Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Breaking Up With God

·            The Author of the book by this title, Sarah Sentilles, talks about a story which was left out of her book: 
 The founder of Architecture for Humanity, a nonprofit that uses the resources of design to solve social problems, visited my brother’s class in architecture school and described one of the first design contests he held. He asked people to come up with the best design possible for a mobile AIDS clinic for a town in a country in Africa. He posted the deadline, and he waited. He didn’t think anyone would submit anything, but on the day of the contest’s deadline, a delivery man from Federal Express rang the doorbell to his tiny studio apartment in New York City. He was carrying a huge bag stuffed with envelopes. “Wow,” the founder said. “Are all those mine?” “No,” the delivery person said. He pointed to three giant Fed Ex trucks lined up on the street behind him, their hazard lights blinking. “All those are yours.” I really love that story. I think it reveals how human beings are waiting to make the world a better place. We just need to enter the contest.

Monday, June 27, 2011


OK, so I'm not, fundamentally, a pep rally type person.  Not for sports...I'd rather play.  Not at GA, either; I'd rather be talking to people, helping out, learning new things.  And only in a few cases, at rallies and demonstrations.  There's a time to take the the streets.    The "planned two years in advance" sort of demonstration that UU's do strike me as tickling our egos more than making change.

But that's just me.  Clearly lots of UU's, especially GA going UU's, like to put on a show of strength and make the local newspaper.   And I'm all for GA 2012 being a major display of yellow shirts.  But it is probably not going to be my kind of GA.

I was warming up to the idea until I went to the pep rally for GA 2012 at this year's GA.  I was actually on stage for most of it, because while I was on sabbatical, my colleague Angela Herrera started an immigration study and action campaign to lead up to GA 2012, and that was being showcased.  It was her honor, but she wanted me along, so went up with her.

And the message I got was that  we are going to go to Arizona next year and tell those Arizonans that their laws are bad, hateful, racist and inhumane.   Apparently we will be working with local partners to do that.  If we are not very careful...not all of the speakers at the pep rally were, the people of Arizona are going feel that we are calling them bad, racist, hateful, and inhumane.    Which will annoy them and make them glad when we go home.  

It was a pep rally, not a program meeting, but from those who spoke and the examples given, and the too-oft repeated words, "racist" and "hatred" make  me guess that my views on immigration, which start with the duty of governments to regulate their populations and labor forces in favor of the needs of their people, and my guesses about the only practical solutions to the complex problems that 200 years of terrible immigration policy have left us with, and my desire to learn so that we can be a part of the solution instead of just carping on other people's solutions....that that's not going to be welcome, possibly not even tolerated.

The  UUA website gives a much broader picture of plans for GA 2012, so it looks like there will be opportunities to learn, hear from experts, and think about the intersection of Social Justice and Faith.   But what I gather from the website and what I heard at the rally were disturbingly different and I'm afraid I'm inclined to imagine that the ethos of the rally will prevail.

Which means that we won't be pondering complexities or solutions as much as we will be railing against people whose solutions we don't like, and that a lot more passion than thoughtfulness, a lot more name-calling than relationship-building will be on tap.  It looks like we'll spend a lot more time feeling good about how good we are than we will be thinking about the sacrifices that we will make if anything like comprehensive immigration reform is ever on the list of political possibilities.

I'm keeping my calendar open and awaiting developments.