Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The President Of The UUA Is Not A National Minister Of The Unitarian*Universalist Religious Community Nor Should He And/Or She Be One. . .

At least that is what Rev. Scott Wells asserts in his 'Boy In The Bands' blog post titled 'The President of the UUA is not a national minister'.

Amongst other things Rev. Scott Wells says -

"The last UUA president used his position to confect the presidency as a national pastorate: a role our governance does not include, and for which he was not elected."

"Bill Sinkford was never my pastor. There is a confusion of personal and organizational roles. . . I cringed every time he sent out a “pastoral letter”. The president’s office has enough influence on its own without affecting pseudo-episcopal privileges. I call on President Morales to abandon this misleading and presumptuous practice."

"the president of the UUA has never not been an ordained minister, even though this isn’t a requirement for the office. Funny, huh?"

"Using a ceremony that necessarily ties the presidency of the UUA with the ordained ministry frames who can be president, apart from our own established rules. It is thus an abuse of our polity, and should be abandoned."

It seems to me that concerned Unitarian*Universalists just might want to engage in a free and responsible search for the truth and meaning of what Rev. Scott Wells is asserting here. After all he may well be right on the money. . .

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Rev. Peter Morales Is A Golden Pastor In The Denver Post

Seriously. . .

and The Denver Post comments forum has emoticons!

I congratulate Rev. Peter Morales on successfully competing against the UUA's "chosen one" "establishment candidate" Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman for the position of President of the UUA or what I like to waggishly refer to as President of *The* Tiny Declining Fringe Religion :wink: which obviously references Rev. Peter Morales' own description of what Unitarian*Universalism is today in his stump speech announcing his candidacy for UUA president in January of 2008. Quite frankly Rev. Morales has his work cut out for him if he wishes to transform Unitarian*Universalism from the "tiny, declining, fringe religion" that he bluntly but quite justifiably acknowledges U*Uism is today into "the religion of our time" within *our* time. I repeatedly asked Rev. Peter Morales to provide a realistic 25 year plan for transforming Unitarian*Universalism from a tiny, declining, fringe religion into "the religion of our time" but he declined to directly answer my questions that were posted to his 'Along The Campaign Trail' blog and other U*U blogs or online forums.

I have publicly shared my concerns about Rev. Morales' belittling and maligning of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, to say nothing of other "old religions". . . as "obsolete religions, created for another time" :?: and that are only contributing to "the darkness" of fear, prejudice, and hatred etc. etc. in his stump speech but he has yet to address those concerns either. Anti-religious intolerance and bigotry on the part of the "fundamentalist atheist" subset of U*U Humanists is one of the major problems of the U*U Movement and is a major, if not primary, contributing factor to why U*Uism is in fact a tiny, declining, fringe religion today. . . :oops: I hereby call upon Rev. Peter Morales to firmly and forthrightly address this major problem of Unitarian*Universalism in the coming weeks and months so that God believing Americans can feel genuinely and fully welcome in each and every U*U "Welcoming Congregation". :idea:

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Rev. Peter Morales Is UUA President Elect

According to the UUA GA 2009 blog post titled Morales wins UUA presidency decisively

UUA President-elect Peter Morales won the UUA presidency decisively with 59 percent of all votes. He won 55 percent of the absentee vote (1,020 to 827) and 61 percent of the on-site vote (1,041 to 654). His margin of victory is 580 votes. Seven ballots were disqualified for discrepancies; one vote was cast for "No."

end quote

I guess that means that U*Us overwhelmingly elected The Emerson Avenger as UUA President Reject. :-)

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Forgive Me For Thinking That Rev. Peter Morales Was Talking About The Final Days Of The UUA Presidential Election Campaign When He Said. . .

This is a time of anxiety, fear and tribalism.

After all Rev. Morales did urge all his supporters "to campaign joyfully in that spirit even if they encounter negativity in the heat of the final days of campaigning at GA:"

I mean it's not like there is no precedent for anxiety, fear, and even internal U*U "tribalism" during UUA elections. No U*Us?

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman And Rev. Peter Morales Speak Out Against Hate Crime In The Salt Lake Tribune

UUA presidential candidates Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman and Rev. Peter Morales have co-authored and article speak out against hate crime in The Salt Lake Tribune. The article titled 'Changing the climate that's feeding hate crime' is well worth reading. Here are some pertinent snippets that I have duly taken note of and added some quite (im)pertinent hyperlinks to. . .

"Regardless of who is elected, our community recommits itself to promoting the inherent worth and dignity of all people -- including those with whom we disagree strongly. We will confront violence, oppression and exclusion based on identity."

"We know speech aimed at provoking violence and oppression is pervasive. Words have consequences."

"We cannot allow this cancer to go unchallenged. To remain silent is to be complicit in the destruction of our society. We cannot ignore hate crimes against anyone based on race, religion, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation and disability."

"We must also respond by standing up for each other by challenging the agents of intolerance."

"We must be vigilant about intolerance in the media. We must be equally aware of its intrusion in workplaces, neighborhoods and in conversations with relatives and friends."

"We must learn to air our disagreements with respect, humility and reason. The alternative is more pain and heartbreak, and the sorrowful recognition that we have left our children a world even more intolerant than the one we inherited. We cannot allow that to be our legacy."

Here is the first comment that I posted in response to that article -

Some Unitarian*Universalists, including some intolerant and even outright bigoted U*U clergy, are themselves guilty of targeting people with oppression and exclusion based on identity. No shortage of God believing people and/or political conservatives find themselves to be considerably less than welcome in some U*U "Welcoming Congregations". Indeed, while serious physical violence may be rare amongst U*Us, psychologically abusive verbal violence, some of which can be justifiably described as hate speech, is tolerated and even condoned by U*Us, including top level UUA administrators. I look forward to the day when the UUA finally gets around to responsibly confronting the violence, oppression and exclusion that I and other people have been subjected to by Unitarian*Universalists including U*U clergy.

For the record I have been physically assaulted by U*Us and had threats uttered against me by U*Us for daring to confront U*U oppression and exclusion, and other U*U injustices and abuses, with peaceful public protest. For more than a decade the UUA has obstinately refused to respond to my serious grievances about the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry of Rev. Ray Drennan and other U*Us with anything even remotely resembling justice, equity and compassion in human relations. To its shame the UUA has allowed the cancer of anti-religious intolerance and bigotry and other oppression and exclusion within the so-called U*U World to go unchallenged for decades. Top level UUA officials, including UUA President Bill Sinkford, have obstinately maintained complicit silence in response to my own and other people's serious grievances about U*U oppression and exclusion, indeed some of them have actively participated in oppression and exclusion and/or expressly condoned it. . . The UUA has not only ignored oppressive hate speech spouted by U*U clergy but has even pretended that intolerant and abusive hate speech is "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership."

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Does Rev. Peter Morales' "Less Than Diplomatic" UUA Presidential Campaign Rhetoric Disqualify Him As The "Ambassador" Of Unitarian*Universalism?

The following was posted as a comment on The UUA Presidential Election and The Point of Our Faith post of Elizabeth's Little Blog in which she shares her concerns about some of Rev. Peter Morales' problematic UUA Presidential campaign rhetoric. I am cross-posting it here and on The Emerson Avenger blog for good measure. I encourage U*Us to read Elizabeth's thoughtful blog post and the various comments that have been posted to it -

Quite evidently Rev. Peter Morales pretty much *had* to portray the three "Abrahamic faiths" (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) to say nothing of other "old religions" in a purely negative and critical light, and even go so far as to write them off as "obsolete religions", in order to advance his "thesis" and campaign slogan that Unitarian*Universalism "can be the religion of our time." If one reasonably and rationally considers the possibility that, in spite of their various faults and failings, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and any number of other "old religions" such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism etc. are none-the-less far from being "obsolete religions" (as he would have U*Us believe) Rev. Morales' presidential campaign slogan comes across as vainglorious and even quite ludicrous, especially in light of the fact that Rev. Morales describes Unitarian*Universalism as being "a tiny, declining, fringe religion" in that very same "stump speech" announcing his candidacy for UUA President. . . I have been making this point for months now and am quite gratified to see Elizabeth so articulately share her concerns about Rev. Peter Morales' eminently *questionable* campaign rhetoric here in a manner that quite eloquently echoes my own concerns about it.

