Archive for February, 2008

Clearing the air- accusations and misconceptions

February 28, 2008

I think it’s important to clear up some misconceptions about DiscoverUU.com

1st- DiscoverUU is a 501c3 nonprofit site. We are not using anyone’s work for commercial gain. The dot com address is used because it is the most common, however we also own discoveruu.org

2nd- We have tried to notify every blog owner on the site. Perhaps some were missed, the contact information was incorrect, or was considered spam for some reason. I apologize if someone wasn’t notified. Nearly all blog participants are aware of their blog being on the site.

3rd- All blog authors providing a feed to DiscoverUU.com retain a Creative Commons license, meaning you keep your copyright but allow people to copy and distribute your work provided they give you credit

4th- Through the process of building this site, literally hundreds email requests were sent for feedback. I apologize if anyone was missed and invite you to contact the moderator at any time. (Right now that’s me, Aaron Sawyer). My efforts in the creation of this site have been met with both enthusiasm and resistance. I have found this to be a typical experience for anyone creating in the world, and particularly within the opinionated spirit of the UU universe.

5th- As we launch our ad campaign, consider the entire DiscoverUU campaign to be an ad for your blog. A percentage of people visiting the site due to our ads, or due to visiting another UU blog will see your site and click on it as well. There is amazing synergy with this business model. (Yes, non-profits have business models!)

6th- I will remove anyone from the site at their request.

DiscoverUU exists to spread the word about the UU blogs, news, and podcasts featured. I believe in your work and am hoping to draw thousands of dollars in contributions in 2008 to promote UU blog sites to people unaware of UUism. DiscoverUU is an attractive hub for people to find your work, share in community, and express themselves on their spiritual journeys.

-Aaron Sawyer, Founder

moderator at discoveruu.com

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Biking to work- ruin your sex life?

February 27, 2008

I ride a folding bike to work every day. I can stick it under my desk and it fits in my small apartment. The bike looks something like this.

And when I ride it, I look like this.

(not actually me)

And I’m happy.

Because I get a little exercise. I see the wild chickens running around Los Angeles. I save on gas money (and help the environment!). I ride the train and feel like I’m a part of the community.

And I can do all of these things, because I don’t have to worry about trying to get a date.

(Thank you, my lovely and understanding spouse!)

Oh, and for all you married women out there. I work with a lot of very attractive women, and I can safely say that I have not been hit on once since I started riding! Hey, there’s nothing wrong with saving the world and feeling secure in your relationship at the same time.

Ah, and if you’re in the Los Angeles area and are looking for a potential mate, I hear the Midnight Ridazz are a pretty happening bunch!

Obama and blackface

February 26, 2008

Politics aside, this weekend’s return performance revealed that Saturday Night Live needs to get a black actor to play the part of the man likely to become our first black president. And why not hire some black writers while they’re at it. Not writers who ‘write black’.

Either that, or have a male play Hilary.

I don’t know what to do with McCain.

Competing with Lindsay Lohan for Wost Screen Couple

February 25, 2008

Here are some pics from the 2008 Razzie Awards. My wife (red dress) carried me across the threshold for the Worst Screen Couple Award, which went to Lindsay Lohan for her twin roles in I KNOW WHO KILLED ME. We had a lot of fun with our high jinks and enjoyed being part of a record breaking Razzie season.

There’s also a little video for you. My wife and I presenting Worst Screen Couple

And a slide show from CNN.com

I get bleeped in this one!

Enjoy!

Presenting at the Razzie Awards with my wife

February 22, 2008

I’ve been (honored?) to be a presenter at the Razzie Awards for a few years now. This year, my wife is presenting as well. We’ll deliver the ‘dis-honor’ of “Worst Screen Couple” on Saturday morning to a lucky ‘winner’.

The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation “awards” the WORST of each year’s major motion picture categories in a ceremony the day before the Oscars take their turn to award the best. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s mean. It’s always well-deserved.

There was a time in which I didn’t have the stomach for mockery. I felt it was mean and unproductive. Now, I’ve developed a thicker skin. I place more responsibility on the willing participants and the eager investors. I look at what could have been. I calculate the time and effort as they repeat the awful line take after take, scene after scene. How deliberate this is!

When I see the millions of dollars invested each year in remakes and sequels or just plain trash– and this stuff is truly horrific, knowing that those same dollars could have gone to support two or three risky indie projects with a strong message or unique voice… When I see the opinion these people must have of their fellow man, that we would pay money for the product they’re offering…

I get mad.

And then, I do what I always do when I’m mad- I make darn certain that I’m not doing whatever it is THEY’re doing.
So I look at my own wallet.

