Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Coordinating Super Tuesday voting in Massachusetts next week will turn into a real headache should the New England Patriots win the Superbowl. The Globe reports that secretary of state Galvin is concerned about voter access to major polling places at City Hall, the State House, and Copley Square — locations that have been swarmed with tens of thousands of fans during earlier victory Duckboat parades. (One million fans — give or take several hundred thousand — attended the last Patriots parade.) A parade will undoubtedly depress voter turnout in Boston by clogging the streets, but I suspect a lot of Patriots fans from outside Boston will be deciding to spend the day at the parade rather than vote.
So my question is: Which candidate will this hurt more?
Monday, January 28, 2008
The charming, media-savvy president of the LDS Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, died yesterday at 97. If you'd like a good introduction to his career and to the adoration he inspired among Mormons and the respect he engendered among many non-Mormons, read this Salt Lake Tribune profile by Peggy Fletcher Stack: "Gordon B. Hinckley: A lifetime of faithful service" (1.28.08).
Politicos will be interested to note that Mitt Romney will take a break from his presidential campaign to attend Hinckley's funeral in Utah. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who is LDS, will attend the funeral, too.
Update 1.29.08: More Hinckley profiles: Laurie Goodstein (New York Times 1.28.08), William Lobdell (Los Angeles Times 1.28.08). Salt Lake Unitarian minister Tom Goldsmith praises Hinckley's openness to other points of view as "light years ahead of the general Mormon population." The next LDS Church president will be Thomas Monson.
The Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association has reaffirmed its decision to hold the 2008 UUA General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale, despite the controversial photo ID requirements at the site. A letter today from UUA President Bill Sinkford, Moderator Gini Courter, and G.A. Planning Committee Chair Beth McGregor explains:
The Board's decision to reaffirm the Fort Lauderdale site came after serious consideration of the factors involved with the site and an extensive investigation of alternatives by the General Assembly Office. The Board of Trustees ratified the GA Planning Committee's (GAPC) conclusion that there were no alternative venues in the area large enough to accommodate major events such as the Service of the Living Tradition or our Sunday worship service. The GAPC investigated the possibility of establishing a satellite location where those who either could not or chose not to present government issued identification to enter the convention center could participate in the GA plenary sessions, but they found significant obstacles and concluded that they could not realistically create an equal participatory experience for attendees at a satellite location.
The letter also provides links to statements made by the leadership of the UU Ministers Association, the Liberal Religious Educators Association, and Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (an organization of people of color). Be sure also to consult the Frequently Asked Questions About Security in Fort Lauderdale.
(For more on the controversy surrounding this summer's General Assembly, see "UUA leaders respond to General Assembly security concerns," uuworld.org 12.14.07; "Next year's General Assembly brouhaha today!," Philocrites 12.16.07.)
When Melissa Mummert was a seminarian, she began making a documentary film about the impact of mandatory-minimum prison sentences on women and their children. Now a UU community minister, Mummert hopes her film, Perversion of Justice, will draw attention to the tragic consequences of the "war on drugs."
Don Skinner reports that the first person kicked off the very first season of Survivor has used her consolation prize as seed money to help her UU church build a fellowship hall. Sonja Cohen tracks other Unitarian Universalists in the media.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Heads up, font fans: Typographers Sam Berlow and Cyrus Highsmith offer their impressions of the typography used by the leading candidates for president, giving Edwards and Giuliani good marks but reserving their highest praise for McCain and Obama, whose logo conveys his theme as well as any politician's I've ever seen. Clinton's type choice, however, "projects recycled establishment," Berlow and Highsmith say. The article doesn't include an image from Romney's campaign online, so I had to go find some Romney gear to see what they found perplexing about his logo: "The eagle logo has the head of the US Postal Service logo and body of the Norwegian flag flowing behind it. Not sure what that means."
("What font says 'Change?'," Sam Berlow and Cyrus Highsmith, Boston Globe 1.27.08)
Friday, January 25, 2008
Just in case you're trying to mine this blog's archives for nomination fodder for the UU Blog Awards, you might be interested in my incredibly short list of favorite posts from 2007:
Uh oh, here come the Unitarians and Universalists: What to say to earnest UUs who complain that someone identifies a as "Unitarian" or "Universalist." (5.17.07)
Isaac Newton's anti-Trinitarianism in the news: In which I suggest that anti-Trinitarianism ("unitarianism") is a kind of doctrinal leftover in Unitarian Universalism that we cling to somewhat irrationally; with 36 comments. (7.29.07)
Gosh darnit, did the Globe forget Romney's Mormon?: In which the political press forgets to notice something important about Mitt Romney's culture. (8.19.07)
Romney's pluralism tolerates all conservative religions: What Romney really said in his faith speech in Texas. (12.9.07)
Next year's General Assembly brouhaha today!: With 23 comments. (12.16.07)
And, co-written with Christine Robinson of iMinister: General Assembly handout: Blogging for beginners: A primer we prepared for the G.A. workshop we led with Peter Bowden and ChaliceChick. Say, shouldn't there be an award for Best General Assembly Workshop on Blogging? ;) (6.24.07)
Monday, January 21, 2008
Historian Dan Carter reviews James Loewen's book Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, which tells the forgotten story of American communities that actively expelled and excluded blacks.
