Category Archives: Art and culture

My reading list for 2014

I’m a notoriously slow reader, so what follows maybe a few weeks, months or the whole year’s worth of reading. In any case, I’ve cleared of my bedside table, called a jubilee for lost reading opportunities, and have replaced them with the following:

  1. Dorothy C. Bass, editor. Practising the faith. 1997.
  2. Douglas John Hall. Thinking the faith. 1991.
  3. Michael P. Katz. The undeserving poor. 2nd edition. 2013.
  4. Daniel Sack. Whitebread Protestants: food and religion in American culture. 2000. Read.
  5. Slavoj Žižek. The year of dreaming dangerously. 2012.

 

The Atheist Church hubbub

There’s been a bit of agita in the Unitarian Universalist blogophere about the propagation of The Sunday Assembly, an atheist church (or church-like experience) that’s getting a lot of buzz.

I wrote about The Sunday Assembly in March, and don’t have more to say on the subject. But whiff of impinged ownership I hear from some Unitarian Universalists — that the Assembly should align with us, or that Assembly-goers should go to Unitarian Universalist congregations instead — makes me chuckle. As Unitarian Universalists, I’ve noticed that we lack the capacity to make a grand, new religious expression — Humanist, Christian, Plural, something else — and even create practical and ideological barriers to success, but then get bent out of shape when anyone else does what we could or should be doing. Or simply pretend that the other effort is a clone of what we do (or think we do.) The flourish of theological universalism among Christian Evangelicals comes to mind. So does alternate Unitarian and Universalist jurisdictions.

The Sunday Assembly will have its own problems. It lacks generations of accumulated wealth churches have. Lacks the experience of managing crisis, and developing leaders. And popular movements often rise and fall as fast as they rise. But what they do is their accomplishment or failure. Some Unitarian Universalists might offer help, but the Sunday Assembly is its own thing and displays of jealously don’t help.

Universalist retro wall plaque

While I writing my blog post about Bible-quote wall hangings, I recalled a small “suitable for framing” poster of the 1899 Universalist “Five Principles” a former (now deceased) church member gave me.

Five Principles poster

I had made a scan of it to share, but can’t find that I had ever done. Over the years, the odd attack and data failure has taken it toll. Or I never put it up.

Let me remedy that.
Five principles poster (PDF, 4.4Mb)

Here’s the text:

Our Universalist Faith
The Universal Fatherhood of God; the Spiritual Authority and Leadership of His Son Jesus Christ; the Trustworthiness of the Bible as containing a Revelation from God; the Certainty of Just Retribution for Sin; the Final Harmony of All Souls with God…

A future for Bible wall art?

I got an email offer today from a religious publisher for, among other things, religious wall art. Which made me think of

  • framed flocked Victorian mottos
  • eagle-emblazoned God-and-country plaques
  • Jesus People Psychodelia from a Groovy God album covers
  • 70s sentimental seagulls and flowing script framed schuff
  • Hip paleo-orthodox Brotastic work riffed from corporate tropes

Absolutely nothing I would want non-ironically. But I would like an attractive word of encouragement framed and in sight.

  • I wonder what style
  • I wonder what it would say

Calling North Carolina Unitarian Universalists…

A seminary classmate, the Rev. Martha Brown, contacted me to reach out to North Carolina Unitarian Universalists about a television project she’s working on. If you have “first-person accounts from North Carolinians who participated in the legendary March on Washington” please keep reading and contact her to participate in the video production.

I removed the contact info. Leave a comment and I’ll send it to you — to help keep the spam at bay. Perhaps.

And please pass the word.

Calling All Who Marched

(May 31, 2013) On a hot Wednesday afternoon in August 1963, thousands of Americans from all parts of the nation converged on the Washington Mall, determined in mind and spirit, demonstrating collectively for jobs, freedom, and equality. This day would go down in history as the pivotal March on Washington and culminate in the delivery of the now famous “I Have A Dream” by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This summer will mark the 50th anniversary of that momentous event…were you there?

UNC-TV is seeking first-person accounts from North Carolinians who participated in the legendary March on Washington, which took place on Wednesday August 28, 1963. We want to know how you got there, what you experienced, was it life-changing or did it help you to make a difference in your community? From the child who was carried in her mother’s arms to the day’s young civil rights leaders and working class adults, every person present contributed to the overall spirit and energy of the movement, and it is important to acknowledge each one. Among those, however, are some very special stories.

Thanks to a PBS grant, UNC-TV has an opportunity to capture three of these special stories on video to share as local/national content online through the PBS Black Culture Connection hub and on-air.

If you participated in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, please sign the North Carolina March on Washington Roll Book by submitting your first, middle and last name (including maiden name), city of residence at the time of the March, current age, race or ethnic affiliation, whether you attended as a child, college student, or adult, and your current age (optional).

To be considered for the video feature, please submit all the information outlined above as well as a working telephone number and email address to contact you and, if possible two to three sentences about your journey to the March, your experience there, and any lasting impact.

Ensure that the March on Washington—the people, the purpose, the lasting impact—will be remembered into time…share your story!

Deborah Holt Noel
Producer, UNC-TV
[contact info]

Martha Brown
Production Associate
[contact info]

A map of British Unitarian churches forthcoming

The annual meeting of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches took place recently, and (to mark the occasion) I have taken to reading the annual report (for 2012, PDF). Minister and blogger Stephen Lingwood referred to it in early March. Grim numbers. So little wonder I had a parallel concern with the persons interviewed in the UUWorld magazine (“British “Unitarians rally to save faith from extinction” by Donald E. Skinner) about the fate of British Unitarianism. I had already been putting together a map, not unlike the one I created for UUA member congregations last year.

And I discovered is how difficult it would be for a newcomer to find many Unitarian churches, based on their web sites. There’s often plenty of information about teas and their seventeenth-century history, too many lack basic directions, maps, visitor expectations, parking or transit information. So I hope my map in addition to being a visual tool for understanding prospect for new church development — see my earlier concern about a lack of a church in Milton Keynes — can also be useful in helping newcomers find a church that already exist. A good website isn’t everything, but why make it harder for vistors than it needs to be?

And because as was suggested in UUWorld article I believe what’s happening with the British Unitarians is a bellwether of what’s to come in the United States. We’re larger, but by no means large and the same thing can happen to us.

The map is quite a labor but I hope to have it up later this week.