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sara robinson

Liveblogging the Ware Lecture

Bringing it home now — back to the image of the beach and the crab. The moment of transcendant glory is past; now the hard work of faith begins. This isn’t a time to lose faith. Quoting the UU hymn:

“Praise song for trouble, praise song for day, praise song for every hand-lettered sign…” (Sorry: the teleprompter typist is faster than I am.)

Melissa Harris-Lacewell giving the Ware Lecture

What we need now is love. “Beware the crabs in the sand, but keep your eyes on the horizon. With reason and faith, let us walk forward into that light.”


It’s easy to write off faith talk as inherently divisive — but if we do that, we cede faith, and lose the use of it as a tool for the struggle for self, community, and justice. (Amen!)

(Your blogger is loving this part: I argue it often with my progressive blogging friends, most of whom are secular and don’t believe in the power of faith to create change.)

Faith is an exercise in intellectual humility, a habit that makes us recognize our own limitations, helps us come to terms with what we don’t know and can’t do.

“We come here together to day to make the most incredible faith claim of all: that we can establish a world that recognizes the inherent dignity of every single human being — and that we can make that world using the power of love.”

(Wild cheering!!) (more…)

God Speaks to the UUs

Kate Clinton

Something like this was bound to happen. You put several thousand UUs in the middle of the Mormon Jerusalem, just half a block from Temple Square — and you gotta know you’re just asking for a major, major smiting.

Tonight, we got our divine retribution, such at it was.

I was covering comedian Kate Clinton‘s performance “I Told You So” in the Grand Ballroom when our cosmic comeuppance was finally delivered. In fact, I blame her. She was holding forth on California’s Proposition 8, which overrode a court order legalizing gay marriage in that state. Based on some bad polling interpretation, a lot of people came to believe that proposition lost because of the black churches. But Clinton was setting us, ahem, straight:

“It wasn’t the black churches. It was the white churches. It was the Catholic archbishops, who’ve never been married, pouring money into the campaign. And it was the Mormons, who know so much about marriage,” she announced, dropping her voice to a whisper when she said the M-word. “And by the way…that’s Mormon, with two Ms.” (more…)

UU Geography

I go to a lot of conferences — maybe half a dozen a year — as part of my job. There are a couple of things about GA that are absolutely unique.

The first is the sheer openness of people. You can just plop down anywhere — in the sessions, in the halls, in the restaurants, elevators, bathrooms (which can be disconcerting, yes) — and people will just start talking. And the first question is usually: Where are you from?

Which brings us to the second part, which is the playing of a game I think of as “UU Geography.” It’s always striking how many of these conversations end up very quickly locating people and places you and your new acquaintance have in common.  A couple of examples:

At the first night’s opening worship, my friend and I (the only two delegates from our church, and perhaps the only two from Canada) found ourselves sitting directly behind folks from First UU in Dallas — where our recently-called minister interned just three years ago. Of course they knew him — and gave us a note to take home to him.

Last night, I hopped into the hot tub at the Marriott, and struck up a conversation with a guy who was already there. He’s from New Jersey. I’m (originally) from a tiny town in eastern California that’s so remote that most of the rest of the state (including the state government) doesn’t even know we exist. So I was pretty surprised to learn that not only did he know where it was — he’d been there just last week.

Life at GA can be seen as sort of skittering through the day like this, discovering the vast universe of connections that bind together all these strangers. Which means we’re not really strangers. Which is why it feels like home.

Standing on the Side of Love, Part 2,874

Dr. Sinkford just got up (we’re at the start of the Friday afternoon plenary) and recognized members of the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church for their strength in the face of last year’s shooting at the Tennessee Valley UU Church. (TVUAA had been recognized in an earlier plenary.)

And he told a story that shows the best of who we are.

The WUUC members drove here from Nashville. On the way, they stopped off at the Reformed Lutheran Church in Wichita, KS — the church in which Dr. George Tiller was assassinated in late May. They dropped off a quilt, made by the members of Westside UUC, that included all of their handprints — a statement of solidarity and compassion from one congregation to another that had faced the same kind of violent attack.

A lovely thing.