Speaking Our Faith
The Defeat of Death
Emptiness and Creativity
Love, Power, and Justice
RE Program Changes
BUUF Service Auction 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 A WELCOMING 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 at 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
Unitarian Universalist AssocCentral Midwest DistrictMidAmerica Region
Blogs:JimMcConnellViola MooreBeth LefeverReligious EducationMember MusingsTech TipsMusic
General Assembly 2012 will be a gathering that offers multiple ways of engaging in justice work for people of all ages. Joining with the people of Arizona, we will worship, witness, learn and work together. We will leave General Assembly grounded in our faith, energized for justice and with resources to bring this work home to our congregations. Registration for GA is open as of March 1.
Full Article | More from General Assembly 2012
Unitarian Universalists mobilize in response to laws that tear families apart and abuse immigrants. Immigration justice has become a flash point for Unitarian Universalists, especially as we approach the UUA’s “Justice General Assembly” in Phoenix, Arizona—where one of the most aggressive state laws on local immigration enforcement has been enacted.
Full Article | More from UU World
At the January meeting of the UUA Board of Trustees, the Trustees voted to place a responsive resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery on the business agenda for the 2012 Justice General Assembly. What is the Doctrine of Discovery? Why have our partner organizations in Arizona called for its repudiation? How are we as Unitarian Universalist people of faith called to respond? Download a new three-session discussion guide suitable for in-person and online conversations, individual reflection, and journaling.
Full Article | More from Immigration Justice
Our dear friend Heartha passed on March 13, 2012.
People are posting farewells on her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000432266896
We lit a candle and listened to some of Heartha's poetry at BUUF on Sunday March 18. A memorial service will be held at BUUF the afternoon of July 22. You can still read Heartha's musings on our website.
Here's one of Heartha's poems from her book Ramblings of a Renaissance Mind.
What is my soul?
Is it the love I feel for the one I hold close? Is it the magic that's there when the sky is blue? Is it the sadness around when the sky is gray? Is it the beams of a sunset coloring the lake? Is it the gladness I feel when a friend is glad? Is it my conscience, for things I might have done?
What are the things that nourish my soul?
Is it contentment in work when I'm doing it well? Is it despair when I find it cannot be done? Is it the joy of a thought: Does that idea spring out from my soul?
And when I am gone, where is my soul? Perhaps it's in thoughts, and the memories of those I have known. In the deeds I have done.
Heartha Whitlow, 2000
ST. JOSEPH - Heartha Whitlow, a writer and artist who was instrumental in the founding of the Box Factory for the Arts, died on Tuesday at Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph. She was 92.
A self-taught artist, Whitlow didn't take up painting until the age of 48. She began her art education with books, workshops and "making a lot of mistakes," experimenting in a lot of different media, but her longtime favorite was watercolor. Whitlow painted local scenes and the Lake Michigan shoreline, and was a staple at the Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff, where she exhibited her work for 45 years.
"The secret to painting is to love it so much that you keep going even when you make mistakes," she said in 2002. "There's something very special about painting. ... It's wonderful therapy."
Heartha Whitlow was born on May 21, 1919, in Lake Charles, La., to Carl and Willie May Nielsen. Long before she was a painter, she was a poet. Her love of the economy of words, she said, was inspired by a high school English teacher. Whitlow continued to write poetry late in life, keeping paper next to her bed so she could scribble down a few shorthand notes when they popped into her head late at night.
She published many of her poems in the 2002 coffee table book "Ramblings of a Renaissance Mind," which also included prints of her paintings. She also contributed a chapter in the book, "My Sweet Life: Successful Women with Diabetes," compiled by Beverly S. Adler and released in November 2011.
"She had been a diabetic for 50 years and always liked to manage her own blood sugar," longtime friend Barbara Willey said. "Whenever they took her to the hospital she'd get annoyed because she thought she could do it better. And she could."
