Archive | September 2013

My Way or the Highway

“If you won’t accept my idea of heaven, you can just go to hell.”  The current actions of the Republican party as it panders to its far right fringe remind me of a hell fire preacher faced with teens that really want (and probably need) to dance.

“No, you can’t have decent health care in this country, and if you insist, we will make sure the economy crashes and that you will never get a job.”

Dance anyway, my friends.  If you don’t, your children will never even get to hear the music.

It is not really the Tea Party’s ball, so they can’t just take it and go home.  It’s time to play the game by the rules, boys, or you can go home.  But we are keeping the ball.

Many Names

What should I call you

He, she or it

Are you a person, a thing, an idea?

Where are you now

While I call out your name

Are you high on a cloud

Or under a bush

A fire in the daytime

Or warmth in the night?

Do you live in a mansion

Or outside in the woods

Should I tremble in fear

Or relax in your love?

Are you father or mother

Brother or child?

Do you dwell deep inside me

Or around the next bend

My questions are many

My answers are few

Oh God be my witness

I am doing my best

Come down from your heavens

To live in our souls

Bring peace to this planet

Comfort the lost

Care for the children

The hungry the hurting

Who cares what we call you

I know you don’t mind

Living and loving

Is all we must do










The fire is coming

But not like they said

Horses will not come riding

From the four directions

The saints will not fly

Up into the clouds

No the fire is coming

Burning brighter than the sun

Scattering the shadows

Of demons in the night

Hate will turn to ashes

In the holy fire

Greed will be forgotten

In the blessed smoke

The fire of truth

The warmth of love

Will fuel the light of hope

It is time to build the fire.

Will you strike the match?





Cruz’n Lee – Two Little Pigs

Shocking, I found it seriously shocking that as part of his temper tantrum over Obamacare, Sen. Ted Cruz read one of my favorite books: Green Eggs and Ham. (Click) Why didn’t he read Ayn Rand Fountainhead or maybe the three little pigs?  He could then go all moralistic about the poor pig that foolishly built his house of straw.  Yes, if you don’t have the good sense to be born rich or to sell yourself to get a job in Congress (and great healthcare)  you really should be throw to the wolves.  The three little pigs might have made some sense given his political philosophy.  Or maybe it should be Two Little Pigs so he and his bud Mike Lee could just laugh and actually say out loud, “I’ve got mine, so forget about the rest of you.”

But Green Eggs and Ham?  What a travesty!

I have read Green Eggs and Ham in church.  It has a great message, an inspiring message.  Maybe both Ted Cruz and Mike Lee should read it again, maybe they would learn something.  It is about keeping an open mind, about trying something you think you will hate, and finding out you like it.  It is also about miracles.  Sam I Am keeps at it and finally convinces his friend to try a taste.  That’s the miracle, that he was willing to keep trying. The fact that green eggs and ham are good, we knew all along.  Now, I don’t think Cruz and Lee will like Obamacare no matter what.  I am frankly not all that crazy about it either.  I much would have preferred something like the Canadian system, but it is MUCH better than what is going on now in this country.  People are literally dying for lack of access to health care.  They often have to chose between their medicine and eating.  Someone, I think it was Jesus, asked us to feed the hungry and care for the sick.  If this debate is about freedom, it is only the freedom to give into greed.  Two little pigs, indeed, playing to the greed and self-righteousness that keeps people apart, demonizing the poor.  Hardly fitting for a so-called Christian nation and hardly fitting for a democracy.  They also want to cut food stamps at a time when hunger in the US is increasing.  (Hungry people come to our church every week looking for food.  We do what we can, but it is never enough.)

Dr Seuss has a lot of great books.  More of them should be read in Congress.  It might actually help.  It might open a few minds – and hearts.

“I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,

Me, I am hoping for a miracle.

Of course, in my Unitarian Universalist faith, we tend to believe that we are the ones who have to make the miracles.  It is time to tell the little pigs to sit down, shut up, and really listen.  Otherwise, they will shut down not only the government, but all possibility of becoming a country that actually cares about more than 1% of its people.


If I wait for you

At the precipice

Looking down

At what awaits

Will you come

To stand by me

Will you come

To give me courage

Holding hands

We will fly

Above the clouds

Below the rain

Around our lives

Pull the cord

No more free falling

Just drifting in air

Held in the sun’s

Oh so sweet embrace





Sunday twitter feed 9/22/13

  1. Two lay members spoke of growing up Catholic and the good things they found in that faith traditions.  This is the first of a series.

