My Faith’s Crisis, My Faith Crisis

I have blogged mostly about Buddhism, which is my spiritual home. But my religion is Unitarian Universalism, a faith that encourages members to do the hard work of building their own theology. So on most Sundays I go to a UU church, where I find a community of open-minded individuals who respect each other’s paths. It’s a safe place, except for every once in a while when it’s not.

I found UUism in the mid-1980’s, when I was approaching the age of 40. I had for about 20 years been interested in Buddhism, but UUism gave me the push to go beyond “interested” to becoming a practicing Buddhist.

My first UU church was Community Church of New York, in mid-town Manhattan. I was working then for Mobil Oil (before its merger with Exxon), just a half mile or so from the church, which had a long and proud history in civil rights. About half of the church’s members were African-Americans, some of them the congregation’s backbone, and I was a white newcomer.

Mobil at the time was the largest U.S.-based employer in South Africa, so eventually the building where I worked was picketed by the members of my own church. I’d say hello to the pickets and cross the picket line. It made no sense to me that forcing Mobil to withdraw from South Africa would do anyone any good. We were much more progressive in our working conditions and promotion practices than whatever South African company we’d be forced to sell our assets to.

Om TariWhen I explained this to my church friends, they smiled and shook their heads, but I never felt personally attacked. I was accepted. No one suggested that I was a racist. It was a safe community for me, until…

Just a year or two later, I witnessed one of the darker moments of UU history. A lesbian couple had been selected by the Community Church Search Committee to jointly fill the vacant position of Associate Minister, and the congregation rejected them in a meeting I can only describe as hate-filled. So that church no longer felt safe, but…

After another year or two, I found myself in Connecticut with small children who needed a church. The minister of the nearest UU church was one of the women who had been rejected at Community Church, and as it turned out she helped me through one of the most difficult crises of my life. So I was back to UUism and feeling not only safe, but with a debt to it that I needed to repay.

In 1990, I moved to Virginia and immediately joined the UU Church in Reston, where for a decade I developed my UU lay-leadership and preaching skills as well as my Buddhist practice. In 2000, after a move further west in Virginia, I joined the UU Church of Loudoun, where I remain in what seems like a safe community. Except that…

UUism at the national level is in crisis. It’s a complicated mess and some will object to the way I simplify it, but my feeling of safety is again being threatened and I need to do my own version of speaking truth to power. In a nutshell (pun not intended but appreciated now that I see it), a coup has disrupted the democratic process.

The demands of one UU faction have led to the resignation of the denomination’s democratically elected president (three months before the natural end of his eight years in office), the resignations of the chief operating officer and a department head, and the decision by a parish minister to decline the leadership role to which he had been appointed.

The denomination’s annual General Assembly, at which a new president will be elected, is scheduled for June 21-25, and the new president takes office immediately. But the faction now in control is determined to get what it wants before then, so the Board of Trustees has appointed three interim co-presidents and charged them to give the faction what it wants before the new president is elected at the regularly scheduled General Assembly.

I know that the way I have described the crisis will upset some of my UU friends, but I am in the position of no longer feeling that my religion, at least at the national level, is a safe place. I don’t disagree with much of what the faction in control stands for, but I abhor its tactics. So this time I have decided not to withdraw but to go to this year’s General Assembly and work toward a possible future elected role.

Stay tuned for future announcements.

Note: Understandably, my use of the word “coup” upsets some readers. In my Merriam-Webster, the second definition implies violence and an attempt to take over a government. What happened in UU governance falls under the first definition: “a brilliant, sudden, and usually highly successful stroke or act.” That would be this. I respect Christina Rivera for the integrity it took to speak her truth and hope that she and her supporters can accept that I speak mine out of my love for our shared faith. Her coup, was, of course, followed up by much expressed support, including this.

