Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A letter from the future...

Date: July 30th, 2108
Post from Earth

Dear Kids,

This week I volunteered to clean out the storage room at my new church. Since I've just moved here and you're still visiting your cousins on Mars, I know you haven't been here yet. But, I recall many lessons in your childhood church which referred to past events of this congregation. Indeed, I know you even learned of their lessons in your high-school history classes. What an impact the events of 100 years ago had on our world today, and now I am knee-deep in that history!

It's truly a privilege to be allowed to sort through old newspaper clippings, guest book logs, and church bulletins that the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church saved over the last 100 years. I even found these large, shiny disc's that I think must be what were called Compact Discs - and a player that plays them. Of course we had to make some modifications to get them to play in the hologram, but the content was remarkable. For a Historian and Restoration Specialist like me, this has been truly an amazing treat.

It's hard to believe that 100 years ago this week, a deranged man walked into this haven and opened fire. Two people died, several injured. It was indeed tragic, and at such a pivotal time in human evolution. It's sad that two people died for a cause that they didn't even know existed yet. Back then, as unfathomable this is today, when people wanted to become martyr's they usually strapped dynamite to their chest and walked into a public place and killed themselves and as many as they could take with them. They killed themselves in the name of a cause. But these two people simply died innocent deaths, one of them heroically throwing himself into the line of fire to protect his fellow spiritual journeymen.

How could they possibly have known that all the attention to their tragic end would serve as a catalyst to bring the world's eye to their little known faith? It started first in the America. People were exposed to the truth and beauty of a faith that is so liberating, so accepting, so empowering. At the same time, a powerful sea of change was taking over the political landscape when the Americans elected their first black president. All eyes were on America.

And America did not disappoint. America once again took a leading role in the world, but this time with humility, not arrogance. With respect, not condescension. With compassion, not hate. With justice, not intolerance and inequity. As our society evolved, we began to see the profound wisdom in the teachings for which Greg McKendry and Linda Kraeger unwittingly martyr'd themselves.

And so, I sit here messaging you today 100 years later, reflecting on the amazing journey our world has taken towards our free world that we enjoy today. Free from the constraints of prejudice. Free from the tyranny of power. Free to take the journey as we individually see fit. Man sits at the precipice of the next evolution. We are finally in an era where we can truly combat disease, repair our ecosystems, and learn our life lessons on our short journey to this world. What a great time to be alive.

I'm looking forward to seeing you for mother Zolitha's 95th birthday next month, I hope she gets back from her hike in the Andes in time for the celebration.

Love, mom

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Hate Crime?

I'm stunned. Simply stunned.

Yesterday we all heard the news of a gunman who opened fire in a Knoxville Unitarian Universalist church. What a horrendous act.

I am a UU. Let me restate that. I am a PROUD UU.

When I heard the news, of course, there was no information on motive or anything like that. I felt their pain and sorrow as I would had it happened in any other church. But today I heard that it is being investigated as a possible hate crime!

a HATE crime, people!

I'm filled with anger, sorrow, anguish, confusion, the list goes on. Near the top of that list is an overwhelming concern for a faith community I have grown to love.

How do we, as a faith movement, process this?

For those of you unfamiliar with the Unitarian Universalist movement, we are a non-creedal faith community who affirms to support the spiritual journey that each of us faces in this life. Although we don't have a creed, we do have some basic principles:
  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

You can learn about it at, specifically about our principles and about our beliefs.

When I first ventured into my local UU church, I remember reading a brochure that listed these seven principles. The truth is - they had me at #1! As I learned more about this community, I came to understand the profound power of this principle, as well as the other 6. Once I really embraced this movement, discerning the right path for me, and indeed for humanity, became clear. UUism takes the good from all the worlds religions, and leaves the divisive paradigms and dogma's behind.

It's liberating. It's love. It's healing.

So, my mind turns back to the tragedy in Knoxville and my burning question about how to process this as a faith community. How can a faith movement based on love and acceptance of everyone cause people to hate us so much? It's so clear to me that people, no matter what their faith, race, or sexual orientation are people deserving of love and understanding. Why is that so hostile to those less fortunate to know our movement?

We are an interdependent web of existence. We can help heal our sisters and brothers in Knoxville through this interdependency. We must stay strong and hold firm our beliefs. This tragic event must not change who we are, but should serve to strengthen our resolve. I am proud to be a UU, and though I never met the courageous souls who died I feel a kinship with them and am proud to be associated with them.

