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!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Quebec Nationhood

Here is a picture of son #2's Kindergarden class singing that Reagan-Era hit "Proud to be an American". The things on their heads are paper turkeys. I will never think of that song the same way again...

While we were all eating our turkey and giving thanks something interesting occured just north of us. the Canadian Parliament voted to recognize Quebec as a nation within Canada. This may have some interesting implications for Canadians in particular and for the concept of nationalism and nationhood in general. What, exactly is a nation (Quebec) within another nation (Canada)? It isn't clear that everyone has even close to the same idea...

My wife and I lived in Montreal for a while "pre-children". We were there during the emergence of the Bloc Quebecois and their then-leader Lucien Bouchard. Since then I have followed the unique relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada. It is intriguing to me on many levels. It looks like it will continue to be.

Finally just a reminder to folks. The Canadians live right next door! Take an interest, people. They are a large, industrialized, wealthy nation with an interesting perspective on the US, democracy, and life in general. They also impact how we see ourselves and how we live. They even play football. I actually have a dream of someday becoming the Alex de Toqueville of Canada, traveling across the country, writing pompous things about Canadian culture, etc. Maybe you should pay attention, too.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dead Fish and Such (Or my Dan Harper Moment)

Not too long ago (I believe it was the Saturday before Halloween). I stopped to sit on the park bench at the dam across from my house. It was cold and the rain was threatening to make its appearance at any moment. I, however, wasn't entirely alone. On the other side of the dam, one of the Herons that make their home on the Charles was busy catching fish. First he stood stock-still and then, thrusting with his beak he poked at the water in front of him. Finally, he was successful and spent the next twenty minutes stabbing his catch to death before gulping it down.

The other denizen of the opposite bank was not so lucky. While the Heron was exhalting in its dinner, a fisherman cast his line twice, and then got it tangled on some rocks. Ah, well. Maybe there was something for him in the fridge.

I thought of this moment today thanks to the church air conditioner. This particular appliance gets very little use from humans and, therefore, has become the home to a family of birds. They are quite loud today. I don't mind. The sound reminds me of my country childhood, of the various suburban nature preserves, and of the urban parks and greenhouses that have been a part of my life. In particular, it reminded me of the Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago, similar to the one on Belle Isle in Detroit. No doubt the wet weather today helped me make the connection, too.

I realize that nature doesn't exist for my happiness but, still, it brings me joy. I hope that it brings you joy, too. Winter is coming, and coming soon.

I am a big fan of good science and have never really understood why many faith leaders are so bent out of shape about Darwin and others who have called into question some of the stories in scripture. I would hope that their trust in God is greater than that. Why would we think that any human being (Yes, the bible was written by humans. This is indisputable.) could reduce the wonder of the world to the written page. It cannot be done. Modern discoveries do not prove God's non-existence so much as prove our limitted understanding. I hear the voices of the birds and the rain on the roof today and stand in awe of all we do not know of the complexity of this creation.

In the past, I have written a bit about Natural Selection and made it the topic of my summer reading. The reviews of the books I read can be seen here and here and here. My buddy Dan Harper has a post about the Christian Conservatives and their approach to science here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I was watching the warm-up to last night's MNF game and saw snow. Quite a bit of it fell, actually, in Seattle. I, of course, couldn't be much farther from Seattle but, still, it got me in the holiday mood and that is a good thing. Dave Miller, one of the community ministers affiliated with Eliot and also a local realtor, was putting his X-Mas lights up at his office across the street from the church yesterday. Man, I love Advent.

I have even started Christmas shopping. I have gifts for various relatives and friends. I have also made my first seasonal donation. I gave a little something to the UCC's God is Still Speaking Campaign. Eliot Church is not a part of this but I find it to be refreshing. You can donate too, if you would like. You can also vote for your favorite UCC commercial. Yes, I do like the "Ejector Seat" commercial the best, but "All The People" is much more Christmasy

One interesting by product of the season is that my archives get a great many hits thanks to google-searches for Advent sermons. I will be posting them again this year. Partly this is because I like to share. Partly, however, it forces me to focus during a hard-to-focus time.