    Jesus taught us to recognize our own divinity and those around us.#uuogden

  2. Jesus was a gifted healer and teacher. He taught a higher way. #uuogden

  3. Catholic means universal. UU also contains the title Universalist.#uuogden

  4. Mary Arnow also sharing her background growing up in the Catholic Church. #uuogden

  5. Sitting in a pew today ready to enjoy a lay led service. #uuogden

  6. Get some sleep so you can come to church tomorrow. Potluck and work party after the service #UUogden


The wind blows

Shaking the trees

Howling like the hungry wolf

Outside our doors

We can only

Hunker down together

Pass the wine

Drink hot chocolate

Sing a song

Make love

Tell stories of the times

Before such winds blew.

Fables all

They were never true

But then

We need such tales

To keep the wolves away

So we can dream

Shaking in the wind.




Is the Pope Catholic? Is the LDS Church Christian?

The Pope is clearly Catholic, and what is more he is acting very Christian lately.  By Christian I mean someone who tries to follow the religion of Jesus.  You know, all that love thy neighbor and don’t cast the first stone stuff.  Pope Francis thinks we should worry more about how to feed the hungry and create more peace in the world.  He has said that the Church (and it is HIS Church by the way, he is the POPE for God’s sake!) should stop focusing on narrow divisive issues like gay marriage, abortion, and contraception, and be more compassionate.   He has even had a few good words to say about Atheists.  Jesus said good things about a Samaritan, remember?  Who knew that a Pope could be so cool?  The Bishops are listening of course, and the conservative ones are freaking out.  

Contrast that with the LDS church.  I have to do that because I live in Utah and it is an institution that affects almost every aspect of life here.  There a lot of very cool Mormons, don’t get me wrong.  Some of them are flaming liberals and some of them are just flaming.  (The double entendre is intentional.)  I don’t have issues with their theology.  It isn’t any stranger than a lot of other things many people believe. I also think Mormons are just as Christian as a lot of other groups that use that label.  But just because someone calls themselves a Christian, doesn’t mean they are doing what Jesus would do. 

Like in the Catholic church, at least until now, with this rocking new Pope, most of the problems, the entrenched attitudes and the frankly unchristian actions, come directly from hierarchy.  You have probably heard the phrase “Cafeteria Catholic” to describe folks that decide to ignore teachings they don’t agree with.   They practice birth control, for instance.  Maybe they believe gay marriage is just fine and don’t dispute the right of a woman to control her own body.  Maybe they think comprehensive sexuality education works better to prevent disease and teenaged pregnancy than “just say no.”  In Unitarian Universalist circles, we say instead, “Just say know.”  Maybe they take love thy neighbor seriously and want a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.  

There are Mormons like that too.  I call them “potluck” Mormons.  By the way, I LOVE potlucks and I like green jello!  (Sorry non-Utahns, but green jello is sort of a regional joke.  I ate it rather a lot of green jello growing up in California, not realizing it was a Utah joke. )

The cafeteria Catholics are cheering today, shouting Hallelujah.  Not so the potluck Mormons.  On the same day that Pope Francis’s interview was published, the news hit about the LDS church’s response to the likelihood of marriage equality becoming a reality in Hawaii in the very near future.  (see news article here) They aren’t as heavy handed as they were during Prop 8, or as they were in earlier struggles in Hawaii.  No, this time they are trying to be subtle.  They only sent a letter to church members in the “Aloha” state. (“Aloha” in Hawaiian actually means affection, peace, compassion, and mercy, not just hello and goodbye.) 

The letter says, in part:

“We have received a number of questions in the last few months regarding proposed legislation that would redefine the relationship and nature of marriage in Hawaii.

(Um right, somehow I don’t think this was written just in response to questions from their Hawaiian membership)

“As members of the Church we should be actively engaged in worthy causes that will affect our communities and our families. This legislation will directly affect both. Members are encouraged to study this legislation prayerfully and then as private citizens contact your elected representatives in the Hawaii Legislature to express your views about the legislation. As you do so, you may want to review “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and other Church publications available on the Church website at  You may also wish to consider donating your time or resources to one of the community organizations addressing this issue.

(The letter itself doesn’t tell members which position to take, but the referenced publication is clear that marriage is only between one man and one woman.)

“Whether or not you favor the proposed change, we hope that you will urge your elected representatives to include in any such legislation a strong exemption for people and organizations of faith. Such an exemption should:

“ — Protect religious organizations and officials from being required to support or perform same-sex marriages or from having to host same-sex marriages or celebrations in their facilities; and

(This is ALREADY protected under the 1st amendment and is just a scare tactic.  They know this.  Not even all Mormons are allowed to get married in the temple.)

“ — Protect individuals and small businesses from being required to assist in promoting or celebrating same-sex marriages.

