Be Spiritual – Episode 22

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UU Chalice by Inga Johannesen, UU Church of Chattanooga, TNMy guest for Episode 22 is Laura, a relatively new UU whose spirituality is an amalgam of the stops along her religious journey.  Raised Episcopalian, Laura has explored yoga, Native American spirituality, and the mysticism of Hinduism blended with Christianity. Laura finds taking the best from each religious tradition helps her to connect with the divine.

Perhaps ironic, her exploration occurs within a Unitarian Universalist community, where she finds acceptance and an encouragement to probe deeper.

This episode runs about 44 minutes. You may listen with the above audio player, download the mp3 file, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Our theme music is Floating Souls, composed and performed by Ambrish and made available royalty-free thanks to Music Alley from Mevio. The chalice artwork was created by Inga Johannesen, of the UU Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

More Information

If you’d like to explore some of the topics touched upon during my conversation with Laura, check out these resources:

  • Wikipedia’s article on Hinduism
  • Wikipedia’s article on Yoga
  • Website of Russill Paul, author, musician, monk, and yogi
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Be Spiritual — Episode 21

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UU Chalice by Inga Johannesen, UU Church of Chattanooga, TNThis episode I visit with my own minister, the Rev. Steve Edington of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua, New Hampshire.

As a youth in West Virginia, Steve decided to become a minister just like the one at the Baptist church his family attended. That began his journey through the ministry, first from conservative to liberal Christianity, then to Unitarian Universalism.

In addition to his journey, Steve discusses his own theology, which he tags as panentheism. We also touch UU theology — perhaps an oxymoron — which leads to two of the most prominent UU theologians of the past 70 years, James Luther Adams and Forrest Church.

This episode runs about 43 minutes. You may listen with the above audio player, download the mp3 file, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Our theme music is Floating Souls, composed and performed by Ambrish and made available royalty-free thanks to Music Alley from Mevio. The chalice artwork was created by Inga Johannesen, of the UU Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

More Information

If you’d like to explore some of the topics touched upon during my conversation with Steve, check out these resources:

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Be Spiritual – Episode 20

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UU Chalice by Inga Johannesen, UU Church of Chattanooga, TNIt’s a privilege to bring you this reflective and enlightening conversation with Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell, Minister Emerita of the First Unitarian Church of Portland, Oregon.

Last fall I heard and was fascinated by Marilyn’s dialog with Christopher Hitchens, the well-known atheist, that was sponsored, posted, and published by the Portland Monthly magazine. What first caught my attention was Marilyn’s description of her religious views as Christian, as I was looking for someone to articulate UU Christianity for this podcast.

Beyond that, Marilyn’s discussion with Christopher Hitchens was intriguing because of the irony of Hitchens the atheist telling Marilyn that she was not Christian. And once the interview was posted online, other voices agreed with Hitchens by rejecting Marilyn’s Christianity — some vitriolic as only online comments can be.

I travel to Portland from time to time, and last month Marilyn graciously invited me to her home to share and record her spiritual journey. In addition to the remarkable story of her path to ministry, I think you’ll find Marilyn’s views of Christianity and prayer thought provoking, even offering kernels of spiritual truth for agnostics and atheists.

To listen to Marilyn’s and my hour-long conversation, you may use the above audio player, download the mp3 file, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Our theme music is Floating Souls, composed and performed by Ambrish and made available royalty-free thanks to Music Alley from Mevio. The chalice artwork was created by Inga Johannesen, of the UU Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

More Information

To explore some of the topics that Marilyn and I touched upon, these links may be helpful:

  • Marilyn Sewell’s blog
  • Marilyn Sewell’s books, including A Little Book on Prayer
  • Facebook page for the movie Raw Faith
  • Starr King School for the Ministry — a Unitarian Universalist seminary
  • Transylvania — Marilyn refers to Transylvania as she describes the mystical experience that prompted her decision to attend Starr King. In the 16th century, in Transylvania, Francis David founded the first expression of the Unitarian faith in Europe. He was subsequently imprisoned over differences in belief about Jesus; he died, still in prison, in 1579. Read more of the history here on the American Unitarian Conference web site.
  • Web site of the First Unitarian Church of Portland
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Unitarian Universalists at General Assembly

SOF Observed, the blog of Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith public radio program, has now posted the complete video recorded as this year’s General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association kicked off in Minneapolis. Watch a dozen or so UUs from around the country respond to various questions about Unitarian Universalism.

Unitarian Universalists in Focus from Speaking of Faith on Vimeo.

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Our Next Episode

While on business in Portland, Oregon, I had the privilege of visiting with the Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell, Minister Emerita of the First Unitarian Church of Portland.

With my recorder running, Marilyn graciously recounted her spiritual journey, first to Unitarian Universalism and then to the UU ministry. She shared her religious beliefs, which she considers Christian, and her disciplined spiritual practice of prayer and meditation. Her theology is instructive and reflects the freedom we UUs have to navigate our own waters.

