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Showing posts from June, 2007


I've just received an email inviting me to a workshop for menopausal lesbian and bi women at the health centre I used to volunteer in in Boston. How many reasons are there that that email wasn't appropriate for me?

Jews and Unitarians dropped from Churches Main Committee

The Times reported today that Jews, Unitarians, Christian Scientists, and Seventh Day Adventists are being dropped from the Churches Main Committee. This is not the same thing as Churches Together. I can understand the reasons for being exluded from Churches Together, but this body deals with non-theological things like tax, charity law and child-protection where clearly it is much better to work together. Well done to Steve Dick, and presumably the new communications consultant, for getting a good quote in there which manages to give a good sense of what Unitarians stand for. We seem to have a good relationship going with the Times now. We just need to develop that kind of relationship with the Guardian to get some coverage in there.

Growing on the frontier

Some thoughts from watching American GA. Some opening words from someone about Portland got me thinking. Someone was talking about the establishment of the city of Portland followed by the first Unitarian church there 20 years later. It got me thinking about the value of that American expansion in terms of church planting. As the population went west, there was a need for new churches because there were new cities. This gives an institutional memory for church planting. There was a need for it, so it was done. In Britain, that could never happen. I suppose there was some church planting in the British Empire - in Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, but then we've lost those institutional memories as those countries and churches became more independent. In the workshop about why liberal churches are growing the speaker said that the youngest churches grow the fastest, the oldest East coast churches are more in decline. The problem in Britain is that most of our congregatio

How/Where can you get a kick-ass flaming chalice?

How can you get a flaming chalice that actually is a flaming chalice? Most of the time we have a chalice (sort of) with a candle stuck in it. But the symbol isn't a chalice with a candle in it, it's a chalice with a flame in it. How can you get a chalice where there is a big flame, not just a candle flame, like the one in the Service of the Living Tradition ? What substance can you use to get a three-inch flame? I wouldn't want a chalice as big as the one at the Service of the Living Tradition, but I think the flame should be that big. I've always found the candle a bit pathetic. Well, actually I've got used to it now. But when I started worshipping with Unitarians I thought it could be a bit pathetic. Maybe it's just the pyromaniac (or the Zoroastrian) in me but I just think a big old flame would be really cool. Any ideas?

Is worship listening?

Four in the afternoon I'm pottering around tidying my living room and doing some ironing. I pop American GA on my computer and get the morning worship (it's 8am there). I'm only half listening to it and watching it but phew. Phew! Two long sermons for an 8am worship service? How utterly exhausting. I'm not saying anything about the quality of the sermons, they were very good from what I heard, but two sermons at 8am?! I was exhausted and it was 4 in the afternoon for me I'd had a long sleep in on my day off. The last thing I would want at that time of day would be to get talked at for half an hour, that's what the whole conference is full of. I'd want something sustaining and engaging a different bit of my brain than the rest of the day would be engaging. I'd want some quietness and song, some yoga or some tai chi or something. Two sermons? Oi.

Utopian bisexuality

I wonder what is the reticence for so many people to identify as bisexual. I must admit I find it puzzling and a little bit disturbing. I'm reading Carter Heyward right now, and really loving her writing, but I've just come across some words of hers about this. First she talks about her 'attraction to women as well as to men.' She says 'bisexual' might be an OK 'box' for this but then says, The problem with bisexuality in my life (and I can speak only for myself) is that it has been grounded too much in my utopian fantasy of the way things ought to be and too little in the more modest recognition of myself as a participant in this society at this time in this world, in which I have both a concrete desire for personal intimacy with someone else and a responsibility to participate in, and witness to, the destruction of unjust social structures - specifically, the heterosexual box... It has been my experience that to live now as bisexual is to live somewha

It must be summer

My last essays are handed in, and I have one more Sunday left at my Placement Church. It must be summer. It's nearly Wimbledon and Glastonbury . This week the lunchtime episode of Neighbours are off so I'll probably spend my lunchtimes watching American GA online. This probably makes me a bit of a nerd. So I should get two months without any preaching. But I'll keep pretty busy. I'm going to: One Christian(ish) conference One Sufi retreat One Christian pilgrimage One Unitarian summer school One minister's conference Plus I need to: Write one paper on Unitarianism and Hinduism Chase up the copyright on my book And if I have time, start on my dissertation And: Take driving lessons Help make sure there's a Unitarian presence at Manchester Pride And try to visit some friends and family Plus I got to decide if I want to identify as Christian.

