2014-10-09 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: dav0 Turas

——————————–

Welcome.

 

** Announcements **

 

Welcome to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life.

 

An Order of Service is available by saying “oos” in chat. For

visitors, a special welcome. If you are not familiar with Unitarian

Universalism (“UU”), a single service is not enough to experience the

diversity of ideas and styles of interaction that we offer, either

here in SL or in RL. Please come again.

 

You might also wish to look at UUA.org. or consider joining the group

“Unitarian Universalists of SL” to receive regular announcements.

There are lots of events besides this weekly service to take part in.

Be sure to check out our web site: http://fuucsl.org, for more details

on these and other such events.

 

We are always looking for members of our community who wish to get

more involved.

There is rental property available in UUtopia as well – contact Zyzzy

Zarf to learn more.

If you would like to try your hand at leading a service, please

contact a member of the Leadership Group – their names are available

in the notecard dispenser in the welcome area.

 

Please also join us after the service for coffee and conversation –

perhaps the only true UU dogma!

 

Are there any announcements?

 

** Lighting the Chalice **

 

“We gather this hour as people of faith With joys and sorrows, gifts

and needs. We light this beacon of hope, Sign of our quest For truth

and meaning, In celebration of the life we share together”

– Christine Robinson

 

** Joys and Concerns **

 

Please feel free to share any joys and concerns…

 

** Opening Words **

 

Moral Perfection – 10/9 2014

 

“I thought I would state a principle which I was going to teach.

I have this theory for doing a great deal of good out there, everywhere in fact,

that you should prize as a priceless thing every transgression,

every crime that you commit – the lesson of it I mean.

 

Make it permanent; impress it so that you may never

commit that same crime again as long as you live,

then you will see yourself what the logical result of that will be –

that you get interested in committing crimes.

You will lay up in that way, course by course, the edifice of a

personally perfect moral character.

You cannot afford to waste any crime,

they are not given to you to be thrown away, but for a great purpose.

There are 462 crimes possible and you cannot add anything to this,

you cannot originate anything.

These have been all thought out, all experimented on and have been

thought out by the most capable men in the penitentiary.

 

Now, when you commit a transgression, lay it up in your memory,

and without stopping, it will all lead toward your moral perfection.

When you have committed your 462 you are released of every possibility

and have ascended the staircase of faultless creation

and you finally stand with your 462 complete with absolute moral perfection,

and I am more than two-thirds up there,

It is immense inspiration to find yourself climbing that way

and have not much further to go.

I shall then have that moral perfection and shall then see my edifice

of moral character standing far before the world all complete.

I know that this should produce it.

 

Why, the first time that I ever stole a watermelon –

I think it was the first time, but this is no matter,

it was right along there somewhere –

I carried that watermelon to a secluded bower.

You may call it a bower and I suppose you may not.

I carried that watermelon to a secluded bower in the lumberyard,

and broke it open, and it was green.

 

Now, then, I began to reflect; there is the virtual –

that is the beginning – of reformation when you reflect.

When you do not reflect that transgression is wasted on you.

I began to reflect and I said to myself, I have done wrong;

it was wrong in me to steal that watermelon – that kind of watermelon.

And I said to myself: now what would a right-minded and

right-intentioned boy do, who found that he had done wrong –

stolen a watermelon like this.

 

What would he do, what must he do; do right; restitution; make restitution.

He must restore that property to its owner, and I resolved to do that

and the moment I made that good resolution I felt

that electrical moral uplift which becomes a victory over wrong doing.

 

I was spritually strengthend and refreshed and carried that watermelon

back to that wagon and gave it to that farmer – restored it to him,

and I told him he ought to be ashamed of himself going around working

off green watermelons that way on people who had confidence in him;

and I told him in my perfectly frank manner it was wrong.

I said that if he did not stop he could not have my custom,

and he was ashamed.  He was ashamed;

he said he would never do it again and I believe that

 

I did that man a good thing, as well as one for myself.

He did reform; I was severe with him a little, but that was all.

I restored the watermelon and made him give me a ripe one.

I morally helped him, and I have no doubt that I helped myself

the same time, for that was a lesson

which remained with me for my perfection.

Ever since that day to this I never stole another one – like that.”

 

-Mark Twain – from a lecture given at the Music Hall in Cleveland on

July 15th, 1895

 

Perfect!  The key word in this story of course is “confidence”

since this piece of satire is all about confidence.

Of course, Twain wasn’t hired to speak about confidence.

He was hired to speak “all about morals” on this tour.

