Special Collections For Hurricane Relief

Hurricane Disaster Relief: October 1st and Oct 15th

Special Collections 

Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria:  are the names of the recent and powerful hurricanes that have devastated small islands and major US cities. Maria, the latest Category 5 storm, began its path of destruction by pummeling the Commonwealth of Dominica, a tiny sovereign island country in the Caribbean. Two days later the slightly weakened Category 4 storm unleashed its wrath on Puerto Rico, which was still reeling from the impacts of Irma.

UUFP is taking special collections this month, next date October 15th, to send to the UUA Disaster Relief fund for the UUA Service Committee (UUSC).

HOW THE UUA UUSC RESPONDS TO HUMANITARIAN CRISES

UUSC responds strategically to disaster situations where human rights are threatened, focusing on the rights of marginalized and oppressed people. We work with the understanding that disasters, be they wars or hurricanes, tend to hurt most those who are already marginalized in society.

In times of disaster, our members and supporters look to us to provide leadership and an effective relief response that reflects the values underlying universal human rights, such as the equality and dignity of all people.

Because local responders are usually the first and best responders after disaster, UUSC works in close partnership with like-minded local organizations already working on the ground. Their firsthand knowledge of their communities enhances their ability to assist and support people in crisis, particularly marginalized groups, such as minorities, who are often left behind by traditional relief efforts.

After large-scale disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Typhoon Haiyan in the Phippines, UUSC and the Unitarian Universalist Association launch a joint appeal for humanitarian relief donations. Together, we have directed millions of dollars of relief aid toward disaster-affected communities in the United States and around the world.

For more information, consult our web page of frequently asked questions about how UUSC responds to disasters and humanitarian crises.

UUSC is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Sunday Sermon – Humanist, The Spirit of a Humanist – October 1, 2017

10/1/17 Sermon

Humanist, The Spirit of a Humanist

Rev. Paul D. Daniel

Humanism is one of the most a prominent strand of Unitarian Universalism. It is a belief that we can create a moral and ethical framework for our lives through reason and rationality without a belief in a personal Deity or a higher power as a necessary source of wisdom.  One might call this as a “science of morality”.

While most Unitarian Universalists are comfortable with such a faith this certainly puts us at odds with mainline and fundamentalists religions.

For some of then we are heretics and apostate which we have proudly embraces since the 16th century when we first rejected the trinity in favor of the unity of God and we question the divine nature of Jesus. Later in the early 19th century we went even further and embraced the Humanist Manifesto first created in 1933 with subsequent modifications in 1973 and 2003.

 

We do seem to get a rise out of fundamentalism when we are vocal and open about our humanism. Oh well, such is life. One 1980s leader of the religious right, Tim LeHaye, wrote a scathing book on Humanism entitled, The Battle for the Mind. Here are just a few examples of his vitriol: “Humanism is not only the world’s greatest evil but, until recently, the most deceptive of all religious philosophies. They are committed to doing away with every vestige of the responsible moral behavior that distinguishes man from animals. Humanist politicians permitted Russia to conquer the satellite countries of Europe and turn them into socialist prisons. [Humanist politicians prevented us from] winning in Korea and Vietnam, and…they voted to give away the Panama Canal.

Can you imagine that, and we did all that before breakfast!!

                                  

His rant continues, “No humanist is qualified to hold any governmental office in America—United States senator, congressman, cabinet member, State Department employee, or any other position that requires him to think in the best interest of America. Humanists work untiringly to keep from injecting any moral ideals into their children. Believe it or not, their goal is a worldwide generation of young people with a completely amoral (or animal) mentality. The incidence of rape has doubled in the last decade. An incredible increase in promiscuity, premarital sex, trial marriages, [STD’s], abortions, and so forth has soiled our social fabric. These immoral expressions of amorality can be laid right at the door of the atheistic, amoral humanism that permeates our country”.

