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Columns and occasional online reflections from First UU Ministers, staff and members of our community.

 

 

Rev. Jennifer Brooks - Rain, Thunder, Lightning PDF Print E-mail

blog rainI grieve.

Henry Green in Columbus. Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. Then Philando Castille in Minneapolis. These names are at the end of a long list of Black men killed by police while cooperating, fleeing, or held under restraint. It is not an executable offense to cooperate, flee, or struggle when held to the ground.

And now this: early today a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas ended with sniper fire aimed at police. Five officers are dead. It is not an executable offense to be a police officer in uniform.

It is not illegal to drive through a white neighborhood while black (Philando Castille); though it is illegal to drive with a broken tail light, usually the penalty involves a ticket and a fine.

People say: But they were carrying handguns. And in Dallas, it appears the snipers openly carried rifles, “long guns.” In nearly every state in America, it’s legal to carry hand guns and long guns. Openly. Only six states forbid open carry.

I can’t help but wonder: If I were carrying a licensed handgun, would I die at a traffic stop? I’m almost certain the answer is no. But I’m also certain that my son, who is Black, could die in a traffic stop, even though he will never, ever carry a handgun.

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Rev. Jennifer Brooks - Wings and Song PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Jennifer Brooks   
Tuesday, 05 July 2016 00:00

blog jb wingsongLife is a journey. It’s often an adventure. But always a journey.

When the UUA learned that Westboro protestors were planning to picket the Columbus Convention Center during General Assembly, the GA planning committee asked me, GA Lead Chaplain, to coordinate our UU response. Of course I said yes.

Of course.

The Westboro protesters are infamous for picketing at military funerals of those they believe to be gay or lesbian. “God Hates You” is one of the mildest signs they carry. Last month, during the funerals of the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, they showed up carrying their wrathful signs. So the Angels came.

The Angels, with their tall, broad wings, first appeared in Laramie, Wyoming, during the trial of the gay-hating murderers of Matthew Shepard in 1998. Matthew was 21. The Westboro protesters had appeared at Matthew’s funeral, shocking his friends and family with their signs and chants. They announced that they would protest again during the 1999 trial, as if Matthew’s being gay made it inappropriate to seek justice for his death. Romaine Patterson, one of Matthew’s classmates who’d attended Matthew’s funeral, created the Angels to shield Matthew’s friends and family from Westboro’s hate-filled messages.

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First UU Blog - Rev. Jennifer Brooks - Simple Truth PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Jennifer Brooks   
Monday, 30 May 2016 00:00

blog spring wordcloudWhat, exactly, do we mean when we say that something is the “simple truth”?

We live in a multicultural world. As Unitarian Universalists, we welcome all seekers who share our values [UU Principles], and sometimes we describe those values as “universal.” Within our faith community, we embrace diversity of theological points of view. In the wider community, we stand on the side of love for racial justice, immigrant justice, reproductive justice, environmental and climate justice, and sexual orientation and gender identity justice.

Where, in all that diversity, is the “simple truth”?

One place it’s not is this idea that our UU values are “universal.” Even if they are widely-embracing values that welcome people who are on a path of personal growth and community spirit, they cannot be considered “universal” because there are plenty of folks out there who do not agree with them.

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First UU Blog - Rev. Eric Meter - Blessing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Eric Meter   
Tuesday, 24 May 2016 15:31

blog em blessingOur theme this month is Blessing.

As Scott Tayler puts it, “The question in front of all of us is not simply, ‘Do you notice the blessings all around you?’ It’s also, ‘How are the blessings in your life leading you to bless others?’”

I remember reading a novel some years ago in which a character was continually “doing his sums.” What exactly were those “sums” was a mystery until the end of the book, when the character explained that he was counting his blessings. At the time this struck me as a rather rough literary device for the author to make a point, but I find myself going back to it when I need to remind myself to do just that, count my blessings.

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First UU Blog - Rev. Lane Campbell - Something Larger than Ourselves PDF Print E-mail

jubileeusaJubilee USA is a multi-faith organization with over 500 faith communities and faith leaders involved in its work. They advocate for broader-picture systemic change, particularly working towards creating economic justice. This organization has recovered millions of dollars in debt relief for our country and constantly serves as prophetic witness to the suffering of many while the few continue to profit. It was my pleasure and a joy to join with faith leaders this past week in Washington, D.C. to lobby our Ohio Representatives with Jubilee USA and other organizations such as Oxfam and the Main Street Alliance.

The specific issues we were working on are passing legislation to better regulate anonymous companies, or shell companies. These are companies that exist in name only and are used to launder money or hide profits overseas so the people behind the “organization” do not pay taxes on their income. If our country was to eliminate such companies from existing, we would be able to recover the entire total of our U.S. deficit. I learned this past week that is is easier to start a for-profit company than it is to register to vote or to apply for a library card. Less forms of identification are required and certainly less checks and balances exist. Doing business this way raises our taxes, puts a heavier burden on small business owners, and enables all sorts of crime to exist in our country.

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