June 24, 2009


Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 7:55 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

At the Berry Street Lecutre Dr. Paul Rasor moved us another step on the road to a truly multi-cultural anti-racist anti-oppression religious movement. I found his speech, “Provincial Ironies,” and Rosemary Bray-McNatt’s respose, to be challenging, disturbing, exiting, hopeful and frightening all at once. He is just another in a long line that have asserted that we fall way, way, way short of what we say we are and what we want to do in the world.

I am sure the text will be up on the Berry Street site soon. http://www.uuma.org/BerryStreet/index.htm

In the meantime I will simply say that his focus on clear statistics grounds a powerful anaylis of the mostly cultural barriers that keeps us small and lacking in true diversity.

I almost wish I was not going on summer break so I could give a rousing sermon this Sunday, or well, maybe next Sunday. Then again August is just around the corner, and the path before us is long, very long, incredibly long. Still, the path bends toward justice.


June 8, 2009

MSG Religion

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 11:46 am by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

Appearing back to back, two articles in the Summer 2009 UU World Magazine caught my attention[ http://www.uuworld.org/currentissue.shtml .] Both echoed (for me) the closing quote in the “Blog Roundup” from Joel Monka: “UU itself is still like monosodium glutamate in my life – a flavor enhancer for what I already had, rather than a stand-alone religion in its own right.” Wow,” when I read that I thought, “The purpose of  my life, as a UU Minister, is to improve the flavor of various religions.”  In “Natural Aptitude” Laura Pedersen tells us it is hard to distinguish UUs from Hippies and says, “… UUs believe that there is truth to be found in all religions, but no one relgion holds all truth.”On the next page, Ken Collier tells us that “Religion is about the healing of brokenness,” which is a powerful purpose but, though he speaks of the religions of Buddha and Christ, he says nothing about UUism being “a religion.”  He ends with the idea that religions are just different cultural methods of achieving the same goal of wholeness and healing.   Furthermore Pedersen notes that UUism is not so much a choice as a found quality, “Finding that one is UU is “… like discovering that one is gay or has a natural aptitude for clog dancing.”

The point for me is that even if a candidate for the UUA Presidency tells us “We are the religion for our time,” the fact is that most of us do not think we are a religion, but either a smorgasboard of religions, or something that enhances the flavor of religion cooked up somewhere else.  To be sure, there are many who think we are a particular religion, such as the religion of Existential Humanism, or the religion of  “God is love,” or the religion of “be reasonable and openmided,”  or the religion of  particular liberal causes.  But each of these are minorities who favor one cooking style over others and ultimately see the UU movement as a flavor enhancer for their own particular dish.  There are those who think of UUism as “an approach to religion” but certainly not a religion of its own. 

Maybe that is just fine, and we should accept our place as a “liberalizer of religions” or something like “fusion cooking,” an approach with endless variations.  However, when I meet Unitarians from the Kasi hills, or people in North America who’s lives have been utterly transformed by finding a UU congregation I think we can be something more.  I think our best churches are offering not just MSG but the substance of universal truth, prepared as religion that feeds the hungry soul.  I can’t say my church is “one of the best” but we do struggle to make each worship service not just a sampler of all the good spiritual food in the world, or a place to get something to suppliment your own spiritual cooking, but full meals that have real integrity and their own unique flavor.