Monday, February 23, 2009
The Spring 2009 issue of UU World went in the mail last week, but you don't have to wait for the magazine to arrive in your mailbox to read it. Browse the issue online, sign up for weekly email updates from uuworld.org, and share articles with your friends.
In this issue, William Murry celebrates the influence of Darwin's theory of evolution on liberal religion; Anthony David asks whether Unitarian Universalist aspirations for a peaceful world are well-grounded in our biology; Christine Robinson urges UUs to take spiritual risks; Kimberly French profiles Mark Morrison-Reed, whose new memoir describes growing up black in Unitarian Universalism in the 1960s; Chuck Collins recommends forming "common security clubs" to cope with the economic crisis; President William Sinkford reflects on his visit to the African slave port at Île de Gorée; Victoria Weinstein celebrates the intimacies of the theater; Doug Muder rejects the notion that religion is a collection of true-or-false beliefs; and Stephen Shick recounts the history of the UU Peace Network.
In my "From the Editor" column, I invite professional illustrators and artists who are also UUs to let the magazine know about their work. I also round up highlights from the UU blogosphere for the quarterly magazine's "On the Web" column.
Your letters to the editor are always welcome. Please include your city, state, phone number (not for publication), and any congregational affiliation.
Members of congregations affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association receive a subscription to UU World as a benefit of membership. Others may subscribe for only $14 a year in the U.S.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The four-page "suicide note" Jim David Adkisson left in his car on the Sunday morning last summer when he took a shotgun into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church in Knoxville was finally released yesterday after Adkisson pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder. It's a thoroughly depressing read: a desperate man's pastiche of paranoid right-wing talking points about the evils of liberalism.
Adkisson attacked Unitarian Universalists because he saw them as liberal activists. He wrote, for example:
Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate, & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the Mainstream Media. But I knew these people were inaccesible to me. I couldn't get to the generals & high ranking officers of the Marxist movement so I went after the foot soldiers, the chickenshit liberals that vote in these traitorous people. Someone had to get the ball rolling. I volunteered. I hope others do the same, it's the only way we can rid America of this cancer/this pestilence!
I hope he doesn't get his wish.
By the way, I'm sure some enterprising student of right-wing radio will soon analyze Adkisson's manifesto to show exactly where each of the text's phrases and delusional charges against liberalism originated.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Jim David Adkisson, who attacked a Knoxville Unitarian Universalist congregation with a shotgun last July, killing two and injuring six, pleaded guilty to all charges this morning and was sentenced to life without parole.
Minutes before Adkisson's guilty plea, the Knoxville News Sentinel got access for the first time to the gunman's four-page manifesto, which he had left in his car the morning of the attack as a suicide note. In it, Adkisson declared, "This was a hate crime."
"This was a symbolic killing," Adkisson wrote. "Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate and House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the mainstream media. But I knew these people were inaccessible to me.
"I couldn't get to the generals and high-ranking officers of the Marxist movement so I went after the foot soldiers, the chicken (expletive) liberals that vote in these traitorous people." . . .
Adkisson devotes one page of his manifesto to the Unitarian Universalist Church itself. The grandfather-turned-killer once attended TVUUC with his now ex-wife.
"I'd like someone to do an expose on this church," he wrote. "It's a den of un-American vipers.'"
Chris Buice, minister of the Tennessee Valley UU Church, responded:
"It was more than just a hatred of liberalism; it was just hatred," Buice said. "Hatred is blind. Ultimately, his hatred is what has now confined him. He will spend the rest of his days in prison. He is now a victim of his own hatred."
The guilty plea and life sentence represent "a measure of closure, as far as the legal aspects go," Buice said. "The verdict feels like justice, not in terms of punishment but more for the protection of those vulnerable in society." . . .
Buice said he saw no indiction of remorse on Adkisson's part. But he said the church will continue to radiate good will and not embrace ill will.
Adkisson's attempt to destroy the church he hated helped strengthen its ties with other faiths in the community, Buice added.
"This church community is so grateful for the love and support from people of all faiths," Buice said. "We thank this community."
This past weekend, the two UU congregations in Knoxville honored the two victims who died in Adkisson's attack. Buice's congregation dedicated its fellowship hall to Greg McKendry and its library to Linda Kraeger as part of the church's sixtieth anniversary celebration. Westside UU Church began a lecture series in Kraeger's honor with a speech by UUA President William Sinkford.
("Pastor: Remorseless shooter is victim of his own hate," Jim Balloch and Jamie Satterfield, knoxnews.com 2.9.09; WBIR; "Resilience marks church anniversary, dedications honoring shooting victims," Drew Streip, Knoxville News Sentinel 2.9.09; WBIR; earlier coverage)
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
If you tend to read my sporadic posts but don't come back to read the comments left by other readers, you are really missing out. I especially recommend the comments left in response to "Megachurch pastor: UUs just don't do transformation" (12.17.08) and "Purposes, purposes: Which ones really matter?" (1.28.09). Many thanks, everyone! Dan Harper's doubts about policy governance in particular deserve a wider audience.
One of the largest congregations in the Unitarian Universalist Association, First Unitarian Church of Portland, Oregon, came up $185,000 short in its annual fundraising drive — and announced this past weekend that the church will simply shut down for the month of July. No services, no programs, and the staff will take a month-long unpaid leave.
Meanwhile, the UUA itself is projecting a $1.8 million revenue drop in fiscal year 2010, which begins in July. That's a 10 percent drop. The UUA has already implemented several cost-cutting measures in fiscal year 2009, but many more are expected in the 2010 budget the administration will present to the board in April. UU World reports:
To cut costs, the UUA has imposed a hiring freeze, cut travel expenses, decreased the number of employees going to GA, reduced catering expenses, and held more meetings by phone and online. The UUA will also stop printing and mailing several publications: the annual UUA Directory, the monthly Congregational Mailing packet, and two newsletters, InterConnections for congregational leaders and The Religious Leader for religious professionals. The publications will be made available electronically.
How is the recession playing out in your neck of the UU woods?
("First Unitarian Church will close for July," Nancy Haught, The Oregonian 2.2.09; "UUA board votes to end independent affiliate status," Jane Greer, uuworld.org 2.2.09)