On Sunday, October 8th we celebrated membership in HUU and welcomed new members who have joined our congregation in recent months. Three of the readings that were included as part of the service are listed below. All are in pdf format.
By Linda Dove
September 3, 2017
Have you too experienced that uncomfortable feeling when you are new to a group and someone forgets to introduce you? For me, that is not affirming. It feels like a put-down. Naming is powerful, isn’t it? And not naming is just as powerful.
Today I name White Privilege in the context of White Supremacy. I will talk briefly about this in the context of our country’s recent upheavals. Charlottesville is the example close to home where the ALT-right, the KKK, the neo-Nazi terrorists and sympathizers proclaimed their hateful truths and named the statue of a slave-owning Confederate leader as a symbol of their “free speech” right to preach evil.
Eve Ensler, in an interview on This I Believe, makes my point in a quite other context. Eve is a performer and the feminist author of the Vagina Monologues. She wrote:
I believe in the power and mystery of naming things. Language has the capacity to transform our cells, rearrange our learned patterns of behavior and redirect our thinking. I believe in naming what’s right in front of us because that is often what is most invisible.
As a country, after decades of near silence, we are yet again at a threshold in openly naming racist acts and speech. Good. Let’s see Charlottesville, tragic though it was, as a fresh start in Identifying and defeating racist terrorism.
First, though, I want to share with you a little of my own evolution in this context. [Read more…]
The service on July 23, 2017 was called “Players and Bridges” and was presented by Merle Wenger, Rachael Baczynski, and the Chalice Children. It was an excellent and FUN service with singing and dancing. Part of each Sunday service is the reading of A Story for all Ages. As we entered, each person was given a card with “Write Your Own Story for all Ages” as the title. Each card contained the following:
Once upon a time, there was a _____________________________
One day. ____________________________________________
Because of that, _______________________________________
Because of that, _______________________________________
Until finally, _________________________________________
It was up to each person to finish the story and share it as part of the service. Assembled for your reading pleasure.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl. Everyday, she ran and leaped and spun around. One day, her grandmother made her a tutu. Because of that, she started ballet lessons Because of that she danced like a mouse and a cat and clown and a rooster. Until finally, she got the part of a swan and became an enchanted princess. ~Joni Grady~
Once upon a time, there was a puppy. Everyday, the puppy sniffed the flowers. One day, a bee stung his nose. Because of that he was afraid of flowers. Because of that he barked at pansies. Until finally, the pansies barked back.
Once upon a time, there was an egg. Everyday, the egg’s mother kept it warm. One day, the mother felt the egg move. Because of that, she called the egg’s father. Because of that they watched and waited. Until finally, the egg broke open and a beautiful baby dragon emerged.
Once upon a time, there were some cows. Everyday, the pooped in the river beside their fields. One day, the farmer who owned them built a fence. Because of that, they could no longer poop in the river. Because of that, the river got cleaner and cleaner. Until finally, all of the kids could go swimming and tubing without getting sick. ~Les Grady~
Once upon a time, there was a smile. Everyday, it looked for a face to adorn. One day, it found me. Because of that, other people smiled back. Because of that more people smiled. Until finally, the whole world was smiling ~Barbara Moore~
Once upon a time, there was a peacock. Everyday, it would spread its tail. One day, visitors came from half a world away to see it. Because of that, its hometown became famous. Because of that the peacock stopped spreading its tail. Until finally, the peacock moved to the deep forest where it could its beautiful tail in peace. ~Chris Edwards ~
Once upon a time, there was a young boy. Everyday, he passed a polluted stream. One day he notices a ???? bird by the stream covered with oil.Because of that, he asked his parents what he could do about it. Because of that, they told him to study the problem. Until finally, he became a dedicted environmentalist working for a cleaner planet. ~Robin McNallie~
Once upon there was a star, Everyday, the star glowed bright, One day, the star got bigger. Because of that, it could see new stars. Because of that it grew big enough to cover other stars. Until finally, it could hug all the stars.
