Contents: UU World Back Issue

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We received forty-one letters after our September/October issue: ten reacting to feature stories, eight in response to various departments, five commenting on our new children's insert uu&me!, and eighteen on other matters. uu&me! is published by the Church of the Larger Fellowship and was formerly sent only to CLF children and individual subscribers. It will now receive wider distribution as a regular part of UU World . While we received several letters praising uu&me!'s new format, its lead story on same-sex families drew some fire. Wrote R. Barry of Newport, Rhode Island, "I thought I was a pretty flexible Unitarian, but I guess I'm not. Cheerleading this message to children is, in my opinion, highly inappropriate."

UU World prides itself on its sensitivity to various forms of oppression, but occasionally we slip up. Kell Brigan of Carmichael, California, took offense at a line from a "Bookshelf" essay by Dan Cryer in the September/October issue. The essay, "The Pages of Sin," reviewed a series of recent books on the seven deadly sins. In reviewing the book on gluttony, Cryer wrote of the overweight, that if "fear of the afterlife no longer has power to sway behavior, the possibility of premature death brought on by 'immoderation, excess, and slovenly self-indulgence' sometimes does." Brigan vigorously objected to the implication that obesity is linked with gluttony.

On another topic, Catherine Ohrin-Greipp, an Eastern Cherokee from Sierra Vista, Arizona, challenged Forrest Church's idealization of the nation's founders in his essay "Choose Your Enemies Carefully" in the July/August issue. "Doesn't he know that these same men supported extermination of my ancestors as an answer to the Indian problem?" she wrote. "Now that's evil."

Although it's never pleasant hearing about ways we may have offended readers, we appreciate those letters reminding us of the need for editorial vigilance in producing the magazine.

Jane Greer



Hannah Wells's "First Things First" was a jewel in the "Reflections" section (September/October). Other articles in this issue fretted over decreasing relevance and declining membership of Unitarian Universalism. Wells addressed a core factor in our decline by stating that we impose oppression when "We grant ourselves the authority to judge who is oppressing whom . . . without asking how demeaning it is to define humans as victims."

Unitarian Universalists often promote perverted social justice that advocates coercively imposed schemes, instead of the liberation of our fellow beings to make their own life choices. Our denomination will continue to struggle if it fails to heed Wells's wisdom.

Larry Woods
Snellville, Georgia

I was thrilled to see your coverage of Larry Ladd's report ("Healthy Stewardship, Declining Enrollment," September/October) that described the decline in religious education as a "warning signal for our movement" and an indicator "that likely predicts a decline in adult membership in the near future." I attended my first GA this year in Long Beach, and while I enjoyed myself, I became rather distressed after reading Ladd's report in the UUA Annual Report. I have been perplexed about why that report was not being widely discussed in our communities as a priority. How can we as a denomination focus our time, effort, and resources on growth strategies when we do not know why we are not growing? I thought it was great that you were going to address this big pink elephant in the living room. Wow, was I disappointed that you did not include Ladd's concluding sentence in the same paragraph, which is "For the second year in a row, I regret to report that, to my knowledge, there has been no serious discussion within our movement about the implications of this regrettable development."

Why are we so afraid to look at ourselves and do an assessment of those things that are not working? It's hard to repair the car if you aren't willing to open the hood.

Karen D. Glikman
San Rafael, California


Not only is Edward Frost's "Playing with the Italians" (September/October) a beautiful and thought-provoking sermon, but its theme could also be the basis for a very fruitful intergenerational exchange. Sharing stories such as Frost's can reinforce the importance of each of us taking the risky step to honor our values, speak up, and take a stand, as well as providing a community of support for those who may be hesitant to take difficult steps on their own. Participants of all ages can have an equal voice as they share stories of "an independent action [each of us has taken] that made a difference." As Frost says, "Each of you has a story, waiting to be remembered, about the power you had and have still to make a difference."

Francesca Benson
Princeton, New Jersey


Donald Hurford warns in the September/October issue ("Letters") of same-sex marriages weakening traditional ones. I'd like to know how. Traditional marriages are threatened by a lot of things: easy divorce and hasty or ill-thought-out marriages, to name a couple. But how can two people who love each other and want to commit to each other threaten someone else's marriage? Conversely, I believe that committed relationships, whether straight or gay, can only strengthen the family, the community, and the nation. Slippery slope thinking is a ruse for denial of rights and an inability to adapt to a changing culture.

The Rev. Elizabeth McMaster
Albuquerque, New Mexico


It's amazing in a scientific age in a journal of rational religion to read a letter such as that written by Mike Werner (November/December). Werner makes authoritarian, final-judgment statements about addiction and AA that remind me of religious fundamentalists' harangues about homosexuality being a matter of moral choice.

Having been worked over throughout my early life by those causative bio-psycho-social forces of which he speaks, and knowing what it is like to be in the grips of an addiction, I feel fully qualified to inform him that his ideas are about as useful in the fight against addiction as telling a psychotic person he's crazy. A person who can lay aside an addiction by using "the three-pound organ" between his ears doesn't have an addiction. Such a person may have used an addictive substance or behavior to his own or others' detriment, but his problem isn't even in the same ballpark with an addiction.

Mr. Werner, if you have been the object of those forces that you know produce addictions--but you didn't develop addictions--thank your genes, your mother (or whoever the most significant figure of your childhood was), and an environment that provided the nutrition and stimulation to grow a brain that now enables you to "just say no."

Mona Lang
Aurora, North Carolina


I think the inclusion of uu&me! in UU World is fabulous. I have received comments from parents about how wonderful it is to have our children acknowledged as a vital part of this denomination. It sends the message that we know that families and children are important and this will help us grow in the future.

Jan Devor
Director of Religious Education
First Unitarian Society
Minneapolis, Minnesota

UU World welcomes letters to the editor. Send to "Letters," UU World, 25 Beacon Street, Boston MA 02108 or world@uua.org, but do not send attachments. Include your name, address, and daytime phone number on all correspondence. Published letters with author's name, city, and state will appear on uuworld.org. 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.

 Contents: UU World Back Issue
UU World : Page 10-11

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