Archive for January, 2008

Part 1 of 2: Just what have we done?

January 30, 2008

“Just what have we done?” is Part 1 of a two part posting. Tune in later for Part 2 of 2: “Oh, I went there”

Aaron Sawyer


Just what have we done? is a nonprofit web site providing a liberal spiritual presence to the liberal political movement already alive online.

DiscoverUU uses the proven format of The Huffington Post, one of the most successful liberal news blog sites ever created, to provide a living community for spiritual liberals. It features blog posts from UU’s best ministers and bloggers, sermon podcasts, and regular UU News. This living community updates the site daily, encouraging visitors to check in regularly, and incorporate UUism as part of their daily lives.

Newcomers to the site are presented with the appeal of a live, casual, interactive dialogue of UUism, which more accurately presents the spirit of UUism and its “responsible search for truth and meaning” than stuffy, stagnant, theological or historical presentations.

DiscoverUU’s goal is to EDUCATE a young, ready, liberal community

FIRST Our goal is to attract new visitors in the hopes that they will begin to self-identify as UU’s.

That’s the ball game, right there.

Do you agree with the Seven Principles?


Consider yourself a UU. Yeah, you’re still a Agnostic, Buddhist, Christian, Deist, Evangelist, Friend, or whatever… (That was fun!) But you’re also a UU, and from now on, incorporating those cool ideas you’ve discovered in other religions is no longer taboo- it’s celebrated.

SECOND, as these intelligent, liberal, newly self-identified UUs begin to grow older and have children, DiscoverUU will help them seek out local UU churches to envision their ideals, raise their family, and develop community.

And THIRD, DiscoverUU would like to help coordinate charitable efforts, because THAT is the only REAL presence any church has at the community level, by going out and doing good works.

This is the vision.

Just what have we done? We have created a fun and informative way to promote our values and introduce UUism to our friends to a community of spiritual leaders.


Tune in next time for Part 2 of 2: “Oh, I went there!”

And I really AM gonna go there.

Spiritual Voting on Scraps of Paper

January 29, 2008

Aaron Sawyer

I’m a big proponent of technology and using it to save paper.

But sometimes these two ideals just don’t match, and South Carolinians end up voting with paper towels and scraps of trash.

I put a great deal of faith put into our system of government. The past few years have required me to use a great deal more. It’s a good thing Americans are a spiritual people.

Let’s hope Super Tuesday is glitch free.

Death of a Friend

January 27, 2008

I’m about to go to a funeral on Sunday for THE FIRST contributor to Art Dell.

He just gave. I didn’t have a chance to ask.

He’d heard me speak a few times at the Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society (The Onion) and is a former congregational president there. He’d worked as a school teacher for many years in the area and when he heard about this youth oriented plan, he cut me a check. There is quite an age difference between Art and me, but I was surprised at how short a distance our souls had to travel to find one another.

In a strange way he lives on through this site, having helped make it possible.

I will miss him.

Here are a couple of great Art Dell quotes.

`I’ve been a member since 1969; I want to think for myself when it comes to spiritual beliefs,” said Art Dell, president of the congregation. `

`We search for our own truths. Being a member here answers my needs in a community of loving and caring people.”

Obama and Spiritual Liberalism

January 25, 2008

Nothing is certain in South Carolina.

The polls show candidates’ numbers jumping up and down by huge margins. I hope Obama pulls this one out this Saturday.

Now, I know there are more liberal candidates (May the Kuncinch campaign rest in peace.) But I’ve cast my hat long ago with Barack Obama, way back when he became my spiritual hero via the mighty podcast.

See, he made a keynote address for the Call to Renewal Conference way back when he was just lil’ ol’ Senator Obama running against Alan Keyes who said ‘Jesus wouldn’t vote for Obama’. And as wary as I am of religious language coming from the mouths of politicians, Obama’s words were wise, courageous, and inspirational to people with beliefs from Atheists to Baptists.

I know ex-candidate Mike Gravel is a Unitarian, but Obama sure embodies our spirit. And that’s a compliment coming from this blogger.

Let me quote a little bit:

“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation… at least not ‘just’. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, and a Buddhist nation and a Hindu nation and a nation of non-believers. And even if we did have only [Christians] in our midst- If we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would it be James Dobson’s or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is okay, but eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount, a passage that is so radical, it is doubtful our own Defense Department would survive its application? We [applause]… So before we get carried away, lets read our Bibles now. Folks haven’t been reading their Bible. Which brings me to our second point. Democracy demands that the religoiusly motivated translate their concerns to the universal rather than religion specific values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument and amenable to reason.”

