Unitarian Universalist Readers Message Board

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Unitarian Universalist Readers Message Board

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1ddodd Første besked:
jul 28, 2006, 2:21pm

Hello all you UUs out there. I hope you're out there...

I'll start by saying that the single thing that most got me started as a UU was going to my first or second worship service and hearing the minister, Rob Eller-Isaacs, quote from Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., citing the author as a "prophet."

Turns out Vonnegut is a UU, among many other writers.
But it's the assumption in his being cited as a prophet that made me sit up and take notice: a religion for which the sacred texts are still being written! Yay!

jul 28, 2006, 2:56pm

I had no idea he was a UU.
So cool.

Redigeret: sep 14, 2006, 1:29am

Hey, that was a pretty quick response from the three of you who joined since I started the group! Thanks for signing on. I like our book list. The Jefferson Bible! Tolkien!

And, now that I know about touchstones: Vonnegut!

May Sarton, too.

jul 30, 2006, 4:25pm

For a good list of Unitarian, Universalists, and UUs involved in the arts and humanities, see www.famousuus.com. Lots of great entries, including e.e. cummings and Ray Bradbury.

jul 31, 2006, 4:47pm

What kind of books do you mostly read? Personally, I read lots of sf and contemporary fantasy, but also contemporary lit fic and occasionally some pop science.

jul 31, 2006, 5:35pm

I've been reading a bit of speculative fiction lately, though I tend towards mainstream, mostly realistic fiction, like Richard Powers (just finished his upcoming The Echo Maker)--I guess that's what you call contemporary lit fic. A great book I read recently was Candas Jane Dorsey's A Paradigm of Earth. I also just finished Douglas Coupland's new book, Jpod.

Most of what I read I don't catalog on LibraryThing, because I don't buy books much, working in a library and all...

jul 31, 2006, 7:51pm

Hi all,

I'm not a UU, but I've been, um, thinking of becoming one? That doesn't sound right. It's more like, I've been thinking that maybe I already sort of am one, and just don't know it yet. If that makes any sense to you, I was hoping you might have some recommendations on reading about UUism. I see that "A Chosen Faith" is popular among the group, and that's the only book I've heard of so far that seems to match my request, but I also heard that it was very disparaging toward non-theist UUs, so I was wondering if any of you knew of any other pertinent books?

(Disclaimer: I know the better way to figure all this out is to meet some UUs in a fellowship type setting, and that's on the menu, but not possible for the next month or so due to travel plans)

8seanthony Første besked:
jul 31, 2006, 9:16pm

Hello all! I just received the invite to join this wonderful group! Great to be here!

jul 31, 2006, 11:58pm


Having grown up in a small rural town where diversity happened to be what Protestant denomination you belonged to, I didn't even hear about Unitarian Universalism until a few years ago in undergraduate school.

I found 100 Questions That Non-Members Ask About Unitarian Universalism> to be very helpful.

I've also read Being Liberal in an Illiberal Age: Why I am a Unitarian Universalist by Jack Mendelsohn. Although I remember it vaguely, I think I found it to be useful as well.

aug 1, 2006, 12:52am

Hi all, and especially nperrin,
My congregation had an adult Religious Exploration group that read some Emerson essays. These proved to be challenging, but highly worthwhile...if you're feeling ambitious. Travel plans might work well with this kind of reading! Then yes, I'd say visit some nearby congregations. My first minister, Rob Eller-Isaacs, was very inclusive of theist leanings, and included a prayer in his weekly services.

aug 1, 2006, 2:43pm

I miss UU in Oakland (ddodd - I attended 2000-02, when Rob and Jan were ministers!). The first service I attended was centered on Buddhist teachings and the music program featured an ethereally beautiful Asian stringed-instrument performance; I was brought to cathartic tears.

We're now back in Madison, WI, attending a Methodist church - a compromise between my UU preference and my husband's Catholic Church preference!

aug 2, 2006, 9:27pm

I'm the historian at First Parish Church in Dorchester (MA) UU which was founded on March 20, 1630 so I have a lot of history to catch up on. I'm particularly interested in how Puritan notions of community can be recast in our own time and made usable--I find John Winthrop's Model of Christian Charity to be a fascinating document about personal relationships and mutual obligation. I'm currently reading The Faithful Shepherd A History of the New England Ministry in the Seventeenth Century.

aug 3, 2006, 10:50am

Hi bostonhistory, and welcome!
Good grief--1630! Hard to fathom. I'm a cofounder of the Unitarian Universalists of Petaluma (California), and we're about to celebrate five years next January. Maybe you could offer some tips on what we should be thinking of in anticipation of being around for 450 years! What do you wish the founders of First Parish had saved for you?

