The distress of the privileged

Margaret Atwood … asked a group of women at a university why they felt threatened by men. The women said they were afraid of being beaten, raped, or killed by men. She then asked a group of men why they felt threatened by women. They said they were afraid women would laugh at them.

Molly Ivins, Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?

sidewalk1Doug Muder writes so damn well, so lucidly. The Distress of the Privileged is proof. There is much more to his blog The Weekly Sift than that post, and it’s worth exploring.

Carlos Fuentes once wrote

In Latin America, even atheists are Catholics.

Doug Muder is neither, he is a Unitarian-Universalist and norteamericano. At Sunday’s service of the local U-U fellowship there were three native-born Mexicans in attendance proving the exception to Mr. Fuentes’ rule. The San Miguel U-U fellowship has no permanent minister, which I think is terrific as, from time-to-time, there are visiting ministers who give us the benefit of their wisdom and who sometimes awaken our own internal wisdoms. I was fortunate to hear the Revs. Catherine Torpey and Heather Janules the other day.

When I am asked why I attend Unitarian-Universalist churches and fellowships, I admit I stumble and have no ready reply, no elevator speech. I cannot be succinct except to say something such as “well, one is free to believe whatever one wishes.” Or “there are so many intelligent people, so many thinkers” (but that is true of many religious organizations). Or something about liberal religious thought. Or I mention its involvement in social action (one member of the San Miguel fellowship participated in the march to Selma, Alabama).

Sometimes I joke that perhaps some fairy dust from my personal fantasyland might fall on me. That fantasyland being the illustrious who have been Unitarian or Universalist through time (among them six United States presidents and any number of U. S. senators, Tim Berners-Lee [founder of the world-wide web], Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Paul Revere, Frank Lloyd Wright, Clara Barton, folk singers Pete Seeger and U. Utah Phillips, Béla Bartók, Morris Dees [co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center], Buckminster Fuller, the actors Paul Newman and Christopher Reeve, three Nobel Peace Laureates including Linus Pauling, Mary White Ovington [a founder of the NAACP], poets May Sarton, William Carlos Williams, e. e. cummings, and science fiction authors Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling, and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.).

But, you see, I didn’t have a pithy response. Now, thanks to Rev. Janules, I do. She said that rather than follow a creed, as a U-U one is

free to believe what one must.

She continued that if people coming from diverse traditions such as Judaism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Islam, humanism, agnosticism, atheism, Buddhism or other philosophic or religious beliefs, are to be free to believe what they must, then there must be room at an open table for them. We must be able to share

the joys and satisfactions that our not our own.

There was much more content to her talk, especially with regard to the individual and community, the difference regarding those who practice individual spirituality versus those who join a religious and/or spiritual organization. If you ever have the opportunity to hear Rev. Janules speak, I suggest you seize it.

Reality-Based Community

I often don’t read comments on the internet because they’re often … not worth reading. Sometimes I read them because I need proof-of-foolishness or proof-of-boorishness examples and I want to be snarkey in this blog. But Muder’s post generated many comments and most of them were as intelligently written as was his post. One commenter linked to a post on another blog that was written by a former moderate Republican who discovered how his worldview hadn’t been created by reality, and when he did face reality his worldview changed. Jeremiah Goulka’s Leaving the GOP and Joining the Reality-Based Community: How I Learned to Stop Loving the Bombs is an interesting and good read.


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