Archive for July, 2008

Rev. Chris Buice is my favorite minister

July 28, 2008

Yes, my favorites change as much as the wind, but Rev Chris has been one of my regulars. The unspeakable shooting that took place at his church.

Please check out his sermon podcasts on DiscoverUU.com.  His last sermon before going on summer break titled “Fallback Theology” is particularly pertinent in this sad time.

http://www.discoveruu.com/podcasts.php?id=0040

PS- This is a horrible time to be traveling and getting set up into a new apartment. I have no internet access. Thank you for your patience if you have tried to contact me.

Advertisements

Keith Olbermann’s (former) Religion: Unitarian Universalism

July 16, 2008

Easy to have missed this sleeper during all the General Assembly hubbub…

Keith Olbermann discussed his UU roots…

From UU World:

MSNBC “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann mentioned his Unitarian upbringing in an interview with actors Jason Bateman and David Cross. When Cross jokes that he and Bateman are getting married in a Unitarian church in California, Olbermann responds: “Oh, good! I was raised in that faith. “

It doesn’t sound like Keith’s been to a Unitarian Universalist church in a while, though as he continues on to SLAM our churches for our lack of attention to the nurturing/healing power of community…  something I blogged about here.

Olbermann’s quote continues: “…there’s just a lot of political talk, there’s no actual religion involved there. Okay, that’s going to get me in trouble with my ancestors.

Mentions like this from Olbermann – even in an unflattering light- seem to be growing more and more obscure. Rather than being the ‘political church’ or the ‘believe anything you want’ church (we are neither), we need to focus our message into an affirming statement of strength.

All UUs agree on the necessity of the personal journey toward understanding truth, love, and compassion. We choose to describe this belief, however in the negative: a lack of creeds.

See the below UU Affirmation. I think UUs are more accurately defined as the ‘church of personal growth’. Or the ‘religion of choice’. All that’s missing is our ability to embrace the language and embody the spirit more fully.

Considering his feelings on the church he attended, we can forgive Olbermann for straying. The latest UUWorld Magazine discusses the shocking percentage of UU’s that are not members of any church.

A quick look at the numbers reported through UUWorld:

Two previous national surveys, in 1990 and 2001, reported the number of self-identified Unitarians at three times the official UUA count at the time. In 2001, ARIS estimated 629,000 Unitarian Universalists.

and

The UUA’s 1,018 congregations in the United States counted just over 158,000 members in 2006.

Fortunately, the current foremost topic debated by the UUA Presidential Candidates is growth. Take part in your views on how to grow our powerful and important (but tiny) religion of UUism here.

Find out more about Unitarian Universalism and its Seven Principles here.

Hat tip to UUWorld for the video of Mr. Olbermann:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/25357209#25357209

————————————————————————————————–

UU AFFIRMATION

I believe in my right to search for the good, to choose it for myself, and hold it in my heart.

I affirm this right in you as well.

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

This is the promise of my heart extended to you, as we walk on separate paths, together.

————————————————————————————————–

Visit DiscoverUU.com for UU News, plus the best minister blog posts and sermon podcasts.

UU connections? Traveling across Arizona, Utah, Colorado

July 14, 2008

Fellow UU’s. I’ll be traveling from Los Angeles, California to Lincoln, Nebraska. I’ll start my trip on July 21st and end a few days later.

Let me know if I should be stopping anywhere, seeing anyone, or doing anything. I’ll not be alone, as my 8 year old pug will travel with me. Alas, I don’t trust him to share in the driving duties.

My first stop will be in Phoenix, AZ.

As an informal announcement: I’ll be getting my masters in Direction of Stage and Screen from University of Nebraska, Lincoln for the next three years. Afterward, my wife and I intend to return to Los Angeles.

-Aaron

Dancing Across the Interconnected Web

July 14, 2008

I had this video sent to me by some of my UU friends.

It’s pretty amazing to see a guy able to travel this much in one lifetime, let alone at this young age. I don’t think we’ll see this kind of travel as natural resources become more and more scarce.

My wife is attractive when…

July 14, 2008

…she hops on Metro and rides with me on her bicycle through downtown Los Angeles dodging homeless, street vendors, wandering souls, and true artists. We connected last night to the pulse of the city, to the life of the streets, and to that which is strongest in each other.

We bid on a Shepard Fairey series of signed original prints.

I hope we get them.

Response to “A Pet Peeve I Have About Our denomination” by CUUMBAYA

July 11, 2008

I’d like to have a friendly respond to a post on the excellent blog CUUMBAYA titled “A Pet Peeve I Have About Our denomination” about my home-made UU advertisement on youtube which references famous UU’s (Unitarians and Universalists.)

