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Spirituality Essay:

Art Johnsonís Message Today    ( November 2008 )

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Art Johnson was an active member of our Fellowship until declining health kept him home Sunday mornings. A very dedicated UU, he often gave us some sparkling guest sermons.

His overarching theme in these sermons - back in the early 2000's -- was how critically important Unitarian Universalism was for the world. It takes a little refocusing to remember just how different the political and social climate was then. The neoconservatives and religious right were at their peak - pushing hard and unabashedly on all the power levers to remake the American social landscape.

Remember the days of: They weren't that long ago!

We could take stands and act against this movement as individuals - but, as Art's sermons reminded us, it was our religion that could best confront and neutralize the religious right's agenda..and their presumptive claim to be speaking on behalf of God (seen still today in the Prop. 8 ads). Art called for us to urgently and fervently support our religion and when we publicly speak and act, to identify ourselves as people of Faith.

The pendulum has since swung back. The nation has shifted. A liberal President and Congress are even seeming likely, at this point.

Will this diminish the importance of Unitarian Universalism's spiritual voice - and the country's need for strong, viable UU Churches and Fellowships?

It might appear so, but I do believe not. Just as liberals became so much more active and energized when the conservative agenda was succeeding, we can fully expect the religious right to galvanize

if the country moves "left." We already see the vitriol, the derogatory name-calling -- the anger and fear, really -- in recent Palin rallies, emerging from the "base," out of their frustration (campaigns that are ahead don't induce such heat).

We know also, historically, that times of economic distress creates much greater fear and anxiety in society.and a corresponding reaching out for simplistic solutions and authoritarian leadership from all those hurting. With many predicting a deep and lengthy recession, the appeal and security of black-and-white authoritian religions, along with the possible scapegoating of minorities and "liberal values" as the cause of the problem (common during fearful times) make it all the more imperative that our UU religion thrive and succeed - and that our Coast Fellowship not disappear.

Our Fellowship's seriously declining financial and energy support does not bode well. We need to be here - as a sanctuary for all those in the community who'll be looking for comfort, support, and liberal spiritual values - and as one of the 1000 interconnected UU congregations offering a beacon of light in dark times.

This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
Read more Spirituality Essays
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