Note #2, added late evening, April 20: I intended this blog post as a brief look for my usually small and largely non-UU audience about a concern I have about UU governance. I had no idea that I and this post would become a symbol of the faction — yes, that’s a legitimate word — that is seen as resisting racial change in UUism. I left out some details that I otherwise would have included, for example that the eventual outcome in South Africa proved me wrong. Mobil did pull out, and the boycott worked. If you want to learn more about me and my stands on racism, please read my followup, My White Privilege, and my October 2015 posts about the UU anti-racism programs, Why I Flunked Racism 101 and Anti-Racism Part 2.

— Mel Pine (Urgyen Jigme)

Copyright 2017 © Mel Harkrader Pine 

57 Comments Add yours

  1. I don’t know what to think about all this. I admire you for not sitting on the sidelines and for working towards a possible future elected role.

    I tend to feel that the important work gets done at the congregational level anyway. I’ve been a UU for 20+ years and quite active in multiple congregations, and I didn’t know these positions–“regional” leads, and so on–even existed until this controversy. I also tend to be deeply suspicious of big bureaucracies. (It’s something I dislike about the Roman Catholic church, for example).

    A few years ago, the RE class I was leading did the lesson from the tapestry of faith curriculum about Rev WHG Carter, and the black Unitarian church he founded in Cincinnati.

    This was the first time I’d heard of Rev Carter, the Unitarian church he founded, or the disgraceful and disheartening actions of the American Unitarian Association, who didn’t support it. I just wonder if there are other people out there like Rev Carter, other organizations and churches and people that we don’t know about but should. And if outreach and welcoming towards those people wouldn’t be a better use of our energy than this bureaucratic infighting, which really turns me off from getting more involved.

    As I said, I applaud you for what you are doing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. melhpine says:

      I agree that what really counts is what goes on in the individual congregations, but we have these two universes — the UUA and the congregations — that speak different languages and have little connection with each other except when the time comes to get a new minister or get rid of an old one. That’s a waste when each congregation is paying a per-member fee to the UUA. We ought to be getting more, at the congregational level, for our money than a bunch of infighting.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I couldn’t agree more! I’ve been trying to think of what would make what goes on in the UUA more relevant to my congregational life, and I’m having a hard time. I’ve never been to a GA and that’s my fault. But I’ve never even heard much–good or bad–from anyone who has been to one. It seems to me that ministers should all go, or send someone, and then talk about it in their sermons when they get back.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. melhpine says:

        I’ve been to two so far. Most ministers do go, and I think it’s fair to say that what goes on there seeps into their sermons throughout the year. There are some inspiring services, a lecture from a prominent figure who may or may not be UU, a very large number of workshops to choose from, and the business meetings, which only official delegates, ministers and credentialed DREs can attend. I have avoided being a delegate in the past, so for the first time I’ll be attending the business meetings. The problem with a report to the congregation from GA is that it turns into “how I spent my summer,” or in this case a week in June. I’ve seen it tried but never with success.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. If it “seeps in,” I think it needs to be made more explicit. The topic of my sermon is X and here’s what so-and-so at the UUA has to say about X and here is why I agree or disagree with that. I know what you mean about reports to the congregation. I’ve never seen it even attempted, except maybe as an optional post-church meeting, but I can imagine! I clicked through and read some of the coverage you linked to, and I feel sympathy for a lot of what Morales said, particularly talking about using the words “white supremacy” in relation to the UUA. That seems very counterproductive. I also am not sure how I feel about the 8th principle. I think I like it (in principle–ha), but I’ve only heard about it on social media (not at church, even) and I would think there should be a lot of discussion and a vote that includes everyone, before we do something as drastic as amend the 7 principles!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. melhpine says:

        I think the 8th principle is OK but should have more generalized language so that it includes all ism’s. We never know which one will be the focus at a given time, and it should be worded to last for decades or more. There are two wording changes in the principles that will be voted on this year. If passed, the first principle will be about the “inherent worth and dignity of all beings,” not just people. And the source that sites the words of “prophetic men and women” will become “prophetic people” so that it includes those with no gender identification. Of course, just to push the power of my delegate position this year, I may introduce a resolution to change the word to “persons.” Even though I am pretty well plugged in to denominational stuff, I had not heard of those propsed changes until I became a delegate and looked over the material. That almost no lowly members of actual congregations know about the propsed changes is an indication of that gap we’re talking about.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. We’re joining the teach-in on April 30, and one of the things I’m thinking about for next steps is an ARE class on the history of exclusion of African Americans from UU congregations and leadership. The first essay in Darkening the Doorways (edited by Mark Morrison-Reed) is by our own Dan Harper.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Amy, When would the ARE history class meet? I joined and am attending UUFS services these days, but would be very interested in coming up to that class when it is offered if you would allow members of other congregations. Please keep me posted, or I’ll find out on your blog if you post it there. And thank you for the book recommendation of Darkening the Doorways. I just ordered it!


  2. Wow, I didn’t know about either of these, and I have never heard anyone at my church mention them. I’m especially not crazy about changing the first principle to “all beings” from “every person.” And I agree that if we have the 8th principle it needs to include all kinds of -isms and last for decades.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Peace Paul says:

    Aloha Mel,
    Thank you for sharing. It is not my tradtion but I can sympathize with the sentiments that you express in you post. I really respect your willingness to participate in helping the institution grow through this issue.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I had the feeling that my religion was no longer a safe place when the news broke about the Catholic Church child sexual abuses, even though I was officially no longer a Catholic at that point. So I do feel at least some of your pain. Good luck in trying to find a way to address it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. DiDi Delgado says:

    You wrote: “I don’t disagree with much of what the faction in control stands for, but I abhor its tactics.”

    MLK wrote: “The Negro’s great stumbling block is not the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate […] who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods.”

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Kendra says:

      So shall it be!
      So say we all!


  6. Jennica Davis says:

    While I work for our UUA I am not leaving this comment as a UUA staff member but wanting to speak as one Unitarian Universalist to another. Mel, I disagree with you and think this post is hurtful and misleading. The people of color you address as a ‘faction’ are important in our faith and have not been treated as having inherent worth and dignity. They deserve to feel safe in our congregations and wider faith. Remember the times you felt unsafe and people showed you empathy and listened to you? Some people are here wanting to serve and we are being asked to make it possible for them (your words by taking a hard look at the fact that we are not immune to the systems of white supremacy that operate in our larger world.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. melhpine says:

      Thank you, Jennica. I appreciate your measured words and your effort to learn more about me than these 800 words. I’m sure I could have said them more perfectly, but my issue is with the process, not the result. I think I would have been more vehement if this had ended with a 10-week charge from the board to abolish any hiring goals before the elected president takes office.


  7. Paul Roche says:

    Thanks for this Mel. Well worded and thought out as usual. In my opinion our beautiful, saving, religion is being held hostage to a politically correct culture that is tearing us apart. I was not a fan of Rev Morales, but stand firmly with him on this. We are becoming a caricature of ourselves…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. reverika says:

      Hogwash. “Politically correct” is a pejorative way of saying “treating one another with respect.” Inform yourself, please, about what’s really happening in our faith and how Mel has used his blog to perpetuate racist patterns.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Michele Marlene York says:

        “…our beautiful, saving religion….held hostage….”???? I adamentaly disagree. UU still sits in the stench of white straight male superiority & that script has to go. 😳 It’s antiquated, served no one but white straight males and those that followed suit.


  8. I was a part of the action you label a coup. We did not demand that anyone resign. We merely pointed out with good statistics and anecdotal evidence offered at great risk to future professional option that more than one administration had failed to implement the orders democratically set by more than one General Assembly, the governing body. We were acting in the aid of democracy, justice, safety for UUs of color and the future of our faith.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I do not see this as in-fighting. This is about recognizing that our faith has been unwelcoming to black people and POCI all along and we are ready to finally do something about it. I am grateful that we have the opportunity to take a good look at this festering wound in our faith that has damaged all of us. Only through bringing it out to the surface can it be healed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Michele Marlene York says:

      Exactly. It’s been a festering infected pulsating wound that needs to be incised cleanly….lead by those most effected…PoC… And what needs to be done, how it’s done, & when it is considered “done” is defined by them & them alone. Bottom line.