Whitlow studied chemistry at the University of Texas, where she met and eventually married Gene Whitlow, her husband of 68 years. The couple moved to St. Joseph in 1959 with their two children, Dana and Kerry. Gene took a job with Whirlpool Corp. Heartha worked as chemist at Phillips Engineering.
"She was quite a mom," her son Dana Whitlow said. "When I was getting interested in electronics and HAM radio she went to a great deal of trouble to encourage me. She taught me how to use a soldering iron and got a HAM license herself. Even at the time I remember being pretty amazed."
Heartha Whitlow joined the St. Joseph Art Association and later the Berrien Artist Guild. She was the historian at the Krasl Art Center for more than 20 years, assembling volumes of records and newspaper clippings. Her biggest impact, however, was, helping the Berrien Artist Guild purchase the former Williams Brothers Paper Box Company in 1995 to establish the Box Factory for the Arts.
"My dad didn't think it could work and that it was throwing money down a hole," Dana Whitlow said. "Mom stuck with it. She always had quite a sense of optimism. When it became apparent it was going to succeed, Dad kind of switched his attitude."
Heartha Whitlow was the treasurer of the Berrien Artist Guild when she, Willey, Bob Williams and Jean Gast began working on a grant to purchase the building at 1101 Broad St. in St. Joseph.
"Since she was the treasurer her job got more and more complicated when we got the grant for a down payment on the building," Willey says. "She had so much gumption. I just admired her. One of the reasons I stayed with the Box Factory project was because of Heartha and Jean Gast. They inspired me to stick it out."
Whitlow remained on the Berrien Artist Guild board, serving as vice president at the time of her death. Her paintings have appeared at the Box Factory, the Krasl Art Center and in several area personal collections. She last participated in the Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff in 2006 at the age of 87.
"There was certainly no avoiding her works," Dana Whitlow said. "At one time the house had probably a couple hundred different paintings of hers on the walls."
"She just had amazing energy," Willey added. "She was an excellent artist and always learning about art. She took workshops and classes and never took it for granted that she knew enough."
Heartha Whitlow is survived by her son, Dana, 65, who has lived in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, the past five years. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Kerry Murray, in 1991; and her husband, Gene Whitlow, in 2009.
In accordance with her wishes, cremation has taken place, and no other immediate funeral services are planned. A small, private memorial will be held at the Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at a later date.
For those who knew Whitlow, however, the community is already filled with monuments to her contributions, including the Box Factory gallery that bears her name.
"I'm sure some people come to the Box Factory may see that and ask, 'Who was this Heartha Whitlow?'" Willey said, pausing. "Well, I can tell them, she was a really great person."
One thing I have noticed about UUs is that we are reluctant to speak of our faith outside of our religious circle. I suppose that one reason for this is that we know that it may cause difficulties in social relations. Truthfully, it probably would. I think we need to take that chance.
To many of you this sounds crazy. Why stir things up with my family or friends by talking about something that is private. Here is the deal. I don’t think that faith is entirely a private matter. What we believe and how we act on those beliefs affects everybody on the planet. Let me give you a few examples. The Mormon Church has been, for some time, baptizing deceased victims of the Holocaust. Two US military officers were shot to death in Afghanistan, because copies of the Koran were burned. A former US senator vying to become a presidential candidate has recently called non-biblical theology phony. As you can see, what we have faith in affects us all. If our faith is narrow and fundamentalist, people can and do suffer.
OK, let us take a look at the dynamics of faith. Faith is trust in something. It is always (no matter whether you are a Baptist, a Hindu, or an atheist) faith in the same thing. What is that same thing? It is faith in a particular worldview. Here is the thing, worldviews are all constructions of the human mind. Culture is entirely a human product. In Christian theology it is a sin to worship anything that is made by humans. To make absolute a culture, such as ideas about a god, a holy book, or a prophet is a profound error. As I have said many times: "We do not apprehend reality directly. We create our own experience of reality by using human-made culture tools." This means that we are 100% responsible for our own experience. It also means that the atheist is just as much a person of faith as the extreme Islamist.
