This week’s protest sign

According to today’s San Mateo County Times, a group of students at Hillsdale High School held a rally to protest statewide cuts to public education funding. The Times shows a photo of a group of students marching behind a banner that reads:

You Don’t Pay For Our Education
We Won’t Pay For Your Social Security!

Perhaps this is the beginning of a new generation gap, the start of a widening rift between the Millennials and the Baby Boomers?

Yet another stupid UU joke

A newcomer took a seat in one of the pews at First Unitarian. When the minister began preaching about liberal theology, the newcomer became more and more enthusiastic, and finally shouted “Amen!” when the preacher definitively proved the use of reason was essential to religion.

There was a long-time member of the church in the next pew, who leaned over and glared at the newcomer. “In this church, we do not shout ‘Amen’ during the sermon,” hissed the long-time member.

The newcomer, looking flustered, said, “But I’ve got religion!”

“Well,” hissed the long-time member, “you did not get it here!

Bragging

Carol, my sweetheart, has an article in the latest issue of Mother Earth News on recycling human waste. And before you ask, let me provide some answers: (1) Yes, Carol does use urine to fertilize our vegetable garden. (2) No, we don’t have a composting toilet of our own; we rent, and landlords generally don’t like renters to install a composting toilet. (3) Yes, we do celebrate Pee on Earth Day on June 21. (4) Yes, it’s easy to buy Carol’s books, thank you for asking.

Update: Please note that the phrase “Poo Pioneer” was not something Carol wrote; it was added by an editor. It’s hard for me to believe that anyone would put the phrase “poo pioneer” in print, but Mother Earth News is not the magazine it once was.

Another stupid UU joke

The Unitarian Universalist was out in his boat fishing when suddenly the Loch Ness Monster rose up out of the lake and attacked his boat. The Loch Ness Monster grabbed the bow of the boat in its huge mouth, flipped the Unitarian Universalist way up into the air, and opened its mouth wide, prepared to catch the guy in its mouth and eat him.

As the Unitarian Universalist fell towards that huge mouth filled with sharp teeth, without thinking he said, “Oh my God, help me!” Suddenly time froze. As the guy hung there in mid-air, a huge voice boomed out, “I thought you didn’t believe in a personal God on whom you could call in times of crisis!”

“Hey, give me a break, God,” said the Unitarian Universalist. “A minute ago I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness Monster, either.”

If Girl Scouts are doing it, will congregations be next?

200 Girl Scout troops in Ohio now take credit cards for cookies. One council reported a 20% increase in sales once they started using GoPayment, a little gadget that attaches to a smart phone, takes your money, and sends a receipt to your email address. Here’s a video from the Associated Press showing how they do it. And if you’re wondering how much it costs the Girl Scouts to take payment this way, here’s the scoop from a print version of this AP article:

Intuit, the Mountain View-based company that manufactures GoPayment, charges a small fee per transaction and offers various pricing plans to customers based on sale volume…. Intuit charges the Girl Scouts its lowest rate, at 1.6 percent plus 15 cents per transaction. Most customers pay 2.7 percent per transaction. [San Mateo County Times, 26 March 2011, p. A2]

As fewer and fewer people carry ready cash, this is an obvious way for the Girl Scouts to try to increase sales. But would it work for congregations who pass the collection plate in their services? If you watch the video, it’s obvious the transaction would take too long for the average offertory. It might possibly work for bake sales, rummage sales, ticket sales and the like, but my guess is that the cost is too high and the sales volume too low to make it worthwhile. If congregations want to fight their way out of the dark ages of cash transactions, my guess is that we’re going to have to change the way we do things — but I don’t know what that’s going to look like.

Cheap flights, with subtitles

Just in time for St. Patrick’s day, an Irish ballad about flying on one of those cheap airline flights. As is true with any great tragic aria, the gist of the song is simple: in spite of what airlines promise, there’s no such thing as a flight for 50p (that’s 50 cents for you Yanks). But the rhymes, the singing, the subtitles, the dancing, and yes even the bohran player allow the song to transcend its simple gist. And I apologize if you’ve already seen this — what the heck, watch it again. Happy St. Patty’s Day.

Oh, um, not quite safe for work.

Thanks to Will! And if you’re wondering, that’s Dillie Keane (yes she was born in Tralee though she now lives in England) with Fascinating Aida.

Minor UU folk heroes, no. 85

I just heard a rumor that one of the people who developed and built the Rube Goldberg device seen in the March, 2010, music video “This Too Shall Pass” by OK Gos, was formerly a member of a Unitarian Universalist youth group for which I was a youth advisor. Parents, be warned: the Unitarian Universalist values we impart to your children may affirm that creating geeky-artsy-coolness is an acceptable thing to do with one’s life.

By the way, an article in the February, 2011, issue of Fast Company magazine asserts that it took 85 takes to make the Rube Goldberg machine work in time to the music in a single shot. That’s 85 televisions destroyed. That makes it all worth while, if you ask me.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.

All the prophets seem to get sanitized. Take, for example, the ancient Hebrew prophet Amos, whom I have recently been re-reading. It was Amos, of course, whom Martin Luther King, Jr., quoted in the famous “I Have a Dream” speech:— “let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” Amos looked around at his society and saw that those in power trod upon the poor, and took from them “burdens of wheat”; he heard wailing in the streets; and he made violent-sounding protests against the injustice he witnessed.

Amos gets sanitized just like Martin Luther King, Jr. Orthodox Christians manage to turn Amos’s prophecies into some kind of call for personal salvation; atheists mock him for his belief in God but don’t go any further than that; and religious liberals simply ignore him. All these groups seem to ignore the fact that Amos was writing powerful protest literature that was designed to make us feel horribly uncomfortable about the way we treat other people, especially those who have less power than we do.

It’s not too far-fetched to think of Martin Luther King, Jr., as a sort of lesser Amos: someone who set out to afflict the comfortable, a troublemaker who wanted true justice for all persons, a somewhat cantankerous and definitely edgy kind of a guy. And like Amos, King gets bowdlerized: used to promote self-esteem or to keep kids from fighting; mocked for his very real character flaws; or simply ignored. In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, it’s worth quoting some more of that famous quotation from Amos, to learn how it is that Amos thinks his God will make justice roll down like waters:

Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord!
   to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord
   is darkness, and not light.
As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met
   him; or went into the house, and leaned his
   hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.
Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and
   not light? even very dark, and no brightness
   in it?
I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not
   smell in your solemn assemblies.
Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your
   meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither
   will I regard the peace offerings of your fat
   beasts.
Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs;
   for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
But let judgment run down as waters, and
   righteousness as a mighty stream.
   — Amos 5.18-24, KJV

Happy birthday to Martin Luther King, Jr.:— a preacher, a prophet, someone who took Amos’s God very seriously.