Matthew’s Memo June 29, 2021
If you didn’t get a chance yet, do watch the Sunday Morning UUA General Assembly worship. Wow! It’s here. The service talked about how we face hard things, honestly and with compassion and dignity, and when we do that then love can win. Rev. Hutt’s sermon on “fugitivity” has me thinking a lot about the Black experience in the United States and in Unitarian Universalism, and what it means more generally to say “no, I’m out” to systems of dehumanization and despair.
Love wins when we say “I’m out” to hatred. When we move off the assembly line of assumptions and patterns and build a new way. That’s a powerful insight and one that will be making me think in new ways.
I played a minor role in some debates about bylaws amendments around elections, and on the elections process, this year – this has become one of my areas of expertise in Unitarian Universalism, and I was happy to help.
I didn’t go to a ton of workshops, but one I did go to was on “Centering: Revisited.” The book “Centering” (edited by Rev. Mitra Rahnema, who was one of our sabbatical preachers) was discussed, four years later, by some of the essay authors. I was struck by the insight that Religious Professionals of Color often felt “invisible and too visible at once.” Some congregants would say things like “you’re just like us” (as if acting white is a compliment), while others would make the Religious Professional of Color the spokesperson for all people of that race or ethnicity. Either way, the rich humanity of the person was denied.
This dynamic is particularly true when it comes to race, but it can be true to a lesser extent with anything. My friends with disabilities note that they don’t want their disability ignored (or told they are “just as good as” someone without that disability (ouch!), but they don’t want to be seen ONLY as their disability either. Or, another example: being a dad or being a minister is an important part of who I am — but neither of those things is all of whom I am.
We are asked to see nuance and authenticity. The identities that people carry matter — but they are not all that matters. Don’t treat Religious Professional of Color, or anyone, as if their identity is irrelevant, nor as if their identity is all that they are. See it as one pattern in the quilt of their lives, as one movement in their symphony. That’s how we respect each other’s fullness and humanity.