Months ago I directly challenged Rev. Peter Morales' about his questionable campaign rhetoric in comments on his apparently moribund 'Along The Campaign Trail' blog*, the YouTube video of his "stump speech" and in various comments on other U*U blogs. To date, Rev. Morales has declined to respond to even a single one of my legitimate questions and critiques. The UUA Presidential elections are less than three weeks away yet Rev. Morales has consistently failed to responsibly address the serious questions and concerns that his rather dubious campaign rhetoric has caused to be raised. Recently someone pointed out that the President of the UUA plays a role as an "ambassador" of the U*U Movement. I am really not sure how Rev. Peter Morales can realistically serve as an effective ambassador for the UUA and the Unitarian*Universalist religious community more generally when he managed to belittle and malign, if not insult and defame, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and any number of other "old religions" with the considerably less than diplomatic language of his "stump speech" announcing his candidacy for President of the UUA. I expect that an explanation of, and/or apology for, his undiplomatic attack on all those "obsolete religions" would be something of a prerequisite in that regard. . .

* if you want to read my own and other people's comments submitted to Rev. Morales' apparently "obsolete" 'Along The Campaign Trail' blog you will need to view it in Microsoft Internet Explorer since comments are not displayed when it this poorly designed blog is viewed with the Mozilla Firefox browser. I am not sure about whether or not other internet browsers display the comments but Firefox does not and Internet Explorer does.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Where's The Beef Rev. Peter Morales? What Do You Mean By "The Religion Of Our Time"? And How Do You Propose To Make U*Uism "The Religion Of Our Time"?

The following is a "new and improved" version of a comment that was just submitted to the 'MSG Religion' blog post of Rev. Thomas Perchlik's Weblog -

It is not very likely that any UUA President will be able to assert that -

"We are the religion for our time,"

with any credibility any time soon.

UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales' campaign slogan is -

"We *can* be the religion of our time."

In other words, in UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales' personal estimation, Unitarian*Universalism has the *potential* to become "the religion of our time" (whatever that rather grandiose phraseology actually means, assuming that it has any substance at all. . .) but has not yet achieved that lofty goal. Indeed one wonders if U*Uism is even within striking distance of reaching that goal, or is realistically capable of achieving that rather vain (in every sense of the word) aspiration. In that Rev. Morales currently assesses Unitarian*Universalism as "a tiny, declining, fringe religion" it would seem that he has his work cut out for him if he wants to transform U*Uism into "the religion of our time" in *our* time. Let's say 25 to 30 years at the outside.

Of course, to paraphrase former U.S. President Bill Clinton, just how realistic and credible Rev. Morales' UUA Presidential election campaign slogan is depends very much on what the meaning of the phrase "the religion of our time" is. . . To my knowledge Rev. Peter Morales has never clearly defined exactly what he means when he pretends that Unitarian*Universalism *can* be "the religion of our time", nor has he laid out a legible and credible "road map" for just how he intends to move Unitarian*Universalism from Point A of currently being no less than "a tiny, declining, fringe religion" to Point B of "the religion of our time" within *our* time. . . In comments posted to his apparently moribund 'Along The Campaign Trail' blog months ago I have repeatedly requested that Rev. Morales provide this information, and I have reiterated this request in comments on other pertinent blog posts here and there in the U*U blogosphere, but, so far. . . he has declined to answer these legitimate and quite straightforward questions.

One or two of Rev. Morales' supporters have suggested that "radical hospitality" is all that is needed to achieve that goal but "radical hospitality", in and of itself, cannot "grow" U*Uism into "the religion of our time". To use your own analogy, without spiritually nourishing "full meals that have real integrity and their own unique flavor" being served at the figurative "table" of the Unitarian*Universalist religious community, no amount of "radical hospitality" will sustain and retain new "citizens" of the U*U World. If people are invited to a "feast" and find the fare being served to be little more than thin spiritual porridge liberally sprinkled with dollops of MSG, to say nothing of saccharine. . . they will seek their spiritual nourishment elsewhere.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

How Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman And Rev. Peter Morales Responded To The Open Letter About Clergy Sexual Misconduct Of Nashville U*Us

UUA candidates Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman, and Rev. Peter Morales, have now both formally responded to the Open Letter About Clergy Sexual Misconduct that was addressed to them by the Denominational Affairs Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville. Rev. Peter Morales responded quite rapidly, within about a week of receiving it, whereas Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman took closer to three weeks to respond. For the time being I am cross-posting the official responses of Rev. Peter Morales and Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman below, with some pertinent embedded hyperlinks. I will however be putting in my two cents worth quite soon, most probably in the form of some separate blog posts. I may update this blog post so it wouldn't hurt to check back in a few days or even a week or so.

April 2, 2009
Denominational Affairs Committee
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville

Dear Alan and Members of the Committee,

Thank you for your letter regarding the UUA’s response to cases of ministerial sexual misconduct. Let me say at the outset that I understand how painful the experience of Nashville has been. My campaign manager, Dea Brayden, came from Nashville. So, too, did our minister of music, Keith Arnold. I am a close colleague of Mary Katherine Morn, and the topic has come up with Jason Shelton. The pain around this incident, even after all these years, is plainly evident.

Since I received your letter I have read the recommendations of the “Restorative Justice for All” report. I have also had a long conversation with Fred Muir, who not only was involved in drafting the report, but has also had continuing involvement with this issue. I have also read subsequent UUA publications, including a report on Safe Congregations written in 2004. With that as background, let me respond to your questions.

Would I would carry out all 13 recommendations of the 2000 report? After looking at subsequent documents and discussing the situation with Fred Muir, I would say that I think it would be wiser to revisit those recommendations in light of developments in the last nine years. I am not “passing the buck” here or being evasive. We need to look at our recent experience and at current practices of other churches and other organizations like colleges and universities. Sadly, there have been cases of sexual misconduct by ministers since the report was written. It does not look like they were handled as well as we might wish. Also, the UUA’s current practice needs to change immediately. The position now charged with hearing complaints, the director of congregational services, is being phased out. We will need an interim solution while we examine where we should go in the long term.

I am fully committed to taking action. To me, this is a moral imperative. I would seek input from the UUMA and advocacy groups. I would insist that we look at best practices in other associations. Certain criteria would inform any final implementation. One of these would be that a victim receive immediate and compassionate response. My own bias, from what I know of other organizations, is that we need to separate the pastoral and healing response to the victim from the process of judging the offense and taking any disciplinary action. Many organizations, including the UUA, have employee assistance programs where outside organizations handle response to personal issues with complete confidentiality. Again, however, I would want us to look at what experts consider current best practice.

Your second question concerns the critical issues of prevention and support to victims and congregations. The short answer is “yes, of course.” And again, I do not pretend to be an expert on what form that should take. I am absolutely committed to doing the right thing, and I understand that we have fallen far short in the past. The important thing for the president is to consult with advocacy groups and people who have expertise, so that what we do is compassionate, timely and effective. We have, for example, a well developed model for responding to crises. There is a trauma response team that has proven itself to be effective. Perhaps this model should be adapted to cases of clergy sexual misconduct. I would want to see a careful analysis of the options.

As to the area of prevention, there are many things we can do. None, alas, is perfect. Perhaps the most important thing we can do is to be frank about the issue and to train clergy and congregations about safe congregation practices.

In summary, I understand how painful and damaging clergy sexual misconduct is. I am committed to making ours a safer and a more compassionate movement. Any action I would take would be as the result of careful analysis of best practices and the painful lessons we have learned from our own experience.


Peter Morales

TO: The Denominational Affairs Committee of the Nashville, Tennessee Church
FROM: Laurel Hallman
RE: Your letter about Clergy sexual misconduct
DATE: April 17, 2009

Thank you for your question about clergy sexual misconduct and what the UUA’s response will be in my administration. I appreciate the time you have given me to reflect with people who have been working on the troubling effects of clergy sexual misconduct, both within and outside our Association. We all agree that silence is never the answer to this abuse of power.

More than any other profession, the minister carries the power of the office into relationships. Abuse of that power affects the survivor’s very soul. It also affects the soul and spirit of the congregation in which that minister has served. It goes to the heart of our faith to ask serious questions of justice, compassion and hope when the abuse occurs. As soon as possible after the election, I will gather survivors of clergy abuse in our association to talk with me about their experience, whether recent or distant. I will not defend, obfuscate, or discount any person’s experience. I will listen. I will be as transparent as I can be about what is possible, going forward. I can’t promise that I will be able to do everything contained in the 2001 Muir Report, or answer all the questions presented to the board in 2007. I will promise as President to do everything possible, with the resources available, to strengthen our structures of justice, our ministry to survivors, and our ongoing monitoring of complaints through final resolution.

