Audio Archive, May 10 – Venturing Forth: The Vast Cosmos and the Theory of Nothing

Michael Nelson and Charles Dedmon ask, “What, exactly, is nothing? Outside of humor what does the very elusive term, nothing, do to help us understand our world?  The beginnings of things, the ignored snail darter, the perfect vacuum, what is after life; all of these somethings are often seen as nothing.”

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Audio Archive, Apr. 11 – I-70 UU Chorus in Concert

The I-70 UU Chorus, composed of singers from the Shawnee Mission, Lawrence, and Manhattan UU congregations, performs a benefit concert at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan. The program is below the fold. Suggestion: click on the “Continue reading” link before starting the audio stream.

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Journey Toward Wholeness

“An authentically anti-opressice, anti racist Unitarian Universalist faith will be equitable, pro-acitve, soul-transforming, phrophetic force for justice within our congregations and communities. This faith will be effective and accountable, both to itself and to oour communities, through transformative spirituality, justice seeking, witness, and action.”  This vision statement from the 1997 Unitarian Universalist General Assembly is meant to inspire congregations to become anti-racist multicultural institutions.

A phrophetic force for justice—wow, how that fills me with, hmm, what? Apprehension and hope…If  just words were enough to bring  justice and compassion into our world this fellowship would be busting at the seams with enthusiasm and activities building bridges to every sector of our society. What links inspirational messages and pleas to a world transformed by love in action?  Please send me your thoughts, your understanding of what it takes to fully accept this challenge and live out our promise.  Let me know what you’re thinking and what’s in your hearts.

Peace & Love,

Michael

 

 

 

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Interdependent Links

Indra’s web, a symbol from Mahayana Buddhism, pictures the jewel-like connecting points of all that exists. When ever a force of destruction occurs there’s a rip in the fabric of all that is. In every day human relations we know there are moments when we can feel that rip—when we have felt, said, done something that causes harm. We are responsible for finding ways of doing less harm and when we do harm, to learn the ways of healing. It is often easier to rationalize our harmful behaviour and make it into a rigid stance, instead of realizing and working on our greater responsibility. While this can be really messy work, it opens the way to the majestic vastness to which we are all linked. Big mind, big heart, great beauty instead of small mind, pinched heart and occluded vision…Really hard work, but life work that helps to keep us humble and open.

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Can We Change The Conversation?

In the March issue of the Kansas Electric Cooperatives magazine, while it devotes much of this issue to birding in our state, (a very good thing) to my surprise has an article addressing the problem of the negative conversations that occur about important political and cultural issues in our state and country. Tim Steffensmeier, an Associate Professor of Communication at K-State, believes that a more disciplined effort needs to be made to hear all voices, positive conversations change the world for the better and that hierarchies in communities need to grant authority to its citizens. This sounds like it came straight out of our Unitarian Universalist principles . Wow!

And then in the “Cook’s Library” a monthly column, Patsy Terrell writes about the need for people to tell the story of who they are with their whole heart. She observes that there are not many places in the world which encourage the authentic sharing that create real connections between people. Instead the consumerist, isolationist habits of our TV addicted culture promote hair extensions, face lifts, sports fixation, instead of real conversation.

Patsy laments the loss of the many ways we once had to connect with one another like community dances, barn raisings, coffee klatches, bringing a casserole to an ill friend…UUFM should send her some photos of the swing dance class, filled with rollicking dance  and community spirit, all the people helping to build more useable space for religious education, the numerous times in the week when UUFM friends gather for coffee or share something of real value with a Fellowship friend or member who ails…

Sometimes you find inspiration in the places you least expect. Lesson: Keep our eyes open!

Michael

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Pathology and Opportunity

“Crime  is a routine behavior; it’s a thing people do when they get used to doing it…” Zimring, 1/30/12 New Yorker

“Curbing crime does not depend on reversing social pathologies or alleviating social grievances; it depends on erecting small, annoying barriers to entry.” Adam Gopnik

Crime is not curtailed by punishment nor by being nice. Wow! The percentage of people put in jail has tripled in 20 years. No other country in the world gets close to locking up as many of its citizens as we do in America.

“The scale and brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life.” Adam Gopnik

70,000 prisoners are raped every year. African-Americans are imprisoned 7 times more than white Americans. Has slavery ended? NO!

What is the responsibility of a progressive faith community with such troubling cultural and ethical issues?

Let me know what you think. Is there a way we can help solve this anguished puzzle? How do we stand on the side of love in this hell realm? Really respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person?

