what in the World?

 Contents: UU World Back Issue

Reconciliation, persistence, and other matters

The following questions, based on this issue's contents, are designed to stimulate spiritual reflection and adult education group discussions.

by Jane Greer

SELF-IMPOSED EXILE. The Rev. Victoria Safford describes many Unitarian Universalists as self-identified exiles from other religious traditions or from “an utterly un-churched secular life.” (“Living in Exile”)

As a Unitarian Universalist, do you self-identify as a religious exile? If so, what are you an exile from? What caused you to leave the old and familiar and begin to explore the new?

TWO LISTS. “Practicing reconciliation is my personal spiritual discipline,” writes Paula Cole Jones. She keeps two lists: One has the names of people with whom she needs to reconcile. The other has names of people with whom she has begun reconciliation efforts. (“Reconciliation as a Spiritual Discipline”)

Make these two lists for yourself. What sorts of relationships appear on these lists? How might you take a first step toward reconciliation with some of these people?

APOLOGY VS. RECONCILIATION. Paula Cole Jones quotes the Rev. Danielle Di Bona: “Who is apology really for? What does it do for the injured party? Is it to relieve the burden of the person who caused the injury, leaving the injured holding the responsibility of accepting the apology with no commitment to changing the conditions that caused the problem? The person who apologizes may never know the impact of their actions.” (“Reconciliation as a Spiritual Discipline”)

If apology alone is not enough, what needs to be added? How does reconciliation differ from apology? What has been helpful in your own efforts at reconciliation?

STORIES OF RACE. Paula Cole Jones describes some of the racial reconciliation work done at her church. “People came together to share personal stories about how race had shaped their life experiences and it was clear that we had tapped into something deep in the community. . . . Everyone has a story about race and ethnicity.” (“Reconciliation as a Spiritual Discipline”)

How has race shaped your life experience? What is your story about race and ethnicity?

AGAINST ALL ODDS. Some people seem to be gifted with amazing persistence. Trywell Nyirongo is one of them, having come from Africa to attend an American high school and then staying on to earn a college degree. When he wasn't accepted at an American medical school, he went to Iran and then Belgium to get his medical degree. (“An Enduring Bond”)

What things have you done that required endurance and strength? What kept you going during these times?

INTERNATIONAL AID REVISITED. There are many ways of providing assistance to developing countries. Unity Church–Unitarian in St. Paul, Minnesota, supported first Trywell and now his son Thomas in their pursuit of an American education. The church is also supporting the clinic that Trywell Nyirongo founded in Malawi. (“An Enduring Bond”)

What kind of aid to developing countries works best? With so many countries in need, how do you decide which ones to support? What criteria should the government use in deciding which countries to assist?

DESIGNER CHILDREN. In his book review “Human Origins and Human Futures,” Dan Cryer describes author Bill McKibben's fear of genetic engineering running amok—a future in which parents could select the most desirable genetic traits for their children, creating a caste system favoring the genetically altered over those born naturally.

What are the dangers in human genetic experimentation? What controls are necessary to keep its growth within bounds?

Jane Greer is the managing editor of UU World. To receive an advance copy of this column by e-mail, sign up at www.uua.org/mailman/listinfo/uuworld.

 Contents: UU World Back Issue
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