Category Archives: progressive

a church just like mine

Two days ago, a madman walked into a church just like mine (and only four hours away from mine) and opened fire, killing two people and injuring others.

Compared to many religions, Unitarian Universalism is a tiny denomination; we have maybe 100,000 members in the United States. So this tragedy hits extra hard — particularly because the man wielding the weapon didn’t choose a church at random. No, he deliberately planned to attack the Knoxville UU congregation because of its liberal social policies. He hates liberals, says the letter he left in his truck; he hates gays. Apparently, while he was shooting, he was shouting hatred for all to hear.

The banner at my Louisville, KY church reads, Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right.

The banner at my Louisville, KY church reads, "Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right."

High on one of the outer walls of my church hangs a banner that says “Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right.” My congregation of about 300 people are very progressive in our politics: I’d estimate us to be 90% pro choice, 95% Democrats, 100% supportive of gay rights. UUs don’t adhere to a specific creed; rather, my church includes atheists, humanists, pagans, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and those who create their own spirituality.

Many beliefs, but one congregation. Why do we come together? Because we find truth and meaning in the seven principles that all Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
  • Although we have no common prayers or mantras, we recite a covenant each Sunday. UUs everywhere speak a variation of these words each week:

    Love is the spirit of this church, and service is its law. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.

    We are liberal. We are welcoming to all. And for this, a man decided people just like me deserved to die.

    I’m a bright blue dot

    At church on Sunday we were checking out bumper stickers on other Unitarian Universalists’ cars, and spotted one we’d never seen before: a bright blue dot.

    https://i0.wp.com/britebluedot.com/prod/dot_bbdrrs.gif

    This is a nifty, positive approach to advertising one’s Democrat-ness in a Republican wilderness. (Sure, some of you are lucky enough to live in blue states. But some of us are fairly drowning in a conservative red tide.) The Bright Blue Dot people have stickers, hats, bibs, and t-shirts; and every month from now until the election they’re making a donation to the campaign of the Democratic contender their buyers most prefer. (Lately it’s been Obama, but with my order, I cast a vote for Edwards.)

    We chose to go with a more nationally oriented message for our dots:

    https://i0.wp.com/britebluedot.com/prod/dot_bbdtrc.gif

    You can get 5 stickers for $7.50, with free shipping, and hand out dots to your friends. Very cool. I’ll be on the lookout for for dots from now on!

    interesting, edgy new anti-war video

    This just in from Brave New Foundation, an offshoot of Brave New Films, which brought us Outfoxed, Iraq for Sale, and more:

    It’s almost May 1st. Who can forget the so-called “Mission Accomplished” from four years ago? Who can forget the pomp and circumstance, the primping and posturing in a staged photo-op built on the backs of those destroyed by the war. The mission has not been accomplished.

    1. Watch the film
    2. Sign the petition
    3. Enter the contest

    In honor of all those who have been killed, whose lives have been destroyed in this terrible war of choice, we have been working hard on a short film that will not let that horrific day go unnoticed.

    Watch the film and spread it far and wide: http://tellusthemission.org/

    We’ve also got a contest looking for what SHOULD have been on the “mission accomplished” banner. Submit your banner and the winning one will be on car bumpers all over the country! (You’ll get some cool stuff too) For more details, and to enter:

    http://tellusthemission.org/home/win

    The spoken word performance in the video was done by a wonderfully talented young man, Steven Connell, who’s been in feature films on HBO, Showtime and MTV. He is a strong, creative, and articulate voice in reaching a young and diverse audience. We are grateful for his time and effort, and to Norman Lear who first found and called Steven to the attention of a wider audience.

    Just days before video and webset were to go online, an American soldier serving in Afghanistan wrote an op-ed which has since stirred up a national debate. The soldier questioned why we do not lower the flag to half-staff when a soldier dies at war. We at Brave New Foundation were so inspired by his question that we decided to begin a petition to amend the US Flag Code.

    Sign the petition to have flags lowered for a day each time an American service member dies at war:

    http://tellusthemission.org/

    Please forward this on far and wide — to your friends, schools, churches, to any local television or radio. We must not let this day go unnoticed. We must make our voices and passions heard.

    the candidates spoke, and I’ve revised my opinions

    https://i0.wp.com/www.moveon.org/images/home/features/endlesssticker200pxhome.gifLast evening’s MoveOn virtual town hall about Iraq was an extremely interesting event. Five other MoveOn members joined us at our home; we snacked, talked, petted our assorted cats and dogs as they wandered through, and listened to each of seven Democratic candidates. (About 1,000 such gatherings were held around the country.)