  10. Evan says:

    I am also a white UU man, though my journeys to manhood and UUism are likely quite different than yours. But my whiteness is just the same, so let’s say that as a White UU, your blog post does not speak for me. The coup you cite is the start of my denomination’s much needed reformation. The faction you speak of us composed of people I will happily stand behind as they lead us forward. May it be so.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Michele Marlene York says:

      Well said.


  11. “The demands of one UU faction have led to the resignation of the denomination’s democratically elected president (three months before the natural end of his eight years in office) . . . ”

    No one demanded anyone’s resignation. I think this description does a disservice to Peter Morales in particular, since he said he hoped his leaving his post early would refocus our attention on the underlying issue: “My comments have become a focal point in the ongoing discussion. It is clear to me that I am not the right person to lead our Association as we work together to create the processes and structures that will address our shortcomings and build the diverse staff we all want.”

    I was one of the ministers who signed a letter objecting to Peter’s tone and language in his letter to staff and I do not in any way consider myself responsible for his decision to resign rather than, say, respond with “I screwed up with that letter, didn’t I–let me try this again.” Lordy, if receiving a critical letter were really enough to make someone quit an elected position, then few people would stay in such positions for long, including parish ministers.

    Twenty years ago, the UUA committed to a multicultural, multiracial UUA. Ten years ago it renewed the call. The change has been glacial–another point on which I agree with Peter. Maybe this time we will really live up to our own promises and live into our own values.

    Liked by 5 people

  12. Kenda Ford says:

    I wonder why your post doesn’t mention that the “faction” is people of color and the concern is systemic racism?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. cyndisimpson says:

      The concern is addressing the UUA as a white supremacy organization.
      There is so much wrong with Mel’s post that it is head-spinning. And above all there resides in it a nasty, nasty tone, as well as a boatload of assumptions about Peter’s resignation. To say that his resignation was anything other than Peter’s choice (no “forcing” involved) is to disrespect Peter and his agency and insight.
      I am so glad that Leslie Mac has posted a video rebuttal to this post, a post I did not experience in the least as “measured” or “thoughtful.” but rather a demonstration of the centering of whiteness and white concerns above all.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Mary Alm says:

    I am grateful to the people of color in my life and in my denomination for enlarging my understanding of the world. Without their courage to speak up and speak up, I would be ignorant of the noxious bubble of white supremacy in which I live. I need them, and I intend to be their ally in this life-giving work.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. I am deeply disturbed by these characterizations of our new leaders as a “faction” and of the events that led to their stepping up to serve as a “coup.” I have never been more hopeful about our Unitarian Universalist Association than I am at this very minute. I was sorry Peter chose to resign rather than modeling making a mistake and working to make it right, but I believe the Board has seized the moment in choosing the leaders they have chosen, each of whom I know to be wise and deeply, deeply committed to this faith we share and to its potential for transformation. I would invite the author of this post to reconsider and retract this divisive, inflammatory language, and give us all a chance to build the religious movement we all have said we want for a long time. And — as a white person, I don’t want to feel “safe” if it’s at the expense of someone else’s safety. I’m as white-blind as the next person, so I am grateful beyond words when People of Color or anyone who doesn’t feel safe feels safe enough to say so, or maybe it’s fed-up enough to say so.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Mel, may I ask why it is that you see Unitarian Universalism as a refuge for the middle-class white male, and not for our Majority Melanin? Why do you fear equity and equanimity? If our professed shared faith, our shared covenant, is nothing more than a systemic cover of perpetuating white supremacy to you, then you are no longer in right relations with the mission, promise, or Principles of Unitarian Universalism. You sir, are a stellar example of what is – and has been – wrong with out denomination.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. melhpine says:

      Yes, you may ask if you intend it as a question. I want UUism to be a refuge for all, and my discontent is centered on the charge to the interim ministers. I feel that the working out of the hiring program can best be done in collaboration with the incoming elected president, whoever she is. She will have to carry it out over six years and should be participating in its formulation. I didn’t go into all these details because my blog has a much more general audience, with UUs being a small segment.


