Category Archives: unitarian universalism

in the pulpit


This was supposed to go out last Friday. I got so nervous I forgot to post it. I’ll follow up, coincidentally with the Honest Scrap Award post in response to Lazy Buddhist, who bestowed it upon me.

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some truth in all graphicI’m a little nervous about this weekend at church. Nervous because I’ll be giving the sermon. The title of it is: “The semantics of religious language”

The description of it reads like this in our newsletter:

You say tomato, I say tomahto… should we call the whole thing off? Of course not.

Although we may see the same thing, we might call it by different names. For instance, some languages such as Spanish use the word Dios for God, Arabic uses the word Allah for God and others to describe The Divine or Supreme Being might call it by another name.

Unfortunately it isn’t always as easy in one’s own language. It is our abstract concepts of faith and our attempt to attach words to describe them that can often times create tension, misunderstanding and dismissal of growth opportunities.

Join us as we delve into the different aspects of religious speak and how honing our ability to transcribe the faith language of others will help us grow as UUs.

I’ve given a few sermons before at my church so Continue reading

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a UU, Deist and Jew?… in Texas


No… it’s not the beginning of a joke about three guys going into a bar with one leading a donkey to a barstool.  : )

Last Sunday at my UU church our interim minister was preaching about Rosh Hashanah and teaching us about this important holy day of the Jewish faith. Judaism is part of his spiritual practice and it seemed like the first time that I’d seen him get really animated and passionate in the five or six times he’s preached on Sunday. (he’s a part time minister to our church and so only preaches once a month)

It was really cool to see him so… so… I don’t know, like I said, passionate. He even sang chants in Hebrew. very cool.

But the highlight of Sunday service for me was Continue reading

I used to love this UU annual ritual


UU congregations have very few liturgical traditions. Having come from a Catholic background where there are butt-loads of rituals and traditions I really look forward with much anticipation to our annual water ceremony.

UU flaming chalice w/ holy water in background  photo by julian

UU flaming chalice with holy water in background

For my non-UU readers, the water ceremony summed up is this: It’s a Sunday service held in mid or late August, where everyone in the congregation brings a small amount of water and pours it into a bowl that sets at the front of the sanctuary near the alter. The water has been gathered during the summer (mostly… some gathered throughout the year) while people were away from school obligations, work obligations, kid obligations, parent obligations… just obligations in general. There are readings about the significance of water, a short sermon then everyone goes up to the front, one after another, and as they pour their water in the bowl they describe where the water came from. The bowl has water from last year and from our District water ceremony held earlier in the summer. I could probably write this in a little more detail and try to describe it better but that’s basically it.

I love this ceremony. Always have… ever since I first started attending my church.

But this year, it changed a little for me. Even as I walked up to pour my water in, I kinda had a sick feeling in my throat because Continue reading

claiming a faithful language


Lizard Eater is a blogger I stumble on now and again via the UU blog aggregator and she has a cool post about UUs claiming religious language. I was gonna leave a comment but it began running a little long and I’ve had this post brewing in my head for several weeks anyway. It’s as good a time as any to put it out there.

When I was in the military, the gunnery sergeant I worked for paid me a dubious compliment by nominating me for Marine of the Quarter. In doing so I had to go before a panel of senior Marines and let them grill me for a couple of days on various things.

There was a physical fitness test, room inspection, uniform inspection, drill command evaluation, Marine Corps history test and a leadership evaluation.

I remember one of the questions was on the 14 traits of Marine Corps leadership and which one I thought was the most important. I said I thought “initiative” was the most important because through initiative you put yourself in situations to exercise the other traits. Not sure if it was my hours of hand-polishing my old “chocolate bars” leather shoes or my answer to that question but I’m proud to say I won that board.

Anyway… in response to LE’s list of words she used in her sermon Continue reading

marriage for none… civil unions for all


Throughout the UU Blogosphere and on my own blog peeps list, I have seen this video popping up. No doubt why. Keith Olbermann’s commentary resonates loudly with liberal thinking people.

But despite his slant, Keith, asks a question which I think should send a red flag up for conservatives.
You see, I’m a bit of a conservative, too. I am a bit of a UU oddity in my political stance. I am a card carrying member of the Libertarian party. Some people call it, the Real Republican party or the Republican Party of Teddy Roosevelt.  I’m not a hard core Libertarian, but I agree with a little more of its platform than the others.

And so I’ve thought about this same sex marriage thing off and on for a few months… letting it kind of stew in mind a little and I came to the same conclusion this guy over at The Little Cog did. There should be no marriage licenses for anyone… civil unions for all. I don’t really get too riled up about many causes except the separation of church and state and the whole marriage equality thing i think can be argued to fall in that realm.

