I Bet Your Mom Can’t Do This

November 29, 2006

Justice, Peace, Compassion, and Care for the Environment. Who would’a thought you could say all that in a stole?

Current Issues in Unitarian Universalism

November 27, 2006

Current Issues in Unitarian Universalism is the title of my sermon for the upcoming week. I’m really excited about it and most of what I’ll talk about comes from my enjoyable year or so reading UU blogs, and a little from what I learn about/hear about in divinity school.

I would love to see folks all over the country do more sermons like this one in order that we can feel more connected as a movement/denomination/religion. I know that at the church where I am a student intern minister and at my home congregation it would be easy to be very involved in the congregation and really have very little sense of Unitarian Universalism as a whole/as a coherent movement.

If, as I am, we are concerned about growing at least some (okay, or at least not shrinking) it would seem that we would need to have more of a sense of the association/denomination that we are a part of. I’m all for congregational polity, but I’d like to see a stronger sense of people feeling excited to belong to Unitarian Universalism as a whole, rather than only to their congregation.

I think Protestant denominations need a little less of this since it would be hard NOT to sense that you are part of a big movement called Protestant Christianity, and I think there is absolutely no risk of Catholics not feeling like they are not part of a big movement headed up by the lovely Pope Benedict XV. Plus, if you are Presbyterian (or Methodist or whatever), you know what Presbyterian churches in Florida or New Hampshire or Nevada do, in general, and of course if you are Catholic you know that masses look more or less the same. With Unitarian Universalists, things can be soooo different that you might not recognize another church’s liturgy or they may not even have one. All of this is a long way of saying that I think there ARE issues that we face as a religious/spiritual movement, and there are things that unite us. But perhaps more needs to be said in our congregations so that we can understand what these shared concerns are.

If you were going to do a sermon on this, what issues would you highlight?

A Report on Progressive Strategy: The State of Strategy on the Left

November 26, 2006

Friends, I am pleased to point out a report on progressive political strategy recently released by The Commonwealth Institute, a think tank in Cambridge, MA. If you have any interest in real, substantive change in U.S. politics toward more fair, just, and responsive government, take a look at the report. I believe thinking about actual strategy (rather than just, “Our strategy is to win.”) is so important. The report is meant to outline what strategic thinking is going on out there in the progressive world – sort of a snapshot of what is currently being done.

According to The Commonwealth Institute, “The main goal of this report is to hold a mirror up for American progressives and provide a reflection of the state of progressive strategic thought. At a minimum, it gives an overview of the field, provides some clarifications and hopefully a better orientation and basis for strategic development.”

The authors define what they mean by strategy and distinguish it from operations and tactic and they explain the six components necessary for a fully articulated strategy. They note that, “Whenever possible we have chosen to let strategists speak for themselves, either carefully abstracting from their work or directly quoting. We avoid making judgments as to the viability or even the coherency of strategies. We do not compare and contrast, but rather aim to present the strategic components systematically so that comparisons by the reader are facilitated.”

Looking forward to hear what folks think.

(Full disclosure: Ahem… My partner is the main author of the report, but this is no way diminishes the fact that it is a really important thing to be thinking about or that it is a really well written, clearly articulated, coherent assessment of strategic thinking on the left. I would still point it out even if I didn’t live with the author and hadn’t discussed the ideas contained in report over dinner every night of the past year.)

Now things will be less disasterous

November 14, 2006

Everyone is oh-so-excited that the democrats are now the majority in the house and senate. Yes, that is good. Very nice. However, fellow citizens of the United States, lets not get tooo excited that 1) democracy has somehow prevailed and is working wonderfully and 2) that now the amazing Democrats are going to usher in a new era of peace and justice.

I mean, the current administration and the supporting Republican Congress have taken us to war under false pretenses (I think that is probably a generous characterization), ignored the Geneva Conventions, tortured people, sent people (sometimes innocent – oops!) to other countries to be tortured, instituted tax cuts for the richest people in the country, sort of ignored key parts of the constitution, added “signing statements” to many laws that essentially say, “We aren’t really going to follow this all the time,” came to power in two at least troubled if not questionable elections, and has done all sorts of other really quite unusually bad things. So it isn’t some sort of miracle or triumph of democracy that the Democrats are now in control of both houses of Congress. In fact, I think it shows just how low our expectations are that an administration and supporting congress can do such amazingly problematic things and then when the Democrats take back both houses (by a not a hugely wide margin and with in relatively close races) that everyone is all like “Yay! The era of Republican reign has ended! The American people stood up for peace and justice.” (There is an editorial in this week’s Nation to this effect.) I think that this shows that U.S. citizens are not dead. After years and years of a horrible, ill-conceived, badly executed war, folks were finally like, “Hmm. Guess this isn’t going so well.” It could be worse, I suppose.

Which leads to my second point – the Democrats are not exactly a super-great exciting option. They were really the ONLY other option. So, while it is nice that the American people managed to vote Democrats in before the U.S. completely absolutely ruined the rest of the world, it was a little late and it is not clear to me that the Democrats are really tons better. I like to think of them as less horrible. If you have hopes of some sort of fair, just society where the United States doesn’t wreak havoc on the environment and less powerful nations, and where the U.S. is a strong proponent of basic human rights (as in the UN human rights declaration), I’m afraid that the Democrats are pretty useless. I think the best we can hope for is a slightly less unfair society (maybe), and that we wreak slightly less havoc on the world. I predict at least a decade of damage control. And the Democrats should be honest about this so that people don’t get their hopes up. So, I know this is not very cheerful, but I was really disappointed with Pelosi and The Nation and people all over the place doing a jig of joy that the American people somehow are great stewards of democracy because they FINALLY managed to realize that things were going TERRIBLE, and I am disappointed with the Democrats in that they are acting like they are some sort of revolution from the camp of peace and justice. They are not as bad as the Bush administration and the Eepublicans that supported him, but they are in the pockets of the corporations, will do a little bit to help some regular people a little bit, and will probably try to do something that lessens the destruction of the planet and the resulting humanitarian crises that are resulting and will continue to result from this.

I’ll stop now, but I really want to make a point about how important it is to keep our eyes set on real change – to appreciate that things will be less catastrophic and that the dems will attempt damage control – but to realize that real change and a functioning democracy are far off and will take years if not decades of persistent, well-funded progressive grassroots work.

Still Available to Loving, Indoor Homes

November 9, 2006

Olivia and Phineas would like to go together and Theo and Emerson. Adoption fee applies – adoption through Second Chance Shelter in Jamaica Plain. (Note that when I imported my blog from Blogger to WordPress somehow the captions and pictures did not line up correctly and I don’t have the time/expertise to fix them.  Sorry about that.)

All the kittens together

Phineas after rolling in some catnip

Olivia the princess

Theo and Emerson taking a nap

Emerson Upclose

Something to Make you Laugh

November 4, 2006

I tried to post this IN my blog so you could watch it here, but something was not working and it won’t let me. But I SO encourage you to watch this if you want to laugh. I thought it was unusually funny.