In this time of shared pain, I fall back on the tenants of my faith and dare to imagine. I dare to imagine a world free of hate and bigotry. I dare to imagine a world filled with love and compassion. I dare. Do you?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My cathartic word vomit

Today I read the following letter to the editor in our paper here in Rochester MN:

It made me want to PUKE VIOLENTLY! But then I thought...instead of doing that, I'll do a little word vomit right back at her! Following is the letter I just emailed to the editor. I hope it gets published, but if not, at least I feel somewhat better!

To Lorraine Schuchard of Zumbrota, author of the "Gay marriage hurts children" letter to the editor printed July 16th:

Really? Maybe you should re-think that!

Upon which research studies do you base your opinion? After reading your letter I scoured the internet and scholarly and medical journals, but could find no studies confirming your assertion. Actually, had you bothered to do a little research or even googling, you would have found a plethora of supporting evidence and research that is contrary to your opinion.

Then I wondered if you based your judgment upon any personal experience? I personally know three gay/lesbian families in Rochester raising children and I can sincerely say they are some of the most committed and loving parents of some of the happiest and well-adjusted children I’ve ever met.

What’s most important is that our children are honestly loved! There is ample research to support that a loving home will produce a well-adjusted adult more often than a home filled with hostility and hate. Why are people threatened by an alternate parenting model that produces the desired result? Why are people so obsessed on denying homosexual couples the joys of producing a responsible, caring, and loving citizen for the world? Seems to me this world can use as many of those as we can get no matter who raised them!

Julia Gallagher

PS - the original letter I first drafted was much longer and had many more points to it, but then I went online to read that letters to the editor must be 225 words or less! Holy Cow! I know there's a lot more I could have said, but I was trying to make a succinct point...not an easy thing to do!

PPS - I learned today (7/22) that my letter will be published in today's paper!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Special Visitor

After a delightful evening with new friends over dinner, we cleaned the house and packed our bags to leave the next day for our 4th of July holiday "up north!" Fast asleep, I am suddenly awakened by a deep moaning sound, like a cat in heat.

Chris, my husband who is blind as a bat without his glasses, got up to see what was going on. Our faithful dog, Rocco, followed behind dutifully.

"What is it?" I shouted from the comfort of my bed

"It's Jordi" - our black cat of 12 years. Rocco (a Bischon who thinks he's a Great Dane) started barking like mad as Chris made his way back to bed. I said "Gee, Jordi must be really sick to sound so awful!"

Rocco kept barking, and suddenly a torpedo passed by my side of the bed, into the office adjacent to our bedroom. Up on the bookshelf flew the cat, down came all my frames! What a racket!

Suddenly, this cat is whizzing back to the other side of the bed, literally up the wall and across our heads, over my nightstand, knocking everything down in its wake.

Chris bolted from bed and ran to the kitchen where the cat has now made it's way to a corner. Rocco is continuing to bark. Then, all of the sudden I hear a loud CRRRAAASSSHHHHH, and then another, and another. The next thing I heard was my husband swearing. "Shit!" "Dammit!" and a few other choice ones I shant put in print.

I knew then that it was serious. You see, Chris rarely swears. He's a firm believer that if you want your swearing to mean something, reserve it for those times when it's called for. This was one of those times!

I jumped out of bed and came out to the kitchen. I saw more glass breaking and flying from the pantry out into the kitchen. That's when I realized...this was not our cat! It was a she-devil of a stray who had snuck into the house. And, of course, this stray had to find the one place where the entire top shelf housed the one thing you put up high so it will be safe. Glass. Glass vases, glass platters, glass bowls. If it was fragile, it was up there.

The crashing went on for about 10 minutes. This was one scared cat (or should I say scaredy cat?). Chris tried and tried to get the animal out of there, rescuing a bowl here and there if he could.

Finally, the cat came down and scurried out through the door we had opened for him. Here is what he left behind:

You're first question is - how did the cat get into the house? That's Kaitlyn's doing. She went to sleep over at a friends accross the street, but she figured she may not want to stay as has happened in the past. Since our door chimes when you open it and she wouldn't want to wake us if she came home in the middle of the night, she left her ground level window open to her bedroom, sans screen.

We stayed up until past midnight cleaning up the glass fragments and shards from the floor. We also discovered that the cat was so scared it peed frequently while hurling glass vases at my husband. What a horrible smelly mess.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that our house is on the market and our realtor was planning an open house while we were up north? Gotta love the fortuitous timing, huh?

So, how was your Fourth of July???