Thirty-eight letters arrived in our mailbox after the May/June issue reached our readers, but well over half took up these from earlier issues. The letters we published in May about our special issue on life with terrorism drew the largest number of responses. Will Schick's letter struck a nerve by suggesting that "motivation for military service can be found in at least two Unitarian Universalist principles." June Krebs of Philadelphia disagreed: "The seven principles are not compatible with military solutions." But Allan T. Perkins of Houston wrote that he retired from the Air Force and now serves as a UU chaplain to veterans.
Christopher L. Walton
The cover stories by David Whitford and Starita Smith ("A Step Toward Racial Reconciliation" and "His Rightful Place," May/June) made me feel proud to be associated with people who would do such hard and personal work toward racial reconciliation. When so little good news about race relations has come out of Cincinnati recently, it is good to know that the folks at First Church and the Northern Hills Fellowship didn't just learn about history, they started to repair it.
Numerous studies have shown that language not only reflects our attitudes but shapes them, and that gender-exclusive language is significant in continuing attitudes of male dominance. On page 28 ("A Step Toward Racial Reconciliation," May/June) the term "evolution of man" was used not only in the body of the article but in the highlighted excerpt at the top of the page. It would have been easy to change it to "the evolution of the human race," for example.
I hope that in the future more effort will be made to reflect the Unitarian Universalist commitment to equity in human relations.
The Rev. Kathleen Damewood Korb
The article described "a painting depicting the evolution of man, from the apes all the way to Jesus," that decorated the window of the Rev. W.H.G. Carter's storefront church in the 1930s. We believe that the phrase accurately describes the painting, but agree that the painting, which depicted only males, misrepresents the evolution of the human species. The Eds.
What interested me most about the Rev. W.H.G. Carter's storefront Church of the Unitarian Brotherhood in Cincinnati was that it was established at the same time as the Unitarian Brotherhood Church here in Nigeria.
The Unitarian Brotherhood Church (Ijo Isokan Gbogbo Eda) was founded in Lagos about 1917 or 1918 by Bishop Adeniran Adedeji Isola with other elders who shared his understanding. Led by the Most Rev. A.A. Soyombo-Abowaba, we continue to struggle to propagate Unitarianism as we face modern challenges, always having in mind that Unitarianism is most suitable to the continent's people, especially the Yoruba in Nigeria, as they maintain their faith in Ifa, sole God and grand creator God. Unlike other religious organizations, Unitarianism does not disturb traditional customs. But Nigerian Unitarians need cooperation from sister congregations interested in sharing our difficulties and supporting our vision.
I deeply appreciated "A Step Toward Racial Reconciliation," and express my deepest gratitude to the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Church of the Larger Fellowship, which has sent us UU World since 1980, for your faith, understanding, and hard work to keep Unitarians in a close family.
The Rev. Taiyewo Aiyefuwa
The Unitarian Brotherhood Church is a member of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists. The Eds.
It is very gratifying to know of the dedication of the Selma Memorial in the UUA's Eliot Chapel in Boston ("UU News," May/June). Those events, and the heroic men and women who participated in them, deserve to be remembered.
But I am concerned that too much emphasis is placed on one's physical presence in Selma at that time. I spent the Civil Rights years as director of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in the two-state region of Georgia and Alabama. I know how much those of us who lived and worked in the South appreciated the presence of those who expressed their solidarity by coming for short periods of time. But the battle was not won solely on the streets of Birmingham or on the Pettus Bridge in Selma. It was won because religious leaders, both clergy and lay, brought moral pressure to bear on lawmakers in Iowa and Illinois and Delaware and California and every other state.
All praise be given to those who made the pilgrimage. But always remember, the real work of reconciliation doesn't occur on those emotional mountain tops. It happens close to home in the nitty-gritty of the workaday world.
Perfect HumorIn all the years I've read this magazine, I don't ever remember laughing right out loud before. But Philip Simmons ("In Praise of the Imperfect Life," May/June) portrayed the plague of north woods insects perfectly, and with such humor, that I did laugh out loud. If anyone outside the Northeast thinks he is exaggerating, I dare them to come visit. I don't live in New Hampshire or Maine, but I have been there enough to know whereof he speaks. Using this metaphor to prove his point is genius.
Connee Ann Madeira
Military OptionsWill Shick wrote about the January/February issue ("UUs in Uniform," Talkback, May/June): "It bothers me that the issue of UU World entitled 'Understanding Evil' did not mention the sacrifices made by the members of our military and their families." While I've learned to accept it, I'm always a little bit hurt when fellow Unitarian Universalists first find out I'm a retired Air Force master sergeant. They tend to back up and look like they want to "ward off the evil." I spent twenty-five years in the United States Air Force. The whole time I wore this uniform, I knew my job was to serve my fellow Americans and to honor those who founded this country and those who depended on me.
For the last several years, I've served as a local and district chaplain in the Veterans of Foreign Wars. While most chaplains for veteran service organizations pin a cross on their official cap, I do not. Right up front on my cap, for all to see, is the flaming chalice emblem. I've been told I'm the only UU VFW chaplain in Texas. I'm still serving proudly as a veteran and as a Unitarian Universalist.
Allan T. Perkins, MSgt, USAF (ret.)
Count Your Blessings
As a Unitarian Universalist youth, I am proud to be a member of such an accepting and open organization that honors everyone for who they are and what they believe. But Unitarian Universalism also has a few major turnoffs for me. I am a lot more conservative than many other Unitarian youth and adults both at my church and in the nation as a whole. I have a deep respect for democracy, even our watered-down version of it, and pride in my country. I have noticed in this magazine and in the church community a general disrespect for our government and our nation.
Sure, our system of government isn't perfect, but what is? Our country has so much more opportunity and freedom than most others. Again, it is not perfect, but folks, appreciate what you have. Think of the minivan you own, that school your kids attend, the job you hold, those protests we are so famous for, or even your right to assemble as Unitarian Universalists and not some government-dictated religion. Then, think if that would be possible in, say, Cuba.
Get on the Bus
I am a member of a lively and growing Unitarian Universalist church in a large Midwestern city. But I have not been attending lately because a generous friend who had been taking me has moved away. I live in a retirement community and do not have a car, and there is no public transportation available.
Environmentalists tell us that over-dependence on the automobile is wasteful and non-sustainable, with high accident rates, pollution, road rage, and military involvement over oil in the Middle East. The automobile has come to dominate our transportation pattern, excluding many senior citizens, people with handicaps and disabilities, and people living below the poverty line. Almost all attending our UU church, however, arrive by car.
Public transit has been losing out lately, with bus routes in our city being cut due to a shortage of funds. We need to take a long look at environmental stewardship matters such as this.
Bruce C. Cornish
In "Storms Facing West" (September/October 2002), we reported that former UUA President Bob West had served congregations in Nashville, Tennessee, and Rochester, New York. In fact, he served the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church in Knoxville before moving to Rochester.