UU Women and Religion

... toward a new day ...

WOMUUNWEB 18 Winter 2004

WINTER 2004 WOMUUNWEB

CONTINENTAL ELECTRONIC NEWSLETTER OF UU FEMINIST INSPIRATION

NEWS TO USE FOR MORE THAN JUST PERSONAL GAIN

 

UU WOMEN & RELIGION CONTINENTAL NEWS

This year’s UU W&R Annual Gathering was held in Orlando, FL, Oct. 1, 2 & 3 (including one of the teleconferencing sessions, Oct. 2). We used a teleconferencing service all three weekend days of the annual meeting sessions: Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9, to allow as many as possible to be included in the decision making. Those women are:

Carol Andros (FL), Laurie James (NYC), Rosemary Matson (CA), Helen Popenoe (MD), Barbara Schonborn (CA), Misty Sheehan (MI), Pat Simon (MA) and Cathy Stanton (FL).

Barbara, as a new co-convener, stated that she is eagerly seeking a co-convener to join her. Misty Sheehan is grassroots development coordinator.

Following are excerpts from the minutes plus updated information:

We would like to operate UU W & R in a way to meet these goals:

To develop our power to continue having influence and credibility, in order to educate, practice and model consensus decision-making, provide spiritual empowerment and raise UU consciousness of the necessity of our work.

Good planning is underway for W&R’s General Assembly (GA) presence. General Assembly is the UUA’s annual meeting and will be held in Fort Worth, Texas, June 23 – 27, 2005. We in W&R will “meet” informally, June 22, while setting up our booth. Our Annual Gathering with its business meeting, meets 9 AM – 4 PM, Thursday, June 23. All interested in the work of the Core Group are welcome to attend these pre-GA UU W&R events. (This means we will have to travel on Tuesday, and stay overnight Tuesday and Wednesday nights. GA opens, formally, after dinner on Thursday. One benefit to us is that we can register for GA early Thursday between work times at the booth.)

Our booth’s theme: “Women & Religion Challenges Patriarchy.”

Barbara says,



“Our purpose as UUW&R is to implement the Women and Religion Resolution: to help UUs examine the religious roots of sexism and put aside sexist assumptions, attitudes, language and other behavior. For 27 years, UUW&R has supported development, distribution, and use of course materials, guidelines, and practices that provide positive examples and interpretations of women's actual and potential lives and roles, and that promote liberation and peace for all human beings and the Earth."

There will be pre-designated spaces for district materials in the booth, with each district providing $25 - $50 for their space. Any sales by districts will be their own responsibility. Each will be given a copy of their District sign-in sheet (from interested passers-by). Booth space for displaying and selling the “Unraveling the Gender Knot” course will be given first priority. Barbara has sent the $550 fee for obtaining a 10’ X 20’ sized booth on the end of a row and near our collaborative sisters’ organizations.

The Peace March, initiated successfully at GA ’04, will be continued as a UU W&R tradition at GA ’05. We have three programs for workshop slots and are in the process of gaining places in the GA Program. In the Spring WOMUUNWEB, a full description of what we are offering will be given.

The beginnings of another convocation like the 1990 Womanquest held in Lake Geneva, WI, are underway. MsUU’s (UU women ministers organization) and UU W&R will establish a coalition of UU women’s groups to handle this nationwide gathering. Rosemary sees Lindi Ramsden’s white paper, “From Your Fair Witness” to be a foundation for our creating the new convocation. She suggests that a continental umbrella to lead feminist coalition work might come from this convocation. Rosemary, also, envisions the possibility there could be an assessment of the status of women in the UU movement in today’s times. MsUU sees it happening in three years or so.

The Study Action Issue on “Oppression of Women Worldwide” that was presented at GA ’04 (and relates to CEDAW, the U N Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women), will be presented, again, at GA ’05.

The authors, Rev. Carol Huston of Community Unitarian Church at White Plains and Julie Agarwal of All Souls Unitarian Church, Washington, D.C., are asking UU W&R to give our formal endorsement before it is submitted for GA ’05.

Note from Helen: Dear Readers, as you can see, I'm still a beginner at this job. Is there anyone who lives in Bethesda, who could sit with me for the next issue to figure out such problems as I'm having with this bold text, please? H Pop, 301/229-0549

UU UNO has, also, approached us, through Geri Kennedy, for possible collaborative endeavors.

The collaborations we seek will be informal this year. At our ’05 Annual Gathering, we will formally organize this year’s links. While the UU W&R attendees are setting up the booth on Wednesday, we can, also, “talk shop” and finalize the agenda.

’04 - ’05 Core Group Email & FAX Decision-making List:

Below is a sampling of what is still to be decided.

(Comments are welcome from our WOMUUNWEB readers.)

1. Brainstorming for ideas to give the “Cakes” Coalition (representatives from collaborative sisters’ organizations) for possible ’05 advertising of the 20th. anniversary celebration of “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven” (to be held at GA ‘06).

2. What do we want for our tri-fold UU W&R spirituality statement? We might do a take-off from the David Bumbaugh words Pat gave us. E.g. “Each is a part of all.”

