Category Archives: spirituality

challenge to the UUA – reinvent UU ministry

There was a tweet I saw come across my time line last week from @Rev_Mother who stated to fellow UU blogger and tweeter @mattkinsi that she wanted to be put in charge of Faith Development. Kins was appointed to the UUA committee on appointments. Or the committee on creating appointments to appointing committees. I don’t know… irony and name aside, Kins has been noticed by some higher-ups in the UUA and it’s pretty cool that I can say I knew him when. In fact, Kinsi is the only one of my blog peeps who I have actually met in person.

Anyway… so a few days ago I woke up with a fuzz of ideas swimming through my head as I meandered from almost awake to drifting back into a dream state. I began thinking about her statement about a ministry on faith development.

Her statement was a tangent off a bigger discussion that had occurred (actually it’s still happening) which was debating the idea of the UUA focusing on it’s cause de jour coupled with the recent Social Justice General Assembly vice focusing on our salvific message. (i learned that word from Rev Mother. I use it all the time now. 🙂 )

I’m assuming this is what brought on this subconscious/dreamlike thinking the other day. So I began thinking what if there was a ministry on Marriage and Family so that we could not only focus on pushing for legalizing same-sex marriage but also from the pulpit deliver a message that strengthened families and those who are married AFTER they have walked down the aisle whether they are gay or straight.  It may seem like semantics but the thing is we work pretty diligently at getting gay people to the alter but do NOTHING for them or other UUs who are married for that matter, AFTER they are married.

I challenge the UUA to develop a broad set of ministries, such as a  Ministry on Marriage and Family, Ministry on the Holy and Sacred, Ministry on Human Dignity, Ministry on the Holistic Human, Ministry on Stewardship  of the Earth. I challenge the UUA to reinvigorate the move Rev. Sinkford had in reclaiming our religious language and pull away from living by-gone days of being a hippy in the 60s.

These are just ideas for names but the concept is to create a small number of core of ministries where our actions and witnessing are sacred, holy work.  And the culture of our congregations would view it as such because that’s what we would hear and learn while sitting in the pews.  Those who are concerned with inhumane conditions at Joe Arpaio’s tent city would be doing holy work… UNDER the auspices of church/religious inspired language such as “ministry” “dignity” “sacred” instead of simply attending a protest to bring attention to a cause of injustice.

There are a million injustices in the world that should be righted simply because we know as a species what is right and wrong. The thing is when we as a religious people take up that cause to right a wrong it should be because we believe in our heart of hearts, it to be a sacred calling. UUism is a religion with a message of salvation… NOT a social club that meets on Sundays for coffee after protesting inhumane conditions the night before.


Five year blogiversary!

The activity has slowed but there’s still some movement here at the blog o’ Jules. That’s weird sounds Irish huh.

Anyway, I drafted the title the day of my blogiversary (June 22) as a reminder but then got caught up with other things and here I am two days late. Story of my life.

So what was I caught up with? Still working on house stuff. Had to cut the jungle that is (was) my backyard. And I was watching all the GA stuff.

I mentioned the UU General Assembly in my last post and I’ve been following the association’s Livestream channel to watch the worship services and other activities that have been videoed. Couple that with a bunch of UU ministers, attendees and off-site UUs who have been Tweeting on the #UUAGA hashtag and it’s been a pretty cool experience.

Nothing like actually being there. General Assembly was held in Fort Worth back in 2005 and with it being a mere four hours away from Houston, a couple of friends of mine and I went. It was a pretty amazing experience. So I know what it’s like to actually be there. The video, tweeting and live blogging is pretty cool but not quite like being there.

So back to the blogiversary… I’ve been working on going self hosted. I had actually hoped to be there by the time June 22 hit. Oh well, maybe in a month or two. Sept 11 anniversary? In time for the election? The Mayan prophecy?

Meh. Soon.

Cart before the horse

I can’t remember the last time I posted anything UU (unitarian universalist) related. Maybe a year or so ago when I wrote something titled my UU church must change?  I don’t know but I feel compelled as our national conference, known to UUs as General Assembly or GA, is underway in Phoenix.

So GA started yesterday and with Twitter, Facebook and blogging platforms being used in official and unofficial capacities, it’s almost as if I’m there. Almost.

One of the biggest problems I’ve had with UUism since I attended my first service 10 years ago has been the fact there is always some cause du jour and for the most part, those causes usually feeds the caricature that the Everyday Joe has of left-leaning, liberal-minded people.

  • Please help the eight toed children of Burma have free-trade coffee!
  • We must be the voice of the disenfranchised in equatorial Guinea who don’t have access to clean sinks and toilets!
  • Save the three-legged, blue-spotted ninny muggins of Gila Island!
  • What would a world with dignity and a fair wage for food chain workers look like?!??!!!

