Sunday, May 31, 2009

Be Spiritual - Episode 1

In this inaugural episode of Be Spiritual, I speak with Ellen McCormick, a long time Unitarian Universalist (UU) and member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua, New Hampshire.

Ellen's father died when she was only 10, which prompted a lifetime of questioning. Listen to Ellen's story of her journey from Catholicism to Humanism and Unitarian Universalism.

Listen using the above audio player or you may download the mp3 file here.

We welcome your feedback, which you may leave by posting a comment or sending an e-mail to comments at bespiritual dot info.

Our theme music is Floating Souls by Ambrish, courtesy of the Podsafe Music Network. Chalice artwork created by Inga Johannesen, UU Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

A discussion about Heaven

A long-standing joke about Unitarian Universalists, or UUs, goes like this:

A UU comes to a fork in the road. An arrow points to Heaven in one direction, and another arrow points to a discussion about whether heaven even exists. The UU goes down the path eagerly anticipating the discussion.

UUs laugh at this joke because we are a questioning lot. We don't accept much without first investing a lot of rational thought. And since so many religious “answers” are a matter of faith, we are usually content to live with the questions, to paraphrase Rilke.
I would like to beg of you, dear friend, as well as I can, to have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them... Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
Throughout our lives, we UUs explore the questions and arrive at many different answers. What unites us is this common quest and the deep respect for the principle that you have the right to your answers as much as I do mine.

We also believe in uniting as a faith community, one that supports our searches, shares our joys, and provides comfort during the difficult times.

Exploring the diversity of our views is the genesis for this podcast. With so many thoughtful people with various life experiences, and often little time to have deep conversations, these programs are intended to honor our searches, stimulate our thinking, and share Unitarian Universalism with a wider audience.

I hope you enjoy listening to these podcasts as much as I have. It's a sacred privilege for me to have the opportunity to facilitate and record the conversations.

Monday, May 25, 2009

About your host

I'm Gary Lerude, the host of the Be Spiritual podcast. My family and I live in Nashua, New Hampshire, the latest stop in a journey that has taken me eastward from my birthplace of Reno, Nevada.

I discovered Unitarian Universalism and became a UU some 25 years ago, after years of being religious without having a religion.

You see, the religion of my youth seemed to demand a choice between accepting by faith and rational thinking, between the revelations of past millennia and the revelations of science. Then there was the need to accept Christ in order to be saved, regardless of whether one lived a moral and ethical life or was already Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, or grounded in some other spiritual tradition.

After years of going it alone, I decided to seek a compatible faith tradition and luckily found myself at a UU church in Dallas. One service "hooked" me. Here was a religious community that asked me to apply my reason to life's eternal questions and to use my talents to improve the world, here and now.

Unitarian Universalism has inspired, challenged, and comforted me. My children have been raised in a community with values that will prepare them to live in a complex, nuanced, and global society.

Be Spiritual was borne of my desire to share my empowering faith. A conversational podcast seemed like a good vehicle with which to recount the religious journeys of thoughtful and interesting people. In today's busy world, we — if I may generalize — don't take enough time for deep discussion and understanding.

I appreciate your interest and hope you will find the podcast meaningful and helpful to the development of your own spirituality.

Wishing you peace and blessings,

Gary Lerude

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What is the Be Spiritual podcast about?

Here's a short audio description of what the Be Spiritual podcast is about.