Thursday, October 27, 2005

More on Embryonic Stem Cells

Thanks and a hat tip to Jesus' General for this:

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

R. I. P.

Sometimes mug shots really do portray heroes.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The free and responsible search

Constantine P. Cavafy

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon – do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Go talk to Clyde!

Clyde Grubbs on his blog offers a wonderfully thoughtful post about UU theological diversity and the common thread of humanism that runs through all of our otherwise varied UU approaches to religious understanding. He argues (I think) that it's this common thread of humanism that keeps us from devolving into a Balkanized collection of essentially separate faith communities. (I think he's right, but I also think he's only able to say this, and I'm only able to agree, by defining humanism somewhat differently than the Manifestos do.)

Click the link and enjoy the read. It's definitely worth reading and responding to.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Rest in Peace, Theodore Roosevelt Heller

We didn't know him, but we'd like to invite you to please join us in honoring the departed's last wishes:

Theodore Roosevelt Heller, 88, loving father of Charles (Joann) Heller; dear brother of the late Sonya (the late Jack) Steinberg. Ted was discharged from the U.S. Army during WWII due to service related injuries, and then forced his way back into the Illinois National Guard, insisting that no one tells him when to serve his country. Graveside services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans.

Arrangements by Chicago Jewish Funerals,
Douglas MacIsaac, funeral director

Published in the Chicago Tribune on 10/10/2005.

[Thanks to News Hounds ("We watch Fox News so you don't have to") for this item, which I shamelessly copied verbatim. BTW, whassup with the Scot running a Jewish funeral home?]

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What a Great UU Church Could Be

Scott Wells over at Boy in the Bands started a lively conversation about whether authentic Universalist and Unitarian beliefs no longer have a home within the UUA. In the course of that conversation, visitor Kim asked what it is that UU Christians want in a UU church, considering that (in her experience) many UU churches don't like to talk about theology. It's a great question that I tried to answer over there, but I'm not sure if Scott's blog host accepted my post, and in any event I think it also deserves its own stand-alone thread. Here's my answer again, slightly edited.

Here's my idea of the ideal UU church, at least, "ideal" from this one humble seeker's point of view. Churches like these once were common, and there are still a precious few of them around. In a perfect world I'd like to see the UUA work much more aggressively to support, promote and plant more of them:

A church that promotes theological discussion and preaches theology from the pulpit, rather than avoiding it.

A church where “worship” is routinely used as a transitive verb, rather than only as a noun.

A church that embraces many different apprehensions of “God”, rather than avoiding or denying the concept.

A church where not only is the word “God” as easily spoken as “human”, but also “Jesus” as easily as “God”, “Christ” as easily as “Jesus”, and “Tao” and “Buddha” and “Brahman” and “Mother Earth” as easily as (but no more easily than) “Christ”.

A church that cherishes and uses the Bible as its first source of moral and spiritual insight, rather than neglecting or disparaging it.

A church that not only discusses theology in the abstract, but also affirms “Channing” Unitarianism and/or “Ballou” Universalism at its own foundational theological identity, and uses them as a home base for broader spiritual exploration, rather than avoiding them as anachronistic oddities.

A church that refuses to search for spiritual truths either only within the Christian tradition, or only beyond the Christian tradition, but accepts truths from all other sources as accretive and supplemental to its Christian heritage, rather than superior and contradictory.

A church that employs both reason and tradition as a test of validity for all new spiritual truths and insights, and employs them rigorously and equitably, rather than raising vague ideals of community and inclusiveness above those of reason and tradition, or holding Christianity alone among spiritual paths to a uniquely demanding, nearly impossible probative standard.

A church that is not afraid to see the “Humanist” worldview first pronounced in the 1930s as a half-true, half-false heresy, at odds with itself, rather than as an inviolable bedrock doctrine: half-true in its affirmation of human worth, but half-false in its bitter, categorical denial of all prior human apprehensions of the Holy throughout the entire course of human experience.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hurricane Relief

The Rev. PeaceBang has some creative ideas for offering more immediate help to hurricane victims than simply giving money to the usual charitable organizations (worthy as their efforts may be). Do it her way, and you'll know you made a difference, directly.

Click here.

And here.

(And here's another tip: You can do a lot worse than following her recommendations for charitable undertakings, but don't ever let her recommend a travel agent.)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Sea Squirts

The Compo Minuteman

Lucy Ricardo surreptitiously trying to stand in for the Compo Minuteman, after somehow inadvertently managing to remove and lose the statue

PeaceBang's reminiscences about her days as a Sea Squirt unlocked old memories of the time that I, too, only a few years earlier than she, was a Sea Squirt in the summer Beach School program at the historic Compo Beach in Connecticut.

The photo above is contemporary, not a photographic confirmation of Fausto and PeaceBang crossing paths in early childhood. However, the picnic shelter in the background is the site of Fausto's first and still closest brush with fame, when as a Sea Squirt at age 7, he made the front page of the town newspaper shinnying up one of the columns to discover a peanut hidden in the crossbrace during a Beach School treasure hunt.