Believe it or not… that last one is a real cause the UUA is pushing at General Assembly this year. Some of the other causes I’ve seen are something about ethical eating and voicing the unfairness of server wages. I wish I knew who to talk to about trying to raise awareness about pushing for laws that raise the wage of waiters and waitresses because the UUA is going to embarrass itself if it goes full tilt on this. By law, food servers make at least minimum wage. It is federal law. Just because a food server is making $2.13 an hour… you know what, I’m not gonna get into it. But I work for a payroll company. I do it every single day. They are NOT being short changed. No pun intended. : )

Back to the social justice thing though… I mean, history is replete with examples of religious people taking up the banner of justice and heading to the front lines to make a wrong a right. Often times that is how change happens. But the UUA and my church I believe have it wrong.

It seems as though they are moving further and further in the direction of social activism as the means toward spiritual fulfillment when it should be the other way around. It’s the cart before the horse.

I delivered a sermon at  my congregation on Easter that touched on the point. I acknowledged it being a holy day for Christians and that although it is their holiday, we can learn from this narrative. I ended by emphasizing the idea that it is from spiritual transformation and the UU Good News of universal salvation that we are moved beyond the walls of our church and into the larger community to do good works. NOT the other way around.

It is apparent that the trendy missional theology bandwagon has its horse trailing the back end and many UUs are hopping on board, including my own congregation.  I am afraid there is only a nail or two left before the coffin is sealed for me and I am no longer willing to call any UU church my sangha.

the longest night

Tonight may be the winter solstice, but for the last four nights I have been woken up at two or three in the morning which in my mind blows tonight out of the water.

Last night it was a storm and a leaky ceiling that woke me up. Towels placed under the “drip, drip, drip, drip” didn’t do a thing to help me go back to sleep. I finally drifted off about 5:30 and of course woke up late for work.

The night before The Little Man woke up about 3:00am from a nightmare. Bad guys broke into the house and were tryijng to get him. Emmie explained he didn’t have to worry about that because if any “bad guys” even tried to get in the house, they would have to get through our dog Charlie . And if they were lucky enough to get passed him, they’d have to get passed me and my shotgun.

Tuesday night it was cats fighting and the night before Emmie woke up complaining that her heart was racing. It in fact was but I was able to talk her down off the ledge. We think she was freaking out over a final that morning. I guess that’s part of sleeping with a college girl.

I hope tonight is different. I’ve got a sinus infection that’s coincidentally been around since these middle-of-the-night-wake-ups started happening. Feels like it’s been one REALLY long night.

Here’s to hoping for uninterrupted sleep.
Happy Winter Solstice y’all.

Solstice Bells by Jethro Tull

the power of prayer and my magic ring

The past few weekends The Deistette and I have been working for my sister in-law at a wedding facility she manages.  She was short handed at the last minute one weekend so we agreed to help her out. Well, that one weekend has turned into four. I shouldn’t complain. I mean the extra money has been nice but because it’s about an hour away from us so it makes for a pretty long day.

It’s a neat venue for having a wedding.  They do the ceremony in a small garden-like area that can accommodate about 150 people. The couple does their thing in a gazebo to exchange vows and afterward everyone heads into the reception hall about 30 feet away.

A couple of hours into the reception, someone will start putting away the chairs and decorations from the ceremony. Last weekend that someone was me. Ugh. There I stood looking at a hundred wooden folding chairs thinking, “holy crap it’s humid out here.”  It took me about 40 minutes and two trips to load them onto a flatbed cart, wheel them to the storage area and unload them. Afterward I went back into the reception hall and started picking up plates, restocking items in the kitchen, breaking down the bar, then other clean up. It was pretty much non-stop until we left.

Ugh… when we left.  That’s when I realized that I’d lost my ring… my wedding ring. God I was sick. I took it off when I started putting away the chairs because I didn’t want it to get smashed or cut into my fingers ’cause I was sure my hands would start swelling as I was putting them away.

After telling The Deistette about my lost ring, I called my sister in-law while we drove home. My sister in-law had already left the venue but said she would take a look the next day.

Well, she didn’t go in like she thought she would on Sunday and wouldn’t be there until Monday afternoon. I was sure I had put it in the pocket of the vest I was wearing so it would have to be in the washing machine — unless it fell out while I had been putting the chairs away.  Holy crap. 😦

She didn’t call until about 5:00 Monday evening.  She said she was sorry but she couldn’t find it and she had looked everywhere she thought it might be.

The next day I checked my pants again and again. I checked the floorboard of the car, under the mats, under the seats. I checked around the driveway where we park. Nothing, nothing, nothing and nothing.

I don’t think I’ve ever really delved into the details of my spiritual beliefs other than what I have in the title of this blog and the two tabs about the beliefs of a deist and UU. Not to get into a long treatise about it but I will say part of my spiritual practice includes prayer  — and not like praying to win the lottery or praying for the healing of a loved one. Just prayers of thanks is mostly what I have in my bag of prayers.