I look at what I’m putting out in the world, what I’m investing in, and what I’m offering my fellow man.

My wife and I started supporting local, organic growers of fruits and vegetables. We launched DiscoverUU. I finished a screenplay. And I supported a presidential candidate who also tries to raise the bar of discourse in America. This has been a good year for me. It hasn’t always been this good.

I don’ t deserve an Oscar yet, but I certainly don’t deserve a Razzie.

Do you?

Thank you, DiscoverUU

February 20, 2008

As I look at the wonderful minds represented on DiscoverUU.com, I get emotional. To put so many amazing people in one ‘room’ has been more rewarding than I could have imagined, and I find myself eager to move the bar up even higher.

But first, I need to appreciate you.

So thank you, blogger and reader alike.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being you and for doing what you do.

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I believe in the duty to find the sacred, to chose for myself, and hold in my heart.

I affirm this right in you as well.

Together we can share the joy of community, the power of reverence, and the responsibilities of freedom.

This is the creed of my heart, extended to you, and expressed through this loving institution.

UU’s must develop their own creed.

February 18, 2008

UUs must develop their own creed.

Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd’s excellent sermon podcast titled “By Heart” brought up something that I feel severely limits the potency and functionality of UUism- RITUAL.

-specifically how memorization can enhance and strengthen an individual’s beliefs.

Nancy’s sermon described how, in times of desperation and need, people find comfort returning to ritual prayers that were drilled into them as children. Rituals like The Lord’s Prayer or the Apostles’ Creed allow us to touch the sacred, shared history of humanity and the divine. They bring us comfort in times of need and bring strength to continue on in the face of adversity.

 

The Seven Principles are excellent organizing statements, but you will not hear Christians reciting the 10 Commandments in moments of distress.

Call it what you want. We need an affirming statement, a thesis, an organizing call. We need a creed.

Without a creed, we are a religion more about what we are not, than what we are. Paragraphs and pamphlets cannot compete with the strength of a central affirming sentence. When we find ourselves attacked by nature or our fellow man, we must be able to recall a message of affirmation and strength, defining our goals, and restoring our spirit.

The catch: Unitarian Universalism is a creedless religion.

But that’s a little like saying the absolute: “There are no absolutes.”

In that spirit, our UU creed must be one that proclaims creedlessness and captures the spirit, diversity, and responsibility of the UU tradition. The creed is: we have no creed. We just have to pretty it up. I’ve compiled bits and phrases stolen various sermon podcasts. I hope that with some effort and the cooperation of my friends, this might one day be serviceable as such a creed. Please help.

Here are two versions I have created so far. I would love to hear your thoughts. Knowing what a passionate bunch UU’s can be, I do have one request in this creative venture.
Please do not tear down without building it back up- constructiveness in place of critique please. Anyone can swing a wrecking ball. It is very difficult to build it back up.

That said: Comment away!

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I believe in a personal call to find the sacred, choose it for myself, and hold it in my heart.

I affirm this right in you as well.

I believe in the power of reverence, the joy of community, and the responsibility of freedom.

This is the creed of my heart, not that of my institution.

 

Or

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I believe in a call to find my sacred truth, to chose for myself, and hold in my heart.

And I believe in your right to act in kind.

Together we can share the joy of community, the power of reverence, and the responsibilities of freedom.

This is the creed of my heart, extended to you, and expressed through this institution.

McCain parody of Obama video

February 11, 2008

Check out this little gem: a parody of the inspirational ObamaYes We Can’ video using the ‘message’ of John McCain. I do not see how the Democrats lose if it’s Obama vs. McCain.  I have to have watched the Obama video 20 times. I love it. It gives me chills.

Oh, and in case you know how to upload music to your cell phone- here’s a link to a ‘Yes We Can’ ringtone.

Soulful Sundown Sunday

February 10, 2008

I just had a great time at The Onion for a Soulful Sunday with members from a multitude of churches in the San Fernando Valley area. This one was a Soulful Sundown, which meant I skipped the morning service and played some soccer in the morning. But I paid for it, and was limping around for the rest of the day. Doh!

My wife and I got there early so she could warm up with the band (she sings.) While I waited, I was greeted by some wild chickens and a rooster bedding down for the night in some bushes by the parking lot. It was calming and hilarious to be confronted by barnyard animals going about their business in the middle of Los Angeles.

The service began, and I introduced DiscoverUU to the audience. The calming influence of the chickens was gone. (I was nervous!)

Three area ministers spoke with different styles, theologies, and energies. Quite a treat.

