Sunday, September 25, 2016

Manny, an environmental engineering student, is a good example of a prophetic man exemplifying our UU second source

The second source of the living tradition of Unitarian Universalism is the words and deeds of prophetic men and women. The second principle of Unitarian Universalism is to affirm and promote the respect for the interdependent web of all existence.

Manny the son of Cuban immigrants has entered college this fall, 2016 at MIT to study environmental engineering because he wants to save the world from the negative impacts of global warming. Manny's story is one of hope, determination, and commitment to making the world a better place that is very inspiring. Manny is a good example of a prophetic man who by his word and deeds works to transform the world. To learn more about Manny's story click here.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

As a Unitarian Universalist you are called to be a prophet

The second source of the living tradition of Unitarian Universalism is the words and deeds of prophetic men and women and for those who call themselves Unitarian Universalists they all are prophets if they are living their faith and not just spectating.

If we are to create happy lives for ourselves and leave the world a little better place when we leave than what we found upon our arrival, we must become consciously aware of our faith. Our faith is what matters most to us when its all said and done.

It is said that some people do not have faith and are agnostic or atheist, but the fact of the matter is that we all have faith in something. To become more conscious of your own faith consider this question, "What matters the most to me in my life is ___________." However you filled in the blank is the basis of your faith.

The faith of Unitarian Universalism is crystallized it its seven principles and six sources. To share the good news of the UU faith, one has to believe it him/herself. As it says in A Course In Miracles, we learn what we teach, and so if we would become more confident and secure in our UU faith we should teach it to others and therein is the role of prophecy.

Who have you shared your UU faith with today, this week, this month? We can transform the world if we followed the simple idea of "each one, teach one." It is in the teaching, and showing the example of our lives that we prophecy.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The second source, the seventh principle, and moments of grace

The second of six sources of the living tradition of Unitarian Universalism is the words and deeds of prophetic women and men. How do we draw upon this source?

A primary way is reading biographies about the lives of informative and inspiring women and men.

Another way I have found is by reading the Sun Magazine which every month has an interview with an interesting and inspiring person and a section called "Readers write" where "Readers Write asks readers to address subjects on which they're the only authorities." In other words, Readers write, invites people to tell stories from their lives. Here is a moment of grace as described by David Armitage in response to the topic for May, 2016 for Readers Write which was "backyards."

in the early 1980s I started a rigorous six-year academic program in Boston that required me to work during the day, take classes at night, and do homework on the weekends. On my first summer off, I wanted to get far away from my studies, work with my hands, and be close to the earth. So I went to live with an Amish family in Pennsylvania. The experience renewed me, and I decided to do it again the next summer.
That year I drove from Boston to Pennsylvania on a holiday weekend, and what was normally a six-hour trip took more than ten hours. By the time I arrived, just before dusk, I was anxious and exhausted.
My Amish hosts had delayed their dinner for me. During the meal I tried to act natural, but I felt full of nerves. My Amish host could clearly tell something was amiss, because at the end of dinner he said, “Come with me.”
I followed him to their backyard, which bordered an alfalfa field. Although his faith discouraged smoking, the farmer lit a cigarette. Three of his children gamboled about while two others clung to him. The farmer stood without saying a word, looking out over the alfalfa. I did the same.
The dark-green field was becoming harder to see in the fading light. The sky was peach at the horizon and deep blue higher up. Stars had begun to appear. Then out of the alfalfa rose fireflies — a few at first, but soon there were hundreds. Their pinpricks of light mingled with the stars: heaven and earth meeting in this humble man’s backyard. I felt my nervousness leave me.
The farmer turned and said, “That’s for you.”
David Armitage
Boston, Massachusetts
Mr. Armitage's story reminds me of the seventh principle of Unitarian Universalism which is "respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." When we pull back from the stress of our daily routines and get things into perspective, and nature often helps us do that, we can experience an ease and comfort which seems almost miraculous and like a moment of grace.
To visit the Sun Magazine Readers Write in the May 2016 issue click here.
The Brockport Sun Magazine Discussion Group meets on the third Thursday of every month at 6:30 - 8:00 PM at the Lift Bridge Book Shop, 45 Main Street, Brockport, NY to discuss the previous month's issue. While everyone is welcome, registration is required. For further information, contact David Markham at davidgmarkham@gmail.com or 585-727-3663.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Redemption involves a genuine apology and making of amends

This short video was published on Sep 15, 2016 by Upworthy and Story Corps about the story of a woman's great-grandmother about an America we should never forget.

The living tradition of Unitarian Universalism includes the second of six sources "words and deeds of prophetic men and women which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love."

Sometimes one of the most powerful things we can do is bear witness. While this story is painful to hear and watch, it reminds us of the injustice perpetrated in our county which has never been redeemed.

The second of of our UU seven principles asks us to affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. One possible response to the great-granddaughters anger might be a genuine apology for the harm that has been perpetrated against her family and the making of amends.

It seems troubling that in 2016 we still are having to be told that "black lives matter."

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Standing on the side of love is the best politics of all

When the question arose about who would be willing to help with the October, 2016 service in our small UU congregation about "politics", the story in Matthew 15 - 22 immediately came to mind:

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said.16 So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”22 When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

It seemed that in this year, 2016, with an increasingly polarized and ugly presidential campaign season, the idea to address "politics" was like walking into a mine field. UUs covenant together to affirm and promote a principle, the fifth of seven, "the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large." Having been raised a Roman Catholic and as a practitioner of that religion before  moving to Unitarian Universalism, the teachings of Jesus still ring true and resonate strongly in the head and heart to the extent that there is a realization that the kingdom of which Jesus taught is not of this world. The story is told in John 18:

 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.
And Jesus puts His finger right on the issue when it comes to the "right of conscience" and that is "what is the truth?" 
It does not appear that the truth is important in the 2016 Presidential campaign and yet it is something that we Unitarian Universalists profess to care about. Our caring can be very stressful until we realize that the truth which we seek in faith is not likely to be found easily in this world of ego drama, but rather in the transcendent understanding of the interdependent web of all existence of which we are just a tiny part. If we are to take Jesus' advice, we simply give to the Emperor that things that are the Emperor's, and to God the things that are God's. The things that are of God is love for Jesus told us that the way to His Kingdom is "to love as I have loved." Unitarian Universalists strive to Stand On The Side Of Love which is the best politics of all.

Monday, September 12, 2016

How does the "right of conscience" and "use of democratic process" get applied in this election year of 2016 for a UU?


It was mentioned at church yesterday that the topic for reflection in October in our congregation might be "politics."

 In thinking about this topic, the fifth principle stands out, "The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large" as being the basis for reflection at this service. A particular focus on this topic might be how we manage our emotions and interactions as individuals, as congregations, and as a denomination of religious people with people who have different opinions and values than our own? Can we be kind and compassionate to those who have different political preferences? Should we be? 

Our fifth principle beginning with "the right of conscience" seems to imply a respect for other people's beliefs, opinions, and preferences even if they are different from our own. How does one apply this principle in election season? Please leave your thoughts and comments.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Brockport Unitarian Universalist Fellowship starts its seventh year this morning.

I attended the first service of the new church year this morning at the Brockport Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, BUUF, in Brockport, NY. The congregation numbered 10 in attendance at the Different Path Gallery on Market Street, Brockport, NY in the midst of the Sunday Farmer's market. The focus of the service was on  our UU forebearers and the meaning of social justice in our UU tradition.

This is the beginning of the seventh year for BUUF which has had its ups and downs. The plan is to have one service per month on the first Sunday of the month at 10:00 AM.