I would, however, like to apologize to all the folks who are apparently looking for pictures of Metallica Drummer Lars Ulrich. Once, a long time ago, I posted a link to a picture of him and since then folks keep getting driven to me! From one fan to another, I am sorry. Feel free to stick around, though...

Friday, November 24, 2006


Happy day after! I hope all of you are well. I have a stomach ache, alas, and cannot sleep. Here is an article I wrote for the church newsletter. Eliot is doing quite a bit of formal and informal work on its identity. One problem (and I have mentioned it before) for Union Churches is that they have so many affiliations. At the risk of confusing things for non-Eliots (this is part of a broader discussion). Here is what I wrote on the subject this month...

“Who (or What) are we?”
Rev. Adam Tierney-Eliot

How do we describe the tradition and identity of the Eliot Church? Are we Unitarian Universalist? Are we United Church of Christ? What do we mean by “Community Church” anyway? I often hear these questions from members of the congregation. No doubt, many of you hear questions like these from fellow-members and from friends and family. The answer sometimes seems complicated. However, it really isn’t.

Much of the confusion, I think, comes from the attempt to reconcile three apparently distinct concepts. Two of these are related to the UUA and the UCC, larger institutions that we are affiliated with. The other is our identity as a “Community Church”. However, appearances can be deceiving. All three are facets of the broader tradition of American Congregationalism.

If someone asks you what kind of church Eliot is, you can’t go wrong by saying “Congregationalist”. Our tradition has a long history dating back at least to 17th century England. Interestingly, it had its start in this country when a small group of people deciding to separate from the Church of England eventually ended up in what we now know as Plymouth, Massachusetts! In addition to a tendency toward religious reform and theological diversity, this is the tradition that gave New England its town meeting form of government and a wide variety of social reformers, philosophers, scientists, and politicians.

Let’s start with our two associations, the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association. They are called associations for a reason. Associations are collections of independent congregations, each with its own tradition. Over the years the UUA and UCC have merged with other movements and have developed different interests and points of emphasis, but this fundamental fact of their lives has remained. In essence, the denomination in Congregationalism is the local church. This is why Eliot hires its own minister, owns its own buildings and, generally makes its own decisions without having to defer to a larger organization.

The UUA and the UCC are two of four associations of congregations that date their founding to one document, the Cambridge Platform of 1648. This document laid out a system of self-governance for individual worship communities. All four associations provide support and nurture to their member churches and to their ministers. Sunday School, retreat opportunities, continuing education for clergy and lay leaders, and mission (or social justice and outreach) programs are their primary function. The purpose is not to tell the churches or their members what to believe so much as to help them on the journey.

Are there differences between these institutions? Absolutely. A recent public discussion between the leaders of the UUA and UCC—attended by members of our church—underlined many of them. There are reasons why there are so many different paths on the Congregational Way. Not only are there differences between the various associations, but there are also differences within them as there are within any religious movement. Churches are not uniform monoliths so much as dynamic communities in conversation. The conversations that we have at Eliot are uniquely Congregationalist. These conversations are aided by our theological diversity and the creative tension developed from being part of more than one congregational group. However, even if we belonged to no association in particular, Eliot would continue to be a Congregationalist church! This is, after all, our history.

All four of these groups share certain things in common. One is the primacy of the local church, another is a non-creedal basis for membership. We believe that revelation is not sealed. In the words of the UCC, “God is still speaking”!

One of the two associations we are not currently affiliated with, the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC) puts it this way: “People of a Congregational Church do not seek to be led by a creed, but by the Spirit. Ours is the tradition of a free church, gathered under the headship of Christ and bound to others by love, not law.” The NACCC is interesting because it rests in theology and tradition right between the UUA and the UCC, as do we.

