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Monday, February 26, 2007

This week at What are you afraid of?

Lyla Hamilton takes an Outward Bound course after losing her job in her forties and confronts the root of her fears; getting ready to go over the cliff can do that to you.

In the news, Don Skinner reports that the Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Gray, Tennessee, lost its religious education building in a fire February 16. Jane Greer reports that a homeless encampment turned to the Olympia, Washington, Unitarian Universalist Congregation when the city evicted them from downtown; the congregation is hosting the tent city for 90 days. And we've ironed out most of the technical difficulties with the news blog, Unitarian Universalists in the Media.

Posted by Philocrites, February 26, 2007, at 08:00 AM | 2 comments

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Harvey Cox: James Luther Adams, Evangelical?

A two-part announcement: With a little help from yours truly, the James Luther Adams Foundation now has a website. The JLA Foundation promotes the ongoing relevance of the theology and social ethics of Professor James Luther Adams, the most important Unitarian Universalist theologian of the twentieth century. At the foundation's Forum on Religion and Society this year, Harvey Cox will speak at Harvard Divinity School on the topic, "James Luther Adams: Evangelical Unitarian or Unitarian Evangelical?" The lecture is Tuesday, March 13, at 5:15 p.m. in the Sperry Room at Andover Hall. You know you're wondering what Cox will have to say.

P.S. I'll be especially eager to ask Cox what he makes of the final chapter of Chris Hedges' book, American Fascists, which says Adams predicted that the Christian Right would be the vanguard of neofascism in the United States in the not too distant future. (American Fascists will be the most widely read book discussing Adams in a very long time.) I read that chapter in the Harvard Book Store this weekend and couldn't help but think that Hedges might have misunderstood Adams's larger point. When Adams visited Nazi Germany, he was indeed astonished that the liberal churches and the universities of the 1930s had capitulated to Nazism. He found resistance to the Nazis on two fronts: on the secular far left, to be sure, but also — and more impressively, to Adams the theologian — in the "confessing church" among pastors like Karl Barth. Adams focused on the theology of the Christian resistance, hoping to show American liberal Christians how to be wary of their own capitulation to general trends in the larger culture.

Hedges' book is not addressed to American Christians, however, but to readers of The Nation. That's a pity, because secular lefties already believe Evangelicals (and "religion" in general) are the problem in America. Adams would disagree. It's the churches that need awakening, and they need awakening in the name of the gospel. Hedges may be right that some wings of the Evangelical movement are actively pursuing some form of theocratic nationalism, but I guess I'll need to read the rest of the book to see what social force he hopes to mobilize to strengthen liberal democracy.

Posted by Philocrites, February 20, 2007, at 08:13 AM | 10 comments

Monday, February 19, 2007

This week at Spirit of Second Life.

The Spring issue of UU World is arriving in mailboxes now. In this week's online edition, managing editor Kenneth Sutton visits the virtual-reality First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life and profiles several of its members. The church's builder, incidentally, has made a promotional film worth watching, especially if you've never visited Second Life:

(What Does It Mean To Be A Church? - video powered by Metacafe)

In the news, Tom Stites reports that the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry honored three Massachusetts UU congregations for their gay marriage advocacy.

Due to technical difficulties with the new Blogger, we're unable to update Sonja Cohen's Unitarian Universalists in the Media news blog this week, but I'm working on it.

Posted by Philocrites, February 19, 2007, at 09:16 AM | 2 comments

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Boston Globe front page: Beauty Tips for Ministers.

Boston Globe front pageIt's a banner day in Unitarian Universalist blogging: PeaceBang's ministry of clergy defrumpification is on the front page of the Sunday Boston Globe. (It's right there at the bottom of the page.) Sadly, the online version doesn't include the illustration that accompanies the print version showing Beauty Tips dos and don'ts, but it does have an audio slide show featuring several friends o' mine. (Jake, despite what PeaceBang says, I still love that chicken bag: I think it's a ministry of silliness to humorless GA-goers.) Update! Strike that: The online version is even better. It offers an interactive, build-your-own stylish clergywoman illustration! Scroll down and click the interactive graphic link.

If you are a minister or seminarian who has not yet availed yourself of PeaceBang's Beauty Tips for Ministers, do.

