Dear First UUers,
Happy Birthday! Today is the 30thanniversary of the internet. No, Al Gore did not invent the internet, a Unitarian did! Tim Burners-Lee wasn’t a Unitarian at the time, but looking back, he feels that there are some parallels with UU and the web.
Like many others, Burners-Lee came to Unitarianism when he had children. When he was young, Burners-Lee was confirmed in the Church of England. Soon after, he left. Sensing a need for the basis of Christian philosophy but also wanting a lack of dogma, he found Unitarian Universalism when he was living in Boston.
In a 1998 article, Burners-Lee talked about UUism and the internet. Acknowledging that one dealt with people and the other machines, he noted some similarities. Decentralization for the internet is a set of rules that allows for interworking without a clear common understanding of the future. With people, it is a set of rules [covenants] that allows people to work together in harmony. Results can be amazing even if unpredictable.
The principle of tolerance for machines is to understate what you do while expecting more. For UUs, Burners-Lee noted our UU propensity for tolerance – and respect for people regardless of their beliefs, or non-belief, in God. The 1998 article included this quote: “UUs actually believe in love. But that doesn’t seem to bear analogy with computers!”
The final comparison Burners-Lee noted concerned a test of independent invention. This had to do with how two systems could work together. He designed the Web so that regardless of what happened in the future, it would be either compatible or have to ability to adapt. He believed in universal access, not Universal access with a capital U that meant proprietary. Burners-Lee felt that UUs are like the lower case universal in that many people, even if they’ve never been to a UU church, share UU values and would be at home in our church.
Having read the older article outlined above, it was interesting to read an article on cnn.com this Monday. Thirty years after he created the internet, Burners-Lee is calling for us to fight against hacking and abuse. He realizes that all that freedom has created opportunities for the worst of our nature to take advantage of the machines we rely upon. Harassment, misinformation, and facilitation of crimes are part of the downside of the ease of communications on various platforms. Acknowledging major sources of dysfunction, Burners-Lee is calling upon all governments, companies, and citizens to include everyone (one half of the world is not connected), and to ensure that all who contribute to the web hold the values of equality, opportunity, and creativity. His call for a higher standard of behavior is being circulated now for government and corporate signatures. The ‘Contract for the Web’ will be published in May.
All this makes me wonder about how our grand ideas fare with unforeseen shortcomings in the progression of time. Do we throw everything out? I can’t imagine the world being unconnected at this point, but could those sets of machine (internet) rules which allow us to work together in harmony online, be framed into a covenant where our behavior is held accountable to the higher standards which Burners-Lee is proposing? We don’t know the future, but what if along the way, we based our use of modern technology, including the web, social media, etc., as well as our in-person relationships, to build a world we want for our children and grandchildren. Turn rules into covenants that don’t outline all the details, but in spirit, call us, and hold us accountable, to be our best. In short, use our connections to build each other up instead of tearing us apart. What if we actually believed in love?
Congratulations Tim Burners-Lee. Happy birthday to the internet. And may all the world be better for our interconnectivity bound in a covenant of respectful relations.
SAVE THE DATE!
First Friday, April 5th, 6:30pm, Fellowship Hall
Community Stewardship Dinner – Everyone is invited!
Leave the cooking to us…
Come, celebrate community and what we do together – and what is possible. Mark your calendars now. Watch this space and others for more details.
For additional activities and events, please see First UU News (posted on Fridays)
For information about family and child-focused events and classes, or to be added to the RE News mailing list, contact Elizabeth Mount, our Director of Religious Exploration.
Friday, March. 15th, Fellowship Hall
RAINBOWCONNEXIONS: Potluck and Gathering
This group is for those who identify themselves as LGBTQ…
Bring your favorite food to share. Stay for the meeting which will include planning fun activities, doing business, enjoying community. Most monthly gatherings include an Odyssey.
For more information, contact Georgia.
Saturday, March 16th, 7pm, Sanctuary
Bill Cohen in Concert
Bill Cohen, a long time Columbus musician, will present a concert and sing-along based on the music of John Denver. Many of the songs will be done concert-style, but on many others, the audience will be invited to join in and sing-along. Some of the tunes on the night’s play-list are Rocky Mountain High, Jet Plane, Sunshine on My Shoulder, Annie’s Song, Thank God I’m a Country Boy and Country Roads, among others. Backing Bill will be harmony vocalists Joanne Blum and Joe Lambert, plus banjo wizard Carl Yaffey. All ages are welcome and admission is free, however, donations will be welcomed, with half of the proceeds going to the Care and Share Time Bank.
Sunday, March 17th, 9:15 & 11am
“truth at the Edge” with Rev. Marian
What happens when we are right? Or left? Or adamant, so sure, so…convinced. Rev. Marian will reflect on speaking at the State House and beyond on divisive issues like reproductive justice. What is our role in working for justice when others disagree?
SANCTUARY and JUSTICE UPDATES
First UU Benevolence Fund for Immigration Assistance
Beneficiaries will be residents of Central Ohio, with preference given to parents of underage children and young people who fit within the DACA age range. Jan Phillips, 614-261-3234, or email@example.com.
Gift Cards needed. Kroger gift cards to help Edith and her family with food while she is in Sanctuary. Give your cards to Jan P. or Ginnie V. in Fellowship Hall after services.
THIS MOMENT IN UU HISTORY
Sponsored by the First UU Archives Team
April 11, 1794
Edward Everett was born in Dorchester, MA. He graduated from Harvard University in 1811, then studied theology and became minister of the fashionable Brattle Street Church (Unitarian) in Boston before he was 20. Author of Grounds of Christianity Examined (1813) and other works, Everett was appointed Eliot Professor of Greek Literature at Harvard and sent to Europe for four years of study, taking up his post in 1819. He was known for his eloquence, and Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of his students. Everett held a number of political positions, including U.S. congressman, governor of Massachusetts, minister to Great Britain, U.S. senator, and U.S. secretary of state. He also served as president of Harvard University for three years (1846–1849). A noted orator, Everett was known as the “American Cicero” and was the main speaker at the dedication of Gettysburg Cemetery. He died on January 15, 1865.