I am a parish minister currently serving the Eliot Church of Natick MA. Eliot Church is a Community Church affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Any statements made and postions held in "Unity," however, are solely mine(of course, they may be used with appropriate atribution). Therefore if you disagree, please do not blame the church!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Cornerstone Farm

If any of you were planning to move to Central Maine and raise Cows, Pigs and Chickens, Stop! You can do so vicariously by going to the Cornerstone Farm webpage to read about my sister-in-law Hanne and my brother Dan who are living the dream in Palmyra, ME. They are not too far from where Allison and I used to live in Harmony. If you are up that way, you should check our their wares at the many local markets they attend. Those are also listed on the page. I am very proud of them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Biblical and Christian Humanism Revisited

If you click above you will be sent to my April archives. There I posted a link to an article about Biblical Humanism and one about Christian Humanism. Philocrites mentions a Christian Century Article on this very subject. Go check it out!

I will have Dave Miller's charge posted soon!

Also, I will be preaching this Sunday in Medford, MA for Hank Peirce. His and Rebecca's lovely daughter Ruth will be dedicated at that time. If anyone is around, please feel free to drop by! Services are at 11 am

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Unity Update

Dave's ordination was splendid! Everyone had a good time and the Rev. Maddie Sifantus preached a lovely homily. I will post my charge to Dave tomorrow, most likely. However, I realized that I haven't posted anything in a while...

So, here are some things that have been going on at Unity.

First, I took down the slogan that went under Unity's title. It read "Examining things Liberal, Christian, and Liberal Christian in the context of the ecumenical ministry of the Eliot Church." Or, at least, it said something like that. However, it seemed out of place as many of the posts didn't fit the mission. I have been looking for a little variety in my own journey and, I think this blog has reflected that. So, out the motto goes! In comes more randomness...

Second, I have added some links. Virginia UU has been discontinued. I have replaced it with ChaliceBlog. Actually, "Chalice Chick" should have been put up earlier. I am a regular reader of her stuff. It was a tragic oversight on my part that has now been remedied...

Also, in an effort to get folks to think about something other than the explicitly religious, I have linked to the New England Patriot's home page and to a sportsblog run by Mike Reiss at the Boston Herald. Reiss is, in fact, also the editor of the Herald's MetroWest Daily News. Therefore, he is my usual source for information concerning the future of Troy Brown. Incidentally, once you have checked out the sports blog, you can go to Patriots.com and order probably the only regularly issued jersey for a third-string quarterback! Yes, the legendary Doug Flutie, football player and favorite son of Natick, MA has a purchasable football jersey. Go Doug!

Finally, my cousin Nate at Ramble On has some pictures of the celebration on the Buddha's birthday. Check them out!

That is all for now!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Click Here for Fellowship/Ordination

Yes, its that simple. Click above to an interesting conversation prompted, in part, by my post below about Dave Miller's ordination. Scott Wells and his regular readers (including me) over at Boy in the Bands took up the tourch and got the ball rolling. Check it out. It is an important conversation for clergy and those who hire them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


It may be an occupational hazard, but I have been thinking about Jesus lately. As one of the more popular rhetorical weapons and symbols-to-fight-over. It sometimes makes sense to step back and consider for ourselves where he stands in our own faith journey. This may sound terribly Christian of me and...well...it is.

Even Unitarian Christians need to take stock of Jesus the rabbi and prophet from time to time and certainly the many Trinitarian Liberals (and/or Liberal Trinitarians) in our community at the Eliot Church and elsewhere also should give some thought to the man. Otherwise we run the risk of allowing ourselves to accept some comforting stereotype to affirm our own goodness. Now does that sound productive? I think not.

Earlier I reccomended Rabbi Jesus by Bruce Chilton. I do so again. Also, I refer you to this quote from Dorothy Sayers: "I believe it to be a great mistake to present Christianity as something charming and popular with no offense in it.... We cannot blink at the fact that gentle Jesus meek and mild was so stiff in his opinions and so inflammatory in his language that he was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger. Whatever his peace was, it was not the peace of an amiable indifference."

Something to think about...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Dave's Ordination and Other Thoughts

Ok, so I tried to be nice to the Celtics and they rewarded me with a pathetic outing, Oh Well, there's always next year...

On Saturday (before the game), I had the chance to attend the installation of the Rev. Parisa Parsa at First Parish, Milton (UUA). It was a lovely affair and fun was had by all. That event, and the upcoming ordination of David Miller, here at Eliot this Sunday, got me thinking about the always complicated relationship between local congregations and larger regional "denominational" bodies.

As most of Unity's readers know, our polity affirms the right of the individual congregation to ordain and install clergy. All of the things we think of as being required for ordination are really required for fellowship (at least in the UUA, I am still not as clear on the UCC side of these issues). That is, they allow you to be entered into the various lists at UU Headquarters and use its services, such as settlement.

Parisa is in "final fellowship" with the UUA. I am, too. However, Dave is not. This is not because he has been rejected or that he necessarily would be if he applied. Instead, he felt that it wasn't a necessary part of his call to the ministry. To steal and alter a phrase from Rev. Scotty Mclennan, the preacher at Parisa's installation, these are just two different paths up the mountain of ministry.