Hello werhane, and likewise, welcome. I will be interested in hearing more about how the Methodism compromise works out for you and your husband!

aug 8, 2006, 3:12pm

Amazing story yesterday about a UU woman in Salem Oregon, an advocate for Oregon's right-to-die law, whose memorial service featured a huge pile of books being donated to a library in Belize which she created while in the Peace Corps.

An excerpt:
Bags, piles and stacks of children's books graced the entrance to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem on Sunday, where more than 200 people attended a memorial for Charlene Andrews.

Andrews, known internationally for her support of Oregon's Death with Dignity law, wanted to keep helping people even after her death. In lieu of flowers, Andrews had asked people to bring children's books to donate to a library she created while serving in the Peace Corps in Belize.

The full story is at

aug 10, 2006, 7:42pm

Anyone here read or interested in reading about sexual as sacred? Have any books on the subject (or related to it) that you can recommend (preferably ones that are not hoaky)?

16lilypadma Første besked:
aug 10, 2006, 11:41pm

Hi, Thanks DDodd for the invite. There's a UU church I like to visit sometimes, but it's almost an hour away, so I don't get there as often as I'd like.

aug 11, 2006, 11:29am

This may only be a very partially-related idea in terms of books on the subject of the sexual as sacred, but the UUA cooperated with the United Churches of Christ to write a curriculum on sexuality called Our Whole Lives, which I taught to middle schoolers (I notice that the only component of the series owned/cataloged on LibraryThing is a companion volume for the section for grades 4-6. I'll add my middle-schoolers volume when I get home tonight).
And welcome, lilypadma--what a great handle! When I got tired of commuting to the nearest UU congregation, I linked up with some others to start one in my own town. That was almost five years ago, and we're going strong.

aug 11, 2006, 7:22pm

Wonderful! Thank you, David. I will be especially interested to see what approach these books take to sex ed, as I am an aspiring teacher.

Also, just in case anyone's interested, I'm including a blog entry of mine here that describes my vision of life and faith quite well, and which my sister once told me sounded like a UU sermon. (Somehow, without knowing it, both my sisters and I all gravitated towards the UU at the same time. We were raised Methodist, so I can't explain why we all chose the UU as adults. Must have been something about the way we were raised.)

Things Themselves: Apologetics of an Agnostic Poet, in Prose

aug 14, 2006, 11:25am

I'd like to suggest the following for a group image:

aug 14, 2006, 11:54am

Looks good to me--I'll add it. Though, in good UU fashion, we should probably revisit this momentous decision somewheres down the road...

aug 14, 2006, 4:57pm

Hi, all! I'm Liz; I attend church at First Parish in Needham (MA) Unitarian Universalist, where we are amazingly fortunate to have John Buehrens as our minister (he was looking for a congregation in the suburbs of Boston, First Parish was looking for a minister at just the right time).

Anyway, we have a group of "parents of younger children" at the church (kids up to and including second grade). Last summer (2005), we put together a very subjective and abbreviated list of kids books that embody UU principles. I'd be happy to post it here if anyone is interested.

Glad to be here!

aug 14, 2006, 5:03pm

Hi Liz--
Welcome to the crowd. You are lucky to have Rev. Buehrens. Wow. My little congregation hopes to be able to afford a minister some day. Maybe he'll be looking to move to California....
Yes, please do post the list of kids book embodying UU principles. I know several folks in my congregation who would love to have that.

23jim.mcfarland Første besked:
aug 18, 2006, 8:39am

Hello group. I just joined LibraryThing and this group yesterday, after seeing the group mentioned on a UU LiveJournal group blog. I am a fairly new UU, after being a Methodist as a kid, and being a Presbyterian most of my adult life. I am a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. We are in a transition period now, and looking for our next Senior Minister. As part of this transition process, we will be doing a book study of "The Almost Church" by Michael Durall, which I am co-leading. Mr. Durall will also be visiting UUCA in October. I just finished reading his book this week.


aug 21, 2006, 8:18am


I attended a wedding yesterday where John Buehrens was one of the celebrants. I talked with him a little bit afterwards about the UUA and life in general and came away very impressed. You're lucky to have him as a minister.

aug 29, 2006, 1:56pm

Hi all,

Thought I'd publicly acknowledge one milestone for the group--we have more than 50 members! (ey, if we all took a vote and paid fair share, we could probably be a virtual congregation of the UUA.)