by Joni Grady
October 16, 2016
By now I hope old members have had their hearts filled with memories of past challenges and accomplishments and newer ones have had their interest piqued by these same glimpses into the distant and recent past. While I was here that May day in 2011 when the 20th anniversary was celebrated, I don’t remember much about it so it’s been VERY interesting to dig back into HUU history. I thought to look at our wonderful webpage and it was like finding a buried treasure. How many of you have actually read everything there? How many of you have read at least the section “About Us?” I think (hope) maybe it wasn’t there when we were exploring the idea of moving here because it would have been enormously helpful. I do heartily recommend its study for anyone thinking of joining HUU because it explains a lot about the beautiful tree we call HUU and why we are the way we are at this moment in time. Think about this: probably one of the youngest charter members, or planters, was Barkley Rosser, who joined particularly because he wanted a liberal religious education for his daughter. Barkley was about 43 years old at that time and there were several others in their forties, the Stricklers and Elizabeth Ihle, for instance, who are still here, and some who have moved on to other places. What an adventurous experiment they embarked on! A new variety of UUism, even if they couldn’t decide whether the seed they had planted would turn out to be a mighty oak or a sturdy apple tree. A clean slate, with only the preconceived ideas about church and religion they each brought with them from their own past lives—plus the UU principles. They could and did do anything, try anything that would grow the congregation and the voice of UUism in the Upper Valley. They could and did build a whole RE building, hire ministers, fire ministers, and become a de facto and then official UU Welcoming Congregation. We’ve told you a bit about the roots of HUU and you can read more online
Now, at the risk of extending a metaphor WAY past its natural lifespan, I want to change perspective just a little. Linda Dove has just told us what she found when she walked in through those very real front doors and her experience mirrors mine. But if HUU itself is a virtual tree, a tree of life, a tree of spirit and love, planted all those years ago, how do our visitors and new members, fit in now, what do we find when we fly in on our virtual wings? At first they only see this very real old schoolhouse, and maybe the real but younger RE building, embedded solidly in the sturdy trunk. If they’ve been UUs before, they’re probably not surprised by what they see inside but do they all understand the symbols? Certainly the coffee pots under the “Community Café” might express hospitality and a warm welcome even before our visitor hosts and we ourselves make that explicit—and that’s good. The flowers and then the music immediately let us know our souls are fed by more than cold logic and reason, and the flaming chalice is soon revealed to be the light our lives are guided by. In fact, at their very best, our services as a whole feed the entire person, body and soul, (especially if there’s a potluck afterwards.)
What don’t visitors and even new members see? They can’t see that the virtual HUU tree is filled with nests, each with a different design and purpose, but each sheltered by the outstretched branches that grow around them and make room as more room is needed. Who built them? Who inhabits them? Why are they here? These nests are built by us. Each one of us, old and new, young and old, has the freedom and responsibility in this free UU church to try out an old nest, refurbish it as needed, or create a new one. And we are all needed to inhabit them at different times during the days, the weeks, the months, the years of the church life. They exist to make this beloved community possible and able to fulfill our mission in the world, and they are each microcosms of the larger community, bound by the same covenant that holds us together as a whole. There’s the board-nest, up in the highest branch, charged with oversight and planning, the communications nerve-nest that is scattered but held together electronically, the caring nest that is lined with soft downy feathers from each of us and moves wherever it is needed most, and the worship nest that perches precariously at times, always hoping to produce golden eggs for the pulpit nest but needing the creative energy of the whole congregation to maintain the balance between heart, mind, and hands, between care-giving, sense-making, and justice- seeking.
September 18, 2016
By Linda A. Dove
Today we are going to think about our collective purpose as humans and as UUs in the tough circumstances of our shared life in the 21st. century. Most of the time we focus on our own life-paths. I certainly do. And I am grateful for my life. But every few years, I feel restless. This is my intuition nagging me to refresh my sense of purpose towards a meaning that expands beyond myself.
I am not talking about fate here. Fate is when things are out of our control—or in the hands of the gods. Destiny is when we choose to make our lives meaningful. Emerson put it in a nutshell: The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
In my experience, there are three stages in life when we feel the need to radically redirect our paths. You could describe them as youth, middle-age and elderhood. But, really, the stages vary in timing for each person. Some young people are old souls wise beyond their years. Some mid-life people behave like goofy kids. Some old folk, sadly, wonder whether their lives have had any meaning at all.
So, in life’s first stage, we begin to forge our destinies as persons. Let me share a little of my experience here. As a child I felt alone. But now I see this helped me think for myself and set my own goals early on. I made my first conscious decision to forge a purpose for myself when I was 12 years old in high school. I decided to focus on being a nerd—the pinnacle of ambition in my world at the time.
