We often divide your letters into two groups: those written in response
to articles we publish, and those on other topics. We mostly print letters
from the first group, but not because we don't appreciate the others.
Although we hope you'll continue sharing your ideas with us for occasional
publication, many on-line UU discussion groups offer much faster response
than a bimonthly magazine. You can learn more at www.uua.org/lists.
Thirty-three letters arrived in response to the July/August issue.
Several expressed gratitude for the profile of former UUA President
Bob West and added personal testimonials. In fact, most of the letters
this month were personal reflections. Our March/April excerpt
from Proverbs of Ashes continued to generate mail, including
two letters that saw it as an expression of anti-Christian sentiment;
another pair of letters complained that UU World has a Christian
Meanwhile friends of Robert "Woody" Woodward, who was fatally
shot by police in a Unitarian Universalist church in Vermont last December,
wrote to complain that our news coverage (March/April and July/August)
failed to portray the man they knew or to question the state attorney
general's exoneration of the police. "Woody was not a demon that
needed to be snuffed out to save the congregants," wrote Barbara
Holmes. "He was a loving proponent of nonviolence who either had
a psychotic break or was threatened by an intelligence agency or both."
For more about the ongoing inquiry into Woodward's death, see page 58.
Christopher L. Walton
Mary Pipher's story of the blending of most of the world's cultures into
the fabric of Lincoln, Nebraska, is most encouraging ("The
Middle of Everywhere," July/August). That all of these cultures,
languages, and dreams can find productive futures in America is itself
proof of the strength of America but to do so without dependence
on affirmative action and quotas is even more remarkable.
Frederick J. Miller
As a Unitarian for over forty-two years, and as a person of color or
so-called African American, I enjoyed Mary Pipher's article on multiculturalism
("The Middle of Everywhere,"
July/August). My wife and I liked her honest and subjective observations
of her own biases and prejudices. There is much in her article that
shows the depth of her expertise and wisdom in working with children
from diverse backgrounds.
I wondered how a Native American student would have reacted to the
stories the children were told about the Pilgrims. Furthermore, Pipher
only discusses black Americans once when she reports the
shocking fact that the children thought all robbers were African Americans.
But she offered no remedy to correct this false belief.
In a free society it is each of our responsibility to shield, protect,
and prepare children against false, negative, and sick ideas, and to
guide them to the more honest, positive, and healthy directions. Unitarian
Universalists should work to promote ongoing positive contacts between
our newest citizens and people of color who have been here for centuries.
Only face-to-face meetings with black peers can overcome the negative
stereotypes learned from the media about this most feared minority group.
Negrophobia remains a national and dangerous problem.
Offie C. Wortham
Beacon, New York
Thanks for the wonderful article about the Rev. Robert Nelson West,
who deserves much gratitude for serving as president of the UUA at a
tumultuous time ("Storms Facing
West," July/August). However, Bob West also deserves to
be remembered for his ministry to the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist
Church in Knoxville (not Nashville, as was printed). He is remembered
fondly in Knoxville for his courageous leadership in the civil rights
movement and for his active participation in the sit-ins to desegregate
local lunch counters. As a Southerner, Bob was a visible and vocal reminder
that racist attitudes do not have to be an inevitable part of white
Southern culture. He helped to promote the vision of a New South free
of racism, bigotry, and oppression. In Knoxville Bob West cannot be
called our "unsung hero." We have never forgotten his heroism.
We have never ceased to sing his praises.
The Rev. Christopher Buice
Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church
Many thanks for Warren Ross's excellent article about Bob West's service
from 1969 to 1977 as president of the UUA in difficult political and
economic times. More Unitarian Universalists need to know that Bob helped
save the UUA from economic disaster and made major contributions to
I need to make one minor correction, however. Ross wrote that Bob and
I "together . . . introduced professional management and personnel
policies: grading all jobs, establishing firm salary ranges, and putting
an end to a system under which staff members negotiated their salaries
behind closed doors." Actually Bob deserves credit for having done
that before I became executive vice president in 1974. After I joined
the staff, we had to make many difficult decisions, and I was honored
to have worked with him.
The Rev. Robert E. Senghas
Each time I received the UU World, I first searched out
the Parables page by Daniel J. McClain. I was so sad to learn that he
took his own life ("From the Editor
in Chief," July/August). What a loss both to his family
and to UU World's readers who were treated to his whimsical, thought-provoking
art. My condolences to his family and friends.
New York City
The Rev. A. Powell Davies (featured in "Looking
Back," July/August) was the minister of All Souls Church
when I met him as a sixteen-year-old and not yet a Unitarian
Universalist in circumstances you may find interesting.
My father was executive secretary of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting of
Friends. His dream was to have an interracial summer program for children,
an idea the Friends fully embraced. At the last moment, the local meeting
decided they could not have black children in their building. This was
1945, when everything in the nation's capital was strictly segregated.
There was nowhere to go. With children eagerly awaiting its start, it
looked as if the whole project would have to be scrapped.
Then Davies called. "Use my church," he said. We did, and
the program one of the very first attempts at anything interracial
in Washington was a success.
All Souls was in a white neighborhood, a risky place for African Americans,
so mothers took their children and stayed during the program's half-day
session rather than making two trips by foot or bus. For them, Davies
made a meeting room available and had the coffee pot on. He frequently
dropped in to talk and listen, and he said he learned a great deal from
My father often expressed his gratitude for the use of the Unitarians'
building. Perhaps a good bit of Davies' strong civil rights stand grew
from that experience.