So, you say, what can I do? Well, let us suppose that every Thanksgiving your whole extended family comes over for dinner. Your extended family includes Uncle Bob, a lay preacher down at the Independent People of God Bible Church. Uncle Bob always says grace, which is a windy 10 minute affair designed to show that Uncle Bob is a really great prayer. Uncle Bob always concludes his prayer with the sincere wish to see everybody accept Jesus as their personal savior, so that everyone around the table can be together in heaven. At this point the turkey is already cold, but not as cold as the knot in your stomach. Frankly, Uncle Bob is making you a little angry. Furthermore, if Heaven is going to be filled with guys like Uncle Bob, mouthing sanctimonious sentiments, you wouldn't want to spend a minute there, much less an eternity. This is the time to practice loving kindness. Remember something good about Uncle Bob. Like the time he slipped you a dollar when your Dad wasn't looking. And how you took the whole dollar to the five and dime store and bought about 3 pounds of hard candy. And how you hid the candy in your room so that every night for 6 weeks you sucked on a piece (even though you had already brushed your teeth) while falling asleep. So it turns out that you really do love Uncle Bob, but you are getting pretty darned tired of those annual T-day prayers. So, when the time is right, you approach Uncle Bob. You let Uncle Bob know that your faith (you may be an atheist and a humanist) is just as important to you as his is to him. Your faith sustains you in times of trouble and brings you great joy. You can also let him know that, while you do not connect to the sacred dimension of life through Jesus, your connection to Life is very strong and satisfying. Thank Uncle Bob for the prayers and let him know that next year you will be doing a UU thing before eating.
It is OK for us to share our faith. I think the world needs it.
Defeating or transcending one's own death is a very old mythological theme. I recently saw it reenacted in a ballet production of "Swan Lake."
To tell the truth, I really wasn't looking forward to the show that much. Much to my surprise, when the music started, I became totally engrossed.
The story goes like this. A young prince must choose a bride who will become his queen. His father and mother, the reigning king and queen, throw a ball. All the eligible maidens in the kingdom come, to be reviewed by the prince. Unfortunately he doesn't find any of the available maidens there to be satisfactory. (At this point, I whispered to my wife that if he could choose one of those nice girls he could save everybody a lot of trouble.) In despair, the prince goes off into the night. After stumbling along in the darkness for hours he comes upon a moonlit lake. On the lake are strange, beautiful, and gracious creatures. They are swan-maidens, young girls who have been cursed by a wicked sorcerer. By day they appear as swans. In the light of the moon they return to something like their original identities, though still feathered like swans.
Of course, we all know what happens next. The prince falls in love with the beautiful swan-maiden, Odette. They dance in the moonlight and agree that Odette and the prince will return to the ball, where he will choose her as her queen. The evil sorcerer, Rothbart, has other ideas. He substitutes his daughter, Odile for Odette. She appears identical to Odette, though she is dressed in black. The prince is tricked into choosing Odile to be his queen. Rothbart's ruse is revealed. In the betrothal of the prince and Odile, Rothbart's evil power is now reinforced and expanded to the whole kingdom. Once again, in despair, the prince returns to the lake. He finds Odette there. The young lovers dance their last dance. Rothbart also returns to the lake. In an orgiastic celebration of his evil victory, he kills all the swan-maidens. Thus, revealing his true identity. He is Death. The young lovers realize that the only way to break the curse is to throw themselves into the lake to their own deaths. Wrapped in each other's arms they drown in the lake. Rothbart loses his power and dies. The swan-maidens live again and the kingdom is redeemed. In the sacrificial death of our young lovers, Death is defeated and life is renewed.
As I said above, the defeat of Death by loving sacrifice is a very old theme. It is acted out thousands of times in the world's mythologies. (Think Jesus on the cross, dying for the sins of the world.) It is acted out millions of times a day by people just like you and me.
