SERMON: On Ancestors, Slavery, and Religious Dissent
“Heroes of faith in every age, far seeing, self-denying, wrought an increasing heritage, monarch and creed defying. Faith of the free!”—words from 20th-century Unitarian minister Vincent Silliman. I wanted us to sing this hymn before this sermon because it points to a dynamic in our faith that at times proves confusing both to Unitarian Universalists and to those who observe us from outside. Liberalism in the United States has both political and religious roots, and continues today to express itself both politically and religiously. In both politics and religion the American liberal tradition—at its best—orients us towards freedom, liberty, justice, equality, inclusion, human rights and, I add today, environmental sustainability. In both politics and religion the American liberal tradition—at its best—calls us to protest, to dissent, to offer prophetic witness when we encounter barriers to freedom, when we encounter injustice, inequality, exclusion, human rights violations and threats to environmental sustainability. The “faith of the larger liberty” is both political and religious. It is “monarch and creed defying.” 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….