Saturday, 18 May 2013
To question,To love,To serve,To celebrate differences— Together.
In the BUUF is the monthly newsletter of the Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship 4340 Lincoln Avenue, Saint Joseph, MI 49085-8712. Articles should be given to the newsletter editor no later than the 20th of the month. Items for Sunday Bulletin should be in by Thursday.
Rev. Viola Moore PASTORAL LETTER
We join, in the spirit of love, to develop our religious attitudes objectively and honestly that life may be more meaningful.
BUUF’s Board of Trustees meets on the 2nd Sunday of each month following the service. Contact Francie for more information.
We Are AWELCOMING CONGREGATION This Unitarian Universalist community welcomes and celebrates the presence and participation of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people.
Religious Leader Jim McConnell
Board of TrusteesFrancie Porter-Snyder, Presidentpresident at buuf2.org Emily Hecht,Vice Presidentvp at buuf2.orgDorothy Long, Treasurertreasurer at buuf2.org Lisa Dalgleish, Secretarysecretary@buuf2.orgChris SirotiakJoanne Johnson Janice Zerfas
Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. we gather at the homes of members or at BUUF to listen to and discuss selected shows from Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith NPR program. Feel free to attend any or all of our get-togethers. The programs may be downloaded or listened to for free at speakingoffaith.org. We try to choose and schedule programs a month in advance. If you need directions, phone numbers, or if there is a particular show you would like to discuss or host, please let me know.
Dave Sarra, Director of Religious Educationoffice at buuf2.orgtelephone: 269-426-4051
I have just listened to a radio show entitled: "Blind Faith." This is very interesting to me. By its very nature all faith is blind. This includes the faith of the scientist as well as the religionist. The religionist has faith in an un-provable proposition (i.e. My loving god exists.). The scientist also has faith in the un-provable notion that the universe operates by consistent laws, and that human senses can accurately perceive reality (i.e. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics accurately predicts the eventual heat death of the Universe.).
Now, just because I can't prove the Laws of Thermodynamics or the existence a loving god does not mean I am should give up my refrigerator or stop going to mass. Nor should I. I do, however, have a responsibility. I must admit that I just do not know. This is very difficult to do for both the fundamentalist religionist as well as the fundamentalist scientist. Here is where the honest person will introduce the tool of reason. Before I go on, there are a few things that must be said about reason. 1st) Reason always starts with an un-provable proposition. Put another way, reason always starts with faith. 2nd) Reason makes a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. Reason has its limits. 3rd) Wrongly used, reason is dangerous. Jim Jones and Hitler were impeccably reasonable people (i.e. If a heavenly Kingdom awaits us after we die, it is perfectly reasonable to drink the poisoned Kool-Aid. If the Jews are a millstone around the neck of a superior Aryan race, it is quite reasonable to eliminate them.).
What I am saying here is that, we need to mix a little reason with our faith. This we must do at the very beginning of the faith process. We must shed the light of reason on our beginning propositions. (You remember those: My god is a loving god, and the 2nd law of thermodynamics accurately predicts the heat death of the universe.) Used in this way, reason tells us that we cannot be certain about our beliefs. This has the very positive effect of making us uncertain. Uncertainty allows us to live life in a more open and humble manner. If Jones or Hitler had been strong enough individuals to apply their, otherwise, impeccable reason to their opening propositions they would have experienced realistic uncertainty. Millions of lives and untold suffering could have been spared.
Unlike the above mentioned radio program, I am not in favor of blind faith. I promote a faith that can humbly hear others’ opinions and is open to the complexities of an ever-changing universe.
Here are some (but not all) articles of my faith:
Humbly and uncertainly yours,
Dear Members and Friends,
Benjamin Franklin did what he called “moral bookkeeping” every night just before hopping into bed. He would review the day and note anything that he had done that fell short of his ideal. He would then give himself a grade for the day’s behavior. We busy people today probably would not take the time for such an exercise. It is, however, as we face the New Year, a good time to remember and review the past year. No life is all preaches and cream, and life has a way of sandpapering us as we go through our daily routines. It is a good thing to go into the depths of our soul and hold a dialogue with our deepest selves. As I do this, I look out into the bare trees, which in their bone honesty require me to be honest with myself. In these deep inner dialogues there is the temptation to put a positive spin on all that we did in the past. We remember and review what we have done and said. In this process we try to be honest with ourselves, but there is always the lingering temptation to paint a flattering picture of ourselves.
