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2018-11-29

From the Minister, Fri Nov 30

During this holiday season, we will frequently see, hear, and perhaps say the words, "Peace on Earth." Unitarians have been noticing that the words do not match the reality at least since Unitarian poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" in 1863: "For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men," wrote Longfellow. The challenge to us is to take the words, "Peace on Earth," to heart, reflect on what we've done in the past year to build peace, and what we will commit to do in 2019.

Let us attend, as well, to Justice on Earth, for peace and justice are intricately interconnected. There will be no peace without justice (for human beings systemically denied justice will agitate for it, including turning to violence when there is no other recourse) -- and, too, no justice without peace (for human beings under attack focus on defending themselves, not fairness to others). I take this not as a chicken-and-egg insoluble dilemma, but as indicating the need to gradually build both at the same time. On the "Justice on Earth" side, I recommend a book of that title.

Our Unitarian Universalist Association selects a Common Read every year, which all UUs are urged to read. The Common Read for 2018-19 is: Manish Mishra-Marzetti and Jennifer Nordstrom, Eds., Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class, and Environment (Skinner House Books, 2018). Here's what UUA says about it:
"At a time when racial justice, environmental justice, and economic justice are seen as issues competing for time, attention, and resources, Justice on Earth explores the ways in which the three are intertwined. Those on the margins are invariably those most affected by climate disaster and environmental toxins. The book asks us to recognize that our faith calls us to long-haul work for justice for our human kin, for the Earth and for all life. It invites us to look at our current challenges through a variety of different perspectives, offers tools to equip us for sustained engagement, and proposes multiple pathways for follow-up action."
The book is available from the UUA bookstore (HERE), or Amazon (HERE). Let's read it, talk about it, engage with these ideas, and learn how we can more skillfully contribute to the building of a world of justice and peace.

Peace and Justice to you -- on Earth and in your home this holiday season,
Meredith

Practice of the Week: Letting Go, Moving Forward /Ecospiritual. We let go. Of the idea of an endless, unlimited Earth. Of faith in silver-bullet solutions. Of our addiction to stuff, to consumerism, to symbols of success and status. Of quiet desperation. Of "more is better." Of thinking of ourselves and our actions as disconnected from the larger whole. Of outdated ideas and images. Of spiritual concepts primarily born from justifications of our own desires. We let go, and then let go some more.READ MORE.

Your Moment of Zen: Reading /Nothing wrong with reading, of course. Just don't let it get you all caught up in concepts. Read fiction: it tells the truth, though it comes at it indirectly. Read nonfiction, which also tells the truth and also comes at it indirectly. Everything written has something true to tell you -- maybe not what the words claim.

Your own life also communicates in this way.

Case
Granddaughter asked Grandma, "I've heard that some Zen teachers advise their students not to read. What is your opinion?"
Grandma said, "Read."
Granddaughter asked, "What should I read?"
Grandma said, "Watch for your name."
Turkey told Raven about this.
Raven asked, "How is that for you?"
Turkey said, "Dunno, Roshi. Books don't mean much to me."
Raven said, "You have your own works."
Verse
I found my name in Plato, for instance,
and in Rorty, Wittgenstein, Nussbaum, Dickens, Austen, Wendell Berry, and Garry Trudeau --
in Hesse, Laozi, Camus, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Arundhati Roy --
in Thurber, Thoreau, Dillard, Vonnegut, Brautigan, and the New York Times, for instance,
and in Hongzhi, Dogen, Dworkin (both Ronald and Andrea), Tom (both Robbins and Wolfe), and Irving (John, not Washington) --
in Woolf and Tolkien and Twain and Chas Addams and James Luther Adams,
For instance.
My name was on every page.
Because I wrote it there myself?
Possibly, but
The handwriting doesn't look like mine.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon

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