The term “Community Church” is also part of the Congregational tradition, although not exclusively. The word “Community” can be a vague one. Our building rests inside the neighborhood of South Natick in the town of Natick. Most of our members are from Natick as well. However, the term also refers to the “gathered community” of (drum roll, please) the congregation. Many of our members come from Wellesley, Framingham, Dover, and Sherborn. They are part of the church community, too. So while we take our place in Natick very seriously, ultimately, the congregation is the community that we are most accountable to.

As we say on Sunday morning, “we bring many gifts and together build one church community”. Our tradition and identity as a non-creedal church, open to a broad understanding of Christianity and of religion in general is the cornerstone, not just of Eliot, but of a great and vibrant tradition. It is worth exploring and talking about in the years to come.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


It's pretty much over here at the parsonage. My wife's parents came up from Maryland and have now returned to the hotel where they are staying the night. We had a roast instead of turkey. The sides included roasted vegetables and sweet potatoes. The pie for desert was made by the kids in the West Virginia Work Camp. Good kids. Good pies. I should have cooked the roast a bit longer though.

After we ate I took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. It is raining hard and cold here in Natick but I didn't mind getting out of the overly warm house for a while. Everywhere we went we could see lights on and extra cars in the driveways. In a few cases, the houses were dark. In a couple you couldn't tell that anything out of the ordinary was going on. I silently wished all of my neighbors well as I passed by. The holidays can bring a variety of emotions, some festive and good, others not so much.

I am praying tonight for all those people who are wrestling with mixed feelings this Thanksgiving. For each person the reasons are different, but still relevent to them. Even the happiest among us knows that there are cares and worries waiting for us tomorrow or Saturday, Sunday or Monday. For some the weight is heavy. For others there are "missing persons" still present to us as memories of times good and bad. For whatever reason, I am praying for you. I hope this weekend is gentle to you.

After my in-laws left I called my parents, who were sitting on a bus from South Station to Portland, ME where they had left their car. They had gone down to Providence to see my brother, Matt, and his long-term partner, Anita. I had talked to Matt earlier in the day and, no doubt, will touch base with the rest of my siblings tomorrow. It is good to have family, even when they are scattered about a cold and dreary New England. I am thankful for their warmth and their thoughts wherever they are. I am grateful for my kids and my wife and her parents, too!

Last Sunday I preached off of a text from 1 Timothy. I have been carrying it about with me today as a reminder of the goodness of our endeavors. Sometimes it is a good thing to have something to fall back on. Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God's word and by prayer. (1 Tim. 4:4-5).

May you be at peace with God's creation tonight and every night. May you give thanks for all that you have been given. May you see and celebrate even the smallest successes that reside in you. May you triumph over the darkness and may the light surround you.

Happy Turkey-Day.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

If I Were Jazz, I'd Sue

That's right. If I were Jazz, the vital art form that had its beginnings in the African-American experience and continues to be one of the most exciting art forms in this country or anywhere else, I would sue. I would, in fact, sue Jazz, an incredibly horrid diet soft drink produced by those taste wizards at Pepsico.

When I think of Jazz, the music, I usually recall a club/restaurant I went to with my wife while living in Montreal. the band was Cuban, the wine (from the "Dep" next door) was Chilean. It rocked so much I remember it quite clearly today. Not so for Jazz.

I think that it is supposed to be a sort of boutique beverage, the microbrew of the diet soda set. Flavors have names like "Strawberries and Cream" which, of course, tastes neither like strawberries nor like cream. The cream part, actually, would be rather frightening if it was authentic as most folks don't consume their dairy with bubbles and such. I first encountered Jazz not at a club, but at the Natick Mall when I was accosted with a free sample. The roving Pepsiperson informed me that it was "a new taste concept" that they were "trying out". She asked my opinion, too, but didn't take notes.