I mean marriage between two people is a religious construct. It is not a governmental institution. Why does the government need to recognize or sanctify (via a marriage license) a religious ceremony.

And so I’m asking you, the rare, politically conservative reader of my blog, does California’s Prop 8 and Keith’s commentary below send a red flag to your political stance.  If not… why?  Because if you truly believe in smaller government, if you truly believe the government should leave you alone, how can you possibly justify the government telling someone it is or isn’t ok to marry

I don’t understand.  Please tell me how you, as a political conservative, think it’s ok for the government to tell you whether it’s ok or not to do something as important as be with the one you believe you should be with.

And to quote Keith… why does this matter to you?

The war to end all wars


Today is veterans day in the U.S. It was born from the treaty that was signed between the allied forces and Germany on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month signaling the beginnings of the end World War I, which at the time people thought was the war to end all wars.

It didn’t quite take.

I was in the military for eight years… four of them with the Recruiting Command right here in my hometown.
That was a stroke of dumb luck… pure coincidence.

My experience in the military was.. is pretty negligible. I was in during the Clinton Administration which was a relative time of peace for our country.

I say relative because our government always has covert operations happening and there were flare ups in Haiti, Cuba, Somalia and of course the Yugoslav Wars but our involvement was minimal compared to what is happening now. Not even close to what is happening now. [sigh]

I’ve never been one who wears my military service on my sleeve. But today i think I will a little. I hope you’ll take a little time and join me and others as we send prayers, thoughts and/or some positive energy out into the Ether and hope that it falls on a kid in a far off land. They need to come home and we need to think of a way to end all wars.

The Umbrella Man


Every so often I have to go the County Clerk’s Office in downtown Houston to file stuff for our clients. Parking can be tough and if there is a high profile criminal case going on… forget it. Some of the county offices are right next to the criminal courts building so parking is kind of at a minimum.

Anyway, one day back in the summer while trying to find a spot I met Rick “The Umbrella Man” Johnson. Mr. Johnson is an entrepreneur. He sells umbrellas on the street corner (thus his self imposed nickname) and he also sells parking vouchers.

The city of Houston did away with parking meters to be replaced by high-speed, low-drag models that are solar powered and spit out a little voucher once you pay. The voucher shows when your time expires and you place it on your dash so you don’t get a ticket.      photo byline unknown; found here

 

Well, Mr Johnson saw an opportunity. More often than not, when people come back to their vehicle they have time left on the voucher. So he asks if he can have it then he resells it if he can. Seems like a lot of work for only dimes and quarters but I always try to buy a little extra time and seek him out to give him my voucher when I can. Continue reading

an old saying from Texas


WARNING: NSFW/Reader Discretion Advised due to language.

I rarely write about my UU congregation. I’ve been rather deliberate about not writing about my church. In fact, i think it’s been less than half a dozen times over the year and some change that my blog has been up that I’ve even mentioned my congregation or its members.

There certainly have been plenty of times I could have posted something that really pissed me off about the members of my church… how fucking whiny they can be, how negligent they can be about their kids tearin shit up at the church, how distrusting of fellow church-goers (and human beings in general) they can be, how stingy they are with their time and money, how fucking juvenile they act over the most trivial of events, how they place importance on things that don’t make a god damn bit of difference, and how god damned, fucking shitty, silly, goofy, smelly, nerdy and motley they can be. Continue reading

did Jesus visit my UU church


Like most churches, my congregation has potlucks. Almost every event we organize is intertwined with a potluck. We’re lucky we have a number of members who like to cook and as one of the resident bachelors in the crowd, I get to reap the benefits of some awesome home cooked meals when this happens.

So a few weeks ago we had one. There were quite few people there and a bunch of little kids running around like little maniacs… you know, doing their job as kids. We had music going, good conversation, good food and good fellowship.

Well being a small congregation, you know immediately when someone walks in and is a stranger. Alex, had been riding his bike around in our parking lot for several minutes as he scoped us out to see if we were friend or foe, while a couple of the fellas burned up burgers and dogs on a little hibachi.

He timidly and somewhat ashamedly accepted an invitation to come inside and eat with us. You see Alex is homeless. He looks to be in his late 20s and he has apparently made some bad choices that have him in his current situation. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Sometimes when you’re eating a shit sandwich it’s because you ordered it.”

Continue reading

wow… bumper stickers really do get noticed


I bought a Coexist bumper sticker from my UU church recently and slapped it on the ol’ vehicle to show my solidarity with like minded thinkers. It’s pretty cool because it’s magnetic and I don’t have to worry about sticky glue being stuck on my truck.
It looks like this. Continue reading