We are fortunate at this time that the President of the UUMA, the Chair of the MFC, and the UUA Moderator are deeply committed to transparency, education, and appropriate procedures when charges of misconduct are brought. I will urge the UUMA and the MFC as well as the UUA Board to continue their educational and procedural work so that our programs of education and prevention always represent best practices and serve the work of justice.

Collaboration will be key to my presidency, and thus I look forward to collaborating with the survivors on this important issue. Thank you for bringing it to the forefront of the campaign.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Will Rev. Peter Morales Answer My Question During The UUA Presidential Candidates Telephone Forum Of Friday April 17, 2009?

I guess I should thank my very good friend ever so "conservative" U*U pagan Joel Monka for giving me this U*U heads up about tomorrow's telephone forum with the UUA presidential candidates Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman and Rev. Peter Morales. I have posed a number of as yet unanswered questions to Rev. Peter Morales, or his associate Martin Voelker, in comments posted months ago on his apparently quite moribund 'Along The Campaign Trail' blog. These important questions have never been responded to in any way whatsoever by Rev. Peter Morales. I decided to take a cue from Joel Monka's 'My question for the telephone forum' blog post and submit the most important of these unanswered questions to Rev. Peter Morales as a question to be answered during tomorrow's telephone forum.

Time will tell if the question I submitted is actually posed to Rev. Peter Morales and if he answers it adequately. Indeed in less than 24 hours we will know if Rev. Morales was asked this question, or a similar one posed by somebody else. Without further ado here is the full text of the email that I just sent to the moderator of this telephone forum, UUA Secretary Paul Rickter, with some additional embedded hyperlinks and an embedded YouTube video of Rev. Peter Morales' "stump speech" that is referenced in my preamble:

Here is my question addressed to UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales for tomorrow's telephone forum -

The preamble - Rev. Morales, you have not unjustifiably described Unitarian*Universalism as a "tiny, declining, fringe religion" in your "stump speech" announcing your candidacy for President of the UUA.


In that "stump speech", which is also a Sunday sermon titled 'A Religion For Our Time' you suggest that Unitarian*Universalism could be "the religion of our time". Indeed your primary campaign slogan, as prominently displayed on your campaign website and other promotional materials, is -

"We can be the religion for our time."

Here is my question -

What objective criteria does Unitarian*Universalism need to meet in order for U*Uism to be able to be credibly described as "the religion of our time" as per your presidential campaign slogan, and what is your comprehensive and, more importantly, realistic plan to "grow" and/or transform Unitarian*Universalism from the "tiny, declining, fringe religion", that you openly acknowledge Unitarian*Universalism currently is, into a religion that can be credibly described as "the religion of our time" within *our* time, let's say 30 years at the outside?

Thank you,

Robin Edgar

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Rev. John Crestwell Changes His UUA Presidential Campaign Endorsement from Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman To Rev. Peter Morales For UUA President

A blog post on Rev. Peter Morales' UUA Presidential Campaign "news blog" entitled 'Rev. John Crestwell Changes Endorsement to Morales' informs U*Us that Rev. John Thomas Crestwell Jr., minister at Davies Memorial Unitarian*Universalist Church in Camp Springs, MD, sent an "electronic communication" to the UUA Election List announcing his change of support from Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman to Rev. Peter Morales. This very public switch of allegiance just a couple of months away from the UUA Presidential election itself is an interesting development and it may well put some U*U wind in the sails of Rev. Peter Morales' bid to become the next President of the UUA. After all, what U*U minister, or any other U*U for that matter, would very publicly switch allegiance this late in the UUA Presidential election campaign if they did not believe that Rev. Peter Morales had a realistic chance of actually winning the election? This public switch of allegiance certainly contrasts with naysayers aka nattering nabobs of negativism like Rev. Daniel Harper aka Mr. CrankyPants aka Rev. CrankyAss and Rev. Scott Wells who have damned Rev. Peter Morales with faint praise by claiming to favor him while suggesting that he cannot win this UUA presidential election in the same breath. . .

I am not sure that Rev. John T. Crestwell Jr.'s description of both candidates as "incredible people" is all that politic considering that both UUA Presidential candidates have now made a number of public statements that could be charitably described as being "less than credible" aka incredible. . . Rev. John Crestwell's suggestion that the tiny, declining, fringe religion known U*U World-wide as The U*U Movement could "become *more* irrelevant in this new age of multiculturalism and spiritual awakening" clearly implies that, besides being tiny, declining, and "fringe" The U*U Movement is already at least somewhat *irrelevant* in the 21st century. So the 6.4 million dollar question that remains largely unanswered, just months before the UUA election is held, is -

Just how will Rev. Peter Morales "grow" The U*U Movement from being a somewhat irrelevant "tiny, declining, fringe religion" into "the religion of our time" as per his election slogan within *our* time, let's say 30 years at the outside. . . if he is actually elected as the next President of the UUA?

Can anyone out there in the U*U World direct me to somewhere on the interconnected interweb of all existence where UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales has clearly articulated his 20 to 30 year plan for how he intends to quite miraculously, if not outright magically. . . transform *The* Tiny Declining Fringe Religion into *The* Religion Of Our Time? I haven't seen it yet. . .

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt Endorses Laurel Hallman for UUA President

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt has endorsed Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman for UUA President on her Rev. Rose blog. There are a few snippets of Rev. Bray McNatt's endorsement that I find quite interesting and worth commenting on. Here goes. . .

:Those of us who love this faith owe Bill an enormous debt of gratitude for making credible a liberal religious voice amid the conservative noise that passes for public debate.

Just how credible a voice for liberal religion UUA President Bill Sinkford is or was is open to some debate. . .

:In his strategic commitment to speaking faithfully, Bill changed the game for Unitarian Universalism’s public witness.

From where I stand, and from where other people stand, President Bill Sinkford has spoken rather less than faithfully on a number of issues. In fact, as far as I am concerned President Sinkford has demonstrated considerable bad faith and has repeatedly proven himself to be an outrageous hypocrite.

:Today, our faith once again provides respected testimony to our liberal values.

Really? Who are all these people who respect President Bill Sinkford's testimony of the "liberal values" of the U*U movement?

:Hearing Unitarian Universalists speak truth to power is expected — even assumed.

That's funny I could have sworn that UUA President Bill Sinkford, and no shortage of other UUA leaders, have turned deaf ears to Unitarian*Universalists speaking truth to power. . .

:It’s time once again for Unitarian Universalists to elect a religious professional to lead our movement into the 21st century. Yet the urgent work that faces our association is very different now than it was when Bill chose to run for the presidency. As liberal religious people, we are called now, more than ever, to be both articulate in naming the brokenness of this world and effective in the work of healing our world. That’s why I am supporting The Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman as the next President of our Association.

Really. . . Well I sure hope that Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman will be both articulate in naming the brokenness of the U*U World and effective in the work of healing your U*U World Rev. Bray McNatt. I will know soon enough how articulate and effective she is when it comes to the aspects of brokeness that I will bring her attentiuon to shortly and I certainly look forward to Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman's articulate response to the Open Letter About Clergy Sexual Misconduct that the Denominational Affairs Committee sent her and Rev. Peter Morales recently. For the record that Open Letter would likely have been quite unnecessary if Rev. Bill Sinkford hadn't miserably failed, and apparently even obstinately refused. . . to deal responsibly with clergy sexual misconduct during his eight year term as UUA President. N'est-ce pas Rev. Rose?

:In his brilliant Ware Lecture from 2008, the African American community activist Van Jones spoke about the next level of insight, awareness and activism that we must embrace as human beings living on this fragile and endangered planet. And one of his themes—not unique to us as UUs, but so very relevant for us—is that it’s not enough to have a critique; you have to have a plan.

Well I don't see either of the UUA Presidential candidates critiquing the UUA's negligent, incompetent and effectively complicit mishandling of clergy misconduct complaints. What plans do they have to address that serious issue to say nothing of other aspects of U*U brokeness?

:I am supporting Laurel because she has a plan, not a critique of how awful/unprepared/inept we are.