It seemed a fitting location for something so pedestrian as Jazz to be making its debut. I love the mall. I really do. I like the people all running around and the bustle of it all. I may even be there this Friday! However, it is a den of giddy consumerism where corporations try their hardest to package what is at its core derivative and standard--clothes, toys, and baseball caps, all fairly similar regardless of what store cubby you might be in--as edgy, experimental, and unique.

That this particular diet soda exists doesn't suprise me, nor am I surprised by its aluminum taste profile. What bothers me is that something so great (Jazz) can be used to market something so pedestrian (Jazz). I realize it is meant to infuse a sense of the exotic into the suburban landscape but, really. If I want to feel (and look) hip and relevant, even open-minded and progressive in thought and culture, do I really want to spend quality time with something that says "I like fads"? I don't think so. The only way to deepen one's awareness and depth of connection to humanity is to actually try not to conform to societal and corporate expectations.

Products like this get at one of the biggest problems we face today. Namely that we are loosing our sense of originality and cultural diversity. "Look, we've mixed some chemicals to gether that taste not enirely unlike berries mixed with milk, how jazzy!" We are forgetting how to be original and actually different--in ways both large and small--from our neighbors. I believe that churches have a role to play in stopping this dangerous drift. Pastors, too. We need to help people see that there is more to this world than what we are told we need. We can behave in different ways. Many of us naturally fear sticking out too much, but it is OK to be a "character" sometimes, even when we have not been endorsed by NIKE....

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in 1931, "The word Jazz in its progress toward respectability has first meant sex, then dancing, then music. It is associated with a state of nervous stimulation, not unlike that of big cities behind the lines of war." Well now it means diet soda. Such progress.

Anyway, I will stick to the real thing. Fight the man. Hear Jazz.

No Comments

So I disabled the comments function for a while. Primarily this is because my posting has become somewhat erratic and I never really had a whole bunch of comments posted anyway. Since I do not visit Unity every day and rarely respond to the posts that are left. It seemd to make sense to take a break.

In many ways, Unity has a readership similar to what PeaceBang expected for her blog. Hers are two distinct communities with many a comment and discussion. In fact, there have been times that I have not been able to post here because I have been reading the conversations there or at one of my other usual haunts (see the links section). This is a nice spot to read the occasional confused rant as well as to find thoughts and informations about the practice of liberal Christianity in the context of a United or Union church. I am too busy elsewhere to make it much more than that. Anyway, do enjoy what I do post and feel free to chat away elsewhere.

Incidentally, Happy Thanksgiving! We had a great time this past Sunday at Eliot. We had our usual family Thanksgiving service and our confirmation class did a good job playing music ad doing readings. A good time was had (I believe) by all. At least that is what folks said at our annual brunch. It is a tricky time for everyone going hither and yon. It was nice for everyone to touch base a bit before the Holidays truly began!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Suits and Such

I just got back from my weekly Natick Rotary lunch. Today's speakers were the captains of the Natick High School Football team. In these parts, at least, most teams play a game on Thanksgiving Day against some cross town rival or other. This is the 100th anniversary of the Natick-Framingham turkey bowl and the pressure is on. Not surprisingly, many of the Rotarians present have played in the game themselves. I, however, am hopelessly uncoordinated...

Also today, the Rotarians helped out with the Natick Service Council Turkey deliveries. Harriett Buckingham, Dan Mahoney and I drove about town dropping off Thanksgiving meals to various folks who otherwise would not have had one. The Church donated three baskets (thank you to Aileen Zogby for her work on this). In addition to being a Rotarian, Harriett is also a long-time member of Eliot. Therefore we were doubly proud.

OK, one last thing for the football-minded this week. Sunday marked the first time in a long time that an NFL coach wore a suit on the sidelines. Mike Nolan of the SF 49ers wore one and then on Monday night so did Jack Del Rio of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Why haven't they worn them in the past? Well...way back when, many coaches certainly did. Then there was the small issue of an exclusive contract to Reebok and the NFL started to require all of its personnel to dress in painfully awkward ways.