      1. cyndisimpson says:

        You keep on slinging your alternative facts, Mel. ALL THREE of the candidates for UU President immediately voiced their support for and commitment to a critical examination of race and hiring processes at the UUA. There is no reason to believe that these 3 women have any problem with the current duties of the Interim Co-Presidents. And if they did – they would be speaking up about the issue. They don’t need you defending what they “might” think or feel because they are women of power and agency and therefore perfectly capable of making their own decisions.
        So, what you are then doing is denying, deflecting and attempting to create a fake problem as yet another way to diminish the voices, lived experiences and needs for safety of the people of color in our movement. In other words, it’s still all about you and all about your whiteness and your maleness.
        And in creating this fake, bullshit issue, you are also denying the agency, intelligence, commitment and STATED VIEWS of the three candidates and inserting yourself. Please take a whole rows of seats and try to demonstrate the least bit of humility and compassion for others. You know, there is a world religion truly centered on humility and compassion. What’s the name? I think it starts with a B. Maybe you should check it out.

        Liked by 2 people

  16. reverika says:

    Mel, I find your original blog post terribly damaging; your follow-up apology a tone-deaf refusal to learn to do better; and your responses to comments here patronizing, as well as track-covering. Having a blog doesn’t entitle you to broadcast uninformed and damaging opinions without consequences.

    (Like Jennica, above, I work for the UUA — so I know many of your claims to be utterly false — but I speak for myself as a minister and a UU who’s committed to dismantling oppression of all forms.)

    So far, you’re offering readers a blazing demonstration of white fragility wrapped in white privilege. In the process, you have hurt and offended many people (not just people of color, but white UUs like me) — and then dug in deeper by veering your argument, disingenuously, into the language of “process.”

    Stop running. Stop fighting. It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Can this be an “aha” moment for you? You have the opportunity to gather yourself and listen. This is an opportunity to pause, take your hands off the keyboard, and ask people — whose experience is nothing like your own — to tell you what you’re missing, or what you still don’t understand. You have a chance to let go of proving a point or being right, or even having an opinion, and instead ask, “What if there’s something I’m missing here — something that I need to learn?”

    Would you be willing to do that? It’s going to be uncomfortable. You’re going to have to choose to move off-center — to make this not about you or your opinions, but about the thousands of people who have been pushed out of the way… not intentionally, perhaps, but by the forces that confer automatic privilege and power to white men like you. You’re going to have to surrender some of your centeredness, which means acknowledging it, if you backtrack on some of your certainty.

    I hope you do so, for the sake of us all. The only way forward is together, and this faith of ours is too precious to lose.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Is it the fear of losing your place of privilege as a white male that you are fearing by opposing the critical examination of our denomination’s patterns of white supremacy? I ask only because you have noted a few things that indicate this may at the heart of your issues:

    1. “Mobil at the time was the largest U.S.-based employer in South Africa, so eventually the building where I worked was picketed by the members of my own church. I’d say hello to the pickets and cross the picket line.” Here, you chose to ignore the calls of solidarity, choosing to perpetuate systems of oppression in favor of your own interests.
    2. “A lesbian couple had been selected by the Community Church Search Committee to jointly fill the vacant position of Associate Minister, and the congregation rejected them in a meeting I can only describe as hate-filled.” …and yet you stayed silent, choosing to flee the congregation and perpetuate (again) systems of oppression.
    3. “…a coup has disrupted the democratic process. The demands of one UU faction…” As Leslie Mac so accurately and succinctly pointed out, this is a racist dogwhistle meant to call other white folk to your cause of perpetuating systems of racial oppression. It is a dogwhistle meant to divide and preserve your position of privilege. People resigned not through pressure to do so, but because of the realization their adherence to systems of racial inequality would no longer be tolerated.
    4. “…Board of Trustees has appointed three interim co-presidents and charged them to give the faction what it wants before the new president is elected at the regularly scheduled General Assembly.” The three folks you just dismissed are three extremely respected and capable folks with proven track records of progressive action in the movement- including Rev. Bill Sinkford, a former UUA president.