    Each candidate gave a 3-minute response to the same opening question: “What is the best and fastest way to get out of Iraq?” They also each answered two questions submitted by MoveOn members, and then gave a 1-minute closing.

    Go here to access audio of all the responses, transcripts, and a podcast of the entire event.

    The candidates included three that I thought I knew well (Clinton, Edwards, Obama), two I knew marginally (Biden, Kucinich), and two I knew almost nothing about (Dodd, Richardson). I came into the town hall with firm opinions as to my favorite candidate. But by the end of the evening, I’d been impressed in ways I didn’t expect — and, just as unexpectedly, underwhelmed by a couple of the presentations. Following are my thoughts about the candidates in the order they spoke.

    John Edwards. I came into the evening an Edwards supporter. I’ve been talking for a long time about Edwards/Obama as the perfect ticket. But he didn’t sell me last night. I went back this morning and listened again to his opening response, hoping to hear something that I missed — after all, he went first, so maybe I’d been getting settled in my chair and hadn’t paid full attention. Nope. As my husband put in this morning, Edwards sounded pragmatic but not presidential — not strong enough. Compared to some of the other candidates, his Iraq proposals don’t have sufficient coherency and specificity.

    Joe Biden. And then came Joe. Wow. Talk about a surprise! I had no expectation of finding him remotely interesting — but he blew me away. His proposals were strong, specific, and intelligent, and I was absolutely convinced that they would work. After the town hall we agreed that Biden had impressed us all. Unfortunately, as one of our attendees said, gesturing to some of the snacks on the table, “Joe is no more going to be elected president than this bowl of peanuts is going to be elected president.”

    Dennis Kucinich. (A confession: I was distracted by Kucinich’s ugly neckties in the photos shown onscreen while he was talking. Can a man really be an effective president if he goes out accessorized that way? There; I’ve admitted my shallow attention to sartorial detail.) I didn’t know much about Kucinich coming into last evening, other than the fact that many people consider him The Guy when it comes to fixing American’s health care problems. Maybe when MoveOn does their health care town hall, he’ll impress me; he sure didn’t last night. His approach was to repeat (four times) the fact that he was the only one of the candidates to vote consistently against the Iraq war and to also repeat (five times) the fact that his proposal, HR1234, will fix things. Based on the details he mentioned about his proposal, I don’t believe it will work. And regardless of how smart he is, and how experienced, he doesn’t sound strong or presidential.

    Bill Richardson. Richardson did well. I learned more from some of the attendees about his extensive foreign policy experience. His plans are coherent and sensible, and he presents them clearly and effectively. But, you know, he just didn’t stick in my head with any sort of lasting impression. He’ll need to put himself out there a lot more in order for people to get a sense that he could be presidential material.

    Hillary Clinton. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the big surprise. Clinton completely sold me last night. I came into it firmly believing that she can’t be elected, that she’s only in it for personal political power, that she isn’t an effective speaker, and so on. I’m still not convinced that she can win, because of the numbers of Republicans who will head to the polls specifically to vote against her — but she’s got my support. She sounded incredibly strong, focused, and smart. She’s got clear objectives and plans and the skill, experience, and determination to make them work. She sounded — presidential. (She was also the only one of the seven candidates to use the phrase “when I’m president…,” which sounds corny but was very effective in the context.) In MoveOn’s follow-up poll, I voted for her as my choice for the evening as the best candidate to lead us out of Iraq.

    Chris Dodd. See my earlier comments about Bill Richardson. He did well, he’s clearly smart, experienced, and so on, but I still don’t have a memorable image of him as president. He’s got a lot of work to do.

    Barack Obama. Very disappointing. I expected to hear fire, enthusiasm, great plans — all the things we’re told to expect from Obama. Instead, he sounded not terribly strong, not terribly energetic, and not terribly focused. When asked the opening question about the best and fastest way to get us out of Iraq, he spent much of the time reciting casualty statistics. He finally mentioned that he has a plan, but he didn’t go into much detail about it — at least, not details that impressed me. Obama absolutely did not give me what I wanted and expected last night.