The solution: a Reebok suit. It is still unclear as to whether or not this will be allowed in the future. I say allow it. It doesn't hurt--every once in a while--to let something graceful slip through the firewall of profit. Besides, some coaches could really use better options and I bet there's a way for everyone to make money...

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Matter of Perspective

I haven't posted in a while and am feeling guilty so here is an interesting observation that I made recently.

First, some backstory. The town of Natick is working on some serious visioning for the future. The program is called Natick 360 and it involves a great many people at a variety of levels of input and committment. I have attended some of their events and contributed my two cents at various times. I am impressed, really, at all the hard work that has gone into this. At the same time, I have been involved with the MICAH interfaith social justice project here in Metrowest. Because of this, I have spent a great deal of time in Framingham, one town west of Natick.

As I was driving through Framingham this week I noticed, not for the first time, how big it is. It is officially a town (it has a representative town meeting, selectmen, etc.) but it feels like a city with its large and diverse population and many services and cultural opportunities. "Hm," I thought to myself, "I wonder how big Framingham is compared to, say, Portland, Maine". I am from Maine and my sister and her family live in Portland. Mainers think of it as city, if not the city as it has the largest population in the state. Lewiston is Second, incidentally, and Bangor is third.

So I went home and took a look. Here is what I found out: Portland (in 2000) had 64, 249 people. Framingham had 66, 910. Yep, if Framingham were in Maine, it would be the biggest city.

I also checked out the population for Natick, Framingham's largest neighbor. It was 32, 170. South Portland, who sustains a similar relationship to Portland (complete with a mall) is at 23, 324. Natick, in fact, was slightly larger than Bangor (31, 074 in 2005)! Most of these numbers are six years old, of course, but if you know Maine and you know Metrowest, one can only assume that, if there is any change, the gap has probably grown a little bit.

What makes this interesting to me is how our image of our selves and of a place can get a bit confused. When folks talk about Natick, they always like to say what a small town it is. In fact, whenever I imply that it might not be as small as people think, I usually get interesting looks, as if they expect me to have sewn a scarlet gadfly into all of my clothing. The fact is, I have lived in small towns where everyone knows each other and Natick isn't it. It is a great place to live, sure, but there are plenty of strangers who will probably stay that way until we choose to recognize them. In order to that we need to recognize our size.

It also works the other way, too. I am not so sure that Portland will ever seem all that big to me again. Maybe this has happened to you from time to time, a change of location can alter your understanding of who you are and your place in the world. This is one reason why it is important to explore and travel. It is also a good reason to question our assumptions.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fine Young Christians

Here is a picture of some of the Fine Young Christians that were to be found at the UUCF REVIVAL! meeting this past week. Again, it was a good, spirit-filled time. Some things occured while I was there that made me think about the importance of quality worship. Worship is interesting in that it is part performance , partly and articulation of theology, and partly a lived relationship with God and our fellow humans.

We expect to come closer to the Divine through our prayers and hymns--the rituals of communion and Baptism, too. We hope to be inspired by the sermon, when possible. God, of course, is always present, but how we do worship affects how well we sense that presence. How well we put the service together, how we carry ourselves and how we pray and preach are very important.

A muddy sermon, overly long special music, a sanctuary that is too hot or too cold, readings that don't match the theme, an ego that shows just a bit too much on a worship participant--all of these things can detract from the movement of God through our sanctuary. It is hard to be connected when you are distracted! Instead, the worshipper can feel like someone at Thanksgiving dinner who cannot find a single thing to eat. Bad worship leaves you hungry and profoundly unsatisfied. Really bad worship can leave you exhausted and somewhat bruised.

