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J a n / F e b   2 0 0 1
Once Not Enough

Congratulations on the new format and the excellent content of the September/October issue. I read some articles twice.
Eric Winston
Wyndmoor, PA

The new UU World is better. Now I'll start leaving it in reading areas of offices and organizations.
Lee Henley
Pasadena, CA

Wow. And double wow. Now, that's what I call a magazine.
Lenni Lissenberger
Fort Worth, TX


I appreciate your efforts to revamp the magazine, but I find the typeface somewhat hard to decipher.
Clara Kotowitz
Blue Bell, PA

Your new look is a huge disappointment. My husband and I almost went blind trying to read the great articles because of the glossy pages and the very small type.
Esther Savage
Midland, MI

 George Washington kneels in prayer More Lies

I find it ironic that James W. Loewen's "Lies We Tell Ourselves" [September/October] would appear in the UU World just as I discovered that many supposed "famous UUs" were never really Unitarians or Universalists.

Emily Dickinson was raised Congregationalist and never joined a church. Louisa May Alcott came from a transcendentalist family and once commented on a visit she made to a Unitarian church, but I've yet to find a record, other than our own legends, of her actual membership in one. Even our lauded Ralph Waldo Emerson, though he may fit into today's UU church, left the Unitarian church as he knew it.
Kellie Sisson Snider
Irving, TX

I enjoyed Loewen's article but don't agree that George Washington was a deist. On numerous occasions Washington wrote that he couldn't account for some event except for the workings of "divine providence" or "divine will"—terms inconsistent with deist belief.
Clair W. Keller
Ames, IA

Though Loewen exposes five of the big lies we tell ourselves, he perpetuates another when he says the first airplane flight took place in Kitty Hawk, NC, thus implying that the Wright brothers were the first to fly a powered, heavier-than-air machine. Actually, as all students of aviation know, Clemont Ader flew such a craft in Paris in 1890, 13 years before the Wright brothers' first flight. The Wrights deserve credit for making improvements—for instance, they used an internal combustion engine, while Ader's plane used steam—but to say they invented the airplane is really pushing it.
Joe Wetzel
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Historic markers and monuments do tell lies. But another lie is that women don't matter. Your article left women out. That isn't fair, you know.
Frances Chase Courtsal
Pittsburgh, PA

Loewen is beating a dying horse. In the past few decades many people who teach and present history to the public have learned about the kind of untruths Loewen discusses in his article and moved to correct them—a process I witnessed as executive director of the Arizona Historical Society from 1967 to 1984.
Sidney B. Brinckerhoff
Bellevue, WA

Loewen's article made me realize how hard it is to write an antiracist article without employing racist concepts. Example 1: The tribal people of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico don't like to be called "Indians" or "Native Americans," terms used in the article. Example 2: Loewen refers to non-Anglos as "people of color." I don't see how this differs from the patronizing and implicitly racist "colored people" in usage not many years ago. Example 3: Loewen uses the word "Caucasian," a coinage of the German naturalist J.F. Blumenbach, who chose the term, he explained, because of "the maximal beauty of the people" around Mt. Caucasus and who placed the "Caucasians" at the top of his racist hierarchy of the world's people.
Paul Takagi
Oakland, CA

Lengthening Identifier

As a member of the gay/lesbian community, I'm annoyed at the constant addition of new categories and the lengthening of our identifier to the bisexual/gay/intersexed/lesbian/questioning/transgender community. So Ronald Dellums's comments about coalition politics ["Peace Is More than the Absence of War," September/October] struck a chord with me and will help me formulate better questions about community and coalitions.

I'm going to pass this article out to friends and associates. And I'm going to reread it.
Alex Hardesty
Detroit, MI


Philip Simmons's "Living at the Edge" [September/October] was both eloquent and inspirational. I'll never look at a laundry pile the same way again.
George McCann
Farmington Hills, MI

"Living at the Edge" combined heightened awareness with lyrical prose. It is an unexpected gift.
Susan Hunter
Weathersfield, VT

Simmons reminds us that the only moment we have is now and that, in one way or another, we all are living at a precipice. I hope he will continue to share his fine writing, his universal insights, and his deep understanding. The world is longing to be soothed.
Evelyn Grimm Fisher
Pompton Plains, NJ

Class Notes

Having recently left the UU movement over class issues, I found it interesting to read that UUs began a discussion of class at this year's General Assembly ["GA 2000," September/October]. Since UU churches have only middle-and upper- class members, I expect the discussion to be a little one-sided and a lot fruitless.