Read the CUUMBAYA post here.

See the advertisement here.

I’d love if CUUMBAYA would respond back in a little cross-blog dialog. I posted an abbreviated comment similair to the below on CUUMBAYA.

————–

Thanks for the shout-out, Joel.
My reasoning that UUs should embrace our celebrity ancestry is that this lore brings validity, inspiration and identity to an obscure, nebulous, and dying religion.  (admit it) :<  It’s easier to attend “The church of Thomas Jefferson” than it is to go to “some hippie church some weirdos started in the woods.” Am I right?

Also, I do object to using the term ‘denomination’ to describe UUism. Denomination of what? While Christians comprise a large portion of our membership, we’ve clearly outgrown our Christian ancestry and do not formally identify as a Christian organization in any modern UUA documentation I’ve seen.

So that’s why I think UU’s should do it, and do it loudly and proudly. We love or evolving, democratic religion and are proud of our principles and the fruits they have brought to the world. Of course Susan Bee Anthony doesn’t share a mind with Henry David Thoreau, but nor do you and I.

However, after writing all of this, I’m not sure you object to such references because it’s backward-looking (a worthy objection), or if you feel modern UU’s have no right to claim them ‘on our team’.
How do we identify UUs?

It comes down to how you define UUism. Here are some ways to tie a person to a religion.

1. Self-identification

2. Active or former church membership

3. Theological pairing

To me, it seems you conditionally need two of the three.

#1 and #2 being extended to our Unitarian and Universalist brethren. (I argue)
#1 also being extended to those unable to attend the church of their choice due to location, etc.

#2 being taken from those who may identify as UU, but represent the opposite of our ideals (like, what if Hitler was UU?) (I know of no one like this and am proud to have so few stains in our past.)

For #3, we should remember and rejoice in the fact that ours is a democratic and evolving religion. We need to have understanding for our ancestor’s short-comings, and remember that most UUs have many healthy theological transitions throughout their lives.
Referencing the free-thinkers who attended the churches of our ancestry is no different than other religions who’s ancestors also shared very different views on the interpretation of their religion.  Still, I think you’ll see a consistant theme when reviewing famous UUs: bold, mature, loving thought. I’ve been arguing that the ONE CREED of UUism is CREEDLESSNESS. Read here.

We cast a large net. I’m fine with that. If more people accepted this principle, we’d have more UUs.  I dream of a day when people stop shrugging their shoulders and say “I don’t know. Agnostic?” when asked about religion.

“UU. I’m a UU.” That’s the answer I prefer. It both frees them and ties them to community, thought, and love.

Thanks for the post, CUUMBAYA. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

————————————————————————————————–

UU AFFIRMATION

I believe in my right to search for the good, to choose it for myself, and hold it in my heart.

I affirm this right in you as well.

Together we share in the joy of community, the power of reverence, and the challenge of freedom.

This is the promise of my heart extended to you, as we walk on separate paths, together.

————————————————————————————————–

Visit DiscoverUU.com for the best UU minister blog posts, sermon podcasts, and UU News.

Introducing new UU blog forum: “UUA Presidential Debate 2009”

July 8, 2008

I’m proud to introduce a new UU blog featured on DiscoverUU.com:

UUA Presidential Debate 2009: A Fact Driven Forum to Compare the UUA Presidential Candidates.

The blog has been created by Martin Voelker who happens to also run the blog: jUUggernaut, but is attempting to create a non-biased discussion forum for UU’s to discuss their UUA Presidential Candidates.  With all the general political engergy in the air this year, I think it might just be a great thing for UU’s to pay attention to the election of a major leader for our democratic religion at a strong grass-roots level.

From what I’ve seen, both are excellent candidates. However, both offer some VERY different (but not necessarily contradictory) views on the approach to strengthening UUism in both quantity and quality.

Visit DiscoverUU.com’s UUA Presidential section for the UUA Debate forum along with links to the presidential candidates’ blogs and campaign web sites. Let’s get some good discussions going in the comments section.

FYI: I have yet to endorse either candidate and look forward to undergoing this exploration with all of you. For some early reactions to their address at the UUA General Assembly, click here.

————————————————————————————————–

UU AFFIRMATION

I believe in my right to search for the good, to choose it for myself, and hold it in my heart.

I affirm this right in you as well.

Together we share in the joy of community, the power of reverence, and the challenge of freedom.

This is the promise of my heart extended to you, as we walk on separate paths, together.

————————————————————————————————–

Visit DiscoverUU.com for the best UU minister blog posts, sermon podcasts, and UU News.