The question is: What is it that you and I must do to defeat our own deaths?
I addressed that question from the pulpit on February 5th.
March 1, 2012
Dear Members and Friends,
There is in the world of art the concept of emptiness. Emptiness was first associated with the creation of art by the Chinese philosopher Ling-Po. His idea was that the artist must empty the self and find the space between the known and the unknowable. This self-emptying prepares the artist for the creation of the work. Let me give you an example. I have a friend who is an ice-sculptor; and when he stands before a hundred pound chunk of ice with his chainsaw he waits for the ice to tell him what it wants to be. Out of this process he has created works that have won prizes and brought home the bronze for the United States in the Winter Olympics in Norway.
Paul writes to the Christians at Philippi that they should empty themselves of their opinions, which is another way of saying that they should get ready for some new ideas. That would be good advice today, for politicians as well as for the rest of us.
When the empty self is in the place between the knowable and the unknowable, then a kind of magic forces the mysterious creation of beauty. It is in this space that creativity and intuition create some new beauty. I am talking about the kind of art that contains the idea of eternity, in contrast to popular art, which may be pretty and pleasing. The Germans have a word for this kind of non-eternal art: Kitsch.
In our spiritual lives we too might profit from some self-emptying. If we are all constantly bombarded with programs, ideas, exercises, and all kinds of suggestions on how to improve our lives, I contend that self-emptying is the beginning of a spiritual cleansing, which opens before us the untold possibilities of new dimensions of beauty in our lives.
As we appreciate beauty in our daily lives, we enter a great mystery, for who knows from what source springs such a work as Mozart’s Fortieth Symphony, or your grandchild’s latest effort in crayon.
Remember to celebrate March 21st, which is Bach’s birthday and also the first day of Spring.
Dear Friends and Members,
Robert Frost writes, “Earth is the best place for love: I don’t know where it would go any better.” Probably the subject of love and its mystery has been covered by poets and musicians more than any other subject in the lexicon. St. Paul writes in Corinthians that love is gentle and kind, that love does not insist on its own way. When I am officiating at a wedding, I always read those words. I also read those words at every memorial service. It seems so appropriate to remind ourselves at the end of any life that this person has participated in the great mystery we call Love.
If we think seriously about love, it becomes evident that in every genuine love two elements are evident, namely Power and Justice. I call Love, Power, and Justice the three legs of the stool which must be present. I am talking about authentic relationships between any two people. How can you love a person and deny that person justice? This seems so self-evident, yet it is denial of justice to a beloved person that creates the tragedy in the relationship. In my seventy years of pastoral counseling I have seen the destruction which the lack of justice causes. How many times when a marriage is failing I have seen how the cause of the tragedy was the lack of any understanding of justice. Love, by its very nature, contains the power of being. Without this power no friendship or relationship can long endure. Love itself gives us the power and the wisdom to penetrate the deepest needs of the other.
It is easy to forget how much power resides in each lover. This power is also part of the mystery of love. This is the serious dimension of love which romantic secular interpretation completely misses.
I am assuming that most of the people who read these pastoral letters have at some time been “in love” as that phrase is popularly used. When the magic chemistry of love, power, and justice is in full play, there you have happiness and the much deeper feeling, joy.
I have seen in these many years the tragic breakdown of this trinity: Love, Power, and Justice. How many relationships begin in ecstasy, with high hopes and every good intention to make the relationship last into eternity? The statistics on failing marriages in the United States are alarming, and do not speak well for the future of marriage, now facing untold miseries and problems of unemployment, uncertainty, infidelity, and the lack of any moral anchor.
Now as we approach the celebration of Valentine’s Day, with its trivialization of the holy mystery into a celebration with drugstore greeting cards, candy, and flowers, which are meant to cover a multitude of sins, including the lack of justice and power. In another part of Corinthians, Paul admonishes, “Let everything be done in love.” What better advice could one give to lovers of any age, in any place?