 

 

 

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Lack Of Humanity

How I See It……………..by Dorothy Wells

I have been researching my family history for several years and have had success on the Internet genealogy sites. Left
with old pictures and obituaries by my mother and the names of the states my ancestors lived in, I began to piece together the lives of my family. I have always been curious about that period in our country’s history when my people
were enslaved. Having done extensive reading and watching documentaries on the subject I feel that I have a better understanding of the events of that time but my feelings are conflicted.

I understand the economics of the free labor that slavery provided and in a way I even understand the mindset of the antebellum south especially the wealthy, to hold on to that lifestyle. What I have never been able to grasp is the lack of
humanity. I can’t fathom how a man could sell his own children sired by a slave woman or how his wife could blame that same slave for her husband’s misdeeds when she knew full well that the slave had no voice in her life. I don’t understand how families could so callously have been separated, parent sold off from children or children from their home to a place foreign to them where they knew no one.

Slavery has existed since the beginning of time and has affected many groups at one time or another. yet that period in the history of our country is very personal to me. I try to imagine what life was like for my ancestors. I know from the census records that many children died, some families loosing one a year for several years. In my own family twin girls were born in 1879 and lived to be two months and four months old ,the only girls born to the mother.

I believe that slavery took a terrible toll on African-American families ,the affects still being felt all these centuries later. Women were often forced to be head of the household leaving no masculine role model. The history of my people in this country has been dramatic. We have made strides ahead but not without sacrifices. I am proud to be an American but just as proud of the strength and endurance of those who came before me.

(This essay comes from one of Charley Kempthorne’s “Life Story Instute” workshop in Junction City and was a part of the UUFM service on January 15th)

 

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A Few Questions On Racism

“A good deal of time and intelligence has been invested in the exposure of racism and the horrific results on its objects … It seems both poignant and striking how avoided and unanalyzed is the effect of racist inflection on the subjects.  The scholarship that looks into the mind, imagination, and behavior of slaves is valuable. But equally valuable is a serious intellectual effort to see what racial ideology does to the mind, imagination, and behavior of masters.”   Toni Morrison

How does what happened impact what happens?  How much of what happens, happens because we are unaware of our hidden biases? How do we get to the furtive places in the mind and heart where our conditioning blinds us from a truth that has power to liberate us all from the tyranny of indifference?  How do we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day with integrity?  Keen examination inspires.  Let us be inspired to use our intelligence and imagination to generate equality that goes way beyond what we know …

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Do No Harm

                                                                           

“Bad as all slave holders are, we seldom meet one destitute of every element of character commanding respect. My master was one of the rare sort. I do not know of one single noble act ever performed by him. The leading trait in his character was meanness; and if there was any other element in his nature, it was subject to this. He was mean…” Narrative Of The Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

How much harm we do without realizing it. Let us,  as the day we celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King Junior approaches, practice kindness. Let us become increasingly skilled at doing no harm. Let us be inspired by all those people who gave their lives to create a more just and compassionate world. A world where basic human rights are not neglected, but served with integrity. Let us not only stand on the side of love, but let us be active in bringing it into the world.

 

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Pagan Circle Events

Merry meet, everyone, and hang on to your hats, witches!  On Saturday, October 29th we’ll be celebrating our Samhain Sabbat, better known to the muggles as Halloween.  This is set to be a great time for everyone as we honor the dead when the veil between our two worlds is thinnest.  We’ll start by having our potluck dinner @ 5 pm. Bring a small halloween-themed dish to share, and take part in the fellowship and kinship we all feel at this special time of year.  After dinner we’ll get together to make Witches’ Flying Ointment as we prepare for our Samhain rite.  No worries, we will NOT use the belladonna that was used by our Pagan ancestors!  (We don’t want to fly that high!)  We’ll start with natural beeswax and go from there.  Bring a small container to take some home with you.  As we mix our ingredients, we’ll discuss the ancient Pagan origins of Samhain.

At 7 pm we’ll gather around the fire for our Samhain Circle. Our theme this year is Honoring Our Ancestors. Bring drums and bells to raise energy as we welcome the spirits of those who have crossed over. And to go along with this theme, we are going to set up an Ancestor Altar that will be accessible to all, the entire evening. We invite everyone to bring a small photograph or memento of a loved one who has passed on to place on this altar. There will be candles and incense available for you to use.

And please remember, all our UUFM Pagan Circles are family-friendly. There will be crafts or activities for children to do @ every event. And ritual garb is always welcome, but never required. Come dressed comfortably for the weather, because we will gather outdoors anytime the weather permits.  See you there!

Love and Blessings,

Deirdre

Learn more from Deirdre at saffyrr@gmail.com

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