That last one is the kicker, and it is talking about giving for profit businesses the legal right to discriminate when they are selling their goods and services to the general public.  That just isn’t right.   I am in the midst of planning a big wedding.  When we contact wedding vendors we are very careful to let them know that it is a same gender wedding.  We do this because we want good service.  If someone seemed less than enthusiastic about our marriage, we would definitely not choose to give them our hard earned money to take pictures or bake a cake for us.  But even though I wouldn’t choose to use them, I don’t think private businesses should be able to refuse to do business with people they don’t approve of.  Interracial marriages of course come to mind.  I suspect most of those couples don’t want to give their money to bigots, but they also don’t want to be refused service by them.  Should a bigoted grocer be able to refuse to sell food to a Muslim?  Of course not, but if they are looking for halal food, they probably won’t want to shop there anyway.  It would be too creepy.  They might slip some pork into the ground beef.  And who wants ground glass in their wedding cake?

Businesses don’t have to promote or celebrate anything, but they should not get to decide what customers they will turn away just because they don’t like or approve of them.  Individuals can do what they like in their private lives.  Don’t invite me to your house, that is fine.  But if you work in a flower shop, your boss just might ask you to prepare two identical wedding bouquets for two brides.  So what?  It has nothing to do with religious liberty, it is just how we do business in this country.  

All that said, you will never see me shopping at City Creek, the giant SLC shopping mall owned by the LDS church.  I wouldn’t want them promoting my lifestyle by selling me anything.  Why does a Christian church own a shopping mall anyway?  Did Jesus sell the loaves and fishes to the multitude? Did he ask if they were gay or straight before feeding them?

In answer to the title questions:

Yes, the Pope is Catholic

Yes, the LDS church is  Christian.  The leadership of that church?  Not so much.  

The Church as Amusement Park

I grew up near Santa Cruz, California.  The beach and boardwalk was a place I loved.  The fun house was a challenge; the giant spinning barrel  was the hardest thing.  There was always another kid, who got there first and wanted to make it go faster than I could stand.  The Big Dipper was the  best, an old wooden coaster with an agonizing climb, a heart stopping drop, and then, at last, the sheer joy of speed.  It felt like flying.  I have been on other roller coasters, but none really compare to that one I discovered as a child.  The more modern ones tend to have too much up and down for me, and way too many upside downs.  They don’t make me feel like I am flying.  They are just scary.

Ministry sometimes feels like flying.  There can be a high during a worship service when everything is working well, when the spirit is clearly in the room.  Everything seems to take wing, and the music simply makes my heart soar.

The church shouldn’t be like an amusement park , I suppose, but sometimes it feels that way. We don’t charge admission and everyone has a free pass to all the rides they want to try out.   Take a class, attend a concert, a book group, or work on a social justice project.  We don’t serve fried ice cream or cotton candy, but the potlucks can be pretty great.

I have gone into the haunted house with many congregants over the years as they faced the horrors of illness, death, and losses of all kinds.  Sometimes I feel like a carnival barker, asking people to donate time and money for a chance at more meaning in their lives.  It is much better odds than tossing pennies on a plate.

Sometimes church feels like a Merry-Go-Round, up and down and going around in circles.   It takes a long time to make changes happen, and old problems tend to resurface.  Some of them you just have to keep solving over and over again.  Then sometimes you catch the ring and make a lucky toss into the clown’s mouth.  Hallelujah!   The golden ring gets you a free ride.

There are all the challenges of the fun house, including the funny mirrors where it can be difficult to see what someone really needs.

As the minister, I can’t get too carried away at church.  If my emotions start going up and down at too rapid of a pace – spinning out of control like I’ve been on a ride on the Octopus, it’s time to sit back and have a snow cone or something.  I thought I knew that, but I forget sometimes.   I can also get lost in the hall of mirrors and don’t know where I am or which way to go.

Luckily, someone always comes along, and I just follow them awhile until we both find our way.  Ministry is not something one can do alone.

Golf would probably be easier.  If you lose a ball in the water trap, you can just pull a new one out of your pocket.  Nah, Ill take the Big Dipper any day.

Navy Yard

This is my last poem

I cannot write

Another one like this

The horror and grief

Is more than I can hold

Every day it seems

There is a new one

Lives blasted away

Children, mothers, fathers.

Alway we wonder why

There must be a reason

Something we must do

There has always been violence

War, murder, and rape

It’s in the Bible even

But this seems more modern

Strangers shooting just to shoot

A video game made real

A carnival game gone mad

It is time past time

To pull the plug

To put the big guns down.

And let the children live.