Monthly Archives: March 2007

Friday video: “Learned ministry”

What does Zombies of the Gene Pool have to do with ministry? A video with no redeeming social value whatsoever. (2:40.)

Quicktime video — Click link, and where it says “Select a format” choose “Source — Quicktime”. Wait until the file downloads to your computer, and then click play. This should work for dial-up connections, and offers higher-resolution for all connections.

Spring watch

Monday:– The weather forecast had predicted a few snow flurries on Monday evening. Sure enough, as I went in to the district Board meeting over in Middleboro at 6:45, a few fat flakes floated down from the sky. But by the time I walked out of the Board meeting two hours later everything was covered with four inches of snow — that’s a little more than a flurry.

Tuesday and Wednesday:– It felt warm when the sun was out. But when the sun wasn’t out, and when the wind was blowing off the 35 degree ocean water, it felt like winter again.

Thursday:– The gulls are starting to get more active. I suppose they are starting to pair off for breeding season. I’ve been hearing them screaming at each other all evening long, and every once in a while it sounds like one gull throws another one down onto our roof from the building next door.

Global warming and business

The March, 2007, issue of Harvard Business Review has a good article on global warming titled “Competitive Advantage on a Warming Planet.” Authors Jonathan Lash and Fred Wellington point out that it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe global warming is real because “investors already are discounting share prices of companies poorly positioned to compete in a warming world” (take that, Wall Street Journal editorial page). They point out the effects of climate change on business become clear when you consider the kinds of risk associated with it: regulatory risk, supply chain risk, technology risk, litigation risk (they predict that companies with lots of carbon emissions face lawsuits similar to those brought against tobacco and asbestos industries), and of course reputational risk.

Most often, you have to pay to view articles on the Harvard Business Review Web site, but in this case the complete article is available free — and definitely worth reading:


Welcome news on marriage in Mass.

I just got the news update below from Mass. Equality. A little background information:– Robert Travaglini was the fellow who forced a vote on the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment here in Massachusetts back on January 2. He claimed that the people of Massachusetts should have a right to vote on marriage equality, even though there were other ballot amendments that he refused to let the Massachusetts legislature vote on. So now he’s gone:

This afternoon the Senate elected pro-equality Senator Therese Murray (D-Plymouth and Barnstable) as its next leader. This follows the resignation of Senate President Robert Travaglini.

This is terrific news. Senator Murray is a long-time friend of the gay community and a strong supporter of equality. With her at the helm, we are one step closer to defeating this discriminatory effort to take away marriage rights from gay and lesbian couples.

Please email Senate President Murray today congratulating her on her historic victory (she is the first woman to lead either branch of the legislature). Please thank her for her opposition to the discriminatory, anti-marriage Constitutional amendmentand ask her to use her new leadership position to defeat this amendment once and for all.

You can be sure that our opponents will be putting relentless pressure on her to advance the meanspirited amendment to the ballot. So it is critically important that she hear from pro-equality voices from all over the state. Tell her how much you appreciate her past votes, and let her know that you believe it is WRONG to vote on rights. Please email Senate President Murray today!

Thanks so much for your leadership. Together, we will prevail.

Massachusetts residents may wish to send email to Senate President Murray at Therese.Murray AT

A koan?

One of my favorite religious blogs is “Speaking Truth to Power,” in which blogger “uugrrl” talks about clergy sexual misconduct. She writes with deep insight both because she’s naturally a thoughtful person, and because she herself is a survivor of clergy sexual misconduct (and yes, the perpetrator was a Unitarian Universalist minister). In an especially good post late last week, uugrrl quotes Thich Naht Hanh on sexual misconduct:

Responsibility’ is the key word in the Third Precept. In a community of practice, if there is no sexual misconduct, if the community practices this precept well, there will be stability and peace. This precept should be practiced by everyone…. If you don’t practice this precept, you may become irresponsible and create trouble in the community at large. We have all seen this. If a teacher cannot refrain from sleeping with one of his or her students, he or she will destroy everything, possibly for several generations.

Then uugrrl goes on to comment:

I once read of a Zen survivor of abuse who made the abuse her koan. It seemed a perfect fit to me. Perhaps this is why I still care about this subject so many years later.

I’m still working on how suffering sexual abuse could be a koan — I guess that will be a koan for me to work on. Anyway, read the whole post:



Yesterday morning, the Sunday sexton called in to say he would be out with a bad case of the flu so the ushers and I had to remember to do everything he usually does (unlocking the front gate, turning on lights, etc. etc.) — of course we forgot a few things. The sanctuary hadn’t been put back together again after the wedding the night before, and the Board chair and I had to scramble around moving furniture. The treasurer came up from the basement to tell us that the sump pumps had stopped working and we had four inches of water down there. Of course I had a meeting before and after the worship service. Spent the afternoon wading through some of the scores of email messages that had accumulated in my absence. Youth group in the evening. Long day.

It’s like when you go swimming in a cold lake. You know if you try to wade in and slowly get acclimated to the water, you’ll never make it in, and you’ll just get cold. So you dive right and and immediately begin swimming as hard as you can to get warmed up.

“Seek peace, and pursue it.”