"Bollocks to Blair" and other worrying things

So the G8 have made some sort of an agreement on climate change . They will 'consider' reducing greenhouse emissions by 50% by 2050. The thing is I had a meeting with someone from Friends of the Earth last night and he told me that the most up-to-date science shows we need to reduce by at least 80% by 2050. Being positive this country is leading the way with the Climate Change Bill . This could be a good piece of legislation if it's made strong enough. I'm continually depressed and angry about this country's support for the undemocratic, unislamic and extremist Saudi Arabia and its corrupt arms deals with BAE . How can the government shut down an investigation into corruption in the name of 'security.' Why aren't we more angry about this? And about the erosion of our freedoms in this country? I'm watching a programme right now about the reductions of freedoms of speech under anti-terrorism legislation. Most worrying (after poor old Walter Wolfgang w

What right do I have to speak?

This is a question that anybody standing up to deliver a sermon must ask themselves. Why am I so clever and wise that I get to talk at you while the rest of you have to stay quiet and listen to me? I don't think preaching should be, 'You know I was thinking the other day...' nor should it be a journalistic opinion piece on the events of the world. Sure, everyday life and our reflection on it can be revelatory. I completely believe that. But if that is the case then why should only one person be speaking? If our own reflection on life is where authority comes from then we should have something similar to the Quakers when all can stand up and deliver our thoughts. I don't see why two or three years at a theological college should qualify someone to stand up and dominate the conversation for 10, 20, 30 minutes. See my own life and yours are full of revelation, sure. But there were some folks who really got to some religious truth, they discovered some amazing truths and to

Double vision

And now for something completely different. Saturday night. 10pm. Graham Norton and Andrew Lloyd Webber are on BBC1 and BBC2 at the same time. How weird is that? Later: On the plus side, there was a rollerskatting Jesus.

The Unitarian website

This is well overdue, and Scott Wells has got there before me a few weeks ago, but I wanted to comment on the new GA website. Scott can comment more on the technical side than me, so please see his comments. Sigh. At GA 05 we were shown a website that looked much more impressive. Apparently this was scrapped because it was too expensive to set up and maintain. Sigh. I can understand this decision. There's always a choice about what to spend money on. And I don't think an amazing website is necessarily the most important thing in the world. But it is important. And with all the hype and a long wait I was hoping for something more. The Methodist Church has just got a new website that I've had a glance at. This includes an online labyrinth and a place for discussion of issues. OK fine, we're smaller than the Methodists. But I have to say that the wesbite of the National Unitarian Fellowship is better than the GA website. The 300 member (ish I think) postal fellowship wit

Me and Jesus: Episode 4

Here's my methodology for my religious search: 1. I'm doing a Jefferson and cutting and pasting the Gospels (much easier on a computer). I'm not deleting anything yet. I'm just starting with what I get - the Golden Rule and then building up from there. One step at a time. 2. I'm looking for what others have written. So far I have found This from Peacebang (Victoria Weinstein) And this from Philocrites (Chris Walton) Worth reading.

Me and Jesus: Episode 3

This morning in bed I read Matthew chapter 22. First there is a parable about a king inviting people to a feast, the respectable people won't come so the servant invites any old person who happens to be in the street. I sort of get that, the last will be first, the priority of outcasts and stuff. Then one of them gets thrown out because he's not wearing the right clothes. And there's 'weeping and gnashing of teeth.' I don't like it when there's weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus seems to be scaring people to do stuff, which I don't like. Plus I don't really understand what not wearing the right clothes at the feast is supposed to mean. I don't get it. Pay to the emperor what belongs to the emperor, give to God what belongs to God. I think I get that. Some theological argument about resurrection. Who cares? The greatest commandments are love to God and neighbour. I agree with that. An argument about whether the Messiah is David's descendant.