Utne Independent Press Awards Nominees 2009


Utne magazine announces its Independent Press Awards Nominees 2009:

Surely you’ve heard that print journalism is doomed: layoffs this, budget cuts that, blogs, Twitter, podcasts, paid content, and so on. We, the deciders of the 20th annual Utne Independent Press Awards, must respectfully disagree with this conventional but flawed wisdom.

Take a look under “Spiritual Coverage” about a third of the way down the page!


Andrew J. Brown, an English liberal Christian Unitarian, blogs at CAUTE: Some more thoughts on Garden Academies

. . . if liberals are going to get real things done in these difficult times then we need to recall that our power has always been in the cultivation of small and ever-evolving gardens which, collectively, show something real about our liberalism which includes, of course, a commitment to the incredible diversity and vulnerability of all life upon our home planet. The moment we are tempted to scale up to bigger institutions we begin to resemble, not gardeners (i.e. people actively commingling with the world) but managers (i.e. people who act at a distance from the world).

And Martin Kelley, a Quaker (I won’t hyphenate him!) blogs at Quaker Ranter: Is it Convergent to talk about Convergence?

Just the last thing is that for me if our work isn’t ultimately rooted in sharing the good news then it’s self-indulgent. I don’t want to create a little oasis or hippy compound of happy people. Friends aren’t going to go to heaven in our politically-correct smugness while the rest of the world is dying off. It’s all of us or none of us. If we’re not actively evangelizing, then we are part of the problem. “Convergence” is Quaker lingo. When we say it we’re turning our back to the world to talk amongst ourselves: a useful exercise occassionally but not our main work.

Hmm. I’m not sure the two quotes I’ve chosen do the best job at showing why I think these two posts are related, but it’s the best I have time to do at the moment!

Practicing and imitating

Andrew Brown is both a jazz musician and a Unitarian and radical Christian minister. He has written No Image — No Passion or how practising rock and roll moves in the mirror taught me the value of imitation:

. . . merely desiring the fruits of a liberal religion without at the same time seriously seeking to follow a religious exemplar means you will never get a real grip on what you need to be doing in the life of the spirit. Everything will remain terribly unfocussed and unfulfilling. There will be no attainment and progression.

Freedom and covenant

From a minister-blogger I’m reading more of these days, CAUTE: On cottages, decay, barns, fire, Mt. Olympus and the moon – or the future of the liberal church . . .:

So we are left with what feels to many the inconvenient truth that to be truly free as an individual to pursue truth we must ensure the freedom to do the same of an ever larger community and, to do that properly, we have to limit our personal freedom through the continuous process of covenanting. (It’s like marriage of course.)

Doug Muder unpacking metaphors

Doug Muder has posted a sermon at Free and Responsible Search: Some Assembly Required. As ever, he has an engaging intro:

[T]here used to be a little sign on Highway 24 – I don’t think it’s there any more – directing you to the Ripley Church of God.

One of my character flaws is that I lack a proper sense of reverence. And so, every time I passed that sign, the same irreverent phrase went through my mind: Believe it or not.

Something similar happens whenever I pass an Assembly of God church. You know what phrase pops into my mind then? Some assembly required. I picture a bunch of people with a God kit and an enormous set of directions, trying to figure out how to make the omnipotence fit together with the benevolence.

That’s probably not what they do in Assemblies of God. But it’s not a bad metaphor for what Unitarian Universalists do. Our religion doesn’t come to us as a finished product; some assembly is required. As George Marshall wrote: “Don’t come to a Unitarian Universalist church to be given a religion. Come to develop your own religion.”

The meat of Doug’s sermon explores this quandary:

[S]omeone who walks in the door with the wrong metaphor, someone who tries to stuff us into the wrong box . . . well, they ask the wrong questions. And after you’ve asked the wrong questions, even the best answers might not help you.

He proceeds to reframe some of the “wrong” questions in order to make “right” answers possible.