May I let my voice be a clarion call. I will use these words for justice. I will use these words for truth. And humour.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Forcing Divorce, and a message on stewardship

So apparently back on December 19th, the Yes on Prop 8 folks got Kenneth Starr (the same guy who prosecuted against Bill Clinton) to file a case so that all 18k of the same sex couples in California who got married last year will have that marriage taken away.

Note that at the bottom of the dailykos page, there's a scary video of two Latter Day Saints marching into a lesbian household and taking their rings and marriage certificate, ripping it in half. That's pretty close to the truth. To think that rights that some people have been working to achieve and then win, could be taken away again is TOTALLY unAmerican.

So, if you're a friend of mine, and/or care about equal rights, please go here, and do as your heart compels.

I find it interesting and extremely sad that the Catholics and JC-LDS folks were two of the biggest proponents behind prop 8, and Unitarian Universalism was one of the biggest opponents to it. What I find interesting are these numbers.

The Catholics, a population of roughly 80 million give an average of 1.3%, a total easily over $5 BILLION dollars to the church annually.

The Mormons, a population of roughly 6 million give an average of 7.5% of their income to the church. For argument's sake, let's pretend the median income is a generous $50k/year. That works out to roughly $22.5 BILLION/year.

Unitarian Universalists have less than 200,000 pledging members, averaging less than 1% of their income. That means a total of (far) less than $100 million.

If we're talking about economic power (and the ability to put it to work in the form of making the world match your values), UU and our message and values are hurting. It's not just a question of getting the message out, but of getting it out enough, and getting it out more. The Catholics, the Mormons and the fundamentalists are all a lot more vocal than us, and often, its the loudest or most frequent voice that gets heard. We would be hard pressed to launch an ad campaign anywhere near the size of the Yes on 8 campaign the Mormons put on, or to pay lawyer's fees the size of someone like Kenneth Starr would ask for.

And a bit closer to home -- with the economic downturn, our association of churches are even hard-pressed to train ministers -- significantly fewer congregations are taking interns for the coming year, which means I might get the opportunity to be a stay-at-home dad for a year, and UU will have me as a minister for one less year, or perhaps not at all. My guess is that many other ministerial hopefuls are in a similar predicament. If our movement, and its values, are important, they need to spread. Unless we're going to turn all of our 50 person fellowships into 1000+ member uber-churches, we're going to need more ministers.

Giving 1% is not the way to do it. And I'm not suggesting 10%, or even 7.5%, but how about 3%? If it's about the margins between operating cost and the good social justice work we can do in the world, 1% is continually help us to keep a roof over our heads and a basic staff with bread on the table, but 1.1% would mean 10 million more bucks to go toward real community-roots justice work, and growth.

And yes, times are tough. My grandparents (a farmer, and a farmer's wife -- in other words, two farmers, one of whom fixed the tractor and tossed the hay bales on the wagon, and the other who drove the tractor and cooked and fed the chickens) didn't make a whole lot of money with their small 40-acre farm operation. But they had a policy that when times were tight. Knowing that the church community was the place that people turned to first when they ran on hard luck, if there was a recession or depression, they gave MORE money to the church, to help the community. In short, this recession/depression is an opportunity for Unitarian Universalists and other churches to pull together in community, and to rely on each other just a bit more.

And I say all this knowing full well that money is a substitute, a symbol of our labor. At some point, I intend to write a bit about what happens when the dollar (and other forms of money) get de-monetized, and are no longer current. I think a bit part of the paradigm shift coming up is when our labor gets de-monetized. I believe there can and will be a time when all our fundamental needs (food, water, housing, clothes) will be easily taken care of (if we work things right -- efficient sharing of resources & bringing the population down to 2-3 billion). And our basic modern needs (running water, electricity, communication, education, garbage collection) will also be taken care of. Then the work each of us does can be voluntary and our labor need not be monetized. It's just a question of if and when enough people have the collective will for us to turn the corner. I guess here I am talking parousia again.

Or we could just go the way of the Dodo. At least some of our theology would last, maybe. The thought that it might not is one of the few things that makes me shudder to the bones. Lord knows the mormons aren't preaching it (yet!).

lyrics: "Come around to my way of thinkin'.
Don't you want to, want to get along?"
-Urge Overkill, from Sister Havana

colors: blood red -- the color of hell -- the hell of enforced separation and divorce

mood: side-tracked. perhaps on-track actually.

chant/prayer/mantra: it takes an impulsive creative force, and then sustained energy.

pax hominibus,
agape to all,

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wait a minute. "stay at home dad"!?!??! are you two expecting a baby!?!?!?
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