top ten moments, 2013 (and 2014)

seeing the concentration on my family’s faces, as we dissected cow eyes at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago; the General Assembly Planning Committee electing me their Secretary, as we debriefed a successful GA in Louisville; dancing to my favorite band—the Ragbirds—at Blissfest; parasailing with Becky (I am ordinarily afraid of heights); ~read more~

visions of sugar plums

“While visions of sugar-plums danced in [our] heads. And [ma] in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled [down] for a long winter’s nap. When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash…”

And what I saw there was the Spirit of ~read more~

buy nothing day?

This year is the 22nd annual “Buy Nothing Day,” celebrated in the USA on the day after Thanksgiving, and in sixty-five other countries on the following Saturday. Not only do “Buy Nothing Day” supporters encourage us to forego shopping on that day, they also hold “credit card cut-ups” to help people get a handle on their debt, and they stage “zombie walks” where people dressed like horror-movie zombies shamble through shopping malls, inspiring people to ~read more~

Francis Ha–UU? Ha!

Noah Baumbach‘s newest film, Frances Ha, touched me deeply–although probably not in a way that he (or his co-writer and star, Greta Gerwig) intended. The film is interesting enough on its own merits, but it also contains a scene that takes place in the Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento. Once I saw that chalice onscreen, I was unable to separate the film from our faith.

Many other reviewers–Godfrey Cheshire, Vince Leo, Eric D. Snider–have written about the movie. ~read more~

Memorial Day prayer

We call to Iphigenia, and her patron, Artemis; we call to Utnapishtim, and to Confucius; we beckon to all the goddesses and gods who ever received an offering;

we cry to the God of the Israelites, who taught our ancestors which animals made the right sacrifice; we cry to Jehovah, who gave his only begotten son;

we remember all of our human cousins who risked their lives, or their status, or their health and wellbeing, ~read more~

Opening Words, post-Boston

After a week that included violence, terrorism, depressing political battles, and some frightening weather, it is good to gather together. It is good to confirm that we are okay; it is good to seek support if we are *not* okay; and it is very good to arrive and give stubborn witness to the power of our liberal religious values: freedom, reason, tolerance, compassion and courage. ~read more~

The Opposite of Crying “Wolf” (sermon; 130407)

We are not selling a set of rules. We are offering a set of actions. Anybody who finds our path a worthy one is welcome to join us, and we will cry with them, sing with them, listen to them and share our food with them, as we journey together. We are not offering mere community. Televangelists offer nothing if not a sense of “community.” The Hitler Youth were a remarkably close-knit “community.” What we are offering is rich, complex, supportive and challenging community. We do not wonder who or what it is that you worship. We do not care if you worship anything at all. We do care about what you love, and what you fear. We care about your dreams and desires. We care about your suffering, and your sorrow; and we care whether, after all of that, you are still willing to open your heart, again and again. If *that* is the path you want to walk, then we are willing and eager—delighted, even—to journey with you. We will support and challenge you and we ask that you support and challenge us. ~read more~

Ebert the Humanist

Thank you, Roger Ebert, for your passion for film and your passion for the human experience.

I have used this excerpt from one of his reviews in a couple worship services:

“The truth hidden below the surface of the [film] is a hard one: Nothing makes any sense. We do not get what we deserve. If we are lucky, we get more. If we are unlucky, we get less. Bad things happen to good people ~read more~

banishing earworms

Got a song stuck in your head? Are you driving yourself to distraction because you cannot stop singing “All the Single Ladies,” or “Seasons in the Sun,” or maybe some jingle from a commercial? I used to try replacing one such earworm with another, which sometimes worked. Now scientists may have a better, more foolproof answer: anagrams. According to an article by Richard Gray, solving “tricky anagrams…can force the intrusive music out of your working ~read more~

God Made Farmers

“Maybe God did make farmers, but why’d Dodge [show us primarily] white ones?” asks Alexis C. Madrigal:

“It’s true that whites are the managers of 96 percent of the nation’s farms…But the agricultural workforce is overwhelmingly Mexican with some workers from Central America thrown in. The Department of Labor’s National Agriculture Worker Survey has found that over the last decade, around 70 percent of farmworkers in America were born in Mexico.”

Madrigal borrows Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ~read more~