Another milestone approaching is that our combined library is nearing the 30,000 volume mark. Woohoo!


aug 29, 2006, 1:57pm

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

aug 29, 2006, 1:58pm

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

28DesertOwl Første besked:
sep 3, 2006, 9:22pm

I think a lot of folks out there are Unitarian Universalist without seeing the good fit between their beliefs and UU, though we don't have a dogma. Disparagement, well I think that varies from congregation to congregation, in general the farther west the more liberal. Finding ways to speak to all and Not exclude varieties of thought was a recurring theme at the General Assembly (yearly national meeting) this summer. "A Chosen Faith" is worth checking out, I liked it, there's some good stuff in the first couple of chapters. Cheers

sep 3, 2006, 9:25pm

You may be familiar with the online Fellowship of the Larger Congregation, but if Not check it out at www.uua.org/clf/

30ranaverde Første besked:
sep 5, 2006, 6:03pm

Just dropping in to say hi and introduce myself as a new group member! *waves*

As far as formal church-going UUism, I'm rather lapsed (not helped by currently living in a place where the nearest congregation is an hour away). But I feel that the spirit of being UU infuses my life most days.

So it's nice to hear from some fellow travelers! :)

sep 10, 2006, 1:37am

Good to hear from you ranaverde. Ever think about starting up a UU fellowship where you live? Are there likely to be others nearby?

And hey--our combined UU Readers library just broke 30,000 books!


sep 11, 2006, 4:17pm

Whoo! :)

I hadn't, David, though it's not a bad idea. (The town is small, very conservative, and we're moving away from it in a year.)

sep 14, 2006, 12:25am

Hi everyone!

Just thought I'd introduce myself. I'm Kieren, and did not really know much about Unitarian Universalism other than it existed. As I went abroad to do my post-grad studies (in Austria) I started to think this was already the religion I had, though I thought myself at the time as a Humanist-Buddhist-Atheist and had been raised a Catholic. On returning to Portugal my interest was (is) still great and I have recently joined the CLF as my nearest physical group/congregation is in Barcelona I think (2000 Kms round-trip/1500 miles) so I feel rather isolated here as there are a million things I would like to talk about with other UUs. I am now on a couple of mailing lists based on Europe but it's still not the same. Surely there must be other UUs in Portugal even if they are American or British expats...
Anyway - post is now too long and too personal and not really of any interest, so sorry about both that and the many inadequacies of my english :)

sep 14, 2006, 1:23am

Welcome, Kieren!

I think I probably speak for many of us when I say that your post was not too long, and was very interesting. I really know nothing about the state of UU in Europe, except that there doesn't seem to be much TO know. Glad to hear that the Church of the Larger Fellowship provides you with some sense of community.

This is developing into a theme of our group--isolated UUs without congregations nearby. Let's turn this UU Readers group into a place to have the conversations that we all seem to want to have: "a million things to talk about," as Kieren says!


PS Any ministers out there who want to take on any of the responsibilities of "professional leadership" for this group?

nov 14, 2006, 5:23pm

Hey everyone!
We're about to break the 30,000 volume mark for our group. What title will be book number 30,000?

mar 15, 2007, 11:50pm

I'd like to pose a moral or spiritual question that is bothering me a lot. what is the obligation of a moral person in an immoral society? I'm reminded of Turgenev's objection to his mother's serfs, so he went to live in France and avoided facing the problem. The books he wrote, however, contributed to the freeing of the serfs. Now with the war, and millions without health care, and abu ghraib, and the number of young african-american males unemployed, and the cost of college skyrocketing, and reservists on their third tour of duty in Iraq, and sabre rattling at Iran, what does one do if one is ashamed of the values and behavior of one's country? My grandmother used to tell me "have your passport ready, know at least 3 languages, have some good jewelery to take along, and hi-tail it across the border".But she never said which border!. She got out of Russia because of the pogroms, and before the revolution, thank goodness. But I can't think of a moral society to go to that would take me in. And 75 is old to be emigrating.Do i just march, protest, write letters, join groups and cry? When CEO's make millions and the homeless are thrown out of their tent cities, I am at a loss. We've reduced poverty since the depression, and we've moved toward racial equality, but the injustices of our economic inequality, our class system and our unwelcome interventions in other countries are very hard to accept. What does one do?

mar 23, 2007, 4:47pm

Hi almigwin,

That's such a huge question, and one that a lot of us look at every day, I think. There is a range of principled approaches--I am reminded of the story about Thoreau in prison, when asked "What are you doing in there," replying, "What are you doing out there?" (He was in for tax resistance--certainly a valid form of civil disobedience when you think your government is spending your money in the wrong way.) Personally, I keep in mind something along the lines of what your grandmother's advice was. There's even a new book called Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America, which I keep meaning to buy. And then there's what most of us do: try to lead decent lives and try not to do so at the expense of others. I'm sure there is a point at which you have to say: I won't be party to any of this any more--but it's a hard point to see, given that we can, theoretically, change things in this country.