    I could go on, but these four points serve to confirm one thing, Mel: Your issue is that there is no longer a white man at the top of the hierarchy. You are part of the problem in Unitarian Universalism.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Donald Whisenhunt says:

    I will just put this here:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Michele Marlene York says:

      Thank you.


    2. Mel, I don’t know you but this post is a nauseating combination of whining entitlement and ruthless attack. Your framing of what is happening at the UUA is destructive, misleading and dangerous. You are obviously willing to burn it all down rather than concede any emotional or institutional space to the people of color in our movement. As Leslie Mac says, your time is over. We’re not pandering to white feelings anymore. Learn, grow, or get out of the way.

      Donald W., thank you so much for sharing the video response.


  19. revstrumbore says:

    Hi Mel – Glad to see you at the UUBF Convocation at Menucha this month. Hope it was restorative for you and you made some good connections.

    Glad Donald posted Leslie Mac’s comments above. I was about to do it too. Strongly encourage you to listen to her voice and hear what she is saying. She is correct that no one pressured Morales to resign and almost everyone was surprised when he did so abruptly. I appreciate the dedication and talent of Harlan and Scott but they too are realizing they have been complicit with systems of oppression.

    I don’t see a faction or conspiracy either. These UUA challenges are long, long overdue and delayed. They are systemic problems much older than any of the players. To a great degree they are problems that mirror the society in general, especially corporate culture.

    As a white male myself, I recognize the feelings of discomfort that arise when I hear people’s anger, especially people of color. For me it is a mindfulness bell to pay attention even more closely. When my attachments and aversions surface, they usually trigger discomfort and avoidance behavior. I’m striving to unlearn that behavior and be present and feel the impact of what I have said and done.

    I’d listen to Leslie’s post several times in fact to absorb it fully. She is deeply in touch with the barriers currently operating in UUism that are holding us back from realizing the potential of our faith. The term white supremacy culture points to something real that operates in our movement. It is the water white people swim in and don’t notice.

    Take the intensity of her words and allow them to penetrate your heart. I know you have inherent worth and dignity and have a lot of meditation practice under your belt. This is the time to use your practice to help you see where you are clinging and where you are rejecting that are about your own ego and not about the truth of this situation.

    This is a very bright moment for significant institutional change that could make UU far more welcoming than it has been in the past. Our survival as a movement in an increasingly diverse world depends on it.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. omaslove says:

    Hi Mel – I’ve read your blog and most of the comments. As a friend, neighbor, fellow UU and white woman, I join others in a call for you to listen – really listen. In order to grow and transform our faith, the very structure that represents the majority that is supporting injustices must crack and break apart to make way for change. Those who have long supported the current structure are going to feel the pain the most. Your blog is full of references to pain. This change is necessary and long overdue and I will support it in any way I can – I hope you’ll eventually join me.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Patrick Dougherty says:

    Mel, I wince every time I read your post, and apology, and wince more deeply every time I read it again.

    When white guys like you and me use words like “not feeling safe” or “needing to speak truth to power” we are exploiting the language of those truly oppressed and it tells me we are feeling defensive and not wanting to hear something very challenging.

    I have learned that it is us good liberal white guys that are the quiet glue that hold the whole white power structure together, both inside and outside the church.

    And I have found it so incredibly humbling to find myself, a 40 year long social activist, to be filled with and clinging to white privilege and to be an integral player in maintaining the power structure I profess to abhor.

    And I am so glad to be in a congregation were we are challenging each other, in relative safety, to try and truly do what our faith calls us to in our 7, hopefully 8, guiding principles.