Oh dear I guess that Rev. Rosemary McNatt Bray won't be endorsing The Emerson Avenger as UUA President or indeed Rev. Peter Morales who obviously got her back up with his blunt critiques of how awful, unprepared and inept U*Us are. . . So Rev. Rose can you fill us in on just what Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman's plan is to responsibly deal with how awful, unprepared and inept many leaders of the U*U movement, including top level UUA officials such as Rev. Beth Miller and Rev. Dr. Tracey Robinson-Harris just for starters? I guess she can breathe a sigh of relief that Rev. Dr. Tracey Robinson-Harris decided to leave the sinking U*U Ship Of Fools before she could possibly face any accountability from the next UUA President, not that there is any guarantee that any of the awful and/or unprepared and/or inept administrators at the UUA will actually face any real accountability when the awful, unprepared and inept Rev. Bill Sinkford is replaced as UUA President by either Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman or Rev. Peter Morales assuming he does better than a snowball in Hell. . .

:Laurel has a plan that takes Unitarian Universalism to the next level of insight and influence, based on her decades of experience, not only as a parish minister, not only as a brilliant fundraiser, but also as a committed community organizer working with

I have to admit that, besides rather less than diplomatically critiquing just how awful, unprepared and inept U*Us are, to say nothing how tiny, declining, and fringy the U*U religion is these days. . . Rev. Peter Morales has not done a very good job of presenting his plan for how he intends to grow the U*U movement from the "tiny, declining, fringe religion" religion that he acknowledges it is today into "the religion of our time" in *our* time. In spite of repeated requests from your's truly that he articulate his plan. OTOH I have not seen Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman's clearly articulated *plan* for how she intends to take Unitarian*Universalism to "the next level of insight and influence" as you put it. Could you be so kind as to direct me to where I can read her detailed plan?

:Those of us who have been exposed to the community-organizing model know intimately that it’s never about talk, because talk is cheap.

You don't need to tell me or any other victim of U*U clergy misconduct, or various other injustices and abuses perpetrated and perpetuated by U*Us, just how cheap talk is Rev. Bray McNatt. . .

:Those of us who know community organizing know that it’s never about what a single person can do, but about what a committed group can do when it works together to hold powerful people accountable.

So just which group is holding powerful people within the U*U World and UUA accountable Rev. Rose? Please direct me to this group because I know some powerful people, at least within the context of the U*U movement, who need to be held accountable for their failures and misdeeds. Can you let us in on what Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman's plan is for holding powerful U*Us who have misused and abused their power accountable?

:Most importantly, those of us who know community organizing have seen what can happen when a collaborative leader brings together people who are so different that they shouldn’t even be able to stand next to each other. We know that amazing things happen when such disparate people unite in a common purpose!

Well I look forward to Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman bringing victims of clergy misconduct of all kinds together with the awful U*U ministers who are directly accountable for that misconduct, the awful and/or unprepared and/or inept UUA administrators and other U*U church leaders who failed or refused to hold those awful U*U ministers accountable for their clergy misconduct.

:Bill Sinkford’s exemplary success in leading Unitarian Universalism has served to raise the bar for liberal religious leadership itself.

UUA President Bill Sinkford’s leadership of the "tiny, declining, fringe religion" known as Unitarian*Universalism aka the U*U Movement is neither as exemplary or successgful as you and other U*Us would like to believe Rev. Rose. Just how has Rev. Bill Sinkford served to raise the bar for liberal religious leadership when it comes to U*U religious leaders like Rev. Ray Drennan, Rev. Victoria Weinstein aka Peacebang, Rev. Cynthia P. Cain, Rev. Dr. Timothy W. Jensen and other awful and/or unprepared and/or inept U*U clergy? Pray tell. . .

:We have traveled beyond the point where our movement can empower religious leaders who often talk a good game, but in the end hesitate to change the game.

ROTFLMU*UO! You empowered Rev. William G. Sinkford didn't you Rev. Rose? Do you*really* believe that President Bill Sinkford didn't talk a good game, but in the end hesitate to change the game, when it came to the UUA's (mis)handling of clergy misconduct and holding awful and/or unprepared and/or inept U*U clergy accountable for their "less than excellent" ministry?

:I am impatient with those leaders in our movement who participate in press conferences and public actions that make liberal religious people feel good, but leave those we oppose feeling angry or dismissive, and leave those unfamiliar with our faith—the movable middle—feeling both unmoved and unchanged.

ROTFLMU*UO again! Do you *really* believe that President Bill Sinkford didn't participate in press conferences and public actions that make liberal religious people feel good, but left those U*Us oppose (to say nothing of a good number of good U*Us) feeling angry or dismissive? What planet are you living on Rev. Rose? Certainly not the U*U World. . .

:I support Laurel because she knows very well how to argue with people like the late Jerry Falwell, or how to get face time with people like President Bill Clinton, (for the record, she’s done both!)

Woo hoo! Good for Rev. Laurel Hallman. I must admit that that sure beats President Bill Sinkford's misguided effort get some red-faced time, to say nothing of two-faced time. . . with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that left a good number of indignant U*Us feeling angry or dismissive.

:But she also knows, and will institutionalize, ways to build capacity in the tiniest congregation, ways to support the midsize congregations that are betwixt and between, ways to challenge large congregations to step forward for our faith. Even more important, Laurel knows how to support all our congregations as they work strategically within their own communities, so that our congregations become known as trusted partners in the work of justice, so that real and lasting change occurs.

So what will Rev. Laurel Hallman do to make the UUA and U*U congregations partners in the long overdue work of providing genuine and tangible restorative justice for victims of clergy misconduct of all kinds so that real and lasting change occurs?

:Most of all, I support Laurel because I feel in her presence what I feel in Bill Sinkford’s presence: a deep knowledge of The Holy, and a deep commitment to Unitarian Universalism as a liberal religious faith as opposed to some random nonprofit group.

So where was Rev. Bill Sinkford’s *presence* and alleged "deep knowledge of The Holy" when it came to dealing responsibly with the clergy misconduct of "less than excellent" aka awful U*U ministers Rev. Rose? I saw little or no sign of it myself. . .

:I resonate deeply with those within our movement like Laurel who find depth, strength and focus in a consistent religious practice, and whose spirituality grounds the work they accomplish.

You mean a consistent religious practice like totally ignoring people demanding justice for victims of clergy misconduct Rev. Rose? Come to think of it. . . that seems to be the consistent religious practice of you and other members of the UUA Board of Trustees as well.

:I have confidence that when Laurel leads—even when I disagree with her—she will lead from the core of our Living Tradition, that she will support religious leaders like myself in the work of justice and peace, and that she will call on each and every one of us to reach deeper and do more.

Oh I don't doubt that Rev. Laurel Hallman will be asking each and every U*U to reach deeper, especially in light of the UUA's current financial situation that is due in no small measure to unprepared and inept, if not downright awful. . . UUA planning (and not just financial planning by any means) during Rev. Bill Sinkford's tenure as UUA President.

:Laurel leads with the spirit of a pastor, the focus of a seasoned executive and the insight of the community activist that she’s been for more than 20 years. She has my unqualified support, and I hope you will join me in voting for her at our next General Assembly.

I look forward to seeing just how well Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman leads with the spirit of a pastor, the focus of a seasoned executive, and the insight of the community activist when I and other people demand genuine and tangible restorative justice for ALL victims of clergy misconduct after the UUA elections.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Rev. Peter Morales Less Than Excellent Answer To The Question Of The Humanist/Theist Divide Of The U*U World

UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales, has posted a lame and evasive response to a serious legitimate question posed to him about the Humanist/Theist divide of the U*U World on the 'Morales Addresses “Humanist/Theist” Question' blog post of his Peter Morales For UUA President news blog. Conservative Pagan U*U Joel Monka finds Rev. Peter Morales' response to the question to be 'An Inadequate Answer' as do I. I was having a bit of fun with Rev. Morales' suggestion that Buddhists believe "Nothing" over on The Emerson Avenger blog and thus did not immediately post a more serious analysis of Rev. Peter Morales' considerably "less than excellent" response to this quite serious question about the Humanist/Theist divide that was posed to him during The Candidates’ Forum which was held on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at the Prairie Star District meeting in Duluth, Minnesota. In any case, I believe that my own response is more properly posted on this blog so here goes. . .

The Question In Question -

"Our denomination seems to be undergoing a philosophical shift. Twenty years ago in our congregation, the concept of a “Christian UU” seemed nonsensical. Now our congregation has a Christian UU minister and many of the secular humanists of previous generations, despite the acceptance of diversity that we say we believe in, are feeling bereft - bereft of a sanctuary from the world of deity (Christian or otherwise). The UU church was the one place in many UU’s lives where those who lived to a different drummer, theologically speaking, could live without the expectation that they subscribe to a divine being. Where they could go on a spiritual or religious journey without having to subscribe to the supernatural. How will you lead us as we struggle with this fundamental challenge?"