("Preaching fashion: Minister advises clergy on style," Michael Paulson, Boston Globe 2.18.07, reg req'd)

Posted by Philocrites, February 18, 2007, at 09:08 AM | 1 comments

Monday, February 12, 2007

This week at Our theological center.

UU World cover, Spring 2007"Unitarian Universalism often plays better to a graduate-school crowd than a middle-school crowd," writes Galen Guengerich, co-minister of All Souls Church in New York City, but UUs do themselves — and their children — a disservice by keeping things complicated. He proposes centering Unitarian Universalist theology on an idea that children and adults can practice every day. "In the same way that Judaism is defined by obedience, Christianity by love, and Islam by submission," Guengerich writes, "I believe that Unitarian Universalism should be defined by gratitude." His essay is featured in the Spring issue of UU World, which goes in the mail later this week.

In the news, Jane Greer profiles 14-year-old UU Annie Arnzen of Andover, Mass., who has raised more than $10,000 for a Botswanan orphanage where she volunteered last year. I report on the January meeting of the UUA Board of Trustees, where President William G. Sinkford introduced a plan to increase ministry opportunities for people of color. And Sonja Cohen rounds up a week's worth of Unitarian Universalists in the media.

Update: In honor of Charles Darwin's 198th birthday, here are a few articles from the UU World archives about evolution and Unitarian Universalism: "Church offers classes on science of evolution," Don Skinner (4.28.06); "Welcome to the ecozoic era: The wonder of evolution," Amy Hassinger (2.15.06); "Human origins and human futures: Darwin and bio-engineering," Dan Cryer (3.1.04); "Science and its metaphors," Christopher L. Walton (11.1.03).

Posted by Philocrites, February 12, 2007, at 07:44 AM | 12 comments

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Globe marks death of 99-year-old Unitarian radical.

Cynthia B. Foster, who died February 1 at 99, was one feisty radical. The Boston Globe obituary today says she attended political protests into her 90s, climbed a mountain at 91, and was still fighting the IRS as a war-tax resister at the time of her death. She joined the Community Church of Boston (a Unitarian Universalist-affiliated church known for its political radicalism) back when it was new in 1924. That's commitment.

The Globe says she often quoted the Unitarian minister John Haynes Holmes in her antiwar work; Holmes helped lead the community church movement. She came by her politics naturally: Foster's mother was a left-wing Unitarian (she covered the costs of the controversial Unitarian minister and editor Stephen Fritchman's biography). Her first husband was an avid defender of Sacco and Vanzetti. Her second husband was a lay leader at All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C. Ironically, and coincidentally, her memorial service will be held on April 15 — tax day.

Read this amazing obit. ("Cynthia Foster, at 99; was rebel against war, bias for almost a century," Gloria Negri, Boston Globe 2.11.07, reg req'd)

Posted by Philocrites, February 11, 2007, at 05:20 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Also at Board of Trustees report.

My report on the January meeting of the UUA Board of Trustees was published a day late, but it's stuffed with news. Find out about a new plan to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the UU ministry and learn about preparations for a national marketing campaign, the upcoming General Assembly, and the 2009 presidential election. Also, following up on a 2004 report on the UUA's social witness statements, the board approved the first three "Public Policy Statements" prepared by the UUA Washington Office for Advocacy to summarize all relevant resolutions on controversial subjects.

Posted by Philocrites, February 6, 2007, at 07:42 AM | 5 comments

Monday, February 5, 2007

New denominational blogs and websites.

The reporters and editors of the Episcopal Church's Office of Communication have launched a blog called epiScope:

Mostly we'll track references to the Episcopal Church in online media ... provide links to full documentation and source material ... do a little "rumor control" where it's needed ... provide a moderated forum for public discussion of substantive issues raised by stories and opinion pieces... and provide a way for the wider Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, and the general online public to interact more directly with ENS and Episcopal Life writers and others at the Episcopal Church Center in New York and on the road.

Its blogroll features blogs from the church's left, right, and center.

The United Methodist Church, meanwhile, launched its brand spankin' new website last Monday. It's powered by the content management and constituent management software Kintera, which powers lots of non-profit and advocacy organizations. It also uses lots of Flash.

And, if you haven't checked out i.UCC, the online community set up by the United Church of Christ for newcomers especially, it's worth seeing how they're supporting social networking in the context of an educational website. (It's part of the denomination's multiyear Still Speaking campaign.)