 

Sounds a little like Joseph McCarthyism, doesn’t it? Wow, we UU humanists have certainly, been busy, spreading STD’s and abortions, and—to add insult to injury—we gave away the Panama Canal! Would that we were as powerful as religious fundamentalists would have you believe.  

 

Apparently, what we religious progressives couldn’t achieve on our own, the religious fundamentalists did it for us. They put us on the map! They gave us name recognition! although mostly inaccurate!  The religious right has been more successful in spreading the good news gospel of humanism then our own efforts at evangelism.   There is no plot here. It was never in our plans to have religious conservatives become our minions.

 

People will want to know that humanism is not new but rather in fact, quite ancient, originating with early Greek thinkers. Those Greek thinkers, people like Socrates and Aristotle, identified human reason as far more powerful and effective than superstition, and urged civilization away from reliance on magical and supernatural understandings of life.

 

More contemporaneously, in 1933, Harvard church historian J.A.C.F. Auer helped define modern humanism in his book, Humanism States Its Case: “Humanism is a system of thought which assigns predominant interest to [human] affairs as compared with the supernatural or the abstract, and which believes that [human beings are] capable of controlling those affairs.”

 

Rev. Bruce Cleary writes that “Humanism is not a particularly complicated idea. It is not a set of beliefs so much as it is a set of commitments. It means holding concern for this-worldly matters rather than other-worldly matters and being committed to that which improves the human condition in this world.

 

An early 20th century UU pamphlet (author unknown) states “Humanism is non-dogmatic and open-ended. It is the belief that human beings are the source of meaning and values. It is a scientific search, self-correcting and open to change with new knowledge and new insights. Humanism is deeply concerned with ethics and values, but rather than telling people what they should or should not do, it assists their search for values and attempts to help them achieve full positive potential as human beings. Humanists see humanity as having the capacity for continued growth and development, and they accept responsibility for encouraging that growth.”

 

This notion feels very comfortable to we UUs since it part of our early faith. In the beginning of this century, UU ministers were preaching this non-theistic humanism. Throughout the l920s, the UU view of humanist attracted many followers which eventually morphed into the Humanist Manifesto in 1933, championed by John Dewey, the philosopher and educator.

 

The beauty and strength of our faith is that we can embrace many philosophies and religious perspectives without contradiction. At times, for example, we may identify as an atheist, agnostic and humanist. Perhaps you find yourself in a similar place. Humanism is deeply embedded in Unitarian Universalism. Cleary contends, “Unitarianism is not about beliefs; it is about values”.

 

Here is what UU professor Marvin Shaw writings that reflecting that view, “Unitarian and Humanism: The basis of unity in Unitarian Universalist churches and fellowships is not shared beliefs, but a common quest and the affirmation of the values necessary to its furtherance. Our liberal religious societies are not based on agreement as to belief, but on agreement, as to method.  We agree in affirming the value of a free and wide-ranging inquiry in religious belief, and we vow to establish an atmosphere in which the religious quest is nurtured and encouraged.”

 

My truth is not necessarily your truth and that’s fine. What matters is that we respect each of our unique free searches for truth and meaning. Cleary say, “He sees a subtle difference in emphasis between a Unitarian approach to religion and the humanist approach.  “UU seem to value freedom over the primary Humanists value of reason”. I see this as our Achilles heel.  I see belief and freedom as necessary to our faith.   Regardless of my perspective, both approaches are highly compatible and complimentary.

 

Whether we seek enlightenment in the mystical, or in prophesy, Eastern religions, Judaism or Christianity, nature or the Goddess we are open to differing individual paths to personal truth that may over time, contradict our own currently held beliefs. This is a freedom that UUs hold dear. When mixed with the rationality of a humanist we have all our bases covered. The union of these two perspectives allows us to welcome a spiritual diversity that leads us to grow larger and stronger in mind and heart….

 

Albert Schweitzer refers to this diversity as “reverence for all life.” We UUs may share the same values, though not always the same beliefs. There is no right and wrong here, no judgment except our own prejudice and closed-minded attitudes. As Francis David, one of our 16th century founders, said, “we need not think alike to love alike”. That notion caries no judgment just a recognition of differences along a spectrum of faith.