It is not clear who asked this question but the question itself, if taken at face value, contains some very interesting "answers" about the Humanist/Theist divide within Unitarian*Universalism. Apparently some Humanist U*Us sense a "philosophical shift" in the U*U World going from a Humanist dominated denomination to a more spiritual, theistic, and even "Christian" denomination. I find the perhaps unwitting "confession" that "twenty years ago", in at least one U*U congregation, "the concept of a 'Christian UU' seemed nonsensical" to be quite revealing. It certainly goes a long way to validating my own experience of a "Humanist" dominated Canadian U*U congregation that still appears to be dominated by so-called Humanist U*Us. "Humanist" being a code-word for atheist and agnostic aka non-theist Unitarian*Universalists.

Now however this Unidentified U*U congregation has, God forbid! a Christian U*U minister, and thus many of the "secular humanists of previous generations" aka aging and dwindling "Humanist" U*Us are feeling bereft. What are these U*U Humanists feeling bereft aka deprived of you ask? These aging "Humanist" U*Us are feeling bereft of a sanctuary from "the world of deity" be the deity a Christian version of God or *otherwise*. I guess that's a less than subtle acknowledgment that *some* U*U Humanists, no doubt especially those "Humanist" U*Us who can be properly described as "fundamentalist atheist" U*Us, are none too happy with the influx of U*U pagans over the last couple of decades or so. But we knew that already didn't we? What caused these less than bright "Brights" to seek "sanctuary" from "the world of deity" in a Unitarian Church of all places? Well we pretty much know that U*U history too. Or do we? I never quite figured out why any self-respecting atheist would want to go to church on Sunday to begin with, let alone try to hide from God in a so-called Unitarian Church.

Whoever posed the question pretends that aka expects us to believe that -

The Unitarian*Universalist church was the one place in many Humanist U*U’s lives where those who lived to a different drummer, theologically speaking, could live without the expectation that they subscribe to a divine being.

What?!! Isn't that a bit of a stretch? The *one* place where atheists could live without the expectation that they believe in God was the Unitarian*Universalist *Church*?

Give me a break. . .

Yes, yes, I know what *some* U*Us are going to say but *really*. Let's face it, don't U*Us think that it's just a bit conflicted, to say the least, for atheists to try to "get away from it all" in terms of God and theism by hiding out in a religious institution that is billed as the First Unitarian Church of Wherever? Especially given the original, traditional, definition of the word Unitarian which clearly implies belief in One God? What were these atheists thinking? Were they even thinking at all? Did they really believe that no Trinity doubting Christians and/or other God believing people would ever show up and want to join their so-called Unitarian Church?

:Where they could go on a spiritual or religious journey without *having* to subscribe to the supernatural.

OK That's different. It is one thing to go on spiritual or religious journey without having to, aka being obligated to, believe in God and/or the supernatural. It is quite another thing however to expect a so-called Unitarian Church to be completely and utterly devoid of any mention of God and/or the supernatural, or for it to be quite *unthinkable* to have Trinity doubting liberal Christians and/or other theists as members of a Unitarian Church, but it is abundantly evident that *some* U*U Humanists not only fully expected *their* Unitarian Church to be a God-Free Zone but strove to make it a God-Free Zone, and quite literally fought to keep it that way by making God believing people in general and Christian oriented people in particular, feel anything but welcome in *their* alleged Unitarian Church. . .

So just how will Rev. Peter Morales lead Humanist U*Us as they struggle with this fundamental challenge to Humanist domination of the U*U World? Unfortunately Rev. Morales doesn't provide any realistic answer to that loaded question, and he even seems to be trying to deftly sidestep the whole issue of the Humanist/Theist divide in his rather lame and definitely inadequate, if not outright non-existent, response to that question. Rev. Peter Morales’ response pretends that "religion is not ultimately about what we believe." Tell that to any Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Baha'i, Zoroastrian etc. etc. aka *believer*. . . Indeed why do the Unitarian*UNiversalist association Of Congregations aka the UA and the Canadian Unitarian Council aka the CUC* publish various tracts and other U*U religious propaganda explaining what Unitarian*Universalists ostensibly *believe* if what people believe is not what religion is very much about? How is what U*Us love, what U*Us share, and what U*Us aspire to become, separated aka divorced from what U*Us believe pray tell? Aren't memory and hope forms of belief? Hope aka wishful thinking is certainly a form of belief aka faith. Memory is a synthesis of belief and actual experiential knowledge.

And since when is it "only in modern western society" that religious groups are defined by what they believe?!! Does Rev. Peter Morales *really* believe that religious groups were not defined by what they believed in ancient Eastern aka Oriental society? My bullshit detector just went Code Red. . .

But wait. There's more. . .

"What do Buddhists believe? Nothing — and they are a great religious tradition."

ROTFLMU*UO! Who would have thought that Buddhists and U*Us has so-o-o-o-o much in common? Well except for the "great religious tradition" bit of course. . . Heck even Rev. Peter Morales freely and irresponsibly acknowledges the capital 'T' objective Truth that Unitarian*Universalism aka The U*U Movement is *really* just a "tiny, declining, fringe religion", and in his "stump speech" announcing his candidacy to be the next President of *The* Tiny Declining Fringe Religion no less.

When all else fails change the subject. . .

"The humanist/theist debate is the wrong discussion."

Wrong Peter. The question in question sought an answer from you as to just how you would lead the Unitarian*Universalist religious community in the face of the preexisting and ongoing Humanist/Theist "debate", to say nothing of Humanist/Theist tension. . . It was a legitimate question, even if some uncharitable U*Us might describe a so-worded question as "whining", and you just failed and/or refused to answer it.

"It creates division and distraction. It is a debate no one wins and everyone loses."

No kidding Peter. I expect that is exactly why a Humanist shared his and/or her concerns about this "debate" which "no one wins and everyone loses" and wanted to know how you intend to responsibly deal with this "division and distraction" if or when you are elected President of the UUA. As they say, inquiring minds want to know. . . I dare say that a good number of U*U theists, be they Christian U*Us, U*U Pagans, or otherwise, are every bit as interested in hearing your answer to this legitimate question as those on the other side of the Humanist/Theist divide.

Peter then asserted - The questions we should address are these:

• What do we long to create together?

• How do we want to be with one another? What is our image of beloved community?

• How best can we join hands and work together for compassion, justice, peace, freedom, and a planet that will sustain life?

Oh dear. . . It appears that somebody asked Rev. Peter Morales the proverbial "wrong question". How many other legitimate and quite serious questions will Rev. Peter Morales deem to be the wrong question and refuse to answer aka address if or when he is "elected" as President of the UUA? Or is that yet another "wrong question" to ask? Yes, those *other* questions are very good questions, and deserve answers as well, but asking these additional questions in no way answers the question in question Peter.

"If you and I share a commitment to compassion; if you and I want to create a place where children are raised in a loving community and where elders are honored; if you and I want to end war and oppression; if you and I want to preserve life on earth, then you and I have the same religion."

OK so Rev. Peter Morales is trying to simplistically bridge the Humanist/Theist divide by pointing out that Humanist U*Us and Theist U*Us have a variety of common interests and concerns, but U*Us know that already don't U*Us? The quite regrettable fact of the matter is that, in spite of the fact that Humanists and Theists have much more in common (perhaps especially within the context of the claimed principles and ideals of U*Uism) than they have serious differences, the Humanist/Theist divide is very real in a good number of U*U "churches" as the question in question makes abundantly clear. . . So Rev. Peter Morales, please do everybody in the U*U World a favor and responsibly answer the question that was posed to you.

Allow me to rephrase it slightly -

How will you, UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales, lead ALL Unitarian*Universalists, both Humanist U*Us and Theist U*Us of all kinds, as U*Us on both sides of the Humanist/Theist divide struggle with the various unproductive (and in some cases quite harmful and damaging) "divisions and distractions" of this "fundamental challenge" to the ability of Unitarian*Universalism to be anything more than a "tiny, declining, fringe religion"?

Here's a clue. Actually practicing genuine justice, equity and compassion in human relations between U*Us on both sides of the Humanist/Theist divide will be required to bring resolutions to the divisions aka conflicts and distractions that you quite evidently know exist within the U*U World. So you might want to tell everyone how you are going to embody good humanist values, and the teachings of Jesus and other theists, and bring these values to life if or when you are elected as President of the UUA.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

When Will The UUA Stand On The Side Of Love For All Victims Of Clergy Misconduct By Providing Genuine Restorative Justice For All?