I found UUism 13 years ago because it was the only church that would welcome me as an out lesbian. While being gay wasn't a problem, being working class with no higher education was. From the start I felt like a second-class citizen in my church and at larger UU events. UUs have done a good job welcoming gays and lesbians, but only the ones with the right credentials.
Linda Osborne
Decatur, IL

Big, Angry Man

While I applaud Clifton Spires's anti-homophobic stand ["Re-flections," September/October], I question his methods. Reading his article, I put myself in the place of the thoughtless high school girl whose homophobic comments he overheard. This big, angry man who's been eavesdropping puts his face about eight inches from mine and tells me to shut up. Do I feel ashamed? No, I feel afraid. The fact that he saw me as "a little snob" and went away feeling proud of himself won't enlighten me about gays and lesbians.
Ellen Lawrence Skagerberg
Santa Rosa, CA

Spires's article made me sick to my stomach. He should apologize to the young woman.
Gary Marks
Oak Ridge, TN

Spires's use of his size, age, and gender to intimidate someone into silence was nothing but politically correct thuggery. It contradicts UU principles and the democratic principle of freedom of speech.
Eric Rodenburg
Arlington, VA

There's more than one way to communicate disagreement. Spires could have told the young woman, "When I hear you call out these names, I feel angry because I believe people shouldn't be labeled this way. Would you be willing to tell me how you feel when you are calling people names?" Then he could have done a little bit of listening and reflecting.

We can't solve problems with head-on collisions but only by listening to one another. What that young woman needs is some empathy and to be listened to, so that in her own way and at her own pace, she draws a conclusion about her behavior.

Anyone interested in this way of communication (called nonviolent communication) can check out the website http://www.cnvc.org.
Kok Heong McNaughton
Los Alamos, NM

Not One Word

Shame on David Reich! His GA coverage had not one word about the General Assembly Choir, the Children's Honor Choir, or the spectacular and moving closing ceremony at the General Assembly in Nashville. If you're going to cover a convention, then cover the convention.
Marjorie Gelbin
Winston Salem, NC

I'm proud to have been one of 130 children to sing in the Children's Honor Choir. Imagine how disappointed I was when UU World had not one word about our group and how hard we worked. So many people at GA stopped us to say how much they liked our music. The article made it sound as if we weren't even there!
Sara Silberstein
Braintree, MA

Choral director Nick Page shaped 130 children from 71 congregations in the US and Canada into the first UU Children's Honor Choir. Cochairs Lynne Beasley and Beth Norton devoted two years to organizing this project of the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network. Support came from network members, families, congregations, organizations, and people who love children and music. The youngsters performed at the General Assembly's Service of the Living Tradition and brought cheers, tears, and dancing in the aisles to the GA closing celebration.

How very sad and bewildering that UU World left the Children's Honor Choir out of its GA coverage.
Joyce T. Gilbert
President, UU Musicians Network
Rochester, NY

Wrong on Scouts

Contrary to your September/October story on UUs and the boy scouts ["UU News"], the US Supreme Court didn't rule that the Boy Scouts of America can exclude gays from membership in scout troops. It said only that the BSA cannot be forced to accept a gay scout leader.
Wesley M. Baden
Vernal, UT

John Buehrens's comments about the boy scouts indicate that he thinks the Supreme Court erred and thus the scouts should be punished. I find the scouts' legal defense of their right of conscience more consistent with UU principles than Buehrens's calling for their punishment for not agreeing with his conscience.
Ernest King
Tampa, FL

Very Large Exception

I take very large exception to one word in your otherwise fine article on the General Assembly. You describe as "whimsical" the question "Why does the UUA Board exist?" which was put to the GA by an unnamed UU. You went on to describe other questions as "pragmatic."

In fact, there's no more pragmatic question than how we govern ourselves in our association. Does a hierarchical board- and staff-run corporation really fit any notion of a community of free churches in a cooperative association? In my view, the corporate design of the AUA was a mistake in 1825, and the corporate design of the UUA is still a mistake in 2000. No other fact so well accounts for our small size and weakness. We might do better if we had a better-designed form of governance based on patterns of congregational linkage, which could elicit more and livelier cooperation among congregations than we have now.
Alice Blair Wesley
Bellevue, WA

Lives of the Candidates

Great job on General Assembly coverage and the profiles of candidates for president and moderator! As a UU minister, I invited my congregation to read the candidate profiles and was delighted to see the kinds of questions and insights that were generated.

Please keep up the election coverage, and consider including job descriptions for president and moderator, an explanation of how the votes are counted in a three-way contest, and a discussion of the ways congregations might select delegates and cast their votes.
Roger Jones
Sunnyvale, CA

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