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Thursday, April 24, 2008

My favorite time of the year.

Arlington Street ChurchThis is my favorite time of year in Boston. For me, spring truly arrives when the trees on the State House grounds next to my office burst into bloom during the last week in April — as you can see in this photo, taken yesterday, or this one, taken a year ago tomorrow, or this one, taken ten days earlier in April 2006. (Hmm, why so early in 2006?) In this photo, you can see the steeple of the Arlington Street Church through the blooming trees of the Boston Public Garden. You can see more of my Boston spring photos over the years at Flickr.

Posted by Philocrites, April 24, 2008, at 09:55 PM | 1 comments

YRUU's transformation continues.

There are new developments this week in the relationship between the UUA and the continental UU youth organization YRUU, although details are emerging somewhat piecemeal. The second meeting of the Youth Ministry Implementation Working Group — the administration-appointed task force that is sketching out the future of UUA-sponsored youth programs — took place the weekend before last, at the same time as the meeting of the YRUU Steering Committee. Then this past weekend, the UUA board met and passed several resolutions related to YRUU.

UU World reporters are working on stories about both meetings, so a more complete picture will emerge in a week or so when they've finished their reporting. (Hopefully the final texts of the board's resolutions will be made public soon, too.) In the meantime, some information is showing up here and there. Here, for example, is the April quarterly report to the board of the UUA's Lifespan Faith Development staff group, which includes the Youth Ministry Office.

In addition, the YRUU Steering Committee has now publicized its April 17 letter to the UUA board. The letter recognizes something that was not acknowledged directly in earlier statements about the UUA's future financial support for Continental YRUU:

We have been informed that the proposed budget that you will be reviewing does not include funds designated specifically to YRUU as it has during pervious [sic] years, but rather includes a broad Youth Ministry line item. The implication of this change is the cessation of YRUU specific funding and therefore YRUU activities and governance structure.

Acknowledging this fact, the Steering Committee urges the board and the UUA leadership to fund several of YRUU's priorities out of the broader Youth Ministry line item that is in next year's budget.

The Steering Committee also informs the board that it plans to host online elections for a representative body (as yet unnamed) to advocate for youth once its term expires in June.

Since I don't yet have access to official language of board resolutions, and since I didn't attend the board meetings myself, I'll withhold comment on the board's actions. One, however, is being publicized by the Steering Committee: The board has place the Youth and Young Adult Empowerment Resolution on the 2008 General Assembly agenda.

Posted by Philocrites, April 24, 2008, at 09:01 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kinja to pull plug on UU Blogs Digest next week.

I suspect most avid Unitarian Universalist blog readers keep up by subscribing to the feeds of their favorite blogs or by visiting the UUpdates aggregator, but some have stuck with the UU Blogs Digest I set up back in 2004 at, when I was tracking all of 36 UU blogs. Alas, all good things must come to an end. After four years, Kinja is closing down for good at the end of April.

Gawker Media's Nick Denton founded Kinja as he was assembling his blog media empire back in 2004. Kinja has seemed on life support since 2006 (and I can't recall if it was ever listed as a Gawker property), but it still worked fine, so I kept adding new blogs to the UU Blogs Digest. Gawker is now selling some of its blogs, including the popular political gossip site Wonkette, so I gather that pulling the plug on Kinja is part of Denton's overall belt-tightening. Or maybe they just didn't want to renew the domain registration. Who knows?

In Kinja's first month online, Denton noted my early adoption of the service as a way of creating a niche portal for UU blogs. (Here's a similar mention on his personal blog.) Happily, there are now other portals for UU blog fans. I like being able to filter out blogs that don't interest me at UUpdates — use the "My Sites" feature — but you may prefer Aaron Sawyer's DiscoverUU portal, which draws from a good but highly selective slice of the UU blogosphere.

P.S. I'm almost done updating my Annotated Guide to UU Blogs. Expect a new edition this weekend, if not before. If you haven't let me know about your UU-related blog yet, this is your chance.

Posted by Philocrites, April 22, 2008, at 05:50 PM | 4 comments

Monday, April 21, 2008

Harvard Div School names first Emerson UUA professor.

UU World interviews Dan McKanan, an historian of the religious left whom Harvard Divinity School has appointed the first Ralph Waldo Emerson UUA Senior Lecturer in Divinity. The endowed faculty position was funded by gifts from Unitarian Universalist organizations and individuals over twenty years. HDS announced the creation of the Emerson UUA chair two years ago, but redefined the position last fall; it's unclear to me whether a lectureship is effectively an assistant professorship, but I suspect it is.

McKanan currently teaches at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint Johnís University and has been coordinating Unitarian Universalist studies–related events at the American Academy of Religion for the past two years. Welcome to Cambridge, Dan!

Posted by Philocrites, April 21, 2008, at 07:25 AM | 4 comments

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Watch 'Actions of Immediate Witness' hatch online.

At last! This year, the UUA Commission on Social Witness plans to post information about General Assembly resolutions-by-petition as soon as someone announces their interest in organizing an "Action of Immediate Witness" (AIW) resolution. The online coordination effort will be available through June 1.

Granted, I'm deeply skeptical about the value of these resolutions, but at least this process gives other UUs a chance to see and weigh in on resolution topics in advance of appeals from earnest UUs with clipboards at the convention center. I also think it's interesting that (apparently) one need not be a delegate to propose an AIW.

Posted by Philocrites, April 20, 2008, at 08:55 PM | 0 comments

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

New book on Joseph Priestley focus of UUHS event.

Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism in AmericaI am very sorry not yet to have announced the annual spring lecture of the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society, which is to be held this Friday at First Parish in Cambridge at 7:30. J.D. Bowers, author of the new book Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism in America (which I look forward to reading — someday! — and which first came to my attention through a comment left on this site by avid historian Elz), is presenting a lecture, "From Consensus to Conflict to Contact: A Reappraisal of the Early History of American Unitarianism." Unfortunately for my edification in trans-Atlantic Unitarianism, I'll be at a performance of Bach's Goldberg Variations that night.

Posted by Philocrites, April 8, 2008, at 10:28 PM | 3 comments

Saturday, April 5, 2008

John Sidney McCain, the man from Old.

Mrs Philocrites watched John McCain's tribute to Dead Poet Society with me — the film with the inexplicable curling smoke, the high school "honor code," and the cut-out archival photographs of people from some far-away boarding school Guyville — and pronounced: "John McCain: the man from Old."

Posted by Philocrites, April 5, 2008, at 02:02 PM | 6 comments

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Recommended re: Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama.

If you're still getting up to speed on black liberation theology, I highly recommend the following articles about the Rev Dr Jeremiah Wright Jr — the minister (until his retirement in February) of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Senator Obama's church:

  • Project Trinity: The perilous mission of Obama's church, by Kelefa Sanneh, New Yorker 4.7.08
  • Prophet and pastor: To his former professor, congregant, and friend, Jeremiah Wright has been both, by Martin Marty, The Chronicle Review 4.11.08
  • Africentric church: A visit to Chicago's Trinity UCC, by Jason Byassee, Christian Century 5.29.07
  • I'd also recommend this response to Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech:

  • Identity check: What the Obama speech taught me, the mother of two biracial children, about myself, my kids — and America, by Francie Latour, Boston Globe 3.23.08
  • And see also:

  • Time warp: How Shelby Steele gets Barack Obama wrong, by Don Wycliff, Commonweal 3.14.08
  • Posted by Philocrites, April 2, 2008, at 08:57 PM | 4 comments

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