I just watched the spire of Notre Dame fall on twitter

 

I’m crying. Why wouldn’t I be.

This is a fucking tragedy, and it was all triggered by workmen. I’ll bet anything there were safety shortcuts forced onto them by the construction management company.

 

later…. 52 acres of primeval oak forest was taken down for the pillars

 

jesus

the wonders of Qatar

A man has been arrested for entering Qatar with (and candidly, this is really hard to believe) in excess of 12 kilos of bacon packed in his ass. I’m not going to link to the site, but it shows a picture of the customs officials standing in front of the packaged bacon like it was a pile of seized cocaine. Also, it looks like 4 kilos of bacon to me, but what do I know.

He was selected for special inspection because he appeared ‘nervous and sweaty’. I am amazed he wasn’t ‘ruptured and lifeless’.

In other news the World Health Organization advises you to avoid any bacon which might make it onto the Qatari black market.

Marcus Bales of Cleveland wrote this

The Modern Fundamentalist’s song By Marcus Bales

Fundamentalist:
I am the very model of a Christian fundamentalist
And by a strange coincidence a solid occidentalist.
I cherry-pick the Bible for the verses close or distantly
Amenable to straight white males, however inconsistently,
Unless those verses might apply a little inconveniently
In which case I interpret them a good deal more than leniently.
We want to do just what we please however strange or horrible
And still regard ourselves as wholly moral and adorable.

Congregation:
We want to do just what we please however strange or horrible
And still regard ourselves as wholly moral and adorable.
And still regard ourselves as wholly moral and adorable.

Fundamentalist:
I call myself a Christian but it’s really Paulist cultery
Since Christ himself has said that my divorces were adultery.
But I from man to man enjoy convexness and concavity
And call whatever others do immoral and depravity.

Congregation:
But we from man to man enjoy convexness and concavity
And call whatever others do immoral and depravity.

Fundamentalist:
I do not want to hear about the quantum or molecular
Or how the Founding Fathers made our institutions secular
I say the nation’s Christian under Biblical authorities
Rejecting what the Constitution says about majorities.
The workings of the government may worry and perplex you all
I say we’re equal under God — unless you’re homosexual —
Or black or brown or female or some kind of evolutionist
For all attempts at reasoning are really persecutionist.

Congregation:
Or black or brown or female or some kind of evolutionist
For all attempts at reasoning are really persecutionist.

Fundamentalist:
My freedom of religion trumps your Constitutionality
Because the Constitution says it does with firm legality.
I claim my rights from God or man, whichever’s more commodious
For what I want to do however evil, vile, or odious.

Congregation:
I claim my rights from God or man, whichever’s more commodious
For what I want to do however evil, vile, or odious.

Fundamentalist:
When I can issue licenses or not because I feel like it
The public’s just my piggy and the public can just squeal like it.
I’ll happily apply whichever law is most agreeable
To what I want to do since what I want is unforseeable:
The conscience of the person must control the way they view their job
And not demands that public servants ought to serve and do their job.
The Constitution’s man-made law and God is not endorsing it;
The SCOTUS made their law, and now good luck to them enforcing it.

Congregation:
The Constitution’s man-made law and God is not endorsing it;
The SCOTUS made their law, and now good luck to them enforcing it.

Fundamentalist:
There’s nothing in my creed that advocates for love officially
Except some quotes that God and Jesus handed down judicially —
I don’t see why I must obey the acts of which God sent a list
And yet I am the model of a Christian fundamentalist.

Congregation:
We don’t see why we must obey the acts of which God sent a list
And yet we are the models of a Christian fundamentalist.

All rights remain with the original author, Marcus Bales.  PLEASE DO NOT REPOST WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION.

Guru Purnima

Today is a day to celebrate spiritual and academic teachers:

Jeff, because he’s both.

My fOlks of course.

Doug Bain and John Hamilton, two of my high school teachers who are most responsible for shaping how I think and why I bother to.