 

Twain replied:

“I have a great enthusiasm in doing that and I shall like to teach morals to those people.

I do not like to have them taught to me and I do not know any duller entertainment than that,

but I know I can produce a quality of goods that will satisfy those people.”

And I suspect he did just that.

 

So while we’re on the subject of conning people out of their hard earned money

and feeling a sense of moral perfection when doing it to boot,

it’s time I segued into the offering portion of our service.

 

You see, the trouble is, we are facing a growing budget crisis here in UUtopia,

and it won’t be long before we too will have to start stealing watermelons

to help cover the costs of running this wonderful place,

so anything you can spare will definitely be appreciated.

 

(bells)

 

** Offering **

 

Please be generous and donate to the offering plate so that we can help sustain UUtopia.

 

** Musical Interlude **

 

Also – a reminder – please consider renting property here

on the UUtopia islands as this will help defray the costs as well.

There is plenty to do around here and we would love to have you

join us if you are so inclined.

Contact Zyzzy Zarf for more details on rental property.

 

~Principles and Beliefs~

 

Unitarian Universalists hold the Seven Principles as strong values and

moral teachings. As Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove explains, “The

Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of

us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist

religious communities.”

 

The Principles are:

 

1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

 

As a leadership goal, we are challenged to explore at least one of

these principles each week.

 

This week, I would like to explore the 4th Principle: A free and

responsible search for truth and meaning

 

What is our responsibility in this search for truth and meaning?

Are you truly free to pursue such a search?  And if so, for how long?

If you are lucky enough to be able to conduct such a search

then you should rejoice in your relatively free corner of the world.

 

You can bet that it wasn’t always this free and it might yet again not be.

In fact, we still really aren’t even all that free in many areas of the western world,

but we let these inconsistencies be explained away in a relatavist shrug.

Many fellow creatures on this planet are not so lucky for they are not so free.

Meanwhile, there are some who are free but who take their freedom for granted,

 

Most people are filled with curiosity about the wonders of the world,

only to discover a much more shocking reality when they begin their spiritual search.

We are all born with bright inquisitive eyes,

and for those of us who do retain their curiosity as they grow up,

the search many times unfolds as follows:

 

“…it will almost certainly be suggested to you that the answer to

the question of origins requires you to believe in the existence of a

further, invisible, ineffable Being “somewhere up there,”

an omnipotent creator whom we poor limited creatures

are unable to even perceive, much less to understand.

 

That is, you will be strongly encouraged to imagine

a heaven with at least one god in residence.

This sky-god, it’s said, made the universe

by churning its matter in a giant pot.

Or he danced, Or he vomited Creation out of himself.

Or he simply called it into being, and lo, it Was.

 

In some of the more interesting creation stories, the single mighty

sky-god is subdivided into many lessor forces – junior deities,

avatars, gigantic metamorphic “ancestors” whose adventures create the

landscape, or the whimsical, wanton, meddling cruel pantheons

of the great polytheisms, whose wild doings will convince you that the

real engine of creation was lust: for infinite power,

for too-easily-broken human bodies, for clouds of glory.

 

But it’s only fair to add that there are also stories which offer the message

that the primary creative impulse was, and is, love.

 

Many of these stories will strike you as extremely beautiful and, therefore, seductive.

Unfortunately, however, you will not be required to make a purely literary response to them.

Only the stories of “dead” religions can be appreciated for their beauty.

Living religions require much more of you.

 

So you will be told that belief in “your” stories and adherence to

the rituals of worship that have grown up around them

must become a vital part of your life in the crowded world.

 

They will be called the heart of your culture, even of your individual identity.

It is possible that they may, at some point, come to feel inescapable,

not in the way that the truth is inescapable, but in the way that a jail is.

 

They may at some point cease to feel like the texts in which human beings have tried to solve a great mystery,

and feel, instead, like the pretexts for other properly anointed human beings to order you around.

And it’s true that human history is full of the public oppression wrought by the charioteers of the gods.

In the opinion of religious people, however, the private comfort that

religion brings more than compensates for the evil done in its name.

 

As human knowledge has grown, it has also become plain that every

religious story ever told about how we got here is quite simply wrong.

This, finally, is what all religions have in common. They didn’t get it right.

There was no celestial churning, no maker’s dance, no vomiting of galaxies,

no snake or kangaroo ancestors, no Valhalla, no Olympus,

no six-day conjuring trick followed by a day of rest.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

 

But here’s something genuinely odd.  The wrongness of the sacred tales

hasn’t lessoned the zeal of the devout.