There was some great original UU music by my friend Dana Decker. He’ll be putting an album out soon, so look out for that.

Finally, we had a candle light vigil in a lovely summer-esque night.

And of course returned for our fill of coffee and cookies.

I really enjoyed the diversity of the night.

Ron Paul: A quickie from the pole dancer’s choice for Pres

February 8, 2008

McCain is in. We’ll have plenty of time to talk about him and his effect on spiritual liberalism.What candidates remain as McCain’s hopeful Republican contenders?

Mike Huckabee is a strong spiritual conservative/ fundamentalist.Would a Ron Paul Presidency be any better for the spiritually left?

Many UU’s do have a libertarian streak in them…

I’m not used to looking to the Republican Party for policies that are acceptable to those of us in touch with our spiritually liberal side. This is far, far from an endorsement, but I’m told Ron Paul is different. I thought I’d check him out. And after watching the main stream media’s early coverage blackout and exclusion of Dennis Kucinich, I appreciate the lengths Paul supporters have gone to get their candidate’s message out.

[Let me preface this: While I did a fair amount of research, my sources could have mislead me, and I am not passing myself off as an expert.]

Here’s a quick run down.

Paul would like to legalize prostitution. “Strippers for Paul” is an actual endorsement he’s gotten. This issue may deserve more attention than it’s gotten, but for now it’s a down arrow.

↕War: Ron Paul wants America out of Iraq. He also wants America to withdraw from the United Nations. His anti-UN argument is worth listening to, but I’m not convinced.

↑Environment: Paul believes property rights intrinsically allow the common man to sue big corporations to defend their clean air and water from polluters. Unfortunately, Ron Paul is not a judge, and his sympathy isn’t any help when you’ve waste three years fighting one of ten local corporations dumping poison in your air and water.

↓Free Trade and Immigration: Okay, Paul’s not so good here, but honestly, nobody has a perfect solution to these issues. However, Paul’s got some big issues. He’s not compassionate to those undocumented workers already here, and he wants to end the policy of birthright citizenship.

↓Taxes: His calling card is low/no taxes. I don’t see how Paul down our debt and still keeps the country running, but there it is. His concept is that if you have less taxes, you’ll have enough money to do what the government does all by yourself. But getting back 30% of $30,000 is a lot less than 30% of $3,000,000. With Paul, the rich get richer. The poor keep more of their money, but not enough to make a difference compared to the services they will lose and the new expenses they will incur as the private sector takes over government functions.

↕Education: Paul wants to stop federal funding of schools. In return, he’ll give parents $5,000 and teachers $3,000 a year in tax credits. His approach is a localized, do-it-yerself method that will please those with the time and money to organize. Paul’s big into home schooling. But low-income, single-parent families seem pretty screwed here.

↓Health Care: Paul wants to make your doctor negotiate the cost of your health care with your insurance company. Paul thinks government is the reason prices are so high. He wants government out and for you to open a Health Savings Account, where you save up your own money and spend it whenever you’re sick with little to no help from anyone else. Paul forgets that some people will have a hard (impossible) time saving $10,000 or more to cover their high HSA deductible in the event of an accident or major illness.

↕Food and Drug Administration: Ron Paul is a libertarian, which means the FDA as we know it today is gone. You control what you put in your body. The good (end the ineffective war on drugs) and the bad that comes with it, Paul would legalize marijuana use.

↓Paul is against net neutrality. Boo!

↕Abortion: Paul would like to reverse Roe vs. Wade and make abortion illegal without exception. This one’s your call.

↑Privacy: Paul is in favor of reinstating the constitution and guarding privacy whenever possible. This isn’t really a liberal or conservative view, it’s just one of our recently lost ‘unalienable rights’.

↑Social Security: Paul wants to reduce other spending and prioritize funding for social security.

Right to Bear Arms: Paul wants to allow everyone, criminals and crazies alike, a gun without a waiting period to ‘defend themselves’. It’s a theory, if every other country in the world hadn’t shown us a better way.

↓Civil Rights: Word is that Paul has published some pretty disgusting things on the issue of race. I, myself, have not seen them.

 

In short, the spiritually liberal are gaining a little and losing a lot when it comes to Ron Paul. While ending the war on drugs, returning privacy rights to citizens, and making big business pay for polluting our air and water, the rich become richer in a deregulated Ron Paul Presidency, while hard-working single mothers don’t even have a free school to educate their child in the hopes of a better tomorrow.

I’m just starting to learn about *possible* President Paul.

I do enjoy that he’s in there mixing it up. Neither party should be afraid of defending their policies from outsider ideas.