Sue Sparlin.

Patricia!  So pithy, so witty, so wise.  If you ever decide to write a book of life advice, I will be ripping pages out of the typewriter as they come and killing myself laughin’, I’m sure.

Mike and Jarmo.

Dorothy Dunnett.

I won’t say all the Unitarian ministers I’ve ever had dealings with, but most of them.

And the Grey Hymnal, a haven from the stupidity of the world.

All the black, trans*, differently othered and First Nations activists who have kicked my ass and pointed my thoughts in a different direction.  Without their clear voices, without their clear vision, I’m just another temporarily-abled settler colonial gender essentialist living the good life on unceded land.

 

Happy birthday Jeff.

Gangs of roving yeshiva students

Well, it’s one way to get a divorce.

Paul and Katie are going to come get me to go …. stroller shopping.  That money the fOlks gave me for just such a purpose will now be used….

I am feeling much better today.  I have apparently been shortlisted for a job, and am just waiting to hear back. Coconut oil is a healing balm.

Also, I made cake!

De Colores

After Rev Deb’s mighty sermon on racism yesterday, I thought of a possible curriculum.   THIS IS TOTALLY IMAGINARY AT PRESENT and I haven’t heard back from anybody because Holy shizzsnacks it’s five in the ayem.  So if you have comments, it’s about the imaginaryness of it first of all.

 

Skin in the Game of Life is a ten session recovery program for Beacon UUs addressing racism.  The goal is to help each participant understand where they are on the continuum of racism and to move themselves closer towards Unitarian Universalist principles of social justice.

 

1.  How dare you call me a racist!

What is privilege?

What is intersectionality?

Having the conversation about racism – in ourselves, in others, in our culture.  Current understanding of inclusive language and why what you say and how you say it is so important.

 

2. Family stories

Sharing stories about racism, tolerance and aha! moments.

Understanding families as racism incubators.

Examining racial makeup of UU congregations.

What we didn’t learn in school.

 

3.  Otherness

Race is “policed” by, among other things:

Education, Law, Language, Affiliation, Occupation, Religion

 

4. “I pity the poor immigrant”.

The Canadian immigrant experience, focussing on the East Indian and Chinese migrant experience in Vancouver.  The Poll Tax.  The Komagata Maru.

 

5. The Settlers and Turtle Island

Colonialism and the ongoing resistance of First Nations.

 

6. Science and Race

An overview of the latest research. Facts, questions, controversies.

 

7. Highway of Tears

The Highway of Tears and the collisions of race, politics, media, law enforcement and gender.

 

8. The Laws of the Land

Current laws and important court cases.

 

9. Good people keeping quiet.

How social conventions stressing harmony and lack of overt conflict sap the strength of anti racism actions, and contribute to the growth of overtly racist actions.  Finding allies in the struggle against racism.

 

10. Now what?

Continuous improvement as a model for recovering from racism.

Racism, like all human bias, requires a cognitively pragmatic, emotionally stable and physically active approach for eradication to be contemplated and achieved.  The bias must be defined, its eradication valued and honoured, and its eradication must be supported by personal and collective will, and participation in activities which will challenge, inform and invigorate anti racism in UU life.

 

 

Reading List:

 

The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King

CUC resolutions addressing racism, diversity, First Nations

Learning to Be White, Thandeka

http://cuc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/CUC-ACM-2013-Keynote-Radical-Inclusion-Mark-Morrison-Reed.pdf

Charter of Rights http://lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html#h-45

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/lou-james/racist-native-canada_b_3795232.html

http://anti-racistcanada.blogspot.ca/

http://apihtawikosisan.com/

http://www.anti-racism.ca/node/1

http://www.hopesite.ca/remember/history/racism_canada_1.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komagata_Maru_incident

http://www.idlenomore.ca/manifesto

(link removed for safety)

http://intercontinentalcry.org/

Immersion

What between getting sleep in two hour bursts (all I can manage with the cpap, which I put on and took off three times last night), donating blood on Friday, and somewhat inadequate levels of exercising, Physio Luce is telling me that my flex is good but my strength sucks.  He totally bought that sleep deprivation has slowed me down… and loaded me up with more exercises.  Ainsi soit-il.