    You and me are part of the problem Mel. We need to hear what POCI are telling us, know that the change needed is not going to be initiated by us and can’t happen in a manner that is comfortable to us.

    And us white guys need to challenge each other and support each other in seeing and undoing what we have the power to undo. And we can’t spend a year or two in support groups talking about it. We need to being doing it right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Jamie Hinson-Rieger says:

    As a white male I am deeply grateful for the work UUs of color are doing and have been doing to advance our faith out of a culture of white supremacy. It should not be their work to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Didi is a mess says:

    Leslie Mac now making threats against you on behalf of her husband. What on earth is this woman doing in UU in the first place? Not a UU, but been tracking her and her buddy Didi Delgado on social media for a while. They are serious lunatics. Nothing religious, spiritual, or positive about either one…

    “Those of you who know Mel Pine would be wise to tell him to stay away from my husband at GA in June “:

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Mitch Lee says:

    Sometimes when a problem seems intractable, frustration leads to extreme and even counterproductive actions. For several years now I have been worried the the push for racial justice is reaching that state. True there have been some wonderful messages like the wake up slogan Black Lives Matter. But even that can be focused too narrowly into anger, a lack of generosity, and impulsiveness. When Jesus was asked how to treat enemies, what did he answer? What did Gautama answer? Trick them? Hate them? No, of course not. They both agreed with Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger who wrote the standard text on Psychological Warfare used at West Point that helped shorten the Korean War. They all three said the same thing, “Love them. First love them.” Most people extended genuine love will question their own cruelty. At a minimum wishing the “enemy” well encourages dialogue. We need to get back to this as a core principle in working for justice no matter how frustrated we have become.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Chris White says:

    You have no idea how much emotional labor Black Lives of UU has put into to telling people what is going on and how it affects the church. Folks could have just left. They could have expressed their pain in a way that was not so thoughtful and caring. They didn’t have to work so hard to try get everybody to see what they have been put through, but they DID because they love the church.

    I did not hear anybody in this controversy ask anyone to resign. I heard demands that the leadership take accountability and change behaviors. Rather than seize this opportunity, they backed out. I recognize this dynamic as the racist behavior I get caught doing. We need to stop being so fragile and take it and grow and heal.

    Where is your outrage about the “process” before? If you don’t object to the changes, then what is the argument really about. How was the previous leadership any more or less a “faction?”


    1. melhpine says:

      I didn’t say (and don’t believe) that BLUU and its allies asked anyone to resign. And I believe anyone who wants a system to change is part of a faction. I explain in a later post what factions I’d say I fall into. My “outrage” about the process is simply the charge to the interim co-presidents that they create an anti-racist hiring and promotion plan in the 10 weeks before a new (elected) president takes office for six years. That charge doesn’t pass to sniff test of an organization that values the spirit of democratic process, even if it is permissible under the bylaws.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Nicole says:

    I’m a Christian Universalist, but was interested in hearing your perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. melhpine says:

      Thank you, Nicole, for reading what I did actually write, which is different from what some think that I wrote. In a way, our current UUA crisis stems from our Christian Universalist roots. Do we really believe in Universal salvation? There was a time when Universalists weren’t so sure that included those of African descent, and we UU’s are justifiably repentant about that (and misdeeds on the Unitarian side, too). But now it appears that some UUs are not so sure universal salvation applies to those of European descent. The original sin in this case is being born white. Or at least that’s how I’ve come to see it after the fierce reaction to this post. The way you identified yourself as a Christian Universalist interested in the issue brought that to mind. I welcome any thoughts you may have.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Nicole says:

        I admit, I do not know what the issue was really about. However, I have a tattoo on my arm that is from 1 Timothy 4:10 that God “is the savior of all people, especially those who believe.” I know also that, according to scripture (2 Corinthians 3:6) it is not the letter of the law, but the spirit that gives life. Perhaps that verse would be useful in creating more peace in the issue UU (although I’m not UU) is having.

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Tiera Pointer says:

    Your home is valueble for me. Thanks!…


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