgaard meant "deceit" instead of "stealth?"

As UUs we also covenant together to affirm and promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large. Democracy does not work well when people lie to one another especially its aspiring leaders. Democracy breaks down when such egregious lying is not recognized, acknowledged, and repaired.

It is necessary for UUs to bear witness to the harmful behavior that has been engaged in and to work, as each as able, to repair the harm that has been done not only to the President but to the citizens who lawfully elected him by participating in their democratic franchise of voting for him. It is apparent that harm has been done to our democracy by the lies perpetrated by Donald Trump and his failure to take responsibility for his lies and apologize makes him unfit for the Presidency.

While Jesus told us to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's, there is an overlap rather than a clean dichotomy, and it is clear that liars do not engage in God's work and should not be given positions of leadership.

For more on the Hertsgaard article in The Nation click here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Class starting on the Words and Deeds of Prophetic Women and Men on 10/16/16

Class is starting on Sunday, 10/16/16. You can join us on line by leaving comments on this blog during the book discussion.