Today I will be adjusting the moisture content and seating of the mask on the cpap.

Dishwasher is running, sun is shining, Eddie is feeling much better.  He needs a special diet so we are attempting to feed  the cats separately and it’s kinda sorta working.  His thyroid is wonky but there are meds for that.  He is SUCH a good kitty.  He despises being pilled so much that when Jeff puts the pill in front of him, he consumes it rather than go through the gharstly struggle.  He was also a sweetheart the last time I trimmed his nails.  (Kitties shouldn’t click on floors).

I am assembling yet another project in Scrivener – Broad Hints.  It will be selected songs, poems, essays (no homilies though, that’s another project), humour, blog posts, recipes and miscellaneous writings (like band names, movie and concert reviews).  I have a ton of stuff in there already and it’s going to be book sized by the time I’m done. At the following URL (ya hafta scroll down) there’s my third fave pic of my grandpa: He’s a real cowboy with real First Nations….  http://allegrasloman.com/indexold.php?showall=1&month=9&year=2004 

Holy crap! some twin engined plane just went over the house at about 500 feet.  I hate when they do that.

Church yesterday was great, excepting that the split pea and ham soup I took for the meal afterwards overturned in the car trunk.  Fortunately I’d taped the lid on and it was still so cold that only the condensation from the defrosting came off it, plus I put the crockpot in a large garbage bag, so there was some leakage but not the HOLY FUCK disaster I thought it was when I leapt out of the car to investigate the gharstly noise.  I did the aesthetics and screwed it up, but Rob rescued me by leaping up and getting a taper for the service leader (Donna).  I don’t think aesthetically it was too bad.  We didn’t sing enough and there was a congregational discussion afterwards grump grump.  I’ve had to lower my pledge because, HEY no INCOME! which cheeses me off, but other delights await, including my return to delivering homilies!  And getting to sing the compost song first service in 2014, more or less hopefully.

I am going to go back to chores now.

We’re number one! In pipeline accidents.

 

A collection of asides regarding the UU Hymnal readings

There are 317 readings in the UU hymnal, designed to provide words of wisdom, comfort, exhortation, prophecy and joy apposite to the occasions which present themselves at church.  Which, candidly, is a panoply of human life.

Sticklers notice: I will be using UU and Unitarian interchangeably. It’s inaccurate and kicks church history in tender parts, but ainsi soit-il.

As a lengthy aside, I purchased a copy of the hymnal and gave it to my cheerfully atheist mOm, as she is the designated driver and provider of editorial content for the crafty circle of elderwomen she remains connected to at the retirement home (which was the last home of her mother-in-law).  (My folks are still, praise evidence based medicine & competent ambulance attendants, in their own home.) As such she must occasionally find words for occasions, and I thought I’d minister to her by providing her with some very nice quotations.  I also wanted her to be able to find lyrics and words to follow along from Orders of Service I provided her with from time to time when I delivered homilies (see list to the left).

Although she has declared herself permanently disinclined to religiosity, however friendly a face it may present to atheism, I keep hoping that she’ll wake up one morning and declare for Unitarianism, like 16th century Hungary.  (I must hasten to add that my mOm is not as big as Hungary, although she contains multitudes). Given that my pOp blew out of the Anglican church the day he was confirmed – to make his mother happy, may she rest in the comfort of Denny’s presence for all eternity in a specially constructed atheist heaven – I can only imagine my father attending church after a stroke which destroyed both frontal lobes, his hearing and his taste buds, and at this point my imagination reels at the prospect of my mother ever darkening a church door in Victoria unless I was presenting.

I’m sure she’ll quirk an eyebrow when she reads that, but I’ve tried not to be a pest in my conversion attempts and she’s been very patient with me.

