Monday, May 29, 2006

Fathers' Day Sermon

I was asked to give a Fathers' Day Sermon this year. In reality it would easy to tell a couple funny stories about my dad and a couple sad ones about his death and be done with it.

I work pretty hard with my congregation to talk about the Jewish and Christian traditions and how they can inform Unitarian Universalism. I usually try to bring in at least some of the Revised Common Lectionary readings when I am in the pulpit to help folks be at least familiar with what the other protestant churches in town might be talking about.

But I have to admit, with Fathers' Day I am stumped. I think of Jephthah's daughter, Abraham with the binding of Isaac and of course the father who loved the world so much he gave his only son. I mean I love you all, but nobody is taking my boys.

I feel like I can talk reasonably intelligently about Christology, but when push comes to shove, I can't quite get past that.

I don't really want to be cheesy enough to refer to the Da Vinci code, but how is it more troubling that Jesus could be a father (all the holes in that theory aside) than the notion that a loving or just God would sacrifice his son?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Iron Chef Daddy: Let the battle begin

I've been greatly enjoying the Iron Chef Daddy action over at Returning. All I can say is Allez cuisine!

Sunday, May 14, 2006


I've been very bad about writing anything here. I've been hit by a very busy school year end and a very busy couple months at work.

On top of this, I have been given the once in a lifetime opportunity to go to Transylvania and spend six months working with a rural minister and participating in the life of his congregation. This parish immersion experience will be my first ministerial internship, though I will be applying for another internship in the US later.

During the week of General Assembly, I will be in an intensive Hungarian language seminar in Kolozsvar. I will then attend the ICUU symposium before I travel to the village of Homorodszentpal.

I believe that there is a lot we can learn from the lives of our brothers and sisters in Transylvania. I am particularly interested in how different liturgies develop in different cultural contexts and in how differently the same Unitarian ideals develop in different contexts. It is my hope that a broader awareness of Transylvanian Unitarianism can help many Unitarian Universalists come to terms with their relationship to their Christian roots such that they might be able to derive some meaning from the Christian tradition without necessarily identifying as Christian or forgetting whatever troubling experiences they may have had with the tradition.

Anyone interested in furthering the work of bringing Transylvanian ministers to study in the US or in how more American UU seminarians could have learning experiences in Transylvania should contact the Balazs Scholars Program at Starr King School For the Ministry.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


So we saunter toward the Holy Land, till one day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever he has done, shall perchance shine into our minds and hearts, and light up our whole lives with a great awakening light, as warm and serene and golden as on a bankside in autumn.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

LIberal Religion vs. LIberal Politics?

I appreciate the tone of this post on immigration issues, though I think it raises a key question for me.

There is a line between liberal religion and liberal politics. The post from the UU Congregation of Central Nassau makes a lot of references to the meaning of citizenship and the rights of states. To what extent are states and citizenship the domain of religion or theology? I'll admit that for me the rights of individuals and even their groups may seem grounded in theology but I am not really ready to make the leap to states. I think there is a real reason that the Christian tradition teaches us to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and render unto God that which is God's.

I understand how in theory a state may just be an extension of a community of individuals, but in practice I never see states truly functioning this way. When is the religious legitimation of the state or the rights of state actors not idolatry?

I mean this more as a question than as heated rhetoric. My initial answer would be that states are only legitimate from the point of view of theology when they (and to the extent that they are) furthering the blossoming of life in its fullness and helping beings develop (in Channing's terms) their faculties of the soul.

My view is perhaps overly influenced by Foucault's notion that power only really exists in its exercise and therefore the practice of the state is more important than the theory of the state.

Is the belief that liberal states represent agencies of human progress a conflation of liberal politics and liberal religion? I'd very much like to hear someone's argument on grounds that for liberal religion to be embodied it must function in the realm of the possible, with a full understanding of the eschatological reservation, though this is a compromise I am not sure I am ready to make.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May 1st: Our generation's civil rights movement?

Could I be the only white UU blogger who made it to a protest yesterday? Could this be? I'll admit I went on my lunch hour and found the time and place by reading a Spanish language newspaper.

I spent the last weekend at the Pacific Central District Assembly. For the Sunday worship service, Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker was in the pulpit talking about UU Theology. She made the case that there are some theological options that are off the table for Unitarian Universalists, including views of predestination or other denials of at least partial human agency. She argued that the notion that some people would be eternally rewarded while others would be separated and eternally punished is also not compatible with Unitarian Universalism.

She also made the point (and very nicely quoted me) that there is no way for a Unitarian Universalist theology to consider any human beings illegal.

I know I am something of a panentheist, though I tend to use a humanist vocabulary. There is a spark in all people that I would call divine. And it makes us part of a larger whole. If anything is to be saved, it will be in these bodies, by these people in this world. If there is a balm in Gilead, it will be applied by our hands, and if a promised land that can be is to be built it will be built by these very same hands.

May no borders separate us or denigrate the sanctity of working hands. These hands are all we have to do the work of God and the work of humanity.