If anything, sheer out-of-step zaniness of religion leads the

religious to insist ever more stridently on the importance of blind faith.

 

.  .  .

 

So perhaps a war of religion is beginning, after all,

because the worst of us are being allowed to dictate

the agenda to the rest of us, and because the fanatics,

who really mean business, are not being opposed strongly enough

by “their own people.”

 

And if that is so, then the victors in such a war must not be the close-minded,

marching into battle with, as ever, God on their side.

 

To chose unbelief is to chose mind over dogma,

to trust in our humanity instead of all these dangerous divinities.

 

So, how did we get here?

Don’t look for the answers in “sacred” storybooks.

 

Imperfect human knowledge may be a bumpy, pot-holed street,

but it’s the only road to wisdom worth taking.

 

The ancient wisdoms are modern nonsenses.

 

Live in your own time, use what we know, and as you grow up,

perhaps the human race will finally grow up with you and put aside childish things.

 

As the song says, It’s easy if you try.”

 

— Salman Rushdie – excerpts from his contribution in 1997 to a UN-sponsored

anthology which was addressed to the 6 billionth human child born that year

that he entitled “Imagine there’s no Heaven”.

 

** Discussion **

 

Please discuss…

 

** Closing words and Extinguishing the Chalice **

 

“We extinguish this flame but not the light of truth, The warmth of

community, Or the fire of commitment. These we carry in our hearts

until We are together again.” – Elizabeth Selle Jones

 

** Dance **

 

** Coffee Hour **





2014-10-02 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: Tee Auster

———————————-

 

“Church is a place where you get to practice what it means to be human.”

— James Luther Adams

 

~Announcements~

Welcome to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life.

An Order of Service is available by saying “oos” in chat.

 

For visitors, a special welcome.

If you are not familiar with Unitarian Universalism (“UU”),

a single service is not enough

to experience the diversity of ideas and styles of interaction that we offer,

either here in SL or in RL.  Please come again.

You might also wish to look at UUA.org. or consider joining the group Unitarian Universalists of SL to receive regular announcements.

Also please check out fuucsl.org, our web site.

We are always looking for members of our community who wish to get more involved.

If you would like to try your hand at leading a service, please contact a member of the Leadership Group.

Our names are available in the notecard dispenser

in the welcome area.

Please join us after the service for dancing and conversation –  a FUCCSL tradition!

Are there any other announcements?

 

~Lighting the Chalice~

 

For some, the chalice cup is a communion cup, freely offered to all who would seek the greater Truth.

Others see the circle of fellowship in its embracing sides. The sacred hoop of its rim, the ambient energy cradled in its basin, the abiding, grounded strength of its pedestal:

may all be lit by the fire of spiritual integrity;

so too may we each be bathed

in the glow of our shared Truth, multifaceted and radiant.

-Martha Kirby Capo

 

The Chalice is now lit.

~Joys and Concerns~

Let us prepare our hearts to receive the joys and concerns,

hopes and sorrows, fears and dreams of one another.

If there is something that has recently happened to you, happy or sad,

and you would like to share it with us, now is the time.

We invite you to share your joys and concerns in chat, when you are ready.

 

Group Response at the end of Joys and Concerns

“May we be held in the heart of love.”

 

~Principles and Beliefs~

Tonights we reflect on the Third Principal…

Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.

 

“Spiritual growth isn’t about a vertical ascent to heaven but about growth in every dimension at once.

It’s spirituality in 3-D. Growth in spirit doesn’t measure one’s proximity to a God above, but rather the spaciousness of one’s own soul—its volume, its capacity, its size.

“We need souls that can take in the world in all its complexity and diversity, yet still maintain our integrity.

And we need souls that can love and be in relationship with all of this complexity. Instead of flight or flight, we need a spiritual posture of embrace.”

Rev. Rob Hardies, All Souls Church Unitarian, Washington, DC

 

~Offering~

A freewill offering is a sacrament of a free Church.

This fellowship is supported by the voluntary generosity of all who join with us.

There is an offering plate in the pool in front of us.

Please be generous in support of this UU fellowship.

(music)

Sermon

One of my favorite blogs on UUWorld.org is the The Interdependent Web,  the UU World’s weekly guide to Unitarian Universalist blogs edited by the Rev. Heather Christensen.

 

Christensen grew up in a Plymouth Brethren meeting, was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and served churches in Ohio, and is now “immensely grateful for Unitarian Universalism.”

