Minister's Post, Fri Jun 17

Dear Ones,

Last March I read a book by Michael Sandel, The Tyranny of Merit. Drawing on ideas in that book, I preached about the corrosive effect of meritocracy on Sun Mar 20. Those ideas have shifted my own outlook more than any other single sermon-prep I can remember. The anger and discontent of the anti-vaccine, anti-mask folks who believe the 2020 election was stolen makes a lot more sense when seen as a perfectly natural reaction to the humiliation meritocracy heaps on them.

In a recent TED talk, Sandel explained:
"But the problem isn't only that we fail to live up to the meritocratic principles we proclaim. The ideal itself is flawed. It has a dark side. Meritocracy is corrosive of the common good. It leads to hubris among the winners and humiliation among those who lose out. It encourages the successful to inhale too deeply of their success, to forget the luck and good fortune that helped them on their way. And it leads them to look down on those less fortunate, less credentialed than themselves. This matters for politics. One of the most potent sources of the populous backlash is the sense among many working people that elites look down on them. It's a legitimate complaint."
I happened to be pretty good at going to school, and I enjoyed it. But suppose most of the power in society was held by people who primarily valued something I happened not to be very good at or didn't enjoy? I don't think I'd trust these "elites" either.

Concerning, for example, climate change, we like to say, "I believe in science" -- which sounds like a faith statement -- as if this were the crux of the matter. In fact, the disagreement on climate change among people who score well on grasp of basic scientific concepts is reflective of the overall state of disagreement on climate change. Both sides -- "we" as well as "they" -- use motivated reasoning to reach the conclusions we want to reach. So what determines which conclusion we will want to reach? It has a lot to do with the status our meritocratic system has assigned us.

If we're going to heal from the divisions tearing us apart -- if we're going to find a way to trust each other, and to trust our leaders -- we're going to need a way for all people to believe in the dignity of their own work -- whatever their education level -- recognizing that a key source of dignity is the sense that one's work meaningfully contributes to our national life. We need contributive justice as much as we need distributive justice. As Sandel said:
"We should renew the dignity of work and place it at the center of our politics. We should remember that work is not only about making a living, it's also about contributing to the common good and winning recognition for doing so. Robert F. Kennedy put it well half a century ago. Fellowship, community, shared patriotism. These essential values do not come from just buying and consuming goods together. They come from dignified employment, at decent pay. The kind of employment that enables us to say, 'I helped to build this country. I am a participant in its great public ventures.' This civic sentiment is largely missing from our public life today."
As I say in one of the benedictions I use, using words by Rev. Wayne Arnason, "May a path be found -- and the courage to take it, step by step."

Yours in the faith we share,

Join a Journey Group: http://cucwp.org/journey-groups

I.C.Y.M.I. (In Case You Missed It)

The Jun 5 Service, "Coming of Age, and a Little More Age" -- #1

The Jun 12 Service, "Coming of Age, and a Litte More Age" -- #2


From Norman Fischer’s Training in Compassion, training number 21 is: Unstick from Yourself.

Spiritual practice must be a process of training – of opening and growing rather than simply enduring life. This growth comes down to just one question: Are you getting less stuck on yourself?

Keeping this slogan – unstick from yourself -- close by at all times is a good tool. Whenever you feel upset, unhappy, dissatisfied, in a snit, frozen, constricted, bound – check and see. If you reflect, you may see that the ultimate cause of this unpleasantness is that you are in one way or another stuck on yourself, favoring yourself and your own needs, desires, and viewpoint. Simply recognizing this, opening up just a little, relieves the pressure.

Stop being so stuck on yourself. Open up. Think of others. Try to do something to make them happy. Anything! Something like, “Hello, how are you?” And mean it. The whole of practice comes down to just that.

Looking inward, it sometimes seems that we are making progress, and at other times it seems that the whole effort to have a spiritual discipline has been a waste of time. Sometimes all we notice is that years go by and we seem to be no different than when we began – or even worse. Other times, we think maybe we’re a bit more calm, a bit more aware, a bit more kind. How do we know how we are doing?

Just investigate: Am I less stuck on myself, more available to others than I used to be? Am I thinking positively and generously of others more often? If you are just as stuck on yourself as you ever were, that’s OK. That’s information. You know what you have to do. Invite someone out to lunch. Ask someone how she is.