Every Saturday at noon for the past four years, a small group of Quakers and other peaceniks have gathered on the lawn in front of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. to witness for peace. A couple of people have always brought a banner that reads: “Seek peace, and pursue it. Ps. 34:14.” The format is similar to silent meeting for worship in the manner of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers): everyone stands in silence together; but the only spoken ministry for these public gatherings is when a passer-by happens to ask someone why they’re standing there, in which case a quiet explanation is given.

Elizabeth and I were greeted by a man who shook hands with each of us and said, “Welcome, friend”; though he could have meant meant “Friend,” which is another name for a Quaker. We stood in silence, and I centered down and meditated on the words on the banner. Near the end of the hour, a man standing next to Elizabeth started crying; she comforted him and another man brought him tissues. When the hour was over, we all shook hands with the people on either side of us, saying, “Peace,” or “Peace be with you.”

Then everyone started chatting. Elizabeth talked to the people she knew from Friends Meeting of Washington. I saw a man who was wearing a “Christian Peace Witness for Iraq” button, and we talked about the peace witness in front of the White House yesterday. The older Quakers greeted a group of students from Sidwell Friends School: “Welcome, young Friends!” The students had a group picture taken with the Capitol building as a back drop. Then we all went home to get warm.

It was a good way to observe the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. (If you’re curious, you might look up the reference to Psalm 34:14 in the King James Version of the Bible, and read the whole verse.)

My impressions of the Christian Peace Witness on Friday: Link.

Friday video: Peace witness for Iraq

Although this was originally posted on Monday, March 19, I’m backdating this post to Friday, March 16, so you can find the video by looking for the date of the event. This “street videography” gives my take on the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq that took place on March 16. The video is maybe a little too impressionistic, but I wanted to try to capture the feeling of what it was like to actually be there — boredom and all.

Quicktime video — Click link, and where it says “Select a format” choose “Source — Quicktime”. Wait until the file downloads to your computer, and then click play. This should work for dial-up connections, and offers higher-resolution for all connections.

Update: Lots of links to blog and media coverage of the Peace Witness at the Faith in Public Life blog.

Update: Coverage from the Washington Post, Saturday, March 17, 2007 (front page of Metro section):

Rousing emotional start for war protest
Arrests made at White House…

by Steve Vogel and Clarence Williams

Dozens of demonstrators, many of the Christian peace activists, were arrested outside the White House late last night and early this morning as a part of a protest against teh war in Iraq.

About 11:30 p.m., police began handcuffing the first of about 100 protesters who had assembled on the White House sidewalk to pray in a planned act of civili disobedience. [Note: arrests continued after reporters left, and over 200 people were eventually arrested.]

The protesters were part of a larger group that had assembled at the Washington National Cathedral for a service on the fourth anniversary of the start of the war. From the service, demonstrators marched through the wind, cold, and dampness to the White House.

The demonstration began a weekend of protest that is to include a march on the Pentagon today. Last night’s event, which was sponsored by more than two dozen religious groups, was not part of today’s antiwar rally at the Pentagon.

Those who were arrested had been among almost 3,000 people who assembled at the cathedral at 7 p.m. for a rousing, emotional service that lasted more than 90 minutes. [The reporters apparently missed the fact that there were between 500-700 people gathered at N.Y. Ave. Presbyterian Church who were also worshipping.]

Participants, whom the cathedral staff numbered at 2,825, heard speakers including Celeste Zappala of Philidelphia, whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004.

“I am here tonight as a witness to the true cost of war,” she said, “the betrayal and madness that is the war in Iraq.”

“We lay before God the sorrow that lives in all of us because of the war,” she said.

Last night’s procession was sponsored by Christian Peace Witness for Iraq….

The rest of the article (more than half of it) goes on to preview the ANSWER coalition action scheduled for Saturday.

Happy 200th, Henry

I managed to miss the two hundredth birthday of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (27 February 1807 – 24 March 1882). A poet who is perhaps best known for his poem “Paul Revere’s Ride,” it also happens that Longfellow was a Unitarian. If you go up to visit First Parish in Portland, Maine, they will show you the pew which he and his family rented.

Longfellow’s reputation has fallen on hard times. Today, the critics dismiss his poetry as too sentimental. And the historians rightly point out the gross inaccuracies in his poems;– when I was a licensed tourist guide in Concord, Massachusetts, I had to constantly explain to people that despite what Longfellow wrote in “Paul Rever’s Ride,” Revere never made it to Concord because His Majesty’s Regulars captured him in the town of Lincoln.

Nevertheless, Longfellow’s straightforward language and imagery helped create the political mythos of the United States. I still get chills as I read the last lines of “Paul Revere’s Ride”:

In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,–
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere;–
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,–
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

…although, in the context of the current political and military adventures of the United States, it is worth noting that Longfellow was a pacifist.

So happy 200th, Henry. Sorry I missed the actual date. But according to the Web site of the Longfellow Bicentennial, I’ll have plenty of other opportunities to celebrate — including an “evening conversation” at 6:30 tonight, at the Longfellow National Historic Site in Cambridge.

Sunday school teachers can find activity kits here: Link (scroll down and follow the link labeled “Activity Kits,” which brings up a pop-up window).

Works by Longfellow at Project Gutenberg: Link.