What other developments are you noticing?

Posted by Philocrites, February 5, 2007, at 09:10 PM | 3 comments

This week at Adoption's complications.

Senior editor Jane Greer discusses several recent books about adopting a child in light of her own decision a few years ago to adopt. In the news, Jane writes that hundreds of Unitarian Universalists joined the antiwar protest in Washington January 27. And Sonja Cohen monitors Unitarian Universalists in the media for the news blog.

Posted by Philocrites, February 5, 2007, at 11:04 AM | 1 comments

Sunday, February 4, 2007

A few noteworthy new Unitarian Universalist blogs.

Chance Hunter is the new welcoming ministries coordinator at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. Check out his blog, Open the Doors: The Ministry of Welcome. I can hardly think of a more important topic for our congregations.

Daniel O'Connell, minister of the Eliot Unitarian Chapel in Kirkwood, Missouri, has launched a blog called UUA Politics focused on denominational elections, personalities, and related matters.

UUgrrl is tackling an important and difficult topic at Speaking Truth to Power: "how Unitarian Universalists address clergy misconduct."

I'd also like to highlight two UUs who have launched blogs in particularly public settings: Matt Tittle, minister of the Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston, set up his blog, Keep the Faith, on the Houston Chronicle's website, where his is one of three religion blogs. Sam Trumbore, minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, New York, also blogs for his local newspaper's community site.

As always, I appreciate hearing of other UU blogs. Please comment here or at my annotated Guide to UU Blogs. And keep up with the interdependent web at UUpdates.

Posted by Philocrites, February 4, 2007, at 09:30 PM | 3 comments

Saturday, February 3, 2007

On growing quieter.

First, a hearty congratulations to the winners of the third annual Unitarian Universalist blog awards! And thanks to my readers who nominated me in several categories and who cast so many votes for me. I came in second in the Best UU-Themed Blog category, and I'm really honored by your votes. Thank you!

Second, I have to confess that I can't keep up with my own expectations for this blog anymore. As regular readers have undoubtedly noticed, I post original commentary less and less often and have said almost nothing about topics you and I both know I care about: A Mormon in the White House? Is Chris Hedges paranoid? Can Dick Cheney be stopped? When will we go to war with Iran? How can liberal churches get their mojo back? I don't have answers to these questions because I haven't had time to make up my mind and tell you.

You can see the drop-off in commentary most clearly in my list of favorite posts from 2006, where I highlighted two or sometimes three posts a month from January to June but only one post every other month in the second half of the year. What has changed, of course, is that my job expanded significantly last summer and now takes most of my attention. And I don't see much free time on the horizon.

I'm still trying to figure out how to keep this site useful to you and engaging to me given the constraints I feel. I started this blog more than four years ago and have loved meeting so many people through it. I realize that this site could go off the air and the "interdependent web" of UU blogs would continue to grow and thrive, which makes me very happy. But I also think I have distinctive things to add, and I wish I had the time to say them. I'm sorry to have grown quieter.

Update: Will Shetterly reminds me to say that you can keep up with my sporadic posts via RSS. You can also join the 150+ (oops! make that 40) readers who get their Philocrites posts by email:


Posted by Philocrites, February 3, 2007, at 12:10 PM | 5 comments

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Moments in emboldenment.

One of the funniest thing I've yet heard on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" is yesterday's analysis of one of Bush's favorite words, "embolden" — as in all the things we might do that would "embolden the enemy" — by faux-Senior White House Correspondent John Oliver:

Well, this is an odd, unconventional war. This isn't like World War II where there were winners and losers. It' s a new kind of war where enemies can either be emboldened or beweakened. So we have to enscare them to the point where they rebecave themselves. We must disimagine the very figment of misunsuccessiveness. That is what we have to bedo.

I'd like to embolden you to unbecave yourself and cast your vote in the UU Blog Awards before the stroke of midnight Friday. As of this moment, I'm in second place in the Best UU-Themed Blog category. Unfortunately, I was planning to vote for my friend PeaceBang, who is currently in the lead, but if you wish I posted more often and PeaceBang spent more time in Guatemala, well, you go right ahead and put me over the top.

Posted by Philocrites, February 1, 2007, at 06:21 PM | 4 comments

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