 

She is a  member of the Anchorage, Alaska, UU Fellow­ship and she blogs at nagoonberry.

 

The August 1st blog focused on Life in American Christendom, remembers Margot Adler and is a patchwork quilt of sorts.

 

Life in American Christendom

The Rev. Dawn Cooley makes a provocative statement about the relationship between Unitarian Universalism and Christianity.

Unitarian Universalism may or may not be a Christian denomination, depending on who you ask. But we are a part of Christendom, because we have not disassociated ourselves from Christianity. Nor should we—it is an important part of where we come from and who we are today, and, I suspect, an important part of where we are going. (The Lively Tradition, July 30)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden suggests that UUs not worry about reinventing Christianity, but rather focus on being a big tent, in which each congregation, and each individual “brews” their own faith.

[Mainstream] Christian denominations are scrambling to survive. I don’t doubt that they will do a fine job of brewing the new Christianity. A much better job than can Unitarian Universalism, except in very specific locations and boutiques. . . . I think the future of Unitarian Universalism lies in micro-breweries. Boutique congregations, each with a recipe of their own. (Quest for Meaning, July 31)

Tina Porter wonders if some Christians “opt out” of the concept of grace.

(Definition: Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is kindness from God we don’t deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn this favor.

It is a gift from God. Grace is divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration (rebirth) or sanctification;

a virtue coming from God; a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine favor.)

Here’s my dilemma about the concept of grace: . . . . if grace is the gift we did not earn and do not deserve,

wouldn’t that, in essence, make us all more tender-hearted toward those in need of that unearned gift?

(Long Thoughts, July 31)

 

Co-existing with fundamentalist religion

Responding to Operation Save America’s harassment of a UU congregation in New Orleans,

the Rev. Tom Schade wonders how progressive and fundamentalist religions can exist together in the same community.

Can the Tolerant and the Intolerant Co-exist?

Yes, but only if the Tolerant have the power to preserve the structural arrangements which protect them.

It is a question, ultimately, of power. (The Lively Tradition, July 29)

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum believes that the Operation Save America incident was, indeed, “religious terrorism.”

Terrorism is defined as “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” . . . .

This act in Louisiana didn’t include violence. So why is it terrorism? Because it’s done by a terrorist group that has included violence in the past. (The Lively Tradition, July 30)

 

Thank you, Margot Adler

Thalassa expresses her gratitude for the work of Margot Adler, who died this summer.

Margot Adler was my impetus to take the idea of being Pagan seriously.

Not just to take myself seriously, but to demand (nicely, of course) that I should expect my religious beliefs to be taken seriously, regardless of how unorthodox they might seem to others.

Margot Adler is the reason that I never thought that I had to live “in the broom closet.” (Musings of a Kitchen Witch, July 29)

Patrick Murfin gives an overview of Margot Adler’s life.

Despite her status as a priestess, Adler never considered herself as a witch or had a particular interest in magic.

“Most people, when they think of witches and witchcraft, think of power and magical abilities,” she told a reporter three years ago.

“I’m not a particularly occult-oriented person. I’m not into astrology. I’ve never felt I had magical abilities.”

Instead, Adler focused on the power of ritual to connect a community and on the spiritual connection to the whole natural world. (Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout, July 29)

Being all over the place with this one, what would you like to address?

 

Although UU roots are heavily Christian based, is this where were are headed according to Cooley. Is this where we are going?

 

Where do the spiritual but not religious ones fit into this vision?

 

How or can we coexist with those holding a fundamentalist approach to any religion?

 

Do we hold an equivalent to to concept of grace?

 

Discussion

 

A reading from “Why Universalism?”  by the Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg

So, “Why Universalism?” Well, whereas Unitarianism has sometimes lead down a road to extreme Emersonian individualism (of caring mostly about one’s own isolated spirituality),

the Universalism calls us out of ourselves and into the world to love the hell out of this world—

into a world filled with far too much hell that desperately needs the life-saving message that we are part of one another, part one human family.

 

~Closing Words and Extinguishing the Chalice~

With faith to face our challenges,

With love that casts out fear,

With hope to trust tomorrow,

We accept this day as the gift it is —

A reason for rejoicing.

-Gary Kowalski

 

May we go forward into this week with peace, love and understanding.





2014-09-25 Service

20 12 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: Peter Newtone

———————–

 

** INTERFAITH PRAYER & THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES **

Prayer is one of the essential aspects that the world’s diverse faith traditions share in common, albeit in diverse forms.

