SERMON: Stretching Our Hearts
“What can we do to stretch our hearts enough to lose their littleness?” asked the Rev. A. Powel Davies more than half a century ago. I love this question. I love the image of our hearts stretching. Of course, there’s nothing extraordinary about a religious leader asking a question like this. It’s a version of the question that lies at the core of so many religions. It’s the question of ethics, of justice. How shall we live? How can we bring love and compassion into the world, into our encounters with family members, friends, strangers? How can we live peacefully with others, especially those who are different from us in some way? How can we break down the strange and foolish walls that divide the human family? How can we stretch our hearts? Indeed, the strange and foolish walls were very real half a century ago, and they are very real now. We didn’t need Thursday morning’s news of a white supremacist mass shooting at Charleston, South Carolina’s “Mother Emanuel” African Methodist Episcopal Church to be convinced of this. But there it was again, a gut-wrenching and profound failure of “love your neighbor”—not only in the small heart of the killer, but in the small and atrophied heart of the social, cultural and political systems that produced him. Continue reading….
POETRY AND PROSE: How to Encourage a Restless Soul
(With three poems by Molly vigeant)
Let me suggest there is a restlessness at the core of everything: a “Great Restlessness,” a great, restless motion at the heart of the universe; great, restless cycles of planets and stars and galaxies revolving, whirling, rotating, spinning; great restless earth rhythms: the seasons, the tides, the waxing and waning of the moon, the rising and setting of the sun, night and day, dusk and dawn, waves crashing, rivers running—all of it repeated in our own bodies: pulsing blood, beating hearts, breath—continuous, life-giving breath. Ongoing, unceasing, restless. The early 20th-century journalist, humorist and poet, Don Marquis, said “A fierce unrest seethes at the core of all existing things.” Let me suggest that sometimes our own, inner restlessness is calling us to align ourselves with this great, outer restlessness. It is not simply a call to personal change, to creativity, to some new endeavor—though it can be all these things—it’s a call to return to harmony with the earth, with the stars, with all there is. For this reason, let us encourage restless souls. Continue reading….
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Malloy Right About Drug Law Racism
I congratulate Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for his bold attempt to address racism in our criminal justice and drug policy statutes, and I am mystified as to why The Courant would contend doing so “poisons the debate” [May 15, editorial, “Mr. Malloy Poisons Debate”].1
Malloy’s recent comments on the racist outcomes of urban drug-free zones were careful, nuanced and accurate. As the editorial points out, the enhanced penalties for possessing or dealing drugs within the 1,500- foot drug-free zones cause people who live in cities (where zones are plentiful and overlapping) to experience much greater incarceration rates than people who live in suburbs (where zones are sparse). Continue reading….
PRESS CONFERENCE: Comments in Support of SB1044
Good morning. I am the Rev. Josh Pawelek, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society: East in Manchester and a resident of Glastonbury. We live in a time of extraordinary wealth and income inequality in the United States. The gap between rich and poor is dragging down local economies, dragging down state and local governments, dragging down schools, dragging down human services, dragging down not only the dreams of working families, but their day-to-day material existence—how do I put food on the table, how do I pay for my prescriptions, how do afford car insurance, how do I pay for diapers? The growing gap between rich and poor is dragging down the hope, the faith, the confidence, the spirit of America’s working people. Continue reading….
SERMON: More Dispatches from the Culture War, 2015
I’m wrestling this morning with two conflicting impulses in me. They arise in response to the American culture war, in response to deep divisions in the country over sexual orientation, gender identity, reproductive rights, sexuality education, marriage, guns, end of life issues, family values, and the age-old and still raging debate between science and religion. While the media often portrays the culture war as between religious people on one side and secular people on the other, it’s rarely that simple. Liberal religious people often line up against conservative religious people in the culture war. It is at once an inter-religions struggle—meaning between religions—and an intra-religious struggle—meaning it plays out within some religions. My conflicting impulses have to do with how I, as a liberal religious person, relate to people on the conservative side of the culture war. Continue reading….
CALL TO WORSHIP (for the installation of the Revs. Cathy and Heather Rion Starr at the Unitarian Society of Hartford, April 19, 2015)
Because the spirit says sing, let us worship together!
Because the spirit says dance, laugh, shout, let us worship together!
Because the spirit says grow, build, fashion, shape, create beloved community, let us worship together! Continue reading….