We have our Seven Principles against which to measure what we said and did in this past year. We know that ahead of us lies a time filled with promise and pregnant with possibility. In our secret hearts we promise ourselves that we will do better in the New Year. We hope that we will have the courage to face hardship and loss. We also hope that we will have the energy to rejoice. We remember, we review, and we rejoice. The temptation is to linger over the negativities of the past and to neglect the equally important verb, “rejoice!” Even on the saddest day of the past year there must have been something that gave you joy, even if it was only the pattern the sun created on your kitchen floor. In the time of rejoicing we gather new energy to face whatever the new day brings.
We do not know what marvel or surprise awaits us in the New Year, but we should be open to the New in every phase of our lives. There is always more light coming, and even if the new light reveals some dark corners in our lives, we should rejoice, even in this revelation. Samuel Ramey sings an aria, “The trumpet shall sound,” from The Messiah: “And we shall be changed.” As this artist sings those words, we believe it. In the very deepest sense these words are true: We shall be changed. It is at this point where we need the support of all our loves, for the changes may frighten us and force us to turn away from possible growth. So rejoice that we are alive in such an hour to practice extravagant love wherever we are. We are summoned as individuals and as citizens of our nation to be faithful to our Original Goodness; to make the New Year one of living-out our loving connection to “all breathing life.” Therefore, rejoice, and be exceedingly glad for the New Year.
Well, it’s that time of year. That time of year to talk about time, something I’ve always had difficulty keeping up with (please excuse my grammar!). The winter solstice has passed for us northerners and the number of daylight minutes is increasing. Those of us who follow the tradition of sending Christmas cards have sent them all out and…uh-oh, I never got around to writing any again this year! And have received many less in return! Just can’t keep pace with time, I guess.
I have been reading op-ed pieces about the commercialization of Christmas, news articles on neighbors who received notes telling them that the hanging of lights and decorating of trees are pagan rituals and should not occur at Christmas, and other writings (often in Christmas cards) bemoaning that Christ has been removed from Christmas. I’ve got some opinions on this matter which I have to qualify by saying they’re all based on second-, third-, fourth-, etc. hand information because I wasn’t around at the time when humans began celebrating the winter solstice, or when Jesus was born, or when it was decided at what time of year to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s my understanding that many scholars of history and religion believe that most of our Christmas pastimes (lights, trees, feasting, etc.) are of pagan origin, that Jesus was not born on December 25, and that the date of Christmas was chosen to coincide with some of the biggest pagan festivals of the year in order to promote Christianity.
So, what are my opinions? First of all, I’d like to state that no one needs to be tortured or murdered over this matter, especially me. I know many of us people are egocentric, some of us feel that if our neighbors celebrate in a manner that is different from the way we celebrate then they must be celebrating the season incorrectly. If we all celebrate the season in the way we want, what does it matter if others are celebrating differently? Why should it matter if others want to spend more money on gifts or celebrate the way the season was celebrated before the birth of Jesus (with decorated trees and lights)? I don’t think many pagans are upset with Christians placing nativity scenes on their front lawns. And if Christians really want to celebrate the birth of Jesus without the festivities and commercialization that surrounds the winter solstice, then perhaps they should decide on a more accurate birth date and celebrate at that time. Of course, there will be people, many of whom who will be Christian, who will commercialize that date, too. But as I said before, if we choose not to take Christ out of Christmas within our own home and family, why does it matter if others do?