Aside aside, the hymnal is full of great quotes.  Roughly half of them were written by Unitarians, and the rest come from an array of holy books, atheists, agnostics, pagans, Christians and poets.  It is a collection of words useful when depth of emotion overwhelms our capacity to frame a spoken response, or when we’re feeling lazy.

Unitarianism is a religion which has dodged liturgy, ducked canon, rejected creed and flattened hierarchy for so long that it has come to be defined (by outsiders) as offering a kind of nebbish-y nebulous feelgood question-of-sin-dodging heathenism, mocking Christianity with its vintage Orders of Service but spitting on Jesus and trampling the Bible underfoot in the ultimate glorification of apostasy.  Neither of which we do.  We revere Jesus and continue to draw both comfort and sermon ideas from the Bible.  We do not worship Jesus or take the Bible literally.  Right there we sacrifice the right to call ourselves Christians, but I guess it’s legit if we call ourselves Protestants, cause we’re still protesting everything we can.  As we are able.

I prefer to think of Unitarianism as being evidence based religion.  Yeah, I know, it sounds like a contradiction in terms, but I think I can at least provoke some discussion on the matter.

In the course of human events, and rather earlier than everybody else, Unitarians became convinced that black people (and other POCs) and women were persons, which meant that they had to change the organization to accommodate them as full members, and anoint them as worthy of the ministry. So it was that the first woman ordained in the US, the highly remarkable Olympia Brown, was ordained in 1863 (probably not coincidentally during the budding of the women’s rights movement coexistent with abolitionism during the Civil War) and so it was that one of the charter members of the Gloucester MA church was a free black man. (No date available at press time, but it was at least 50 years before the Civil War.)

How long did it take science to catch up?  Cheezy Pete, check out the UNESCO declaration.  Whoopsy, the scientists gathered themselves up after the carnage and frenzy and sacrifice and heroism of WWII to declare race to have no scientific basis.  (Whether women are human beings remains an open question on sizable chunks of this old world.  Count me as a believer.)

Unitarians had thrown their hearts over THAT fence more than a century earlier, even if we’ve done a shitty job of being integrated since (and that will be ANOTHER rant).  So when I say that Unitarians are an evidence based religion, it’s to say that we came to a decision, as an organization, that we can’t fear science any more than we fear the light of the sun or the silence of our sanctuary.  (We can always bring sunscreen and wear headphones). We WILL KEEP THROWING OUR HEARTS OVER THAT FENCE.  And science, sapientia, Sophia, will keep catching up with us, and showing that when we love, when we work for justice, when we instill inquiry and lovingkindness in our children, when we speak truth to power, science will come along and provide evidence, and tools, and confirmation, even it comes later.  We trust the dawning future because it’s always been there for us. Always.  That’s what being in the vanguard of religion means.  The past is awesome and we love poking around in it but children are starving now, and we look to a future in which that can be made impossible.

When Montreal congregations put themselves at hideous risk by providing contraception and abortion information to women in the 60s, it was before the laws changed. When Unitarians put themselves at hideous risk hiding fleeing slaves, it was before the laws changed.  And the laws changed in part because of us, because AT EVERY STAGE of liberalization of laws regarding human rights, in both the US and Canada, Unitarians have been in there preaching, marching, organizing, lobbying and in general kicking ass, taking names, and staying up late putting stamps on newsletters.

Thank you for your patience thus far.  Back to the hymnal.

The readings are divided into groups, roughly, words which are plug and play with the Order of Service, words apt to or from our Living Tradition, and words for special occasions.  There’s everybody from Maya Angelou to Israel Zangwill  in there.

Here begins the drunkard’s walk.  In most cases the quote will be a partial one from the reading, just for flavour, and also to maintain some kind of distance in terms of legal right to reprint.  I can quote for commentary but just dumping the whole reading is disrespectful.

Reading 420, Annie Dillard: We are here to abet creation and to witness to it.