But that night, as Emmie fell asleep and I lay there in the dark…    against everything I believe about prayer, I prayed my ass off  that my ring would somehow make its way back to me. I prayed that I would relive in my dreams the events of when I put it away.  I begged my memory not to fail me any longer and give me even the slightest hint where it might be. I rolled over and touched Emmie’s hand where she wears her ring and fell asleep.

The next day when I got back home from work, Emmie told me she found my guitar capo. It had been banging around in the dryer while she was doing our laundry. The night before I had been looking all over for it before heading off to band rehearsal but couldn’t find it. Then she said, “look what else I found.” And put my wedding ring in my hand.

I was stunned. All I could do was hug her. And believe it or not, I cried. I was so happy to have it again. And in a really sweet, whispering, sort of lilting way she said, “you have your magic ring back.”

She said it must have been in my shirt. I don’t know. I swear I checked every pocket I had twice. Who knows, maybe it was in my shirt pocket or maybe it fell into the cuff of my pants leg.

my magic ring

The Deist's wedding ring with inscription that reads "my friend who is next to me"

I’ve called it my magic ring for a while saying it keeps me and The Deistette connected. I usually say it within ear shot of my stepson but being 7 years old he’s getting to an age where he doesn’t really believe in magic anymore.  The tooth fairy, Easter bunny and Santa Claus have kinda had their day for him.

I don’t know.

What I do know is one day I didn’t have my magic ring and now I do. Maybe there is something to that prayer thing after all — or maybe my ring is magic and keeps me and my wife connected after all.

Captain Monster and the Ghost

Halloween. We here at ol’ Casa Deist don’t really go crazy or even really plan too far in advance our costumes or anything for Halloween. And it seems like we always are scrambling to try and do something and wind up regretting not making a better effort towards being prepared for this.

I mean I found my costume  (basically a felt hat with weird little eyes and a godzilla-esque mane on top) just a couple of days ago.

And I gotta be real honest… I LOVE IT!!!!  As for the Little Man, it was the same thing. In fact, we thought he would just go with something from the past but at the last minute he found something else he really wanted and the Deistette and I relented and let him take his costume up a notch on the scary level from previous years.

Before he had been a chef and I think a ninja turtle or something rather benign.  What he picked for this year was a sort of ghost type of mask.  But that’s it. Nothing else, just the mask.  So like I said, not having really planned in advance I wound up racing home from work stopping off at a fabric store to get some white cloth so he wouldn’t have to step out simply wearing a white button up shirt and white pants.

While there I found the perfect addition to my already perfect mask. Perfectly matching felt fabric I could turn into a cape.

Shwinnng! Score!

The Little Man and I posed for a few pics before heading out into the wilds of our neighborhood on the hunt for sweet, tasty loot.

Happy Halloween y’all!!!

So the gays have taken over New York

I tweeted this a little earlier today.  Thought I’d share my snarkasm with my wordpress peeps, too.

On the same topic, this video from two years ago is still relevent and quite funny today.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

today begins year number 5

Yesterday was my blog’s birthday. It’s been four years since my first post but wow, it feels like it’s been a lot longer.  Seems like it’s been WAY longer.

Saying that reminds me of this clip from the Steve Martin movie “The Jerk”.  Anyone here remember this scene. I tried to get it to start at the 39 second mark but the code didn’t take.

Anyway, I think my first year blogging was the best. It was my funnest. My first year I “met” some really great people.  A handful of them became what I would consider, dare I say, friends. Many of those bloggers who found me when I first started blogging have  gone on to other things though.

I miss Amuirin and Bibliomom.

Todaybegins year number five.

I hate being sick.

I hate it.

It’s one of the worst things about having a six year old in the house.

Well, next to the tantrums,

and the waking me at 3:47 in the morning to ask if he can have the dream catcher ’cause he had a nightmare.

Oh… blank stares when I tell him, “eat your dinner.”

This one is nice, barfing just as we ENTER WalMart. Not outside. Inside.

The complete and total inability to hear me when I tell him to clean his room but he comes rushing down the stares if he hears someone whisper “brownies are done.”

Continuing to jump and bounce on the newly tiled floor after I tell him not to.

Previously mentioned blank stare when I tell him “that’s why you don’t jump and bounce on the tile while wearing socks THAT ARE SLIPPERY ON TILE.”

But being sick is the WORST.
Yep, I hate being sick.

are dreams part of the spirit realm?

I had a dream last night. My dreams lately have been very broken up. When I wake up and try to remember they seem like fragments.  The scenes are picked up after they started and then are clipped off before the ending.

This dream was the same in that regard.

Fragmented. Splotchy. Clipped.

There was also a house that has shown up in my dreams now and again over the past couple of years… an old three story house that has an Adams Family feel to it… creepy, weird and odd but not in the funny ha-ha way the show perceived the house.

No this has an eerie feel to it, yet I know the hiding places, nooks and Continue reading