An Open Letter About Clergy Sexual Misconduct to the UUA Presidential Candidates Courtesy Of The Denominational Affairs Committee Of The FUUN

Wow! In light of my The Emerson Avenger blog post about the inhuman indifference of many Unitarian*Universalist U*Us to victims of clergy misconduct and other U*U injustices and abuses posted earlier tonight, the following blog post of an 'An Open Letter About Clergy Sexual Misconduct to the UUA Presidential Candidates' addressed to Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman and Rev. Peter Morales and publicly posted to the FUUN blog of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, Tennessee is really quite serendipitous, almost an online synchronicity of sorts. I had been planning to draft a letter addressed to both candidates asking similar questions myself. For now I will cross-post this Open Letter About Clergy Sexual Misconduct verbatim here so that more people get to see it and hopefully read it.

I will later post my take on it and draw up my own follow-up letter about clergy misconduct of all kinds, not just clergy sexual misconduct, and inquiring what Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman and Rev. Peter Morales intend to do in terms of providing restorative justice to all victims of clergy misconduct perpetrated by U*U ministers and perpetuated by the negligence and complicity of the congregations they serve and/or the UUA. I am very glad to see that the Denominational Affairs Committee of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville has written this letter and posted it publicly, thus making UUA handling of clergy sexual misconduct, to say nothing on non-sexual forms of clergy misconduct, a 2009 UUA Presidential campaign issue as I had intended to do myself. . . I for one look forward to seeing how UUA Presidential Candidates Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman and Rev. Peter Morales respond to the issues raised and the questions asked in this important Open Letter. I posting this Open Letter now but may add more about my take on it to this blog post later -

An Open Letter About Clergy Sexual Misconduct to the UUA Presidential Candidates

Posted in Denominational Affairs at 5:32 pm by Comm Comm

March 25, 2009

Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman
Submitted on the contact form on hallmanforuuapresident.com; and
4015 Normandy Ave.
Dallas, TX 75205

Rev. Peter Morales
By email to info@moralesforuuapresident.org; and
Morales for UUA President
15321 W 66th Pl.
Arvada, CO 80007

Dear Rev. Morales and Rev. Hallman,

We write to you in the spirit of enhancing the democratic process in our Association in regard to the presidential election at General Assembly in June. We hope to learn from both of you what your positions are on issues of vital importance, helping ourselves and others be fully informed on these issues.

First, let us give you some background. As the Denominational Affairs Committee of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, we are some of the individuals in our congregation most involved with the Mid-South District (past and present officers) and the UUA (including members of the GA Planning and Volunteer Committees and the 1998 - 2000 Safe Congregations Panel, also known as the Muir Panel), as well as having four past presidents and many present and past board members of the congregation. It is our role to be a conduit for information between the congregation, the District and the UUA. As this matter concerns the election for president of the UUA, it falls in our sphere.

Our questions have to do with how you will provide leadership around the issue of clergy sexual misconduct. Before we get to the questions, we would like to say why we believe this is an important issue for you to address. We know this is a difficult topic. Because of our congregation’s history, we know that as deeply as any church in the Association. We also know that, just as with other types of abuse, silence is a large part of the pattern and that silence often endangers more victims, impeding both justice and healing. So, even though it is a difficult topic, it must be broached for the truth to come out and progress to be made.

Also, because of the structure of the Association and congregational polity, the areas of giving credentials to ministers and deciding when to take them away are unusual in being ones in which the UUA, through the staff led by the President, the board and the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, actually has the authority to take these actions. In this area, it is not a matter of the office of the UUA president being a bully pulpit or providing support to congregations or advocating for the issues we care about in the wider world; this is an area where one of you, together with your staff will be making decisions that determine the process in which the UUA deals with these issues, which in turn is likely to affect the outcome of the cases. We recognize that the MFC actually makes the final decisions.

You probably know that the UUA established a panel chaired by Rev. Frederic Muir that in 2000 made its report to the UUA entitled “Restorative Justice for All.” That document is still on the UUA web site. The panel made 13 recommendations of actions for the UUA. Many of them have never been carried out by the current administration. Others were only partially put in place.

Our first question to you is: if you are elected, will you carry out all 13 of the recommendations of that report? If so, on what time frame? If not, what will you do instead, with input from whom?

Secondly, is there anything else your administration will do to provide support and ministry both to victims of UUA clergy misconduct and to the congregations disrupted by it, and to decrease the likelihood of future misconduct?

To help others who are concerned about this issue, we will be posting this letter on our church web site, and we hope to post your responses there as well. We like to think of this as a small step in breaking the silence and hope you will join us in the effort. We hope that you will be able to either reply to us within a month or let us know when we can expect to hear from you. It occurs to us that at some point down the road if we have not heard from you, we may have to assume we will not be getting an answer, and we would rather not have to make that assumption.

We would like to thank you for the time you take in thinking about these issues and formulating your position. We believe the Association will benefit from your having done that.


The Denominational Affairs Committee of
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, Tennessee

Monday, 23 March 2009

Yet Another Unitarian*Universalist U*U Damns UUA Presidential Candidate Rev. Peter Morales With Faint Praise. . .

This time it is corpse-cold Unitarian*Universalist U*U Rev. Scott Wells who says the following on the 'Who I’m backing for UUA President' blog post of his 'Boy In The Bands' blog -

I think Dan Harper is absolutely correct in his take on the UUA presidential race. . . If given a choice, I suppose I would vote for Morales. I don’t, however, have a vote. Neither am I all that enthralled in the process.

With "friends" and "supporters" like Rev. Daniel Harper and Rev. Scott Wells, UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales sure doesn't need any enemies. . .

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Is Rev. Peter Morales Running For UUA President aka UUA CEO Or Is He *Really* Running For Executive Vice President Of The UUA aka UUA COO?

Some time ago the idea of a co-Presidency of the UUA with both Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman and Rev. Peter Morales briefly flitted through my mind but I did not give it too much serious thought because it just seemed unrealistic and impractical. Somewhat later, it occurred to me that the runner-up in the UUA Presidential s*elections *could*, and perhaps should, get the proverbial "consolation prize" of replacing Kathleen Montgomery as the Executive Vice President of the UUA. I don't know a lot about Kathleen Montgomery, she seems to keep a rather low profile, but regardless of how competent or indeed incompetent she may be in her role as Executive Vice President of the UUA *I* think that she has held that position for a bit too long for anyone in a genuinely *democratic* religious community. So I am formally proposing that when the UUA Presidential election has been decided in June that the person who is s*elected as UUA President and the UUA Board of Trustees give very serious consideration to giving the job of Executive Vice President to the hopefully not so sore loser of the UUA Presidential s*election campaign. In fact I think that they should be given that position unless a) they have no interest in being the Chief Operating Officer of the UUA aka UUA COO or b) there are some compelling reasons for not making them Executive Vice President of the UUA.

That being said, it just came to my attention earlier tonight that Rev. Peter Morales *may* be dropping hints that he would be interested in being the Executive Vice President of the UUA, and apparent front-runner Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman *may* be dropping hints that she is open to that possibility. I get these *possible* "hints" by reading between *some* of the lines of a blog post entitled 'Hallman, Morales on Administration' on the lengthily named 'Blog Whose Name Is Way Too Long To Expect People To Fully And Completely Name It When Mentioning It Or Quoting From It On Their Blogs' blog. Maybe I will take a cue from its URL and refer to it as the UUA Presidential Debate 2009 blog from here on in. Here is the section where

Morales - I would want to be the CEO, and that’s the way I have worked a great deal of my life. (Editor's note: Bear with me. . .) And if one were to look at my track record in government and in publishing and right now in my own congregation, I am relentlessly collaborative. I mean, I make sure that everyone who has a stake in a decision, gets input into it. I seek consensus. I also try to make sure that people who don’t belong at the table don’t have to suffer through meetings where they have nothing, where they don’t have a dog in that fight, because I’ve spent too many of my own hours doing that. But you make much better decisions when they’re collaborative. It’s a matter of input, but accountability is about, I think, the CEO being held accountable. (Editor's note: Gotta love that bit. No U*Us?) The executive vice president, yeah, especially given how much of the presidency has been, and I think will be and needs to be, dealing with the external. The UUA needs in the corporate world what would be called a chief operating officer.

