Monday, June 30, 2008

Terminating Fellowship and New Media

The UU World has changed its headline to reflect accurately on the new by-law change. Apparently I wasn't the only person who complained. Hopefully, someone thought to complain directly, which is only polite. Now, I'm embarrassed that I didn't think to do that. I actually know these people personally...what was I thinking?

Well, I was thinking old-style media, that's what I was thinking. A Headline is a Headline. A Headline has been printed on thousands of pieces of paper and sent out to the world. There's no recall (in old media) No point in complaining. What's done is done.

What a Luddite I am! This is On-Line. Corrections easy.

And I do appreciate the willingness to make them.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Terminating Ministers

"Ministers can be terminated for incompetence," screams the UU World headline. It's a misleading headline with nasty overtones, and I expect better from the UU World.

Aside from the fact that it is ministerial fellowship (credentialing) which can be terminated, not ministers, for incompetence, I'm sure I'm not the only person who thinks "killed by organized crime" when the verb "terminated" is used in that way.

The text of the article shocked me too, and this is not an editorial problem. When this new rule was explained to the ministers, it was couched in terms of, "When a minister has experienced several negotiated resignations..." they can be judged to be an incompetent minister and removed from Fellowship. The article implied that it would be possible for someone to be removed from Fellowship because they didn't meet current competencies. This would make it possible to remove any minister from fellowship because I can promise you, there's not a minister amongst us who perfectly meets current competencies. I've had an opportunity to look at the list of questions the MFC has lately asked candidates and there are lots and lots that I'd have difficulty with, and more still in which the "competent" answer is impossibly subjective.

So while I think that there is need for a provision like this, without carefully drawn guidelines, it could be a very dangerous new rule.

GA Connections

Every year there is a service celebrating ministry at the GA. New ministers are congratulated, retiring ministers honored, and the deceased are named. At the beginning of a minister's career, they likely know many new ministers and few retiring or deceased ministers, and that changes; slowly for people who work around Seminaries or are in ministerial chapters with many Seminarians, rapidly for people like me who spent a career in various UU outbacks. The moment of silence for the deceased gets more and more poignent as the years pass. Ministers talk a lot about this particular rite of passage.

But this year I noticed something else. Between old interns and people who left Albuquerque to go to Seminary, my GA is getting richer and richer. Last week I cheered on an old staffer, Michael Corrigan, who received Preliminary Fellowship, my first intern, who got Final Fellowship, and had breakfast with an Myriam Renaud who left Albuquerque for seminary 7 years ago and is deep into a PhD program in Theology. I knew more of the deceased ministers, but I know these new ones better. That's good!

And speaking of the Service of the Living Tradition, it lived up to its name this year for the first time in a long time...a dignified worship service that was still alive. The 19th century form, created for a small group of ministers and meant to be held in a church, had not translated well to a convention hall and a hundred honorees, and the SLT had taken on the overtones of a circus. Beth Miller has made changes over the past couple of years which have made the service both more interesting (I loved being able to see photographs of the honorees as their names were called!) and more dignified. There were a few adolescents who attempted to continue the circus atmosphere with their calls and whistles, but I imagine they will have matured before another year passes and the Service of the Living Tradition will continue to thrive.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

UUSC Awards

I have to be honest...the moment I finished the Berry St. Essay, which has been a burden and a privilege and an obsession for 15 months now...that was the high point of my GA experience. My gracious colleagues received it well and my new colleague John Cullinan delivered a response that was substantive and well done. What a relief!

But that was really Minister's Days, not GA, and the highlight of GA was, hands down, the UUSC annual meeting, specifically the awards ceremony. Awards were given to an amazing of those kids who has done more work for justice by the time they go to college than most people do in a lifetime. Last year's youth honoree, who had not been able to be present last year, was also given a round of applause. The adult awardee was a young adult Navy officer who has begun UU worship and other activities at the Great Lakes Naval Base, including values education and decision-making courses for young recruits, some of whom are getting this kind of education for the first time at a very vulnerable times in their lives. With him to celebrate this award were two other leaders, one in uniform, one the parent of a pre-school boy, dressed in his army costume. The moment was a celebration of the terrible and joyful complexity of the reality of war and the hope of peace.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Yesterday was my last sermon of the program year, and I celebrated by making an outdoor cage for our household iguana. This is something I've been wanting to do ever since he calmed down enough to be carried around and learned not to bite.

Iguanas are the genius of the lizard tribe; they need interaction, change, and movement to thrive, just like dogs and cats. Also, they need real sun or are at risk for serious illness. Cage lights help, but, well...nothing replaces straight sun. Ninja has been roaming the house (under supervision) for 9 months now, and it was time for an outdoor cage.

Ig's don't do change well, so his first trip to the cage was an anxious one, but today, he seems content to sit on his high shelf and watch the world. An unexpected benefit; his presence has scared the pigeons away, so we'll just call him our scareiguana!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hilary's Triumph

Today is the 89th anniversary of the proposal of the 19th ammendment to the constitution, giving women the right to vote.'s only been 89 years. There are woman alive who were born disenfranchised. What a long, long way we've come!

Today it seems clear that we will not have a woman president this time around, and even though I didn't vote for her, there's a sadness in me about that.

Let's give her her due. She dared to dream, she braved criticism (no...not criticism, scorn) that would have withered a cactus in the desert, and she almost won. If she can get that far, one of her sisters, sitting watching the TV last night, will get farther. And a generation of girls knows in a new way, "I could be president."

And that's a triumph. Thanks, Hilary.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Earth Peeves

They say that use of public transportation is up drastically this quarter, all over the nation, and it seems that that's true of ABQ, too. Good for everybody!

At the same time, it's gotten hot in ABQ, and one thing that means is that some people sit in their cars with the engines running in parking lots, getting 0 mpg, so they can stay air conditioned.

I saw it yesterday at the Sunflower market; a man was sitting in the car next to mine blasting CO2 and pollution all over this beautiful world. I was annoyed. But I was even more annoyed when I returned to my car 20 minutes later and he was STILL THERE!...blasting CO2 and pollution all over this beautiful world. And you know, not 20 steps away, under the store's portico, nicely decorated with basil plants, were cafe tables. (Not to mention the possibility that he could have gone in and helped with the shopping...or...if he was really too frail to do any of those things, he should have stayed home.

Long lines at drive-thru's bug me, too. Park and go in, for pete's sake. Most times it's faster.

We need an attitude adjustment about drive-thrus. They should be for the handicapped and for people who are lugging around two little kids in car seats.

Able bodied adults....park your cars!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Playing By The Rules

My major objective for November is a Democratic win, and I preferred Obama over Clinton a little bit...until the last few weeks and the fight over illicit delegates.

Amongst the problems of the past 8 years is that we've had a president who doesn't play by the rules, UN rules, Geneva convention rules, compassion rules...any rules but his own rules. It's been destructive and damaging and scary.

A president needs to live by the rules, abide by the things s/he negotiated, and live gracefully with the result. That's adulthood. This playground squabble in which one party wants the agreed-upon rules set aside so that she might win the game, and complains when the rules are set aside but in a compromise...that's not my president. That's not even a grownup. And God knows, it is high time we had a grown up in the highest office on the planet.