The full post: "Unstick from Yourself."

Here it is, your...
#124: The Joke

When Zen people appear to be dodging a question, maybe they are dodging it. Or maybe they are directly answering it. Or maybe both. Consider Blue Cliff Record #78:
A monastic asked Zhaozhou, "All the Dharmas are reduced to oneness, but what is oneness reduced to?" Zhaozhou said, "When I was in Qingzhou, I made a hempen shirt. It weighed seven pounds."
Can you see how "I made a seven-pound hempen shirt" is exactly what oneness is reduced to? Zhaozhou could not have more directly answered the monastic's question. Or consider the case that appears as both Blue Cliff Record #73 and Book of Serenity #6:
A monastic asked Great Master Mazu, "Please tell me directly, Master, the meaning of Bodhidharma's coming from the West."
Master Mazu said, "I am tired today, I can't explain it to you. Go and ask Zhizang."
The monastic asked Zhizang about it.
Zhizang said, "Why don't you ask our master?"
The monastic said, "He told me to ask you."
Zhizang said, "I have a headache today, I can't explain it to you. Go and ask Brother Huaihai."
The monastic asked Huaihai about it.
Huaihai said, "I understand nothing about that question."
The monastic told Great Master Mazu about it.
Great Master said, "Zhizang's head is white, Huaihai's head is black."
This monastic wants to know the meaning of Bodhidharma coming from the west. This is thoroughly explained to him five times. (1) I'm tired. (2) Why don't you ask our master? (3) I have a headache. (4) I don't understand. (5) This is white and that is black. Each one of those answers tells precisely the meaning of Bodhidharma coming from the west.

"It really doesn't amount to much" is the joke -- and saying that to Mallard is letting Mallard in on that joke.

Porcupine was foraging near Stillpond and met Mallard unexpectedly,
"Porcupine!" exclaimed Mallard, "I've wanted to ask you about something. It almost seems that you and Raven have a secret understanding of some kind."
Porcupine said, "We know the same joke."
"Can you let me in on it?" asked Mallard.
"It really doesn't amount to much," said Porcupine.
"Tell me," demanded Mallard.
"Mallard!" Porcupine exclaimed. "You aren't listening!"
"When devoted invocations are sent forth, they are perceived and subtly answered."
And if the invocation isn't devoted?
Or isn't sent forth?
Or, for that matter, isn't invoked?
Still perceived.
Still answered.
Still subtle.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon

Religious Education: June 19, 2022

Religious Education & Faith Development
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains
June 19, 2022

2021-2022 RE Theme: Community, Wholeness, Discovering Our New Normal
Connect with CUUC Young People

The RE Council is actively planning for 2022-2023 and there are many opportunities for you to support the spiritual growth and inclusion of our children and youth.

Consider learning the names of some children and youth and greeting them every Sunday, helping plan a social activity, serving as a class teacher or assistant, joining the RE Council or volunteering in other ways. Use the online form at bit.ly/CUUCREVolunteers22-23 to indicate how you would like to connect with our young people next year or e-mail Tracy at cuucwptracy@gmail.com. Thank you! 
CUUC Children's Play Group

We are starting a CUUC Children's Play Group to help families with young children stay connected and build community. Families will meet at a park, each other’s homes, CUUC or other locations as decided by the group. Activities are suggested and coordinated on a shared spreadsheet. If your family would like to join this play group, e-mail Diane (dakmv@aol.com) or Tracy (cuucwptracy@gmail.com)  for the spreadsheet link.
Aid for Ukraine

Donation Campaign: First Aid Kits
Thanks to your generosity, we were able to bring a carload of donated supplies – from diapers to toothbrushes – to St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church in NYC for delivery to Ukrainians caught in the ongoing war.
St. George now has a campaign to purcase first aid kits for Ukrainian civilians and defense forces. The more funds they anticipate collecting, the more they will be able to negotiate kit prices and shipping costs. If you would like to participate, contact Norm Handelman (yakman42@gmail.com) with the amount you’d like to contribute so he can estimate a total, share it with St. George, and follow up with you with instructions.
Summer Programs & Activities