Tangential comment: Annie Dillard is one of the most amazing writers in the English language.  The fact that she quoted Dorothy Dunnett in one of her works will be amusing to at least one of my blog readers.

Reading 429, William F. Schultz: Come into this place of peace and let its silence heal your spirit.

Reading 435, Kathleen McTigue: We come together this morning to remind one another to rest for a moment on the forming edge of our lives.

The line “the forming edge of our lives” hits that sweet spot of brevity, accuracy and power which characterizes many of my favourite readings from the hymnal.

Reading 440, Phillip Hewett (minister emeritus of UCV and one of the finest theologians and preachers of our faith in Canada and whose participation in Rev Thorne’s Rite of Ordination was one of the high points…): Let us labor in hope for the dawning of a new day without hatred, violence, and injustice.

Amen, venerable Phillip.  (This is a joke which someone who attended the Ordination might find amusing).

Reading 441, Jacob Trapp (I’d provide a link regarding this remarkable UU preacher but the best one goes to a PDF of his eulogy): Worship is kindred fire within our hearts; it moves through deeds of kindness and through acts of love.

Reading 447, Albert Schweitzer (who likely doesn’t need an introduction):  At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.

I think this reading, which is for the chalice lighting at the commencement of the service, for the annunciation of sacred space, is part of Beacon’s DNA.

Reading 457, Edward Everett Hale. This I think may be Peggy’s favourite reading from the hymnal, I could be wrong. It sure is one of mine.  I quote it in its entirety:  I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.  And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

Reading 462, Paul Robeson: The song of freedom must prevail.

Reading 463, Adrienne Rich: My heart is moved by all I cannot save.

Reading 470, Leonard Mason: We affirm a continuing hope that out of every tragedy the spirits of individuals shall rise to build a better world.

Reading 471, L. Griswold Williams: Love is the doctrine of this church, the quest of truth is its sacrament, and service is its prayer.

What admirable concision.

Reading 477, Vivian Pomeroy: Forbid that we should feel superior to others when we are only more shielded, and may we encourage the secret struggle of every person.

Reading 483, Wendell Berry, who should need no introduction unless you’ve been hiding in a hedge these last 30 years: I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.

Reading 543, Greta Crosby (a Unitarian minister): Winter is a table set with ice and starlight.

Reading 492, W.E.B. Du Bois, quoted in its entirety: The prayer of our souls is a petition for persistence; not for the one good deed, or single thought, but deed on deed, and thought on thought, until day calling unto day shall make a life worth living.

Reading 496, Harry Meserve: From arrogance, pompousness, and from thinking ourselves more important than we are, may some saving sense of humor liberate us.

Hey, I do what I can.

Reading 504, e.e. cummings: i thank You God for this most amazing/day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky, and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes

Long term Beacon members will remember Rev Ev using this often in services, and how wonderful that was, his delivery always being a support to the meaning….

Reading 526, Inuit Shaman Uvavnuk: The sky and the strong wind have moved the spirit inside me till I am carried away trembling with joy.

Reading 530, Robert T. Weston: Out of the stars we have come, up from time.

Reading 557, David H. Eaton: Our destiny: from unknown to unknown.  May we have the faith to accept this mystery and build upon its everlasting truth.

Reading 560, Dorothy Day: No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless.  There’s too much work to do.

Reading 561, Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.  (I recollect Peggy has this up on the wall in her house.)

Reading 566, Francis David adapted by Richard Fewkes: Sanctified reason is the lantern of faith.

Reading 579, Frederick Douglass: The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Reading 592, William Ellery Channing (my all time fave historical Unitarian even if he was a well intentioned racist – hey, we all have our cognitive cross to bear): I call that mind free which sets no bounds to its love, which, wherever they are seen, delights in virtue and sympathizes with suffering.

Also Reading 652: The great end in religious instruction is not to stamp our minds upon the young, but to stir up their own.