Welcoming new UU Minister blog- Thousand Voices by Rev. Anthony David

July 7, 2008

DiscoverUU.com would like to welcome a new UU minister blogger to the mix, Rev. Anthony David. Rev. Anthony David

David mixes some more heady theological analysis with some more light, fun writing for a worthwhile read. One of my favorite posts of his is a post titled: A Unitarian Universalist Creation Myth. Please take a look at Rev. Anthony David’s new blog.

David is the Senior Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta in Georgia. David was also the founding pastor of Pathways Church in Southlake, Texas. Some Unitarian Universalists may be familiar with Pathways, as it was the UUA’s controversial first attempt at planting a “rapid-start large church.”

David’s blog is available on DiscoverUU.com under the Featured Minister’s section on the right side of the page.

Lock in ignorance at $2.99/gal with Chrysler

July 5, 2008

Thanks to the guys at USS Mariner for pointing this out.

http://www.gocomics.com/tomthedancingbug/2008/06/21/

————————————————————————————————–

UU AFFIRMATION

I believe in my right to search for the good, to choose it for myself, and hold it in my heart.

I affirm this right in you as well.

Together we share in the joy of community, the power of reverence, and the challenge of freedom.

This is the promise of my heart extended to you, as we walk on separate paths, together.

————————————————————————————————–

Visit DiscoverUU.com for UU News, plus the best minister blog posts and sermon podcasts.

DiscoverUU Exclusive: The UUA Presidential Candidates

July 1, 2008

The UUA has yet to post the UUA Presidential Candidates’ Address, but you can watch it here!

http://s2.netro.ca/uuasscod/4059.wmv

Hat Tip: juuggernaut, video provided by UUA’s coverage (We’re grateful, but eager for the link. What’s the hold up!)

** UPDATE **

The UUA has provided a link with cleaner sound.

http://www.uua.org/events/generalassembly/2008/112314.shtml

**

You can watch other UUA events, including an amazing WARE address by environmentalist Van Jones here.

I’ll post my thoughts as soon as I have them!

**UPDATE**

Technical issues with the recording are frustrating, but don’t ruin it completely. The audio could be cleaned up by anyone with basic knowledge of post audio…

Growth Strategy: Hallman’s growth strategies seem much less inspiring, (but much more specific) than Morales, and yet seem to be grounded in the specificity provided by real experience.

I get the feeling that Hallman’s strategies are likely the source of her own congregation’s stunning success. Hallman’s primary focus is on the nursury and attention to youth in the first year after graduating high school.

Morales growth strategy is summed up by him as “repelling fewer visitors.”

(On a personal note, I’m aware of a few instances in which young couples did NOT go back to churches they enjoyed because of the experiences of their children. One such congregation LOST their child from the area and he wandered into the service! It matter’s people!)

Hallman’s (long and vague) Elevator Speech:

“We are a church that was founded at least in America along with the freedoms of our government- we believe that no pope should tell us what we believe and no rabbi or minister or priest should stand between us and our relationship with God. It’s un-mediated. It’s a free church now. Their definitions of what makes it free have expanded dramatically since those early years, but those founders of the democracy of our country and also of our free faith were able to put in place a structure that could contain much more than they could even imagine”

Morales’ Elevator Speech:

“I believe- and actually if you look at the history of religion it’s true- that religion is much less about what we think than about what we love. And we are a group of people who love life, who believes in compassion for one another, who believes in human dignity, and who believes in peace and compassion. And if you believe that, then we have the same religion.

**THOUGHTS**

Hallman’s elevator speech SUCKS!

Morales and my views on UUism are much more closely related. HERE, I put forth the idea that UUism should consider itself an ‘umbrella religion’, without separating itself from liberal Christians, etc. Meaning, people of any liberal faith should consider themselves UU, whether they ALSO identify as Christian, Jewish, Pagan, etc.

29 minutes in:

Morales is HILARIOUS. “I really don’t believe, by the way, that there are significant differences among any of us on our goals. I don’t think there are powerful factions within our movement that want to shrink the movement and become irrelevant!” [laughter]

34 minutes in:

Now Hallman is HILARIOUS.

When asked about her experiences understanding another culture, Hallman says “I think one of the primary experiences of experiencing another culture is marriage!” [laughter]

Morales comes back by speaking Spanish at the top of his response and saying that he’s the one entering another culture.

40 minutes in:

Morales gets in a slight zing at Rev. Sinkford’s controversial focus on UU congregations at the expense of independent affiliates, but has a good answer when he moves the blame to the UUA Board and discusses the need to continue to fuel these groups in some way instead of just cutting them off.

I’ll do an additional post just covering each candidate’s closing remarks. In summary of the above, we’ve got two pretty great candidates. If the energy is there, I feel they can point UUs in the right direction.

Feel free to comment below.

See comments from those who attended GA here.