 

I believe, all UUs to varying degrees, respect reason and spiritual reverence. Unitarian Universalists hold that we are all enriched when we are exposed to a diversity of ideas and beliefs that open us to growth, change and new understanding. One of the foundations of both Unitarian Universalism and Humanism is the belief that revelation is always open to new meaning.

 

John Dewey said it this way, “there is a religious dimension to human experience whether one holds the beliefs of any specific religion. Dewey speaks out strongly against “religion” as an institutional force, but he urges us to embrace the religious quality of human experience in our lives, with or without a formal religion to go with it.

 

In closing, I offer Dewey’s treatise, that being a humanist is religious. “The sense of dignity of human nature is as religious as is the sense of awe and reverence when it rests upon a sense of human nature as a cooperating part of a larger whole…Understanding and knowledge also enter a perspective that is religious in quality. Faith in the continued disclosing of truth through directed cooperative human endeavor is more religious in quality than is any faith in completed revelation. Any activity pursued on behalf of an ideal end against obstacles and despite threats of personal loss because of conviction of its general and enduring value is religious in quality.”

 

With that in mind all of we Unitarian Universalists are

Indeed, a people of faith because we honor the human experience, of mind, body and spirit, the totality of human life.

Let the religious conservatives and fundamentalists put that in their pipes and smoke it!!

Blessed be, Namaste!

 

 

Virus-free. www.avast.com

Ministers Message

Minister’s Message The challenges of our daily lives are at times overwhelming, made worse by the politics of the time. As citizens, we are confronted by a divided nation and a government in disarray. Our president seems to countenance white supremacy and Nazism. He lies more than tells the truth. He holds the nuclear codes in his hands and does not seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation on the world stage. He has managed to pit family members against each other. For example, I rarely talk to my older brother. Churches are split and evangelicals have substituted moral authority for political expediency. Churches are pitted against churches, citizens against police, democrats against republicans, progressive against conservatives, on and on without end. The battle lines have been drawn with more animus than ever. Dialogue is more difficult, challenging and more contentious than is good for the country and all public and private institutions. I deplore this trend, for it violates most theologies of whatever faith we might have come from. It certainly conflicts with our Universalist Unitarian seven principles. We believe in the democratic process embodied in our fifth principle and frankly this oppositional, destructive trend violates all our values. There is a tendency towards meanness in our civil discourse; society seems more self-serving and callous about all others who have less; less wealth, less education, lower status of employment. We bash immigrants forgetting that we are a nation of immigrants. There are those in America who push class warfare between the have and have not’s. We are told that some citizens believe those who need government assistance such as social security, welfare and veterans benefits are users and slackers. If we are to break this trend, this downward spiral, we need real leadership committed to peaceful non-confrontational language and solutions to rebuilding America. Neither political party is interested in or capable of that in this current climate. What is needed is a grass roots movement such as “Black Lives Matter” to make us more socially conscious and we need to teach the lessons of our own faith about respect and dignity and about the value of all people in the interconnected web of existence. This change begins with us and how we treat each other here. It begins with every church member in every faith community living their faith. It begins with politicians telling us the truth with language that does not demean or attack. We need to have a rebirth of civil discourse now, not after the election. That would be a “damn good” beginning. It is about healing. It goes to the heart of who we are as a people of faith and principles. I hope all of us will continue to practice our faith. I hope we will take up the standard for decency, respect and dignity in our local and national discourse.

May it be so.

Rev. Paul

                                            678-939-4854                         minister@uupottstown.org

Sunday Service, October 22, 2017

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Advocacy As a Spiritual Practice

Speaker: Anita Mentzer                 Worship Associate: Desiree Peterman

Anita Mentzer is the Director of UUPLAN, the Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network. The Network’s mission is to teach how to organize for social justice, to inspire others to join us on the journey, and to nourish our own spirits as we bring UU values to the public square in Pennsylvania.