August 28, 2016
Valerie Luna Serrels
Perhaps like many of you this week, I’ve been riveted by stories of the alliance of various indigenous tribes coming together to oppose the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.7 billion project which will run through sacred ancestral land in the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Seeing photos and video of 60 different native American tribes standing together in solidarity on the banks of the Cannonball River gives me hope, but it also brings me back to another time in the not-so-distant past when white colonial powers first expropriated land and destroyed an entire civilization for our own use and profit. Not much has changed in our imperialistic mindsets, pointing to the hard truth that we seem to have a knack for not learning from our past sins and failures. The greed and subjugation that defined our nation’s founding remains unchanged generation after generation, showing up in different scenarios and contexts, but repeating the same pattern of disconnection.
Of course, this knack for not learning from our history is not limited to the United States, but seems to be a universal theme. Throughout human history, underneath this unchanging orientation toward imperialism and domination is a system of economics, based on a philosophy of mind that values profit and advancement for the few over relationship and the common good for all. And at the heart of this system are human beings who have become so disconnected within, from one another, and from the Earth, that we now face cataclysmic unintended consequences.
CALL TO JOURNEY:
This morning I’d like to talk about this connection between the state of our world right now, the greed that drives the injustice of our dominant systems, and our unexamined, unintegrated psyches. Perhaps we’ll get a glimpse into why our patterns of greed and domination seem to be stuck on repeat. And maybe we’ll see a way to liberate ourselves from the demands of these old patterns. Looking at these connections requires us to take a journey. Not to a foreign land, not with a passport, but with courage and a roadmap to our own psyche, to integrate what Depth Psychology founder, Carl Jung described as our Shadow. This path is not linear, but has many windy turns, ups and downs. It’s actually more of a descent, to the underneath of the soul. It is a journey at the core of our faith and at the core of being fully human, fully alive, fully connected with God and all things. It is the path of individuation – this quest for wholeness.
Church and State HUU service 7.17.’16 –
Robin McNallie: Intro of Ben Fordney
When Ben Fordney was alive, he on a number of occasions would introduce me as a guest speaker in the history classes he was teaching at Blue Ridge Community College and JMU’s Lifelong Learning Institute. So I now, with some real sadness, get briefly to do the same for him. Before his first retirement, Ben had a distinguished career in the foreign service, including a posting to South Vietnam in the ‘60s during the war there. No career could have suited him better, for he was, I can sincerely say, one of the most gracious, reasonable, and civilized men I have known in my long life. After that, Ben came to Harrisonburg and earned a master’s degree in American history from JMU. He was a leader in the local Democratic Party, serving at once time as chair of the city Dems. Besides himself running for political office, he helped campaign for other candidates. He unflaggingly promoted liberal causes, most especially tighter gun legislation. This morning’s presentation, “Church and State,” includes an abridged version of a talk that Ben gave to the local interfaith association some years ago which Chris and I attended. We thought then that it would be good to have him do a Sunday service here addressing the same issue, and Ben sent us a copy of his lecture. Somehow that service never quite materialized. Although Ben is not here to read his words, I believe the wit and reasonableness of the living man are still present.
Reading of Ben Fordney’s paper:
RELIGION OF THE FOUNDING FATHERS
Ben F. Fordney
Two questions come to mind: What were the religious beliefs of the Founders, and perhaps more importantly, what kind of nation did they want to create: a Christian America or a secular nation? One common thesis that some historians advance is that they were Deists who wanted a secular state. They embraced a radical Enlightenment philosophy that considered religion only in terms of religious freedom Others believe the Founders were evangelical biblical literalists Christians who created a Christian nation. Out of this comes the belief of American exceptionalism – the idea that America has a divine mission- a City Upon a Hill, as governor John Winthrop said at the time of the Puritans.
When you delve into this question and read the extensive historical treatment of the faiths of the Founders, you begin to understand that there are no simple answers to these questions. Most of the Founders were complicated men and it is impossible, in the case of most of them, to put them into definite categories.
Most historians but certainly not all, do not believe that most of the Founders accepted all the tenets of Christianity, in fact some scorned and mocked it. Few, however, were outright deists, in other words, believing in a clockmaker God who allowed the world to run by natural forces. [Read more…]