The first meeting of our new small groups ministry went far beyond my most sanguine hopes. As I did not recognize most of the names on the list, I had feared that they were just the very people I had been avoiding at church, the ones I had heard making so many hateful or annoying comments over the years. As it turned out, there was another reason why I didn't recognize the names- they never came to service on Sunday! These were "newsletter members", people who had grown disenchanted and stopped coming, but were still on the newsletter mailing list. All of them had been attracted to this group because the description had included, at the end, " general interest, spirituality." It seems they had first come to our church on the reputation that UU was where you went to explore spirituality- and then found everything but the spirituality they had come for. Two of them even had stories similar to mine, about raising spiritual questions within earshot of older humanist members who sneered at the "God talk". Naturally, when one of the groups mentioned spirituality, they signed up. Just like I did. I think this is going to be fun!
On Feb 1st those of us on the UUA emailing list got the official reaction to the confirmation of Justice Alito. It seems we UUs are responsible for the closeness of the vote. No, really, they said so! How did we manage that? "Through the hearings and other public means, the UUA and our coalition partners helped elevate the importance of serious legal issues surrounding this nomination. The national dialogue that resulted asked very timely questions regarding the scope of presidential authority and individual civil liberties." Isn't that wonderful? Nobody asked any questions until we stepped forward and showed the way! That reminds me of the story of the man who stood around snapping his fingers. "Why are you doing that?" he was asked. "Chasing away tigers". "Don't be ridiculous," he was told. "Don't see any tigers, do ya?" he replied.
Of course, the sheer vileness of Alito forced our hand: "A Zogby poll released on Sunday, January 29, found that 100% of African Americans surveyed opposed the confirmation of Samuel Alito." In my innocence, I might have thought the proper response to that claim would have been "100%?!?! Are you kidding? Who'd you survey, the guys in the cubicles on either side of you? Why, you can't even get 100% African American agreement on the use of the term 'African American'!" But no, wiser heads than I in Boston took it at face value, and were inspired to try for the Bram Stoker award for clumsiest sentence structure in the newsletter category: "Striving for accountability and demonstrating, by our action and our word, our belief that all people are equal is one concrete way Unitarian Universalists can make a belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person not only a religious principle but a religious practice."
My vote for best Super Bowl commercials: The colt thinking he's pulling the Budweiser wagon while the adults are behind pushing, and Leonard Nimoy taking an arthritis pill so he can make the "Spock" hand sign for a convention.
Yassir Arafat embezzling money meant for Palestinian refugees. Royal families of several countries being billionaires while their countrymen literally starve in the streets. Chattel slavery, debt slavery, and sexual slavery- not to mention sexual mutilation. Saddam building 80 palaces with "oil for food" money while his people die for lack of fresh water or medicine. None of these things were worth protesting, but a newspaper cartoon printed in another country is worth killing for. Hmmm. Less rational than the Unabomber, perhaps, but more logical than Michael Moore. I think it rates a solid "Howard Dean".