Sunday service, October 1, 2017

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Humanism Our Fifth Principle

Rev Paul Daniel

We will explore the fifth source of our faith as I complete this series. Humanism is one of the strongest threads in Unitarian-Universalism. We value human agency with or without God when developing a moral compass to guide our lives. 50th anniversary tree planting immediately following the service.

Sunday Service, October 8, 2017

Sunday, October 8, 2017

This I Believe Speakers: Judy McDonald and Linda Kozitzky

Lay Leader: Allan Pallay

On this Sunday Judy and Linda will each describe the core beliefs and values that are most important to them, that shape their thoughts and actions; and the experiences which lead to their beliefs. Come to this service and get to know these two members at a deeper level and perhaps gain some new perspectives on what is most important in life.

Sunday Sermon – Sermon Our Fourth of faith – September 17, 2017

9/17/17 Sermon Our Fourth of faith

Jewish and Christian teachings

Paul D. Daniel, Minister

 

The fourth source of our faith derives from Jewish and Christian teachings that call us to

respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves. Sadly, these Holy Scriptures are sometimes “texts of terror”, for women and minority groups who have been marginalize and oppressed for eons by biblical literalists. Woman, immigrants and strangers of every stripe have been treated as either property or enemies of the dominant culture. Today, a white patriarchal system dating back to biblical times still effects the body politic, denying whole segments of our population basic human rights.  Even some in our government support white supremacy to exclude all people of color.

As a result, many Unitarian Universalist have trouble reading scriptures, even when heeding the admonitions by feminist scholars and theologians to view these books with a critical eye, a “hermeneutics of suspicion.” If we read scriptures with a healthy skepticism we are better able to find the kernels of inspiration and wisdom embedded in these sacred texts, while rejecting that which wounds and oppresses.

Rev. Phillip Hewett writes “the bonds of unity in a church are not a shared belief but a shared worship. This idea opens the door for us to accept or rejects these texts based on our personal experience and scholarship. Worship (worth-ship) it is an act of reverence for what is regarded as of great, or supreme worth. In the ultimate analysis, this is but another way of capturing the real meaning of love central to scriptures and the fourth source of our faith. What is of real worth to us, in the fullest sense, is that love is central to our being. Love is reverence for life, to use Albert Schweitzer’s phrase, and reverence is a mode of worship.

 

Worship in a Unitarian Universalist setting becomes a shared act of celebration expressing our love in varying degrees for those values by which and for which we live. As UUs we sometimes confuse our human love with God’s love.  God offer unconditional love but most of us can only approximate that ideal and often with strings and conditions attached. As former Unitarian Universalist president John Buehren writes, “we expect from finite, conditional human beings unconditional love” on a level with the divine. Surely at the core of our being we know that is unrealistic, no matter how much we crave giving and receiving it. When we expect the near impossible we are setting ourselves up for to be disappointed in ourselves and Holy Scriptures. Simply put, our pre-conceived image of God as our personal protector for ourselves and the rest of humanity is folly.

 The God I imagine the real God as Buehrens writes “is unconditional and indiscriminate in overturning our more personal, temporary and narrow expectations.  Our Judeo-Christian heritage is derivative. Our expectations and understanding of the nature of our Gods arise out of ancient pagan traditions and rituals honoring the cycle of seasons, the mystery of birth and death and the celestial void. They are further influenced by early Sumerian traditions, indigenous faiths of the Middle East and later Roman and Greek customs.

These stories tell of a human history of faith maintained in the face of disappointment or unexpected turns of event. Ancient Gods were often capricious and vengeful.  Putting your faith in them was risky but not doing so was fraught with even greater danger.  As people moved from polytheism into monotheism, religious understandings began to change. Religions began to focus more on a God of love and mercy, yet our faith stories in the Old and New Testaments still contained many surprises, some of them quite unpleasant. Think about Job to know that truth.

