"If it's not love, then it's the bomb that will bring us together"

The ever-dear Suburban Blight made me think, in putting me in her Cul-de-Sac, that though this is a special purpose blog, it needn’t be so serious and dull. (But bless her heart, while I sometimes feel like a YR here in Babylon-on-the-Potomac, she can still make me look like a lefty and realize I like being inside the Beltway.)

When we first met, at the University of Georgia‘s Demosthenian Society I may have been serious, but not nearly so dull.

Ah, where is the lad who had a hissy fit/debate (with one of SB’s former roommates, and fellow Demosthenian) over whether the United States should recognize Lithuanian sovereignty? (I was pro; she thought it unwise to agitate the Soviets. Seems I got the last laugh on that, and still smile thinly when I walk to the store, pass the Lithuanian embassy.)

To continue the flashback to the late 80s: This morning, before getting to work, I decided to partition my hard drive, and install Mandrake Linux. Listening to the Smiths, from which the title of this entry comes.

So back to the mission of this blog, and something that nobody talks about, but I suspect has affected my vocation, and that of others about the same age (34).

If you’ve been waiting for the point, it’s here.

Did you think you’d survive to adulthood, or, perhaps, did you think you were going to die in a nuclear apocalypse? Most of my adolescence, I was convinced we were doomed. An echo of that is my keen awareness that the 9/11 anniversary is coming.

In 2001, when the events really happened, I was a mess.
In 2002, I was just tired of it.
In 2003, I have enough distance to realize it really still bothers me, and touches on old feelings.

Then as now, I sometimes refer to my church being “within the vaporization zone” as it is within a close walk to the White House, and I hate feeling like that.

Good book to get

Facilitating Paradox mentions his current inspiration in Justo Gonzalez’s The Story of Christianity (vol. 1). (Hear that Jim?)

I know “the Gonzalez” (as we always called it) is a classic textbook, and that it serves a particular function, but for my money and shelf space, I’m more partial to Linwood Urban’s A Short History of Christian Thought — “short” meaning compact, not cursory.

It isn’t the lightest of reading, but nearly every page has a topic that would stand alone, say, for a study group, and so it would be worth having for any serious lay student of Christian theology. Or, put another way, “If I could have only one book on the subject …”

It isn’t cleap new (lists at $31.95 for paperback) but it can be had for less than $4 if you get it used at places like Half.com.

Two more for the blogosphere

Everyone welcome the two new bloggers new in that they have their own private blogs at UUChristian.net

Watch and Pray, a.k.a. Derek Parker, and

Humble Parson, a.k.a. Steve Cook.

1/1/2005 Neither are active any more.

John Murray, 1741-1815

The “father of American Universalism” died this day in 1815 in Boston. Much to much to do today to give him full homage, so a couple of links will have to do.
John Murray
image courtesy UUA

His entry at FamousAmericans.net reminded me of a basic fact:

He was chaplain to the Rhode Island brigade that was encamped before Boston in 1775, and was on intimate terms with several of its officers, including Nathanael Greene and James Varnum, who united in petitioning Washington to permit him to remain in that capacity, when the rest of the chaplains urged his removal.

escended in my father’s line from some Rhode Island patriots (who were Sabbatarian Baptist) and one of my ancestors was named Varnum, for the general. Perhaps one of my ancestors heard or knew Murray. A nice thought, anyway.

I’m also glad to see the (online) Dictionary of Unitarian Universalist Biography has a new entry on George deBenneville even though it is missing one for either of the Murrays.

A young adult ministry

Here at the office following an amazing experience. Four college-aged persons arrived unannounced at the church door, wanting a tour. They were from the Columbia, Maryland suburb, and one of the four knew about Unitarian Universalism. (Her parents had been married in a San Francisco Bay area UU church.)

They were interested and keen, especially when the talk moved from the architectural to the theological. (We have a John Murray memorial window, and I tell his landing story, with the “Not hell, but hope and courage” ancedote.)

Seems they are part of a collegiate ministry to the city, and they wanted to pray with me for the church, my ministry, “that you Father might send [me] a new word” and the city.

They were positive, affirming, and open for us to participate in the ministry to disadvantaged children in a local park. I liked these people, and they seemed to appreciate an open door.

But there’s another lesson here: connections — and especially the ecumenical contact that so many Unitarian Universalist Christians crave — will follow the same rules as the post-Constantinian church. The connections will be lateral and personal. (Not unlike this blog.)

We don’t have to wait to be welcomed by the ecumenically-assertive denominations (indeed, it may never happen) but contact may be as close as the front door.

Open inquiries

So, there are two lines of thought I’ll be following in the next few months, and both have practical sides.

  • What is the purpose and meaning of confirmation?
  • On what basis would a newly constituted Universalist Christian church be founded?