If you are thinking about summer plans, you might like to attend a UU camp or conference. The Council of Unitarian Universalist Camps and Conferences offers a gateway to many locations across the country that offer activities for children, youth, adults, and whole families - click here

HS Youth: An Amazing Opportunity!
The UU College of Social Justice is holding a 4-day experiential workshop to deepen justice work among young UUs. Learn about Pittsburgh's social movement landscape and explore change, resilience, and organizing through creative arts and practices. Registration costs for this immersion experience are fully funded by UUCSJ. In addition, we have funds allocated to reimburse travel expenses. Participants will be “living” at the church, where we will sleep and cook meals together. Transportation to community partner sites will be via car. Registration is limited to 20 youth and closes on July 1st. For more information, click here.  

Families: UU Central East Summer Institute 2022 
Join us at CERSI July 10-16 in person or online for a week of fellowship and fun as we build a beloved community as we Question the Unquestionable and Answer the Unanswerable with Kazim Ali. For the first time we are doing a multi-platform model Summer Institute in the Central East Region. The link to register for Online CERSI can be found at the bottom of the CERSI Registration page. Online Registration is now open and is $100. In person registration is still available.

Volunteer New York!
Volunteer New York! offers many local volunteer opportunities throughout the summer. Click here for their June 9th list of volunteer opportunities. Visit their resource page.  And this list of 2022 Summer of Service Opportunities. They also offer a Leadership Westchester program designed to sharpen effective leadership skills and provide participants with the clarity to define and achieve their goals.

Ages 11-21: YWCA Y Leaders
YWCA summer 2022 bootcamp program will take our participants through 5 days of interactive workshops that teach you how to develop strong communication skills, create daily affirmations for good emotional wellbeing, understand your values, beliefs, priorities and passions and boldly navigate spaces with confidence and ease. With our program partner One Love Foundation, you will also identify the tools and resources needed to build healthy and supportive relationships in life and leadership! Y Leaders is open to those who identify as female, womXn, non-binary and gender-nonconforming, are between the ages of 11 and 21, and Westchester residents. Ages 11-15, August 1-5. Ages 16-21, August 8-12. Space is limited! Registration is on a first come, first serve basis. Camps are held in person at the YWCA (515 North Street, White Plains) and participants are required to wear masks throughout the program. You can read more about our bootcamp here. And youth womxn can apply here. Register here

This Sunday 
June 19th

Diane and Hans offer childcare for young children every Sunday. Everyone wears a mask. No snacks are served. Drop off and pick up in room 32 in the yellow hallway.

10:00am Worship
In Person & Livestream

“Names of Beauty” 
~ Rev. Meredith Garmon

Whole Congregation/All Ages Worship

There's the Hebrew concept "yapha." There's the Sanscrit concept "sundara." There's the Greek "to kalon;" the Japanese "wabi-sabi;" the Navajo "hozho." Each of these terms substantially overlaps with the English word, "beauty," but each one leaves out some of the connotations that English-speakers understand "beauty" to have, and each one includes other connotations not normally part of what English-speakers mean by "beauty." By looking at other cultures, we can expand our understanding of what beauty might entail.

Activity boxes, coloring sheets, crayons and cushions to sit on the floor are available in the sanctuary. The Order of Service is available on our websiteTo join the worship livestream, click https://bit.ly/CUUC-Worship, or phone in (audio only): 646-876-9923. Webinar: 761 321 991, Passcode: 468468. Revisit past services anytime at youtube.com/TheLiberalPulpit and subscribe!
Processing Collective Trauma
with Young People
Dear Ones, the horror of gun violence continues in this country so I share again resources for navigate answering questions and sharing information in age appropriate ways. Full text for limited access resources provided here.
with my love, Tracy

Available Online:

Available Online and Full Text Provided in the Doc:

For up-to-date information, schedules, and Zoom links, visit the RE overview and schedule. You may also consult our CUUC website calendarFamilies participating in childcare through 12th grade RE, please submit 2021 registration (click here for the form). Read All CUUC Announcements in the Weekly e-Communitarian Newsletter
Tracy Breneman, Director of Faith Development and Religious Education, cuucwptracy@gmail.com
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains  
468 Rosedale Ave · White Plains, NY 10605-5419