The Jesus of the Easter story does not become the King of Kings as expected, instead he is martyred on the cross like a common criminal; A sad turn of events Yet, there are also miracles celebrate, Jesus rises from the tomb, the Hanukkah candles that were only to last a day lasts for eight nights; the Passover story has Moses’ calling for the Red Sea to part, only to go unanswered until one brave soul, in an act of faith, enters the water. The Christmas story of a child’s birth out of humble origins becomes an event that changed the course of human history is miraculous.

All these stories and more arise out of the realm of the unexpected. We Unitarian Universalist are called to bring our own intellect and faith to bear as we interpret these stories and texts. Our challenge is to find the healing truth within these stories. As Buehrens remarks, we are called to find “the mark of God less in the regularities of nature than in the unexpected turn that life can take, in the humbling of the arrogant and the uplifting of the lowly”. The lesson embedded in the unexpected is to find love in the face of our disappointment in God or in each other.

We can still be humbled by small events, insignificant ones that teach us to move out our narrow understanding of what love can mean and what love calls us to. We can do that by conducting an owning and acknowledge both our shortcomings and successes in offering love. None of us are perfect in that regard yet, none of us are condemned for our shortcomings. We are however, called to keep trying to become better people, to allow our better angels sprout wings allowing us to become the most authentic person we are meant to be.

To act with love is hard work when we are limited by our frail and fallible humanity. In human relations whether with friends or families or in settings such as at our jobs or in a church Buehrens reminds us, “the real work of growing together religiously consists above all else of learning to behave well, to respond creatively even when our expectations in life are disappointed”.

As a minister and a recovering fixer and rescuer, I want to meet all your expectations, to be perfect in how you experience my ministry but that will never happen. What any minister can do is only their best in a moment. I am also mindful of the aphorism that my role as a minister is to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted”. In truth, I am not here just to meet your expectations, but to provoke you, to stimulate your thinking, to help you grow spiritually, to comfort you in times of crisis, to provide leadership and direction, to help you find your own truth. Whoever you think we UUs are and whomever you think I am as your minister is probably an incomplete picture.

All of us are a whole lot more and something less than we might have hoped for or expected. Buehrens speaks of this as a “theology of juxtaposition”, running the rasp against the grain.” That expectation applies to all of us. We are admonished to take care in what we put our trust. When religious people take pride in trusting God, then the prophetic thing is to test how that effects and changes our day-to- day treatment of each other. When we pride ourselves too much on being ethical and moral beings, then perhaps we need reminding that our long-term capacity to embrace the second great commandment of Jesus–to love thy neighbor as thyself—depends on the depth of our ability to live out the first—to love God with all your heart, and soul and mind.

The theologians Paul Tillich had a very different understanding of that precept. For Tillich theism is bad theology. He believed, God is the ground upon which all beings exist, the Holy the sacred other.  God is the holy sacred other, the foundation, the bed rock of all that exists upon it. It is that which we must love with all our heart, mind and strength.

“The difficulties we experience embodying our Jewish and Christian faith traditions and sacred texts is that they call us mere mortals to Godly standard of devotion. The best we can do is to be more open in our love, more accepting of differing perspectives and theology, more inclusive of other cultures, more willing to let go of our expectations of what we need from these texts and to meet these texts on their own ground with their built in human flaws and frailties. These moral parables and psalms are written by men for human consumption and as such are fallible and flawed by the bias embedded in a patriarchal culture in a limited cultural and social location. Why would we expect more from the authors of the Bibles then we would of ourselves with our inability or unwillingness to find the true message of love within the bottle. Why would we expect the measure of our love to equal that of our God? That is the pathway to disillusionment and unmet expectations.

 

No wonder we reject the Scriptures because they are way too human for us, flawed and imperfect, and yet these text like we UUs are always open to new understanding and interpretation as we grow in wisdom and knowledge. The true ground of our hope writes Buehrens “is not in our expectations however, no matter how grand or how humble. It lies in the hubbub, which upsets our expectations and reorders our perceptions”. In so doing this opens us to forge new paths to love eternal.