On the other hand, there is planty of room for quality worship. Simplicity is an excellent watchword. Chris Walton's Taize service was simple yet moving. So too are many a "sermon sandwich". Sure, it may not seem exciting at first, but if the preacher is talking about Jesus and God, and if the congregation is truly being fed, then the excitment will build from within. There will be nothing then that can match the power of the unadorned Gospel message. That, after all, is what it is all about.

The weekend gave me some ideas about how to deepen the worship experience at Eliot. I hope to give something a try sometime soon. However, I will also be striving to remember the fact that the medium (in church at least) is not the message. Something clever may be great and fun, but does it serve an actual purpose? Does it tell a story of a people and their God or a church and its prophet? If it doesn't, maybe there is another place where we can excercise our artistic side.

Finally, it is also good to remember that what may work for one community may not work well for another. At Eliot when we do communion, we have the wine and the bread. We pass it around and we pray. For another church (particularly many UU ones) that may not feel right. On the other hand, we do not consider "Flower Communion" a communion. Nor would the "Water Communion" be (unless you drank the water, which could be dangerous). Their meanings are different, after all, for different people. That, too is a part of telling the specific story of a particular community of faith.

Anyway, more on this later. I just heard that Rumsfeld has resigned and I have other work to do as well. I just want to say that I have worshipped with the Fine Young Christians above and they've got it goin' on...

A Little Rain Must Fall

Yes, a little rain must fall on every parade. A great deal has fallen on Mr. President's but I think that a little has fallen on mine. Am I happy about the election results? Sure am! However, I know in my heart that my first loyalty isn't to my party but to my faith. The work, my friends, isn't done. We need to keep our new congress and governors accountable.

For example, as a follower of the Prince of Peace I am concerned about gun control. Many of our new Democrats are perfectly happy with the way things are. It was nice to see all that blue on the graphics behind Ms. Kouric last night, but will our kids stop killing each other at school?

How about the immigrants who have made this country the vital and energetic place it has always been? What about my Brazilian neighbors and friends here in MetroWest? My faith tells me that there is a place at the table for everyone. Still, I hear that not all of our party saviors are in agreement on what to do. I will be watching for the immigrants and for me, grateful for all that they have done to add depth and richness to my little part of the world.

Also, many of these folks have limited voting records. I need evidence of how they will actually vote before I am willing to relax. For example, my new Governor-Elect/Rock Star Deval Patrick (who I did vote for) is more than a little vague about actual plans and positions. I have a vague sense that he is supposed to be liberal. Why do I think that? Because the incredibly incompetant campaign of Kerry Healey told me so. So, is it true? I guess it could be. That would be nice, but his past actions send a mixed message on many things that I care about. I am not so blissed out by him that I will ignore what he actually does.

I am concerned about economic issues (like predatory lending and the minimum wage), many of which did not get a lot air time thanks to that war in Iraq and the odd actions of various Republican politicians from the President to Rev. Haggard. Their inability to communicate a rational conservative message has been so deafening that I am not so sure that I hear the message of the new Democratic leadership all that clearly. I am looking forward to its articulation. I would feel more comfortable that way.

Here is the problem. I feel more like I did when the Patriots won the Super Bowl than like the nation is on a new, better course. This election was about our President and about a party that had learned rather quickly how to abuse its power. It wasn't so much about ideas or about how to turn our nation around. Now that the smoke is clearing and the rhetoric has (hopefully) toned down. What, if anything will change? How will things improve for the poor of this country and for those who live in the many places of this world where the influence of our government and our corporations is a basic fact of life? I will be watching our politicians of either (and no) party. This isn't over. There is work to do and I, at least, expect it to get done.

Dan Harper will be in Boston tomorrow to fight for gay marriage. If you can make it down, why don't you go? It would be a way to let the Democrats know that we aren't so impressed that we will stop watching, caring, and speaking out.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting is Fun!

I voted. It was fun.