Even some non-faith approaches use a form of prayer — positive affirmation — to enhance well-being. Science has shown its positive effects, regardless of one’s religion or lack thereof.

When we stand in awe at the beauty and power of nature, our heart is actually singing a prayer of praise. When we feel empathy and compassion for the suffering of others,

our soul is really praying for their relief. When we feel ill, our whole being is praying for wellness. Even when a plant thirsts, it is as if it were praying for water.

There is a growing realization that all prayer ultimately connects us with the same Source and Center of all existence, no matter how we name or understand that transcendent Reality.

As Krishna said: “The altar flowers are of many hues, but all worship is one.”

Interfaith prayer brings people of all faiths and no faith together in harmony to share something we all have in common: the ability to attune our hearts and minds in communion with the transcendent.

This realization has sparked an upsurge of interfaith prayer gatherings in homes, neighborhood centers, parks, auditoriums, and temples around the world.

Some of these gatherings are held to address specific issues, and others are open to any and all needs of the moment.

Sometimes prayers are shared in written form or read out loud, sung, chanted, spoken in the silence of each heart, or even expressed corporally.

Whatever the form used, the purpose is the same, to awaken spiritual sensitivities and to seek and transmit strength, healing, inspiration, etc.

There are several ways in which interfaith prayer supports and contributes to the seven UU principles:

  1. Interfaith prayer, while promoting mutual acceptance and forgiveness of our human flaws, opens hearts and minds to see the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
  2. Its affirmation of our potential for good fosters a sense of ethical responsibility to uphold the principles of justice, equity and compassion in our relations relations with others.
  3. By emphasizing the beauty of our rich spiritual diversity, it promotes an acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth through the “dynamic force of example”.
  4. Interfaith prayer fosters a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, by enabling participants to appreciate what others have found and to intensify their own search.
  5. It can be a guide for individual conscience and bring an atmosphere of sincere reflection and synergistic dialogue to the democratic process.
  6. Through it, people of all creeds, races, ethnic groups and nationalities can come together to pray for the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
  7. And finally, interfaith prayers often emphasize our part in and respect for the interdependent web of all existence, realizing that hurting other beings ultimately hurts ourselves.

THE INTERFAITH PRAYER NETWORK:

The Interfaith Prayer Network extends a cordial invitation to all who would like to join in an effort to bring more diverse interfaith prayer to Second Life.

Some groups and regions already host single-faith prayer events, but they are often small events, limited primarily to their own members.

We believe that expanding a network of interfaith prayer circles available to the multi-faith community of SL will increase the number and diversity of participants in each such event, thereby enriching the experience for all.

One example of such an event, of course, is the Interfaith Prayer Circle held on Fridays at 5pm SLT at the Lotus Temple, which several of you have already participated in.

THE ABC OF PARTICIPATION:

  1. The simplest way is to join the Interfaith Prayer Network group to receive notices and the tag “Prays well w/ others”, and to encourage others to join.
  2. Then you can attend and participate in the events announced by the group to experience interfaith prayer for yourself, and invite friends to go with you.
  3. Finally, please talk to your group and/or region about the possibility of organizing its own Interfaith Prayer events. Hosts can post to the Interfaith Prayer Network, and experienced hosts will be happy to offer advice.

I would like to end with a beautiful UU prayer called *How Shall We Pray?:

Let us join our hearts and minds in the quiet of meditation and prayer. How shall we pray?

First, let us be open to the silence. Let us hear the sounds in this room, the noises outside, and the comfortable murmur from the children downstairs.

Let us begin to hear the soft beating of our hearts. And let us listen intently for messages from within.

Next, let us feel gratitude for our lives and for our beautiful earth. As hard as life gets, as sad or lonely as we sometimes feel, let us always be warmed by the gifts of this life.

Next, let us hold in our hearts all those, known or unknown who are in need. May we find in ourselves the energy and knowledge to bring care to the world.

And finally, let us be aware of the blessing that it is not ours alone to do the work of the world. Love and community work wonders that we by ourselves could never manage.

In this time of silence let us form our own prayers out of the concerns of our hearts. Amen. (Judith L. Quarles)

** Discussion **

I would appreciate it if we could discuss the possibility of someone hosting a weekly Interfaith Prayer Circle, either here, at the Library of World Religions, or wherever you prefer.

 





2014-09-18 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: Sofia Freenote

——————————–

 

Welcome to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life.

An Order of Service is available by saying “oos” in chat.

 

For visitors, a special welcome.