Marilyn’s absorbing story includes twists and turns and a few ironies &#151 like atheist Christopher Hitchens protesting that her beliefs don’t qualify as Christian. Or Marilyn, in a pinch, asking Bill Sinkford (UU minister and former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association) to conduct a memorial service &#151 before he became a minster.

One of the pleasures of producing this podcast is listening to each conversation several times as I lightly edit the recording. Each time, I hear more deeply until I feel a visceral connection with the sacred path each person has traveled. Marilyn’s spiritual journey resonates with her deep commitment to humility, openness to possibility, and service.

When you hear it, I hope you, too, will sense the sacred.

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Be Spiritual – Episode 19

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UU Chalice by Inga Johannesen, UU Church of Chattanooga, TNThis episode, Kim Steele joins me for a conversation about her spiritual journey, one that reflects several themes worth contemplating and incorporating into our own spiritual practices:

  • Welcoming the stranger
  • Working for justice, equity, and compassion (one of our UU principles) for those who seem different — whether by race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability, or …
  • Identifying and rooting out our own prejudices, wherever they are smouldering.

Kim grew up in the Catholic church, which she credits with promoting her awareness of the need for racial equality. However the church’s position on women triggered her leaving, and she ended up Unitarian Universalist.

Coincidentally, since my conversation with Kim, the Vatican has classified the ordination of women as delicta gravioria, a serious crime against church law. Contrast this with our Universalist ancestors, the first denomination to ordain a woman minister, Olympia Brown, in 1863.

During our conversation, Kim mentions a few items you may wish to explore:

  • Cakes for the Queen of Heaven. This adult religious education curriculum explores spiritual traditions that have worshiped the female as divine and the influence of the Judeo Christian tradition on the role of women.
  • Rev. Kate Braestrup. Kate Braestrup is a UU minister, chaplain of the Maine Warden Service, and author.
  • This American Life episode 201. Act 3 tells the story of the black sailor washed ashore in Newfoundland during World War II. The white nurses who took care of him had never seen a black man before.

Listen to my 42 minute conversation with Kim with the above audio player, download the mp3 file here, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Our theme music is Floating Souls, composed and performed by Ambrish and courtesy of Music Alley from Mevio. The chalice artwork was created by Inga Johannesen, of the UU Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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How Did You Become A UU?

In the second related video published on the Speaking of Faith blog, UUs attending the recent General Assembly in Minneapolis spoke of how they became UUs.

How did you become a Unitarian Universalist? from Speaking of Faith on Vimeo.

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What’s a UU? In Our Own Words

Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith public radio program, which is produced by Minnesota Public Radio, took advantage of the recent General Assembly in Minneapolis to ask us who we are. You can hear our own words in this video posted on the SOF Observed blog.

What Is a Unitarian Universalist? from Speaking of Faith on Vimeo.

Watch for additional videos about Unitarian Universalism on the Speaking of Faith blog. And if you haven’t heard Krista Tippett’s radio program, look for it on your local public radio station or listen to the podcast. It’s a fascinating exploration of religion, spirituality, and ethical living.

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Peter Morales Interview

The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), was interviewed Thursday on Minnesota Public Radio’s Midmorning call-in program.

Notwithstanding that host Marianne Combs is a UU, she asked some challenging questions about what UUs believe and why we aren’t a larger religious community. Hear the program and Peter Morales’ responses to these questions using this player:

Please post your reactions to the interview and the questions by leaving a comment.

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Be Spiritual – Episode 18

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UU Chalice by Inga Johannesen, UU Church of Chattanooga, TNIt’s a privilege to have the Rev. Bruce Taylor as my guest. Bruce is a newly minted UU minister, ordained last November (2009). And just a few weeks ago, he was called by the congregation of First Parish Church in Billerica, Massachusetts, to be their minister.

Bruce’s journey is a story of personal transformation. The devastating death of his wife, from cancer, coupled with the loss of his job, turned life upside down. Juxtaposed with the loss and uncertainty, Bruce was buoyed by the outpouring of support from his church, which rallied around him.

Fast forward to a Memorial Day weekend in Bar Harbor, Maine. Daydreaming over a beer, Bruce saw himself as a UU minister, in a position to nourish a community and pay back what he had received. Reflecting upon the audaciousness of choosing to pursue the ministry, Bruce quotes Thoreau:

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Some five years after that Bar Harbor vision, Bruce was ordained.

In our 46 minute conversation, Bruce relates his journey, including the process of becoming a UU minister, some personal theology, his outlook for Unitarian Universalism, and the role of a minister. Listen with the above audio player, download the mp3 file here, or subscribe via iTunes.

My conversation with Bruce was recorded a month before he was called by the Billerica UU church, which is why you’ll hear him refer to that as a possibility. He mentions several items during the podcast that you may wish to read more about:

Our theme music is Floating Souls, composed and performed by Ambrish and courtesy of the Podsafe Music Network. The chalice artwork was created by Inga Johannesen, of the UU Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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