Saturday, September 9, 2017


Part 2 of 3

In mid August, I attended and led workshops at a justice retreat for Unitarian Universalists in California. One of the other presenters was a woman, whom I admire, who is both a parish minister and a seminary professor.

She asked a question which I presume she thought would be provocative. It was very provocative for me, but not in the way that most people would imagine.

First a little background. When I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Unitarians were working very hard to attract more members of color, particularly African-Americans. This Sundays is school I attended in downtown Washington, DC, was quite diverse. I didn't know that this diversity was unusual.

It became even more unusual in the late 1960s when the majority of African-American UUs walked out. I'm sure there were many reasons for the walkout, but the proximate reason was the Association's refusal to release funds that had been promised for organizing efforts.

Fast forward 20 years. In the 1980s, I returned to UUism in Fairfax County, Virginia, a well-off suburb of DC. I noted a lack of diversity, but attributed it to the difference between the city and the suburbs.

In 2003, I entered seminary to find myself in a war zone. The level of meanness and mean spiritedness was amazing. However, like the psychologist who assures you that there is a pony underneath that pile of horseshit, I decided to stick it out.

I came out of seminary with a battered head that would not stay bowed. And, yes, there were many kind and helpful people who picked me up when I faltered.

My next big mistake was going to a lecture on climate change. I came out of the lecture wanting to take a long walk off a short pier, praying that the speaker was off his meds.

"We are all going to die!" Can either be a trope in a horror movie or a simple statement of fact. On the other hand, I love this little story:
The seer came to the Queen and told her that he had wonderful news.
"What is it?"
"You are going to die, your children are going to die, their children are going to die, their grandchildren are going to die, and their great grandchildren are going to die."
"Fool! Why do you give me such news? I should have your head removed from your shoulders."
"Majesty, you not understand. You are blessed. You will die before your children die as they will die before their children die unto five generations. The greatest sorrow in life is watching your children die. None of you will suffer this."
After listening to the lecture on climate change and confirming the accuracy of the information presented, I knew that billions of parents would not be as lucky as the Queen.

(The story continues in part three: A Time for Solidarity.)

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