 

If you are not familiar with Unitarian Universalism (“UU”), a single service is not enough

to experience the diversity of ideas and styles of interaction that we offer,

either here in SL or in RL.  Please come again.

 

You might also wish to look at UUA.org. or consider joining the group

Unitarian Universalists of SL to receive regular announcements.

 

Also please check out fuucsl.org, our web site.

 

We are always looking for members of our community who wish to get more involved.

If you would like to try your hand at leading a service,

please contact a member of the Leadership Group –

their names are available in the notecard dispenser in the welcome area.

 

If you are interested in renting residential property in UUtopia, contact Zyzzy Zarf.

If you are interested in becoming a voting member of our congregation, IM me and I will reply after the service.

 

Please join us after the service for coffee and conversation – a venerable UU tradition!

 

Are there any other announcements

** Lighting the Chalice and Opening Words**

 

WE come together this morning to

remind one another

To rest for a moment on the

forming edge of our lives,

To resist the headlong tumble

into the next moment,

Until we claim for ourselves

Awareness and Gratitude,

Taking the time to look into

one another’s faces

And see there communion: the

reflection of our own eyes.

 

This house of laughter

and silence, memory and hope,

is hallowed be our presence

together.

** Joys and Concerns **

 

Now let us prepare our hearts to receive the joys and concerns,

hopes and sorrows, fears and dreams of one another.

If there is something that has recently happened to you, happy or sad,

and you would like to share it with us, now is the time.

We invite you to share your joys and concerns in chat, when you are ready.

 

** Offering **

 

A freewill offering is a sacrament of a free Church.

This fellowship is supported by the voluntary generosity of all who join with us.

There is an offering plate in the pool in front of us.

Please be generous in support of this UU fellowship.

 

** Musical Interlude**

**Reflection**

Saving the Earth

 

Well meaning people say “we need to save the earth”.

I think they have missed the target.

Yes, we are expecting significant climate changes.

But no, the earth will still be here.

It will be changed.  It is continually changing.

What does it mean when people say we need to save the earth?

What are we urged to “save”?

I argue that this is a very conservative call to arms,

that what we are saving is our way of life, our security, our civilization, our comforts.

It’s a desire to stop change.  But as Bob Dylan said, “the times they are a changing” and they always are.

 

What if we embraced the change and tried to see how to make a better world in concert with it.

Indeed that might be our only option because

I’ve read that even if we stopped carbon emissions dead in its tracks, the change has already occurred

and will continue to occur.  It seems it is too late.

 

The spiritual virtue that applies in situations like this is “acceptance”.

Stop struggling against the change.

Accept it and make the best of it.

What I am suggesting is that we “mitigate” the consequences of Climate Change

rather than futilely try to stop it in its tracks.

We need to see what we can do to make sure that the harm is minimized

and that the positive opportunities are cultivated.

 

Minimize the harm.

To me that means that the first world should not be so concerned with preserving our affluence

but we need to share more radically with those who will be most affected

– sub-Saharan Africa; Bangladesh, the Middle East, etc.

Both globally and inside the USA, there will be great migrations of peoples as lands

become unlivable.

Other lands will become new frontiers.

Populations will need to be moved and supported.

 

Consider the first tickle of the new migrations –

Africans coming to Europe; Central Americans coming to the USA.

We haven’t been treating them too well.

The chaos and political instability in their home countries often has a basis in the lack of water or other climate changes.

 

Here’s a radical idea.

I don’t think climate change will be all bad.

I’m confident it will bring some positive opportunities.  Siberia and northern Canada will become new breadbaskets.

They will have new affluence and will need new immigrant farmers.

Wherever the economy is expanding because of climate change,

there will be a need for new workers.

Because first world birthrates are declining,

these new immigrants will be the key to continued prosperity in their new homelands,

as well as a better life for the individuals affected.

Opening our hearts and homelands to

people different from ourselves is the right thing to do.

 

This summer at Chautauqua, I heard a population biologist speaking.

He asserted that many population models are now indicating that as a result of the transition to middle class

(lower fertility) in much of the world,

world population will plateau at 9 billion about 2100 and then decline or level off.

The good news it that we are not facing exponentially increasing population (which we feared in the 1970s)

but that what we have is a difficult transition to negotiate.

This makes all the difference – it is still a difficult problem but not impossible.

I believe that much effort needs to be focused on making sure that the pain of that transition

does not just fall on the least fortunate.

Our moral challenge is to be able to give up some of our comfort and affluence

so that they are not the only ones bearing the cost of the changes we have all made to the environment.