A number of history and religious scholars have also pointed out that when the calendar was reset to begin with the birth of Jesus, errors were made. Jesus was probably born within seven years of the year one, which throws off the projected millennium years. It’s my understanding that Jesus planned to return to Earth during the lifetime of his followers, and has been granted yearly extensions ever since. But if one is counting on his return during the “millennium,” then it would help to know when the beginning date is. I’ve never understood why his expected return in (most recently) 2,000 years was based on his date of birth. I would think he’d plan on returning in 2,000 years from the date of his death (whichever death one chooses to recognize), which means we can expect the apocalypse to (once again) occur in about 20 years. Of course, if the world doesn’t end first with the resetting of the Mayan calendar in December of 2012. And writing of calendars, we need to keep in mind that the calendar we generally use is not the only one. The Islamic New Year of 1433 began on our November 26, 2011. The Official Hindu Calendar uses a starting point of year 78 of our calendar, which would make this year 1934. The starting point for the Buddhist calendar is the year of Buddha’s death, generally believed to be in the year 544 BCE, making it year 2,556. On January 23, 2012, China and other East-Asian countries will welcome the year of the dragon, 4710. And when Rosh HaShana was celebrated on September 29-30, 2011, the Jewish New Year of 5772 was ushered in. So, does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? (Thank you, CTA!)
With that in mind, I’ll take Jim’s faith and reason that we will have a New Year in which we can find something, as Viola has written, to REJOICE!
Happy New Year (whichever one you choose to follow)!
Do you want to build your own theology? Have you found doctrines that do not quite fit your own beliefs about the world? We invite you to join us as a member of BUUF in the search for truths that match your experience. Members have these privileges: Voting at congregational meetings after 60 days of membership. Standing for election to serve on the Board of Trustees. Serving as a delegate to district or continental meetings of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Using ministerial services such as pastoral counseling, weddings, funerals and other rites of passage. Receiving the Unitarian Universalist Association’s continental magazine UU World.
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Fellow Members of the Central Midwest District:
Greetings from your Board of Trustees! We have exciting news to share, which we wanted to send without delay: at our meeting last Saturday, November 12th, we voted unanimously to work collaboratively with the Boards of our adjacent districts--Prairie Star to the west, and Heartland to the east--to create a regional governance entity to replace the three existing districts. The Prairie Star board made the same unanimous decision on the same day, and the Heartland Board did so earlier this fall. Our target date to establish this entity is July 1, 2013, pending a vote on this initiative at our District Assembly in the spring of that year. I’m further pleased to note that all three boards are the first in our denomination to advance this future-oriented proposal.
This initiative is the result of at least three years of consideration by your district board, and almost two years of discussion with leaders in our partnering districts. The decision also follows the recommendation of the combined Executive Committees of the three districts, who met in Chicago last month to discuss possible forms of regional governance. Moreover, those of you who attended our District Assembly in Bloomington, IL, last spring, might recall that the topic of regional collaboration on both the staff and volunteer levels were reviewed at our district business meeting and after, as the Presidents from Prairie Star and Heartland were in attendance to participate in the discussion.
We agree with our sister districts that the creation of a new regional entity is an opportunity to form something more than a geographically larger district. Forming one entity out of three districts allows us to: READ MORE...
In Congregations and Beyond, the Rev. Peter Morales, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), offers a vision of the opportunities and challenges that face Unitarian Universalism as an international movement. He presents a strategic direction for Unitarian Universalism consistent with our core values and historic willingness to push beyond pre-determined boundaries. All Unitarian Universalists are encouraged to read, discuss, and share Congregations and Beyond. Full Article | More from News
Gathered Here, a denomination-wide listening campaign initiated by the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Board of Trustees and administration, invites congregations and individual UUs across the country to share hopes for the faith through “Community Conversations” and one-on-one interviews during the next eight months. The board and administration will use that information to help determine the UUA’s future. Full Article | More from UU World
Paired, “sex education” and “church” still sound strange to some ears, but it needn’t be so. Religious leaders have guided young and old alike in sexual morality for millennia. Our Unitarian and Universalist forebears tended to affirm new understandings in science and psychology, leading us to think progressively on sexual matters. Our congregations are recognized leaders in comprehensive sex ed, grounded in UU values. Full Article | More from UU World
Topic: "Mission Work in Zambia." Dr. Nichols has been Professor of Social Work at Arizona State University for 39 years. She has also taught social work in Zambia for the ministry of Education. While in Zambia she worked with orphaned and vulnerable children. Also, while in Africa, she worked extensively with young widows of men who died of AIDS. She also helped create an aid group for the wives of taxi drivers.
"The Defeat of Death"
topic to be announced
Bob Milne returns to perform a concert titled "Ragtime from the Wrong Side of the Tracks."
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