I can't help but notice the differences, however. I am blessed by the connections that an institution like the UUA (and the UUMA, the Minister's Association) can give me. Sure, theologically, I may have very little in common with many of my colleagues. Still, there is a way to meet them and to exchange support and ideas. This in no way should be taken as an affirmation of some sort of ordaining power for the Association! However, I do think of fellowship as a useful tool and resource for my ministry.

I also have supported and affirmed Dave in his quest. I believe that he has what it takes to be a professional minister and I hope that he continues to explore what that means to him. This is an exciting time for the church, too. While he will not work for us in any official sense, we are sending him out with our "stamp of approval." We do so with all due consideration and sobriety.

I rather like the dual system we have, where there is support for ministers and congregations around issues of ministry but where we have agreed to disagree as well. In fact, in many of the churches I encounter seem to have too much of a denominational (or, yes, associational) identity. They tell their story in such a way that it can be unclear whether their congregation is a separate entity or a "chapter" of something else. At Eliot, we try to emphasize our uniqueness. We need always to be vigilant about not letting the UUA and UCC loom too large in our lives. At the same time, we need to acknowledge and support these institutions which give us so much. What an interesting path we walk!

Congratulations to Dave and to Parisa! Dave's service will be Sunday morning at 10 am. All, of course, are invited.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Go Celts!

Last night, after a visit from my Dad, I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I watched the Boston Celtics. I say this not as a Boston sports neophyte, but as a fan of very long standing.

Some of my earliest memories have to do with the Celts and their seemingly habitual journey to the playoffs. We would gather--my family and me--around the TV with its intensely bad reception, eat chips and popcorn and, like many people, turn the box down and the radio up to hear the scratchy voice of Johnny Most. I have been to games where, as time went on and the team got older, we lost as much as we won, but I remember them today.

Well, not so much the games, really, but I remember dining on the North End before the game, and shaking hands with Bill Fitch as he was leaving Red’s office while I was going in and then shaking Red's hand. Dad says McHale and Parish were there, too, but all I could see were their knees. In the office Bob Cousy grabbed me by the shoulders and growled “Hey kid, who’s gonna win?” I told him, too. I kid you not. It really happened just like that and my Dad didn’t pass out.

I remember where we sat in the real Boston Garden. Sometimes close to the front, sometimes farther back. I remember coming out of the bathroom once to vociferous applause only to find that John Havlicheck was on his way to the concession stand to buy a hot dog. One time we sat way up top behind a steel pillar and two old Irish guys spilled beer down my shirt while yelling “Put Danny in!” Now, whenever I see Danny Ainge in that suit and tie. all I can think of is cheap alchohol.

Those were the days before college. I sort of drifted away after Len Bias. That was really the beginning of the end for me. It was a tragedy that made the game too real in many ways. I watched a few times since, but not very often. I briefly had a return to fandom when one Antoine Walker arrived for the first time. But that was it. Since then its been cold turkey...nothing.

Yesterday, however, I watched Antoine once more and remembered why basketball was my first love in the world of sport. It was exciting. I cheered. I even convinced myself that Paul Pierce was cruelly persecuted when he elbowed that other guy in the face! I have followed the Patriots, of course, even during the embarrassing years of Mr. Kiam. I am part of a culture that worships the sacred soil of Fenway Park. But still, there is nothing like the Boston Celtics.

Now, I’m not saying I’m a fanatic reborn or anything. I’m NOT online today trying to buy tickets to Game 7. TD BankNorth just doesn’t cut it for me. Still, I may watch the game and who knows? When the Super Bowl ends, there may just be a reason to turn on the TV and turn up the radio.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

UU's are Dying?

I suddenly have multiple issues and subjects I would like to post about, so there may be something of a flurry of activity (my own) on Unity. We shall see. However, the first thing I would like to do is point out (possibly again) an interesting sermon by the Rev. Davidson Loehr. I present it without comment, partly because it has been some time since I have read it. Loehr presents a critique of the current condition of the UU movement.

It is worth reading, particularly for those of us who attend United (or Union) churches like Eliot. Also, I will refer you to the sermon I linked on April 1's "An Interesting UU Christian Sermon". One of our sticking points can be a less-than-nuanced understanding of the institutions with which we are affiliated. It is easy to think of them as two monolithic entities existing in opposition to each other when, really, each is itself, a venue for discussion and debate. Also, the UUA and UCC overlap more than they oppose. Both of these sermons address issues currently being discussed in UU churches around the country.

So, anyway, click here for "Why is "Unitarian Universalism" Dying?" If that doesn't work just click the post-title.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Blog Party

This past Saturday, in Milton, MA, we had a gathering of local UU Bloggers, their family and friends. It was a blast! I really enjoyed the opportunity to get to meet some of the people who make the internet a better place for religion. Also, I had both the opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones. Thank you so much to those who planned it (all I did was bring my family and a coffee cake). There are some exellent descriptions and further thoughts at a few websights. There is also a picture.

For more information and/or a picture of the bloggers who attended, please check out the following sights: PeaceBang, Philocrites, and Transparent Eye...

There was also a business-type meeting. It was a brainstorming session. However, I left early so, look to Coffee Hour on Philocrites for further developments!