Reading 603, Lao-Tse: And whether we dispassionately see to the core of life, or passionately see the surface, the core and the surface are essentially the same.

Reading 637, Robert Eller-Isaacs: For each time that our greed has blinded us to the needs of others, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

Reading 649, Antoine de St-Exupéry: Love, like a carefully loaded ship, crosses the gulf between the generations.

Reading 657, Sophia Lyon Fahs: Some beliefs are like blinders, shutting off the power to choose one’s own direction; other beliefs are like gateways opening wide vistas for exploration.

Reading 663, Margaret Starkey: We make a holiday, the rituals varied as the hopes of humanity, the reasons as obscure as an ancient solar festival, as clear as joy on one small face.

Reading 671, John Milton: If the waters of truth flow not in a perpetual progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition.

Word.

Reading 681, adapted from Gaelic Runes (and another favourite of Peggy’s): Deep peace of the running wave to you.

It’s a benediction I sometimes write or say to people suffering loss.

Reading 698, with which I close.  Wayne B. Arnason: Take courage friends.  The way is often hard, the path is never clear, and the stakes are very high. Take courage. For deep down, there is another truth: You are not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

bad tempered comment

By not dying in harness, Benedict is spitting on the traditions of his office, and showing that he’s either afraid of prosecution or death, either of which demonstrate a marked public lapse in faith.  And the commentary from the Vatican on how African cardinals couldn’t get past first ballot in the conclave because they are ‘not known’ seems like the most egregious twaddle from a catholic – ie UNIVERSAL church.  (Notice how I didn’t use the words ‘institutional racism’?)

 

At least Rome no longer has crowds in their thousands outside the Holy See yelling ‘GIVE US AN ITALIAN’ which has happened more than once.

 

More commentary.

Yesterday, missionaries

crossposted from facebutt
Missionaries came to my door. They were nice, they were young, they were male, they were white.  They asked me if I was having a good New Years Day and I said yes, but if this was of the nature of a religious call, I could not entertain them. They asked why and I said because everybody in our household including the cats was atheist and I wished them a good day. Jeff snickering in the background added a soupçon of just so to the scene. I didn’t bother telling them I’m Unitarian; in that I’m outnumbered 3 to 1 by household members, unless one of my co-congregants can adduce a decent argument that Margot is Unitarian. I don’t think she reads enough, candidly.
It’s too bad most of you aren’t on facebook, the conversation we got into subsequent to this post was pretty funny.
Lois says the fastest way to make them go away is to pray with them because they are only supposed to pray with believers.  I always thought the fastest way to get rid of them was putting a lit cherry bomb in their bible and handing it back to them, but I don’t advocate violence for them hasn’t offered it to me first.  There’s always the classic answer the door naked draped in a snake routine, my personal favourite.

Quote of the day

Social media has turned modern friendship into a pixellated bar that serves kittens, soundbites and RPGs. – A Sloman.

Tony Scott, noted director and producer and brother of Ridley, committed suicide by jumping off a bridge.  He left a note. He was 68.  Depression’s a hell of an illness, and my condolences to his family, friends and associates. …added later – he had inoperalbe brain cancer.

What the hell I don’t even.  Binge drinkers are happier.  Science sez.  I only post this because this was the first weekend I really really really wanted to buy beer, but I managed not to.  Most of the time I don’t even think about alcohol but I came piteously close to purchasing same when I came out of the Heather Dale concert, and no jokes about how she drove me to drink.

Should get a call back about work today.  Guess I need to run some laundry.

Saw the Helen Mirren version of the Tempest.  Loved it.

Margot breathes at 14 -16 breaths per minute, which is apparently low.  She’s very noisy right now… I’m assuming she’s asleep.  Eddie did a phantom barf yesterday morning.  Jeff and I both heard him and we looked everywhere and couldn’t find it.  Speaking of Eddie, he’s scratching at the door, so I’ll get up and let him in.

I find this article really disturbing and can’t articulate why.