Actually, I am much more interested in finding out about races in other parts of the country. The fight for Congress has taken on epic trappings these past few weeks and I have been swept up in all the excitement. Unlike many Democrats, however, I am not as sure about our chances. After all, there are some pretty funny looking districts out there and many of them (thanks to the years of Republican control on both the federal and state levels) are controlled by conservatives. Still, I would love to be proven overly pessimistic! The Governors reces look better to me, after all, you cannot gerrymander a state.

However, as my dad always likes to remind me, there are important local races to consider. Also, there are statewide offices farther down the ticket. State Attorneys General and Secretarys of State, for example, have a great deal of power within their juristictions (sp?) and with the current administration continuing in office, these postions have become important in the arena of regional and national regulation. I am thinking, of course, about the tobacco industry and Microsoft, but really there are many other, less well publicized cases of state class-action suits...I am officially out of my element and will refer you to Dad's AG Blog if he ever updates it. Still, remember to fill out the entire ballot, people!

When I was growing up, my parents would keep us home from school the day after Election Day so that we could stay up and watch the returns. Tonight it will be just me and Son #3 as the wife has to work and the other boys will be going to school tomorrow. After all, back then it was the day that we found out if Dad still had a job. Now that is not the case. the position of Pastor of the Eliot Church is, in fact, an elected position as many a Congregationalist minister can tell you, but it is a different election cycle.

That fact, is an important one, however, as voting is a part of our faith and our tradition. If we do not allow ourselves to let other people make decision for us on matters of faith, then why, dear God, would we let other decisions and policies be made without our input and presence? Also, it is important to vote, even if you think your guy or gal will be fine without you. The number of voters (sometimes regardless of who they actually voted for) help to keep our politicians accountable and us powerful. Maybe it is because I was raised among politicians, but I haven't always been impressed by the creativity and critical thinking skills of our leaders. This is true for both self-prefessed liberals and their opposite numbers. They need to hear from us and respond to us, otherwise (and this is particularly true the more powerful the office) it is hard for them to get away from that mirror in the morning and remember that they work for someone important, namely us.

So go vote, and then tell Philocrites about it.

Monday, November 06, 2006


I think you always have to write it that way (REVIVAL!). It is part of the rules or something...

I went to New York City to the annual convention/party/workshop fest of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship. The keynotes were Jim Mulholand and Gary Dorien (on different days). Mulholland has written a variety of books on Universalism, including the very popular If Grace is True. I am reading it now and it may appear in an adult RE program near you very soon! As far as the presentation is concerned, I was particularly impressed with his pastoral style and focus. I am a pastor, too, and am always interested in good ideas and good models of our profession.

Gary Dorrien was also good. His thing is the history of Liberal Christianity. Dorrien has written a trinity of books on the subject and teaches at Union Seminary. His talk was also good. Unlike the talk on universalism, however, it primarily fed the mind rather than the soul. No problem there. It is his job and he did it well. You may have gathered from previous posts that Eliot Church has been thinking quite a bit about its identity lately. For me it was useful and inspiring. I have much to read and think about over the next few days...

Tim Jenson did a workshop I attended on UU historiography. This was very neat, too. Tim, I owe you money for lunch, don't let me forget...

I missed many of the worship opportunities. I brought my family to NY with me so I spent some time with them interpreting the Kandinskys. Still, I did get to some of the offerings in this area and am very grateful to Chris Walton for his excellent Taize service. As I told him at the time, it was nice not to have a sermon! Thank you also to Fourth Universalist of New York for hosting the event and allowing us to tag along to Sunday Worship.

I have to tell you, though, that the very best thing about REVIVAL! (see I did it again) for me was the time I got to spend with friends new and old. People say the ministry can be lonely, but I think the better term is isolating You naturally live far from people you would like to spend time with and that regular absence can wear on friendships as much as on anything. It was nice, therefore, to get to go out, hang a bit and be, once again, impressed by how smart, witty and creative your fellow Liberal Christians really are. Thanks guys, it was a blast!