what in the World?

 Contents: UU World Back Issue

Same-sex marriage, blogs, 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

Including youth. Donald E. Skinner writes about youth involvement in many congregations. “For many UU youth the weekly youth group meeting is enough. For others, it's just a beginning. They . . . thrive on involvement in congregational life. Their involvement helps them grow and it benefits the congregation as well.” (“UU youth show congregational leadership”)

How involved are your congregation's youth in the life of the church? How could you integrate them further?

Mainstream acceptance. In his cover story about same-sex marriage, Neil Miller writes: “Much of the country has witnessed the growing visibility and mainstreaming of the gay and lesbian community, an assimilation into the very core of American life that parallels the path of various ethnic minorities.” (“We Do”)

Many people see parallels between the African American struggle for civil rights and the push for same-sex marriage. How are the two similar and how are they different? How have you seen attitudes toward homosexuality change during your lifetime? What contributed to that change?

Religious vs. civil marriage. Miller notes that Unitarian Universalist ministers have been performing religious ceremonies for same-sex couples for more than three decades. “Although it is unclear which minister first blessed a same-sex union, a number of ministers are known to have officiated at ceremonies in the early 1970s, if not earlier.” These unions have not been recognized as legal marriages, however. (“We Do”)

Are same-sex couples given the same respect as heterosexual couples in your congregation? In your community? How would legalized same-sex marriage impact American society? What are some of the laws and practices that would have to change if it were legalized? Do you find that you think about unmarried couples differently than married couples?

Paradoxical love. In “A Mother's Bond,” Barbara Hamilton-Holway writes: “Mother's love was creative and destructive at the same time. . . . Mother—a god in the shape of a woman, a woman in the shape of a god. . . . a monster in the shape of a woman, a woman in the shape of a monster.”

How do you see your own mother's influence impacting you? In what ways is or was your mother's love both nurturing and oppressive? If you have children, how do you deal with the fact that your love may be experienced as both nurturing and oppressive?

Facing Goliath. Bella English writes that Kathy Mulvey's small nonprofit group infact has had a tremendous impact on corporate behavior, first through “the Nestlé boycott that brought about reforms in the marketing of infant formula in developing countries and a boycott of General Electric that forced the industry leader out of the nuclear weapons business.” (“No Formulaic Hero”)

Why has a small group like INFACT made such a difference? What could other groups learn from INFACT's strategies?

All a-blog. Donald E. Skinner describes a “blog” as “essentially an Internet diary that is usually a mixture of what's happening in a person's life and his or her observations on the larger world.” (“Blogs gain popularity among UUs”)

Visit some of the blogs mentioned in the article. What do you find distinctive about blogs? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the medium? How do you evaluate the veracity and authority of a blog? Of a new commentator?

Religious roots. In her Bookshelf essay “What can Jewish Orthodoxy teach us?,” Elizabeth A. Lerner writes of her love as a Unitarian Universalist for her ancestral Judaism. “Unitarian Universalists interested in older religious traditions aren't necessarily backsliding. We simply want to know where we came from, and sometimes integrate parts of that heritage into where we are now.”

If, like Lerner, you grew up UU, have you incorporated practices and beliefs from other traditions into your faith? If you grew up in another religious tradition, have you retained certain elements of it? Why?

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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