From the archives for this Martin Luther King Jr Day: Thomas Mikelson writes that King served a troublesome, dangerous, demanding God. I retell the story of the Unitarian Universalist Association's response to King's call to Selma in 1965, which cost UU minister James Reeb and layperson Viola Liuzzo their lives; King's eulogy for Reeb [pdf], who was murdered in Selma and whose death Lyndon Johnson invoked in calling for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was published for the first time by UU World in 2001.
In the news this week, Jane Greer reports that a delegation from the UUA and the UU Service Committee has left on a fact-finding mission to Kenya; the UUA and UUSC have established a relief fund to help victims of political violence in that country. Jane also reports on a new archive and website collecting the stories of UU people of color, the UU Sankofa Project. And Sonja Cohen tracks another week of Unitarian Universalists in the media.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Two ministers this month have declared their intentions to run for the presidency of the Unitarian Universalist Association. President Bill Sinkford's second term ends in June 2009; the General Assembly will elect a successor at the 2009 Assembly in Salt Lake City.
Laurel Hallman, senior minister at the First Unitarian Church in Dallas, announced her candidacy in a special congregational meeting on January 6. LaurelHallman.com is her campaign website; here's a video of her announcement.
Peter Morales, senior minister at Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colo., announced his candidacy in a sermon to his congregation on January 13: "A Religion for Our Time" (mp3). I have not yet heard about a campaign website. [Update 1.28.08: Morales's website is now up: MoralesForUUAPresident.org.]
Watch for uuworld.org profiles of the candidates next month; the quarterly UU World magazine will profile them in May. (You are signed up for the magazine's weekly email newsletter, right?) UUA.org is setting up a comprehensive guide to the elections.
Disclosure: As a UUA employee, I will not be expressing any personal opinions about the race or about individual candidates on this site or elsewhere, nor will this site accept paid advertisements related to the elections. You, however, are very welcome to discuss the race.
Friday, January 18, 2008
The Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association executive committee has decided to move the UUMA's annual "Ministry Days" convention from the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., convention center due to concerns about requirements that people show a federal ID to enter the port where the convention center is located. Ministry Days takes place June 23–25; the UUA General Assembly is being held at the convention center June 25–29. (For more on the controversy surrounding this summer's General Assembly, see "UUA leaders respond to General Assembly security concerns," uuworld.org 12.14.07; "Frequently asked questions about security in Fort Lauderdale," UUA.org; "Next year's General Assembly brouhaha today!," Philocrites 12.16.07.)
Thursday, January 17, 2008
UUpdater, the magnanimous host of the UUpdates blog aggregator, is getting ready to launch the 2007 Unitarian Universalist Blog Awards. Help him refine the process — and get ready to nominate your favorites from the past year.
Monday, January 14, 2008
An excerpt from Kate Braestrup's memoir, Here If You Need Me, tells the story of how the Unitarian Universalist chaplain ministered to the brother of a woman who killed herself in the Maine woods. Don Skinner profiled Braestrup's wilderness chaplaincy back in 2005.
In the news, Don Skinner reports that Unitarian Universalists have given $1.1 million to growth initiatives through the UUA's "Association Sunday" fundraising effort. Sonja Cohen, meanwhile, tracks Unitarian Universalists in the media.
And in case you missed them while I was on vacation, check out these uuworld.org stories from the past two weeks: Robert Fulghum relates how humor has helped him bridge the cultural divide in Crete, his home away from home. Jane Greer profiles an Illinois congregation that recycled its old church. Don Skinner profiles George Tyger, a UU minister who left parish ministry to become an Army chaplain. And Don also reports on diverse and sometimes unusual musical ensembles in UU congregations.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
The quarterly meeting of the board of trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association is taking place in Boston January 18-20. The hot topic will undoubtedly be the security requirements at the site of the 2008 General Assembly, which requires a government-issued ID for admittance because it's inside a port. (The issue fired up the board back in October.) But the agenda also includes other important topics, including the Ministerial Fellowship Committee's proposed new rules (27 pages of them) governing the credentialing process for UU clergy; if the Board approves them, they'll be presented to the General Assembly for approval.
Board meetings are open to the public. Here's my suggestion for people who want to make the most out of a visit to the board: Look at Saturday afternoon's agenda. The four "working groups" each get 25 minutes to report out on longer conversations they will have held on Friday. Pick the working group that seems to be discussing the topic you care most about. ("Our Association," for example, is scheduled to discuss independent affiliates and the UUA's elections process; "Growth" will be discussing, well, growth initiatives.) Then go to its Friday session. Trustees welcome visitors at working group sessions, and sometimes even invite their input.
Here's the complete packet of agendas and reports for the January meeting. Data hounds interested in theological education will want to note this letter from David Pettee to Arliss Ungar, included in the Our Association working group materials, about enrollment in UU in non-UU seminaries and the numbers of alumni/ae from each school who achieve final fellowship. I haven't made my way through all this material yet, so if you find something you think others would find especially interesting, please mention it in the comments below.
(P.S. I'm still pretty much on hiatus, but I may pop in from time to time with something timely like this.)