    If you have time, I highly recommend listening to the podcast of the entire event. It lasts about 80 minutes. It could be that, like me, you’ll be surprised.

    MoveOn panel to question Democratic contenders

    Biden. Clinton. Edwards. Kucinich. Obama. Richardson. https://i2.wp.com/pol.moveon.org/iraqtownhall/welcomepagelogos.jpg

    Next Tuesday—April 10th—at 7:15pm Eastern, MoveOn is using the Internet to connect presidential candidates directly to the people.

    Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, and Joe Biden will answer questions from MoveOn.org’s 3.2 million members in the first of three virtual town hall meetings. The topic: Iraq.

    MoveOn members have submitted tough questions about their Iraq plans, and we’re gathering from coast to coast to hear the answers directly. Right after the virtual town hall meeting, MoveOn will survey members to see which candidate we believe will do the best job of leading us out of the war in Iraq.

    You can search here for a house party near you, or sign up to host your own. We’re hosting one and looking forward to hearing from so many candidates. It should be an interesting, informative, and (I hope) enlightening evening.

    stickerama

    https://i2.wp.com/www.bushslastday.com/images/bumpersticker_th2.jpg

    My mother was recently in Key West and picked me up two new pieces of political bling for my car (otherwise known as the Democratmobile).

    One is a sticker that celebrates W’s last day inhttps://i2.wp.com/www.blueq.com/modules/ecs/images/125837942_m.png office; it’s available from BushsLastDay.com, along with keychains, buttons, and lots of other date-imprinted miscellany.

    The other is a magnet that makes my political affiliation abundently clear — as if it wasn’t already. You can find it at Blue Q. And by the way: I like the idea of the bumper magnet, which is easily removable. I do worry that a scandal-crazed Republican will pull it off my car and shred it to pieces with his or her teeth in a frenzy of longing for the good old days of the Grand Old Party; but hey, someone stole my Darwin fish once, and I just ordered another one.

    I was pleased (and a little surprised) that on vacation in the land of Jeb Bush, no one made any obscene gestures at us while we were driving. On the contrary: An airport limo driver honked his horn and gave us a thumbs-up, and another guy pulled up beside us in traffic and told us that he and his wife had been greatly enjoying our display of messages as we inched our way through Ft. Myers. But maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised — after all, as a friend pointed out, half of Florida voted for Kerry. Politically speaking, we were probably more at home there than we are here in the bright red state of Indiana, where I tend to think of myself as one of the few; the proud; the Democrats. At least, until Nov. 4, 2008; maybe by then my state’s Republicans will have had enough of what they wrought…

    irony

    You may have noticed that I’m a Democrat. So is my husband. Our cars are plastered with stickers promoting liberal causes. What we think of President Bush, his war, and his policies is mostly unprintable. Among other things, my husband, who is president of the local teachers’ association, despises W’s “No Child Left Behind” education plan.

    Now, guess who’s coming to town on Friday and speaking at one of the elementary schools in our school system, to promote NCLB? And guess who’s been invited to attend the event, to represent local teachers?

    I wish I respected W even slightly, so I could be excited about the prospect of being married to someone who may very well be personally introduced to the POTUS. I wish I wanted to be there and wanted to take my kids to maybe see W enter or leave the building. Instead, I feel only the irony that my husband, who disagrees completely with NCLB’s approach to public education, is being asked to represent 600+ teachers, most of whom also disagree with NCLB, at an event that promotes the plan’s supposed success.

    Of all the presidents… why does he have to be the one to come to town?

    Frankensenator in 2008

    https://i1.wp.com/www.moveleft.com/moveleft/images/al_franken_suit_and_tie.jpgI’d give a lot to be living in Minnesota in November 2008, just so I’d have the opportunity to vote for Al Franken. He’s wrapping up his uber-cool, uber-liberal radio show on Valentine’s Day, but he’s put out the word that he’ll be going after Republican Sen. Norm Coleman’s seat next year.

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    subversive stickers

    https://i0.wp.com/www.stickernation.com/book/main.jpgEvery Christmas, I buy some gifts that are for the entire family (including myself). This year, one of my favorites is Sticker Nation: The Big Book of Subversive Stickers. The book, created for disinformation by the guy who runs the StickerNation website, contains more than 400 stickers, each white print on black, 8″ x 1-1/2″. The subversive subject matter tends toward the liberal end of the spectrum and covers almost any conceivable topic.

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