I will shut up now and let others chime in. Thanks for asking the hard questions.


mar 23, 2007, 4:48pm

And by the way, everyone, to follow up on a couple of earlier posts, we have now zoomed past the 44,000 books mark--apparently the counter was stuck, and Tim unstuck it!

apr 23, 2007, 8:55am

I always knew I liked Vonnegut for some reason. I'm still grieving his loss.

Redigeret: maj 2, 2007, 3:07pm

I wanted to tell everyone about a book recently published as a fundraiser for Darfur relief. It's entitled The Easiest Best Thing Is Be Kind, and it was put together by Luke Meyers. It features work by a variety of people, mostly associated in some way with the Grateful Dead, and I have a poem in it.

It's available online only--if you'd like to support Darfur relief but don't want the book, you can certianly do that, too. The two relevant websites are The Lulu online bookstore at http://www.lulu.com/content/629387, and Deadheads for Darfur at http://deadheadsfordarfur.blogspot.com.

jun 29, 2007, 12:38pm

Happy Birthday to Us!
This group turned one year old yesterday. Thanks, everyone, for joining--here's to another good year.

sep 18, 2007, 8:12pm

I joined this group recently, and David invited me to introduce myself here. My religious practice is in the twelve steps. My religious home is becoming more and more the Unitarian Universalist Church.

I prefer not to believe in the supernatural, but I cannot avoid belief in transcendental things. I need the comfort of prayer and, so, have uttered a belief in God, although, carefully, without a commitment to his existence. I see the principles of the UUA to be pretty much right, although I have lapses regarding respect for my fellows; regardless of those lapses I participate in a small subgroup at my church that holds as its organizing principle the great commandment.

Spiritual explanations that work for me rely a whole lot on Tolstoy, James Luther Adams, and The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener by Martin Gardner, but I have deep faith that explanations will never be complete.

I am glad to be here.


mar 5, 2008, 5:08pm

Hey, we broke the 70,000 books mark as a group! When will we get to 100K?

apr 3, 2008, 11:57pm


I joined the Unitarian/Universalists about seven years ago. I speak from their pulpit about 8 times a year. Emerson and Thoreau were the ones who drew me to the congregation as I got turned on to them back in '89. I'm just delighted to be in company with a group of inclusive readers and engaged conversationalists.

apr 20, 2008, 10:56am

I'm Curtis from First UU in Chicago where I have taught a Tai chi chuan class for 20 or so years. I grew up in the urban ghetto a few miles west of the church and first came to Hyde Park to hear poetry in the 50's, and blues in the early 60's. Although I considered myself an Atheist, I listed my religion as Neo American when drafted in '68. I have been very impressed with the role, played by Unitarians in the Civil and Human Rights movements. By the 80's I had studied enough to no loner feel, Atheist. But, I had and still have too many questions for most churches. I May be a Unitarian because they (you) are the only people who will put up with me. I am mostly drawn to the Earth Based (pagan) aspects of our traditions since Earth is where most of us started out. I have been a member of the Church for over 20 years, although not always attending. I try to do better these days.

Peace out

maj 14, 2008, 2:44pm

Hello, just created a site for our UU Congregation here in Charleston, WV. Trying to find a way to flag this discussion group for members to see.


maj 19, 2008, 12:23am

Hi Nell,
Great to have you here! You can link to the UU Readers group with the lin http://www.librarything.com/groups/unitarianuniversali
Good idea. I should try that.

jul 19, 2008, 10:51pm

Hi all--
So, I'm about to head off for UU family camp in Mendocino Woodlands, and while I'm away, this group will celebrate its second birthday.
123 members! Over 80,000 books in our collective library!
Thanks, all, for joining, and I hope the discussions continue in may and varied directions for years to come.

sep 5, 2008, 5:21pm

I'm back at school for my fourth year of college, and I just found out that there's a UU group in town. Yay!

sep 13, 2008, 3:22pm

sep 13, 2008, 8:07pm

"Nan-violence" 'ey?


okt 20, 2008, 10:45pm

Hey--this group is closing in on the 100,000 book mark collectively. Is there any way to flag the 100,000th when it's added? Might be fun to know what it is...