I think that each of us has stored in memory some of the great lines written in an attempt to solve the mystery of love, such as Shakespeare’s lines, “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.”
There is a kind of love which wants all eternity. So as we look at the secular emptiness of February Fourteenth, let us remember the eternal dimension of love, which St. Valentine illustrated by leaving fruit and flowers on the doorsteps of the hungry and needy.
May the power and justice of love sustain us all the days of our lives. However you celebrate Valentine’s Day, may it be filled with the joy of love’s power and justice.
We’re making some changes in our RE programs. Attendance has dwindled to the point that we’re no longer scheduling any more Speaking of Faith/on Being get-togethers. That doesn’t mean we can’t decide to meet again. If anyone sees or hears of a program of interest and would like to host it, just let me know and I’ll be happy to schedule it. Hosts usually provide light snacks and drinks. Some evenings we’ve met at BUUF, so hosts don’t necessarily have to host at home. We’ve had a good run since Gary Cook came up with the idea (Thank you, Gary!). Between October 22, 2008, and January 17, 2012, we met 134 times and had 14 different hosts. Most of the programs were recorded to CD and are located at BUUF for those who would like to hear the programs we’ve discussed (and may have difficulty or are unable to listen to the programs over the internet).
Later this month, March 2012, we’ll begin a new adult RE program. About a dozen BUUFers have signed up to begin the ten-week program called Building Your Own Theology. We’ll meet at BUUF on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. If you haven’t heard about this course and are interested, please contact me ASAP and you will be able to join the rest of us.
Our older children are nearing the end of the Popcorn Theology curriculum. The remaining movies they will be viewing scenes from include Dances With Wolves, Willow, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Hoosiers, and Field of Dreams. With Jim McConnell’s encouragement the class has decided to raise funds to assist a school in Zambia. Dr. Ann Nichols will attend our class on March 25 to give us more information on how we can be helpful. We’ve begun a class for younger students. Rather than follow a set curriculum, this class includes various readings and projects that focus on our UU principles. Sometimes our team teachers will split up and teach both classes on the same Sunday (using the room divider in the RE classroom). Emily Hecht has taken the lead with our younger students and she will also guide all of our students in leading our final RE Service on May 20.
I wish you all the best as our Spring-like Winter turns into Spring!
5:30 TIL ???
NOV. 10, 2012
Viola Moore has donated a Swedish dinner with a talk on ChinaLinda Lobik has donated A Walk Around, identifying plants at the location of your choiceChris Sirotiak donated 4 pints of Poppyseed Dressing plus recipe, originally purchased at Charleston UU Congregation, Charleston WV
What can you offer?
If you'd like to donate an item or service, please fill out the form...
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Building Your Own Theology (BYOT) course: We’ll be meeting at BUUF on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. beginning on March 22. The ten-week course will end on Thursday, May 24.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
The Allure of Unitarian Universalism
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Sunday, April 01, 2012
topic to be announced
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Sunday, April 08, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Our Annual Cabaret will be the entertainment for our Pledge Dinner. Be sure not to miss this event! More details will be forthcoming.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
"Leadership Development with a UU Spiritual Core" will be the theme of the 2012 District Assembly, to be held in the Chicagoland area at the Marriott Oak Brook Hill Resort on April 27-29. Because you asked for it, we are going back to having a full weekend DA!
Friday night's opening ceremony will feature special guest Rev. Bill Schulz, president of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and past president of the UUA. Rev. Marilyn Sewell will be our keynote presenter on Saturday morning. She is very excited about exploring leadership from a theological perspective with us. There will be two sessions of workshops on Saturday afternoon and then in the evening, we will show Rev. Sewell’s documentary film, “Raw Faith.” http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/movies/raw-faith-review.html.
Sunday morning, the winner of our DA Sermon Contest will lead a worship service open to all. There will be lots of music throughout the weekend, opportunities to connect with old friends and meet new ones, and times for spiritual reflection.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
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