What can I do about this?

What can we do as UUs?

This is going to be the basis for our discussion, following.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

 

* As an individual, continue to do everything possible to reduce my carbon footprint.

We may not be able to stop climate change,

but it may be possible to slow it down.?

* As UUs, support the efforts of the UUSC (Unitarian Universalist Service Committee)

The UUSC advances human rights and social justice around the world, partnering

with those who confront unjust power structures and mobilizing to

challenge oppressive policies.

UUSC envisions a world free from oppression and injustice, where all can realize their full human rights.

This is a great place to pool our efforts and spend some of our affluence so that others will have better lives.

 

* Understand immigration issues as part of a much larger issue of social justice

and support efforts that manifest our values politically.

 

* As members of FUUCSL, support our Kiva micro-finance lending program

(there is a card giver in the walkway behind the sanctuary).

This is where we can share our affluence with those who have less and deserve more.

 

* Do not be seduced by old paradigms.

Yes, it feels good to get on the bus and wave a picket sign,

but every time I hear someone say “we need to save the world”, I cringe.

The world does not need saving.  It will be okay.

I know the point of demonstrations is to make the world aware of a problem in the hopes that “someone” will pay attention and fix it.

Well, I believe that we are already sufficiently aware of the problem…

.to paraphrase Pogo, “We have seen the problem and it is us”.

What we need, I believe, are practical steps to work through this period of change

while mitigating the harm that will come to the least protected amongst us.

 

Discussion?

Any other ideas about how to effectively mitigate the effects of climate change

** Closing words and Extinguishing the Chalice **

 

We extinguish this flame but not the light of truth,

The warmth of community,

Or the fire of commitment.

These we carry in our hearts until

We are together again.

– Elizabeth Selle Jones

 

** Coffee Hour & Dancing **

 





2014-09-11 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: dav0 Turas

——————————–

Welcome.

 

** Announcements **

 

Welcome to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life.

 

An Order of Service is available by saying “oos” in chat. For visitors, a special welcome. If you are not familiar with Unitarian Universalism (“UU”), a single service is not enough to experience the diversity of ideas and styles of interaction that we offer, either here in SL or in RL. Please come again.

 

You might also wish to look at UUA.org. or consider joining the group Unitarian Universalists of SL to receive regular announcements. There are lots of events besides this weekly service to take part in. For example: In addition to the CLF meeting each Sunday at 5PM SL, there is a Baha’i Society of SL discussion group which meets every Friday evening at 6PM SL in the Baha’i Center on the southeast corner of this (UUtopia) SIM.

 

I have also very recently begun hosting what I call the “Gathering Of Divine” – which is a discussion group that meets each Sunday morning at 9AM SL in Rune Castle, also located on this UUtopia SIM at (132, 171, 29) to explore topics in Agnosticism and Atheism and their relation to faith based groups.

 

Also please check out our web site: http://fuucsl.org, for more details on these and other such events. We are always looking for members of our community who wish to get more involved. If you would like to try your hand at leading a service, please contact a member of the Leadership Group – their names are available in the notecard dispenser in the welcome area.

 

Please also join us after the service for coffee and conversation – a venerable UU tradition!

 

Are there any other announcements?

 

** Lighting the Chalice **

 

“We gather this hour as people of faith With joys and sorrows, gifts and needs. We light this beacon of hope, Sign of our quest For truth and meaning, In celebration of the life we share together”

– Christine Robinson

 

** Joys and Concerns **

 

Please feel free to share any joys and concerns…

 

** Opening Words **

 

Certainty – 9/11 2014

 

13 years ago today, Islamic extremists succeeded in killing thousands of United States citizens in what we now call “9/11.”

 

Please join for a moment of silence for the 9/11 victims…

 

(bells)

 

My friend, Joyce Ng, was stuck in building #3 of the World Trade Center when the planes crashed into the towers – building #3 connected the north and south towers, and it was also completely destroyed.  Joyce’s story is also so much more shocking than the filtered news reports – especially hearing it from her again later in person…

 

I met Joyce shortly after the Boston bombings of 2013, when she responded to an email I had sent out to my department at work, in which I had described our own terrorist experience having been a mere block from the 2nd bomb at the Boston Marathon last year with my wife Karin, daughter Amanda, and friend Tim Campbell, whose wife, Elizabeth, one of the marathon runners, had just turned the final corner in the race from Hereford Street onto Boylston – heading right towards the 2nd bomb.  Elizabeth was then lost to us for the next three and a half hours while we spent that afternoon searching for her in all of the ensuing chaos and confusion.

