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Posts tagged ‘UUCJ’

Revelation and Inspiration: The Art of Not Knowing in an Interdependent World

This sermon is the first of three built around James Luther Adams’ 5 Smooth Stones of Liberal Religion.

To set the mood I read from Revelation 1:4-15 and listened to Son House play John the Revelator.


My oldest questions revolved around one simple idea “How do we know?” Over time I became more and more dissatisfied with the answer. Being a parent didn’t help me find an answer. Over time, I learned responsibility happened even in the absence of preparation, making me question John the Revelator…even while trying to embrace the breath of God. The old Gospel/Blues song asked the question, “Who’s that writing?” That’s one of many questions I’ll be asking on Sunday.


The Forgotten Virtue

There are a number of standard answers from all the variety of traditions within Unitarian Universalistism in regard to the number of individuals it takes to change a light bulb.

One tradition says that we should accept the light bulb as it is, another that we think the light bulb if it desires to change should change itself. One tradition calls for a quorum, which is 5 or 6 – wait, how many are in a quorum, and did we call Paul who is in charge of buildings and grounds . . . oh God, wait, no, hold on . . . never mind – what was I talking about?

Oh yes, as to light bulbs, my favorite response is:

We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if, in your own journey, you have found that light bulbs work for you that is wonderful. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal relationship with your light bulb. Present it next month at our annual Light Bulb Sunday Service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, 3-way, long-life, and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

I remember when I first came to the UUCJ one member offered a new UU joke every week. This never offended me, it actually kept me coming back. In fact, the light bulb joke helped me decide I wanted to be a Unitarian Universalist. Being able to laugh at myself has always been important, I do many silly things, and though sometimes I am being serious when they happen, learning to laugh at them helps me realize not to take myself so seriously. I find I often take myself way too seriously, and most the arguments I get into are when I am doing that very thing.

Ken McLeod, Buddhist teacher, makes the point that we should be okay with laughing at ourselves while discussing beginning meditation. He states that one of the first things we learn is that our minds are never quiet, and we must learn to laugh at our Monkey Mind, always jumping from topic to topic, and never being still. He doesn’t call upon us to lament our inability to be light-hearted about it.

In the Hebrew Bible we read about the story of Isaac. Angels came to visit his parents before he was born. They said to Abraham, who was 100 years old, that his 90 year old wife, Sarah, would have a child in the next year. Sarah, over hearing this laughed, but the angles never condemned her lack of faith. Maybe they understood the silly notion of a 90 year old woman giving birth, and they probably also understood that her first 90 childless years had been very hard on her. The angels said, because she had laughed, she would now have to name him Isaac, to which the root word in Hebrew means laughter. Nine months later she never complained about naming her child Laughter, because now her laughing was not in derision but in joy.

The seven heavenly virtues go like this:

  • Chastity
  • Temperance
  • Charity
  • Diligence
  • Forgiveness
  • Kindness
  • Humility

Granted, we have not had the opportunity to discuss these in forum or during a board meeting because we don’t consider these words dogma, but they come from one of our sources. Of course, if we were to take these into conference, I would make a point on one very important forgotten virtue–humor. If humor was added, I would be alright with the Heavenly Virtues. It is important to have a good sense of humor, especially when we work so hard to do important things. As UU’s we are often working toward very lofty and difficult goals and we face a lot of discouragement. Sometimes we just need to have a good laugh.

Many times Jon Stewart has been accused of being too light-hearted about serious subjects–making jokes about important issues. To this, Jon Stewart generally reminds dissenters that he hosts a comedy show on a comedy network. He does take very important issues and relate them to us in a way in which we can laugh, but he has found this amazing middle ground where we can laugh, while at the same time look upon these topics seriously. That is the gift of comedy, the gift of humor.

Why don’t we take some time and give that gift to each other this week, either in the comments here or on the facebook page? Just remember to keep it positive and PG-13–after all, we are Unitarian Universalist–what would people think?

Six Mississippi Churches Get It about DOMA and Prop 8 Ruling

Originally published June 28 2013 by Eunice Benton

TO: SUN HERALD – Attn: mynews@sunherald.com,
KAREN NELSON — klnelson@sunherald.com
CONTACT: Eunice Benton – eunice.benton@gmail.com – 770-356-1057 (cell)
(More references & contacts below)




How do religious people in Mississippi respond to the Supreme Court’s decisions about DOMA and Proposition 8? For six congregations in the state the news from the court this week added to the educational mission they have been pursuing.

Since last fall six Mississippi congregations have been engaged in a study program to better understand what it means to identify as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered or ‘queer’ and what it feels like to live in the current American and Southern culture with those orientations. Now these six congregations, all part of the Unitarian Universalist faith tradition, ‘get it’ about why the court’s ruling is vitally important.

“We believe that love, compassion, acceptance, and justice are at the very heart of what people of faith should be about,” said Eunice Milton Benton, a member of the Oxford Unitarian Universalist congregation. “Our congregations could see that we needed to be more informed and more intentional about welcoming our GLBTQ sisters and brothers. So, last fall, we gathered for a training weekend and set out on a year-long program to be more accepting and welcoming.”

The six churches doing the study program are Mississippi’s Unitarian Universalist congregations and are part of the religious tradition that arose during the Reformation. Although not as omnipresent in the South as some other denominations, the religion has included Europeans and Americans like Joseph Priestly, John and John Quincy Adams, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Adlai Stevenson.

Today the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, of which Mississippi’s churches are a part, offers a study program about being ‘Welcoming Congregations’ and leads a popular justice initiative called ‘Standing On The Side Of Love.’

In Mississippi the congregations working toward being ‘Welcoming Congregations’ are in Ellisville, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Tupelo and Oxford. The congregations maintain a simple web site (www.uums.org) and a Facebook page (Mississippi Welcoming Congregations) as part of their hospitality initiative.

Jim Becker, a long-time religious leader for Jackson’s GLBTQ community and a past president of the UU Church of Jackson, was very moved by this week’s court’s decisions. “This is a momentous occasion! I nearly had to pull off the interstate to cry tears of great joy. I’ve learned that when the GLBTQ community has to take two steps back, that we just do it, knowing that there will come the day when two-steps forward will be ours,” he said.

Gail Stratton and Pat Miller, members of the Oxford congregation who had to go out of state to get legally married after being in a committed relationship for twenty years, recently noted, “Getting married finally gave us common language with our families, co-workers, friends, acquaintances, and everyone we know for what our relationship means to us! We love each other, and now we don’t dance around ‘what word do we use to describe what we have?’”

Unitarian Universalist congregations have been at the forefront of accepting the GLBTQ community. Two of the central tenets that guide the priorities for the faith, are “the inherent worth and dignity of every person,“ and “justice, equity and compassion in human relations.” Many ministers and other religious professionals in the tradition are ‘other than straight’ and the right to legal marriage had UUA support early on.

For more information:

Eunice Benton (UU Oxford) eunice.benton@gmail.com / 770-356-1057

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA)

UUA Office – GLBTQ Ministries

Mississippi UU Congregations (links to all congregations)

UUA President Responds to SCOTUS Decisions

UUA ‘Standing On The Side Of Love’