Category Archives: UU

a vivid memory made


I have three friends from church who play in a band with me. The whole thing is kinda surreal. I mean we started out thinking we’d just play a little music, if we got good enough maybe… MAYBE play for a church service now and again.

Three years later we’ve put out a CD, got it placed on iTunes!… gigged around a little and made some people happy with our music. And yes… now and again we play for our church during a Sunday service.

It’s pretty amazing when I think about that and all we’ve done with this band of ours.

Well, a couple of weeks ago we had gig… another outside gig.  Seems like the only place we play is outside.  It was a benefit for three girls whose families needed financial help after their daughters got into an ATV accident.  It was the furthest we’d ever traveled to play a show.  About 50 miles away from our homes.

Little Fawn (my 16 year old daughter for any new readers) came along with us just to kinda be there, plus I handed her my camera so she could get some pics of us.

There was a lot going on. It was held at a restaurant that sits right against the banks of a lake.  There were hot girls in bikinis and fellas with ripped abs coming in off the lake.  There was a silent auction going on inside as well as a garage sale happening in the parking lot.  A fishing tournament had started earlier in the morning and people were tracking that.

Anyway, I say all this to let you know we weren’t the only thing being given any attention.  So as we were playing we could tell there were only a handfull of people really listening to us so we thought we’d drag out a song that is kind of a favorite of ours although most certainly unknown to anyone outside a UU church.

And so here’s the memory, that I pray lasts me till my dying day.

The song we decided to pull out is a popular UU hymn that uses words by the Sufi mystic, Rumi.

We play it as a round and as we got into the singing part… particularly MY singing part, Little Fawn was singing along to herself.  I could see her, as she peered into the camera’s monitor to see the most recent  picture she had taken, singing along.  She was busy… somewhat distracted as she pressed the buttons, moved back and forth through the pics… deleting one, saving another… and singing… with her daddy.

She knows all the words. She knows the melody.  And it means more than I can describe that she likes it enough that she couldn’t “keep from singing”. (part of the title of another popular UU hymn)

I am forever grateful for that moment when I looked up at just the right time to see my baby girl singing this song with me in a place where it probably never has been heard or ever will be heard, again.

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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.

~~~~~

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

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

That’s more than the number of UU’s


So The Deistette takes the quiz over at BeliefNet.com and I think, “what the heck… I’ll try it again.”

Hm. Imagine that… 100% UU.

But I was surprised there was no Deist category.

There was no place for us lowly, uncounted, blip of believers who count as our kindred spirits the founding fathers of this great country. (ok, so we count ’em as our own but according to Steven Waldmen, it ain’t true. What the hell does he know, the damn heathen) : )

So in that second link above, what I saw in the title of that article was “12% of Americans [blah blah blah] Deists”

Hooray!!! I’m not alone. Take that suckahs!

Well as I looked into his attribution, the research and the stats, I realized I failed to see that the title of the article actually said, “12% of Americans MAY be Deists”

😐

The stats come from the website The Pew Forum on Religious Life. It’s pretty interesting to take a peek at… well, at least to me it’s interesting.

This is interesting, too. According to this USA Today article many denominations are losing ground.

I would think in tough times people would be looking for solace anywhere they could get it… even in the pews. Apparently I’m wrong.

Although, a few weeks ago President Obama said our country is not specifically a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc. nation… the fact is, a HUGE majority of people in the U.S. if asked would say they are Christian. My own personal opinion is most people probably mean they are Theists and don’t necessarily believe Jesus is God but a redemptive tool of God.

Anyway, in conversations I’ve had with family, co-workers and acquaintances most, if not all, believe in a God that has a plan for us lowly scabs of humans and believe in a God who can and does make things happen either as reward or punishment.

Doesn’t surprise me a whole lot. I mean we hear it all the time… “everything happens for a reason.” Whether it’s characters on tv shows, movies, books, articles, music or in conversations, we hear that statement implied or verbatim… “everything happens for a reason.” I imagine it’s comforting to believe there is some Grand Designer who intervenes on our behalf and when something shitty or out of control happens it’s nice to be distanced by believing that God’s grand design was at work.

It’s just as comforting for me to think that He/She/It is somewhere just watching… letting me call all the shots, cheering me on, applauding my efforts, getting pissed when I screw up, on the verge of tears when something awful happens to me or being very disappointed when I miss the mark.

It is comforting to me to be a Deist.  It meshes well with my Buddhist tendencies and my yoga-loving, bible-passage-using, season-observing, prayer-bead-wearing, talk-to-God-every-morning spiritual path.

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

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

road trip!!!


A little more than three weeks ago The Deistette and I spent about 14 hours on the road together as we left Amarillo with all her stuff packed in a U-Haul and headed to Houston. (by the way, I found out she’s a Jew.  A Jewish Deistette… do they really make those?  Huh, who knew.)

Coincidentally it was the same weekend Hurricane Ike decided to come into town. I wanted to post this right after we got back but I’ve been kinda busy with work stuff and church stuff and trying to unscrew my house from what was latent storm damage. The appearance of mold has confirmed water got in somehow . 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