 

Not to belittle the horrifying events of the Boston Bombings and the ensuing lock-down searching for the evil doers later that week, but I must admit that when I read Joyce’s response to our own experiences it set me back in my chair. More importantly, her email message drove home a connection with me on another plane altogether.

 

Joyce is now the founder and President of a charity dedicated to 9/11 victims, and she is extremely busy with 9/11 related activities this month as you might imagine – especially with the opening of the 9/11 memorial in NYC. In fact, I was invited to attend one of these 9/11 events tonight, but I declined so that I could fulfill my pledge to be here with you instead. You can read her stories and those of other survivors on their web sitehttp://www.sept11marriottsurvivors.org/survivors_stories.php?storyfile=JoyceNg

 

It is with this in mind that I must ask the question: why do these horrible things keep happening?

 

Who really knows?

 

“We do not know – neither the sophists, nor the orators, nor the artists, nor I – what the True, the Good, and the Beautiful are. But there is this difference between us: although these people know nothing, they all believe they know something; whereas, I, if I know nothing, at least have no doubts about it.” – Socrates

 

(bells)

 

** Musical Interlude **

 

** Offering **

 

Please be generous and donate to the offering plate so that we can help sustain UUtopia

 

~Principles and Beliefs~

 

Unitarian Universalists hold the Seven Principles as strong values and moral teachings. As Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove explains, “The Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist religious communities.”

 

The Principles are:

 

1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

 

As a leadership goal, we are challenged to explore at least one of these principles each week.

 

This week, in honor of both 9/11, as well as the Boston Bombing tragedies, I would like to explore the 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

 

So how do we make peace and serve justice, while still preserving liberty?

 

How can we reason with people who are so dead set in their ways – traditional or otherwise – that they can’t seem to stop and examine their own irrational and potentially dangerous behaviors before they end up killing people of diverging views?

 

What makes anyone so certain that they are right about their beliefs that they are willing to kill and die for them in the first place?

 

Neuroscientist and novelist Robert A. Burton makes the compelling argument in his book On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not, that certainty “is neither a conscious choice nor even a thought process.”  Instead, he says, that unmistakable sense of certainty “arises out of involuntary brain mechanisms that, like love or anger, function independently of reason.”

 

Our thoughts are subject to constant self-questioning. Because alternative choices are present in any situation, logical thought alone would be doomed to a perpetual “yes, but” questioning routine. It is the feeling of knowing that solves the dilemma of how to reach a conclusion quickly. Without this “circuit breaker,” indecision and inaction would rule the day.

 

Burton’s thesis is that we ultimately cannot trust ourselves when we believe we know something to be true. “We can’t afford to continue with the outdated claims of a perfectly rational unconscious or knowing when we can trust gut feelings.”

 

Certainty of faith is also inspired by a similarly irrational sense of certainty (aka the “Leap of Faith”).

 

Leapin’ Lizards!

 

I use the phrase “Leapin’ Lizards” – in part as a nod to Little Orphan Annie, but also to pose the question of whether this sort of irrational gut feel is actually housed in the reptilian brain?

 

The reptilian brain is the most central core lug nut in the machine we call the brain. If faith is housed in this most primitive and irrational component, and we now know that we can’t really trust this irrational component, then how do we deal with people whose cultures dictate that they confine their way of thinking to this most irrational component?

 

These are the fundamentalists: those who tend to be absolutely certain, for example, that the words written in their particular book of faith are infallible and should not be questioned. These are the ones who adhere to the literal translations of traditional texts as though they are some sort of magical source of power – unquestioned and untouchable.

 

Don’t get me wrong – preserving religious texts for historical reasons are quite necessary to understand where we came from, but we need to keep all of our myths in the proper perspective. The religiously tolerant must be careful not to allow their respect for religious mythology to be misconstrued as that of enabling the true believers to commit atrocities in the name of these artifacts.

 

So how do we reach people who are so certain?

 

“The doors leading out of scriptural literalism do not open from the inside.” – Sam Harris, The End of Faith.

 

We must be willing to open these doors from the outside.

 

“Those who are hardest to love need it the most.” – Socrates

 

** Discussion **

 

Please discuss…

 

** Closing words and Extinguishing the Chalice **

 

“We extinguish this flame but not the light of truth, The warmth of community, Or the fire of commitment. These we carry in our hearts until We are together again.” – Elizabeth Selle Jones

 

** Dance **

 

** Coffee Hour **

 





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