Hallman: I would want to (sic) COO, to clarify that as well. And collaboration has, I just want to also be very clear about the fact, that collaboration isn’t necessarily consensus. We have a strange understanding of consensus, I believe, which is not, we take it from the Quakers but we don’t take their whole spiritual and their disciplined way of going about it. And so I want to make sure that we don’t, that you don’t hear that I’m saying that we need consensus or that everybody has to have a voice and kind of thumbprint everything. We tend to do that, too. We want to be efficient about that process and make decisions when decisions just need to be made and we don’t need to go through the loops of getting everybody’s thumbprint.

end quote

Presumably Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman meant to say, "I would want a COO." As in, "I would want a Chief Operating Officer." I take note of how she says this in response to Rev. Peter Morales' statement in which in almost the same breath as saying, "I would want to be the CEO," he mentions how relentlessly collaborative he is and quickly segues into mentioning the position of Executive Vice-President of the UUA being a a chief operating officer. I *may* be reading a bit too much into this but then again, I may not. . . Time will tell. If following the UUA Presidential election UUA President Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman appoints Rev. Peter Morales as Executive Vice-President of the UUA aka Chief Relentlessly Co-Operating Officer of the UUA just remember that U*Us read it here first. :-)

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Yet Another Unitarian Universalist Endorses Rev. Peter Morales For UUA President Even Though He Is Pretty Sure Rev. Morales Can't Win The UUA Election

Just saying. . .

It would appear from his 'Choose one for UUA president:
Hallman | Morales
' blog post that Rev. Daniel Harper believes that in choosing to vote for Rev. Peter Morales he is choosing the proverbial "lesser of two evils" however. Here is a sampling of Rev. Dan Harper's "less than enthusiastic" endorsement of Rev. Peter Morales with (in)appropriate embedded hyperlinks -

"Honestly, I’m not terribly enthusiastic about either candidate. Both candidates are a little too committed to “The UUA Way” of doing religion."

"I was hoping that a younger candidate (”young” by the standards of The UUA Way means someone under 50) would step forward at the last minute to challenge The UUA Way."

"I’m going to vote for him even though the theological vision he states in his platform is not particularly compelling, nor particularly deep. . ."

"Most important to me, Morales seems to really understand that The UUA Way has to undergo rapid change to respond to the vast changes in surrounding society — I don’t think he would change The UUA Way as much as I’d hope to have it changed, but at least we’d see some change in the right direction."

"Not that it matters how I vote, or whom I support, because the rumor mill tells me that Morales doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance*. Hallman has the money and the influential people behind her, and even Gini Courter, the popular moderator of the UUA, has come out in support of Hallman. So maybe I should just forget the 2009 election."

Gotta love StevenR's comment on Rev. Dan Harper's YAU*U blog post. . . No U*Us?

"Sometimes it’s good that the UU elections aren’t democratic - at least we know that whoever wins the UUA Presidential race, that they don’t really represnt (sic) UUs."

* aka a snowball's hope in Hell. . .

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Is A Long Term Successful Record In Fund Raising, People Management, Financial Planning And Organizational Performance Improvement. . .

a primary, or even secondary, qualification/consideration for being President of the UUA?

Just asking. . .

I can't help but recall that unsubstantiated rumor about former UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Diane Miller asserting that -


ALL CAPS internetese "shouting" courtesy of disillusioned YRUU guy Duncan Metcalfe

UUA Moderator Gini Courter Endorses Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman For President Of The UUA

A blog post entitled 'Gini Courter Endorses Laurel Hallman' appeared on UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman's 'Elect Laurel Hallman For President Of The UUA' website today. This is obviously a key endorsement that could potentially swing the election in Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman's favor if it is not already heavily swung in her favor already. . . Here with my point-by-point commentary on UUA Moderator Gini Courter's endorsement of Rev. Laurel Hallman for UUA President -

:The Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman is the leader Unitarian Universalism needs at this pivotal moment in the life of our Association.

Fair enough Gini but why is the Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman *the* leader Unitarian Universalism needs at this pivotal moment in the life of your Association as opposed to Rev. Peter Morales?

:The last three UUA Presidents - Bill Schulz, John Buehrens, and Bill Sinkford - all addressed growth in their campaign platforms. As President, each spoke eloquently and frequently about growth, and each in turn increased our visibility and our public voice. The number of visitors to our congregations has increased dramatically, but our membership has not.

This is an interesting "confession", possibly an unintentional one, on the part of UUA Moderator Gini Courter. The subtext of the last sentence is that even though the number of visitors to U*U congregations has *increased dramatically* few if any people amongst this dramatically increased numbers of visitors to U*U "churches" have actually chosen the tiny, declining, fringe religion known as Unitarian*Universalism to be their chosen faith. . . Membership in "Less Than Welcoming" Unitarian*Universalist congregations has not only not increased dramatically but may not have increased at all. In fact it is entirely possible, even quite probable, that membership in UUA congregations has not only stagnated but has even decreased somewhat, if not decreased significantly, over the terms of these three UUA Presidents, all of whom addressed growth in their campaign platforms if not in their policies and actions as UUA President. What does this clear lack of interest in becoming a member of a U*U "church" say about Unitarian*Universalism as a "product" in the religious "marketplace". What does this say about the millions of dollars that the UUA has spent on marketing, advertising, and other forms of U*U propaganda, trying to gain market share? Was this U*U money flushed right down the proverbial toilet because people who tried the "product" as a result of UUA marketing efforts decided that U*Uism was a rather sour, if not somewhat mouldy and rotten, "lemon"?

:It is time to shift our focus to our congregations, and treat them not like customers who purchase programs and inspiration, but as Association members with common concerns and shared purpose.

This comes across as an almost meaningless platitude. It is a no-brainer that the 1000 or so U*U congregations that are members of the Unitarian*Universalist *Association* Of Congregations should be treated as Association members with common concerns and shared purpose. Isn't that what being a member of *any* association is all about? What exactly is UUA Moderator Gini Courter saying here? One obvious subtext of Gini Courter's big fat U*U platitude here is that the Unitarian*Universalist Association Of Congregations aka the UUA has failed to treat U*U congregations as Association members with common concerns and shared purpose during the terms of the last three UUA Presidents.

That being said, part of the job of any association is to provide its members with both "inspiration" and "programs" of various kinds. Why does Gini Courter apparently want to play down, or even decrease, the UUA's role in providing programs and inspiration to UUA congregations? What is so wrong with treating U*U congregations as "customers" anyway? Most people or groups join associations to receive certain benefits, aka goods and services, provided by that association and thus are in fact *customers* of the association as well as being members of it. . . Can UUA Moderator Gini Courter say "co-operative"? Maybe not. . .

:At this moment of possibility, Unitarian Universalism needs a leader grounded in our polity who knows that real growth will come not from having a thousand congregations listen to one leader, but from the work of a leader who listens to our thousand congregations.

Why is UUA Moderator Gini Courter so convinced that a thousand U*U congregations inspired by an inspirational UUA President, to say nothing of other inspirational U*U leaders associated with him and/or her, will not experience real growth? Why this apparent simplistic either/or thinking on Gini Courter's part? Can't Gini dream of a UUA President who will be both inspirational enough to have a thousand U*U congregations *really* listen to what he and/or she has to say, but who is ALSO wise enough to responsibly listen to what a thousand U*U congregations may have to say to him and/or her? What makes UUA Moderator Gini Courter so sure that Rev. Peter Morales is not listening to a thousand U*U congregations every bit as much as, if not more so, than Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman is?

:In this time of promise, Unitarian Universalism needs a collaborative leader who will work with the UUA Board to focus the resources of the Association on supporting each congregation's ministry to its members and visitors, its local community, and the world.

In this time of promise?!! Who is UUA Moderator Gini Courter trying to fool? In this time of *crisis* would be a much more honest phrase to use. On what basis, if any, can UUA Moderator Gini Courter refer to this time in the UUA's history as a time of promise? The last time I checked the UUA's finances aka *resources* had decreased by over 25% as a result of the recession and the UUA was cutting it's already "less than adequate", to say nothing of "less than competent". . . human resources as a result of this significant loss of revenue. What makes UUA Moderator Gini Courter believe that Rev. Peter Morales would be any less of a collaborative leader who will work with the UUA Board to focus the resources of the Association on supporting congregations than Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman?

:In this time of uncertainty, Unitarian Universalism needs a proven CEO and experienced fundraiser with the tenacity and courage and love that are needed to create lasting institutional change.