It only gets better from there, folks.

Check it out for yourself here!

And if you’re a spiritual liberal like I am… And if you’re voting in South Carolina, or Florida or on Super Tuesday, please consider Obama once more.

I know no candidate is perfect. I know Obama is not perfect. But this sounds like a non-story to me. Anyone who comes into contact with as many people as Obama will have some poor associations. No politician is free from attacks of guilt by association.

But HERE is a window into his core belief system . THIS is why Obama was drafted by the political insiders to run.

It’s worth noting. Heck, I’d say it’s worth everything.

Obama Rally

The launch! We’re out of bandwidth! Oh my!

January 23, 2008

Wow, it’s been really great to hear from my web master that we’ve exceeded the bandwidth I’ve purchased for the site! I’ll continue to throw money at the problem for now. *wink

Thank you everyone who’s visited. I hope the page is something you’ll want to check with daily. There are frequent updates as news occurs and bloggers post new material throughout the day. I am personally amazed at the quality of the blog posts in terms of being A) fun to read B) well-written and C) informative.

I’d love to hear your feedback on the site in general. If there’s anything you really wished as included in the site, or something that you think would really improve the experience.

Email me at

Please get in the habit of commenting on blog posts you enjoy or that moved you in some way. As the UU blog community continues to grow and thrive, your feedback is an important part of the blogging experience. Respectful comments always, please. (not to say you can’t get a little snarky at times!)

Have fun!

If you control a church website or have a blog of your own, please feel free to ad the DiscoverUU banner to your site (below).

-Aaron Sawyer

DiscoverUU Moderator

DiscoverUU bannerDiscoverUU banner

It’s a UU Bake-Off!

January 15, 2008


Universalists are often asked where they stand. The only true answer to give to this question is that we do not stand at all, we move.“- Unitarian Universalist Minister, Lewis Beals Fisher

After the holidays, I’ve clearly still got food on the brain.

UUism is a flavor. A sensation you can roll over your tongue. It might be difficult to describe the ingredients, but for those who have tried it, identifying UUism is as easy as apple pie. So stop making up invisible rules and algebraic functions trying to exclude people from UUism. This is one of the most inclusive spiritual expressions on the planet.

You see, I recently cooked up an advertisement for Unitarian Universalism listing famous UU’s. (click here for a taste). This ad has generated some controversy about who should and should not be called a Unitarian and/or Universalist, namely, whether Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin belong on this list.

Here is the main ingredient to the “Famous UU” controversy: church membership.

Some say we can only list those with official Unitarian and/or Universalist church membership. Others say membership must be constrained to only official members after the two churches merged in 1961.Slow down Joe McCarthy! I’m talking about theological beliefs here, not membership rosters. The UU idea is so much bigger than names on a list. It’s just not an accurate depiction of the healthy UU movement to limit our concept of UUism in such a way.

A better way to find UU’s is to see if the person has laid out a clear theological position that embodies the UU spirit. Jefferson did that. (Click here) So did Franklin. (And here.) And so did a whole host of famous intellectuals, artists, and social leaders. Even if we use the most conservative definitions of Unitarianism or Universalism, many more people will fall into the UU food group.

The UUism of today is an ever-evolving and theologically expanding movement. Yet the UU flavor is as clear, just like an apple pie is an apple pie with or without raisins. Heck, who even needs the apples? I love pie! I’ll take them all. And why don’t we let in the strudels and tarts too. So long as other religions are serving their parishioners hot dogs and rump roast, one pastry is as good as another in my book.

As Unitarians, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were master chefs, and I am proud to have them as a part of our spiritual heritage.

Tired of having my food metaphor shoved down your throat?

The point is many like-minded people have never heard of Unitarian Universalism, yet they have a compatible spiritual diet. I want to help them find the words for what their putting in their mouths. Martin Luther King Jr. apparently considered Unitarian Universalism, but gave up the idea because he could “could never build a mass movement of black people if we were Unitarian.”

This has to stop. UUism is the best and most appropriate vehicle for the spiritual expression of compassionate and liberal ideals. If Barack Obama is any indication, the world is starving for a message of peace, hope, and unity.

Let’s get cooking.

My favorite UU recipe is a simple one: start with a liberal belief system spread over a layer of good works; top with love and respect; ad world religions to spice.

So gather your ingredients, find your favorite recipes, and share it with others.

Consider your spiritual bake-off!