Contents: UU World November/December 2002
November/December 2002


 UU World: July/August 2002 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 bias.

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

Refugee Strength

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
     Knoxville, Tennessee


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

West's Legacy

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
Knoxville, Tennessee

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 our movement.

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
Burlington, Vermont

Losing Parables

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.

Marsha Peruo
New York City

Courageous Host

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 them.

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
Pemaquid, Maine

Grateful Survivor

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 solution.

Joanne Polichetti
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).

Nathaniel Batchelder
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Wyoming Memories

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 be shaken.

Patrick Murfin
Crystal Lake, Illinois

Moving Option

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.

Julie Fitzer
Lexington, Virginia

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 Eds.

Reconciling Opposites

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
Tucson, Arizona

UU World welcomes letters to the editor. Please address to "Letters," UU World, 25 Beacon St., Boston MA 02108, or e-mail us at world@uua.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 effort.

 Contents: UU World November/December 2002
UU World XVI:6 (November/December 2002): 7-11

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