"In this time of uncertainty" is closer to the truth. . . It would obviously help if *any* and all UUA President's were proven CEO's, rather than proven failed executives or business men or something. . . but I see no reason why the President of the UUA needs to be an experienced fundraiser surely the UUA can hire appropriate people to undertake that task and free up the President for more important tasks. I don't see the President of the U.S.A. being described as "Fundraiser In Chief" why should the President of the UUA have to play that role? What makes UUA Moderator Gini Courter believe that Rev. Peter Morales has any less tenacity and courage and love than Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman does? What makes Gini Courter believe that Rev. Peter Morales is any less ready, willing and able to create lasting institutional change in the UUA than Rev. Peter Morales is? Inquiring minds want to know as they say. . .

:Laurel Hallman is that grounded, collaborative, proven leader.

What makes Rev. Peter Morales a less grounded, collaborative, and proven leader than Rev. Laurel Hallman?

Well, come to think of it, Rev. Morales has said a thing or two which could indicate that he is not all *that* well grounded such as -

"We can be the religion of our time". . .

and decribing Christianity, Judaism and Islam as "obsolete religions" of course.

I am still waiting for him to answer my questions regarding those to questionable public statements of his.

:I encourage you to elect Laurel Hallman to serve as the next President of our Unitarian Universalist Association.

I would encourage Unitarian*Universalists to take a long hard look at both candidates for UUA President before casting their votes. This is an important UUA Presidential election that coulds determine whether or not Unitarian*Universalism will become an "obsolete religion" or at least an irrelevant religion that it is already well on its way to being. . . At present Unitarian*Universalism is a tiny, declining, fringe relgion as described by UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales in his "stump speech" announcing his candidacy. If Unitarian*Universalists fail to play their cards right in the coming decades Unitarian*Universalism could very well go the way of Charles Darwin's dodo. . .

Sunday, 15 February 2009

"Lead, Follow, Or Get Out Of The Way U*Us!" Thomas Paine Joins The RevolU*Ution And Provides A Presidential Campaign Slogan For The Emerson Avenger!

Boston Unitarian posted the conclusion of a Rev. Henry Wilder Foote sermon today.

The concluding paragraph of that sermon said the following -

"The only solution is the double truth: that God has not finished but is still making His world; and that He does not work in this alone, but calls for the co-operation of man and nature with Him."

In light of the ongoing abject failure, if not obstinate refusal, of many Unitarian*Universalists aka U*Us to co-operate with God this brought to *my* mind the famous saying of Thomas Paine -

"Lead, follow, or get out of the way."

It seems like a very fitting UUA Presidential Campaign slogan for The Emerson Avenger, possibly one amongst several others to follow. . .

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

A UUA Presidential Candidates Forum Transcript Typographical Error aka Typo Or Yet Another U*U Freudian Slip?

Just asking. . .

Straight from the horse's U*U - The process of running for UUA president is a grueling one. And I think we are better as an Association for this contested election. And, yet, we owe a great debt of gratitude for their *wiliness* to put themselves through all of this. So let's begin by giving thanks to both Laurel and to Peter.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama "Less Than Diplomatically" Helps The Emerson Avenger Extend A Hand To UUA Leaders And Other U*Us In His Inaugural Address

Newly sworn in U.S. President Barack Obama *could* have been "less than diplomatically" acting as a spokesperson for, and/or speaking out on behalf of The Emerson Avenger when he uttered these "less than diplomatic" words in his Inaugural Address today:

"To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand*if* you are willing to unclench your fist."

Everybody knows who The Emerson Avenger is thinking about.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Rev. Peter Morales And A "Perfect Storm" For The U*U "Ship Of Fools" aka Unitarian*Universalism aka U*Uism aka All Wet U*Unitarianism

The following is a typo and spelling error corrected, but otherwise verbatim, version of a comment that I left on the Peter Morales Opening Speech at UUA Presidential Candidate Forum post of the jUUggernaut blog about 4 months ago. It was initially "memory holed" by the blog owner Martin Voelker but I resubmitted it and he has since allowed it to remain visible.

UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales said -

"It’s a perfect storm - and a fabulous opportunity if we take it."

It’s also a "perfect storm" that may well sink the U*U "ship of fools" if you don’t mind me using that term too much. If you find it offensive all I can say is that U*U clergy, including Rev. Peter Morales it seems. . . use fairly offensive, to very offensive language, in their public and private statements about other religions. It is refreshing however to see Rev. Morales leveling some fairly strongly worded blunt criticism at the U*U "religious community" itself. All too often U*U clergy stridently point the finger at the failings or problematic aspects of other religions will conveniently ignoring serious failings of the U*U community, sometimes failings that are all but identical to the failings they are railing about in other religions.

Rev. Morales has declared that unspecified other religions are "obsolete" "created for another time" and contributing to "the darkness" of fear, prejudice, and hatred etc. etc. Although he does not actually name these "obsolete religions", it is clear from the context of his "stump speech" that he means Judaism, Christianity and Islam, if not some other major world religions. Does Rev. Peter Morales really believe that Unitarian*Universalist "society" is free of forces of fear and ignorance and greed that lead to hatred, marginalization and other injustices and abuses? Does Rev. Morales have the moral courage and conviction to responsibly acknowledge that U*Us themselves quite regularly contribute to "the darkness" in their own way?

I call upon Rev. Peter Morales, Rev. Laurel Hallman, other U*U clergy and UUA Trustees to "come out" and responsibly acknowledge the skeletons that clutter U*Uism’s "closet" and then take steps to responsibly and adequately redress any and all injustices and abuses that have been perpetrated and or perpetuated by Unitarian*Universalists. The UUA has a terrible track record when it comes to dealing responsibly with clergy misconduct of all kinds, including clergy sexual misconduct, and it has abjectly failed or even outright refused to provide genuine restorative justice to victims of clergy misconduct, again including victims of clergy sexual misconduct. This is but one example of the injustices and abuses that Unitarian*Universalists are responsible for, but refuse to accept responsibility for and adequately redress. Most people can smell hypocrisy a mile away and, until U*Us responsibly clean up their own act, they are not in a position to pretend that other religions are "obsolete" or that U*U do not do their own fair share of contributing to "the darkness".

If Rev. Peter Morales is serious about U*Uism "housing" the "religiously homeless" and feeding the "spiritually hungry" Unitarian*Universalists are going to have to deal seriously with the anti-Christian and more broadly anti-religious intolerance and bigotry that is found in too many U*U "churches". The vast majority of Americans believe in God and I expect that this is especially true of what U*Us call "people of color" if U*Us want U*Uism to grow in any significant way they are going to have to actually live up to their seemingly empty, if not outright fraudulent, "covenants" to "affirm and promote" "acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations." That means that U*Us must not only "accept" God believing people in any and ALL U*U congregations but must genuinely encourage their spiritual growth within a theistic framework.

This does not mean that atheist U*Us need be unwelcome in U*U congregations but atheist aka Humanist U*Us must be genuinely welcoming towards God believing people in any and ALL U*U congregations. Those "Humanist" U*Us who can be justifiably described as "fundamentalist atheists", and even Atheist Supremacists, who quite regularly make God believing people feel anything but welcome in U*U congregations are disregarding and violating U*U principles on an ongoing basis. The anti-Christian, and more broadly anti-religious, intolerance and bigotry of Atheist Supremacist "Humanist" U*Us is a serious problem within the U*U World that significantly contributes to U*Uism being "a tiny fringe, relatively elite, and sadly declining part of American religious life". In fact, in my informed opinion, it is one of the top three factors that has caused U*Uism to become "a tiny, declining, fringe religion" if not Suspect Number One. This problem that "repels" no shortage of visitors to, to say nothing of God believing members of. . . U*U congregations, must be firmly and forthrightly addressed by UUA leadership including the current and future President of the UUA, the UUA Board of Trustees, and other UUA staff. The anti-religious intolerance and bigotry of Atheist Supremacist "Humanist" U*Us must similarly be firmly and forthrightly addressed by U*U clergy and individual U*U congregations even though it is glaringly obvious that some U*U clergy, some "Humanist" dominated U*U congregations, and indeed some UUA leaders. . . are themselves guilty of either perpetrating or perpetuating the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry that causes the marginalization of God believing people in U*U "churches". Please forgive me for being blunt again, but U*Uism hasn’t got a snowball’s hope in Hell of becoming "the religion of our time" until this serious problem is responsibly resolved and U*Uism deals seriously with the concept, and indeed reality, of God. Unless Unitarian*Universalists, including atheist U*Us, learn to "swim" with God the U*U "Ship of Fools" will sink in the "Perfect Storm" that Rev. Peter Morales prophesies is coming to the U*U World in the foreseeable future.