Judith M. Hancock
Jane Greer's profile of Amber Amundson ("From tragedy, a legacy
of peace," UU News, July/August) left me with a wealth of emotions
as a survivor of the 9/11 tragedy. I am still coming to terms with my
experiences on that day: the horrifying images, sounds, smells, the
very taste of war. I said to myself during my exodus along the FDR Drive,
"This is what it is like to be a refugee."
I am grateful to Amundson and other Unitarian Universalists who have
articulated their opinions those opposed to the war (such
as Amundson) as well as those in favor and in between. I listen with
profound interest because I don't know the answer to this question of
war. I don't yet have the emotional energy to come to a conclusion.
However, I find it comforting, almost healing, to know that intelligent,
compassionate people are actively seeking social justice and a peaceful
Jericho, New York
Breaking the Silence
As a resident of Oklahoma City since 1969, I was astonished to hear
for the first time in 1989 about the 1921 race upheaval in Tulsa that
destroyed one of America's most prosperous black communities. The story
was buried in a collective and deafening silence. I am touched by UU
World's recounting of efforts by Tulsa's religious community, including
its Unitarian Universalist congregations, to offer symbolic reparations
to survivors' families ("UU News," July/August).
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Jeffrey A. Lockwood's reflection on "Nature's
Tough Love" (July/August) took me back to my childhood
in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The end of our block was the end of town, period.
Beyond it and without any gentle gradation stretched the tough, bristly
Wyoming high plateau prairie. I spent hours roaming that prairie on
summer days, my socks and pant legs collecting darts and burrs that
pricked the skin and sometimes made further exploration impossible.
The prickly pear and other low-lying cactus could pierce the heartiest
boots and torture the toes.
But I continued to go out. There I lived out the rich fantasy life
of a lonely child. On that merciless prairie, I could be the hero of
my own epic a hearty pioneer, reckless cowboy, or grizzled
soldier. Now, nearly fifty years later, safe and comfortable in the
Midwest where the subdivisions meet the carefully managed corn fields,
my wife and family think it mildly eccentric that even on the hottest
days I wear long pants and sturdy leather shoes. I will not even step
out of the house without a broad-brimmed hat, felt in winter, straw
in summer. The lessons of those long-ago summer prairie days cannot
Crystal Lake, Illinois
Your ad advising readers what to do in order to continue receiving
the magazine during a move neglected to mention a fourth option. You
can maintain a UU affiliation while in transition between brick-and-mortar
congregations by becoming a member of the Unitarian Universalist congregation
without walls, the Church of the Larger Fellowship.
Members of the Church of the Larger
Fellowship receive the congregation's newsletter, Quest, as well
as UU World. Call (617) 948-6166 to learn more.
The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt's thoughtful review of Tower of Babel
by Robert T. Pennock ("Bookshelf,"
July/August) illustrates one of the great limitations of the strictly
rational mind: finding it impossible, even inconceivable, to accept
that two seemingly opposite truths can have equal validity. If one is
right, the arguments goes, the other must be wrong. The either/or, us
versus them, win/lose dualistic mindset is a tendency shared by the
rationalists of science and religion alike.
Let us think yin and yang instead two opposite, but never opposed,
halves of one embracing whole. The stunning discoveries of quantum physics
have opened the door to the non-rational (not to be confused with irrational)
subatomic region, a reality crammed with mind-boggling paradoxes and
astonishing implications. How regrettable that despite those revelations,
too many scientists, from physicists to biologists, continue to view
life only through the rational lens. It has set them at odds with the
rationalists i.e., literalists of religion, resulting
in a seemingly endless feud.
That struggle prevents both from seeing that they are two sides of
the same coin, equally rigid and dogmatic and very much unable to tolerate
the other. In the meantime, some of us have discovered that there are
alternatives to fundamentalist theism and fundamentalist atheism. With
respect to the origin of life, that means one does not have to choose
between creative intelligence and evolution, but simply to recognize
the two as indispensable partners. In fact, honoring their union is
crucial to a renaissance of the human spirit.
The Rev. Rosemarie Carnarius
|UU World welcomes letters to the editor. Please address to "Letters," UU World, 25 Beacon St., Boston MA 02108, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address, and daytime phone number on all correspondence. Letters are edited for length and style; a maximum length of 200 words is suggested. We regret that we cannot publish or respond to all letters.
A news article about a scholarship fund established in memory of the late
Rev. Margaret Cary Kauffman (November/December, page 51) included inaccurate
information about her employment. She did not serve as a part-time minister
in Bethesda, Maryland, but did serve as a consulting minister at the
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Frederick, Maryland. She also continued
to work for the U.S. Agency for International Development after her
ordination in 1997.
The Spiritual Landmark column (November/December, page 59) misspelled
the name of the architect of the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Illinois.
The architect was Paul Schweikher.
A review of Robert T. Pennock's book Tower of Babel (July/August,
page 50) included outdated information about the author's academic position.
Pennock teaches philosophy at Michigan State University.
A brief notice of the Rev. Gail Collins-Ranadive's new book Finding
the Voice Inside ("Books by UU Authors," November/December,
page 57) incorrectly stated that the author is a member of the congregation
where she was an interim minister. She says she does not join the congregations
she serves as an interim minister.
A news article (November/December, page 46) about a congregation's
efforts to help rebuild an Afghan village damaged by U.S. bombs misidentified
the congregation. First Parish in Concord, Massachusetts not
First Parish in Cambridge contributed $2,500 to the rebuilding
UU World XVI:6
(November/December 2002): 7-11