This is what we have (from Session 2’s minutes):

It was agreed that, since religion is in our title, the Trifold needs a statement about spirituality. Generally accepted for future approval was: “Connecting with the resilient continuity of all Earth’s relational life is our spiritual base.”

Task assignment – When the spirituality statement is set, to create the new ‘05 tri-fold to send out by email and snailmail for when fundraising for the new budget begins. (Is there a WOMUUNWEB reader who could offer us these skills, please?)

3. Define what being a “direct services organization” would entail for the near future.

4. UU W&R approval for endorsing the Study Action Issue on “Oppression of Women Worldwide” (when Helen gets the final wording).

5. List successful fundraising tools and how-to’s.

6. Will UU W&R become a membership dues-paying organization or continue in its open, donations-only format? The maximum amount UU W&R raised for the ’04 – ’05 year was $2,400.

Respectfully Submitted,

Helen Popenoe hpop@verizon.net

Dear President Bush,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. As you said, in the eyes of God marriage is based between a man and a woman. I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

Question 1. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

(continued)

W&R IN THE DISTRICTS ACROSS OUR CONTINENT

FLORIDA DISTRICT’S FALL RETREAT

Sarah Snyder says:

From all reports it was a rousing success, and we may even have some money left over for the bank account! Unfortunately, I was not there - my dad had a stroke Thursday night/Friday morning, and I ended up on Cleveland Friday evening. He is doing amazingly well for 90 years old - some right side damage, but speech and comprehension are good.

Evidently the belly dancing was the biggest hit - I am soo glad that we did the workshops twice, which we don't normally do for retreats. I have heard that we had close to 60 people, including those who came for the program times but did not stay overnight after the programs were over - plus around 9 kids. Carol was supurb, from all reports, handling all the last minute details and problems. And the weather cooperated - the humidity is down, temps have been in the low-mid 80's, and actually in the 60's at night, and all sunshine.

Carol Andros says:

Great retreat and well attended. Our weather was good and no bugs so the campfire was a success.

N Y METRO’S FALL RETREAT

Laurie James says:

The fall weekend renewal sponsored by UUWA-Metro District and UUW&R-Metro has proven to be one to be remembered. The theme, “The Vagina Dialogues,” was taken and turned from the humorous and poignant play by Eve Ensler, “The Vagina Monologues,” which recently appeared Off-Broadway with rotating celebrity actresses such as Jane Fonda and Whoopie Goldberg. The weekend was held Nov. 12-14 at St. Josephat's Retreat House in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York.

Also celebrated were innovative artists Georgia O’Keeffe and Judy Chicago. O’Keeffe, in the mid-twentieth century, painted flowers, animal bones, and landscapes which caused controversy because some interpreted them as highly sexual. The contemporary Chicago, with a committee, initiated the fabulous exhibit known as “The Dinner Party” which consisted of painted vagina designs of historic women such as Emily Dickinson on dinner plates and table settings.

The highlight of the program was the circle reading of “The Vagina Monologues,” led by actress/playwright Laurie James, with participants taking the various roles, followed by discussion. Most participants had seen the Off-Broadway production, yet most agreed that, although no one was a professional actress, the sit-down reading was even more meaningful because they could hear the words and at the same time silently follow the script.

In addition, a hands-on craft workshop, led by exhibiting artist Reena Kondo, featured the opportunity to emulate the work of Judy Chicago by expressing feelings through creating vagina dinner settings on paper plates and mats with materials such as magazine pictures, sequins, feathers, jewelry, etc. This was followed by a show-and-tell discussion which revealed diverse personalities and individuality.

The weekend was rounded out with satirical and topical song writer Rachel Stone singing about baby boomer experiences and social and political issues. A unique worship service emphasized women’s lives, and the film “Signs of Our Time,” accentuated the discoveries of ancient female icons by archeologist Marija Gimbutus.

CENTRAL MIDWEST DISTRICT’S UPCOMING RETREAT

In “Sophia”, their Journal of Women & Religion, it says:

A Preview of WomanSpirit Winter Conference 2005…Choosing with Purpose…Living with Conscience…Women in Community, January 21 – 23, 2005

This weekend is planned as a grassroots movement to build a village for our sisters and ourselves. We are a diverse community of women about the business of healing the earth and ourselves in this compelling gathering through ritual, dance, drum and chant, learning, teaching, giving and taking from the chalice of our common experience as women. Please go to the www.womenandreligion.org website for more information.

JOSEPH PRIESTLEY DISTRICT‘S UPCOMING RETREAT

Again will be held at Precious Blood Spiritual Center in Columbia, PA (easy to drive from both the northern and southern states of JPD), April 22 – 24, 2005, April’s last weekend

We are planning a program using “Unraveling the Gender Knot”, the new UU W&R course, based on Allan G. Johnson’s book, “The Gender Knot”. Allan said at GA, ’04, “[I offer] a perspective on the connection between gender and violence on every level of social life, based on the belief that we cannot achieve peace without understanding systemic social forces that encourage individual and collective violence in response to conflict, uncertainty and fear. Oppression is not an inevitable feature of human life.” The course’s author, Barbara Schonborn, will be the program’s leader.

Dear President Bush,

Question 2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her? (continued)

 

UU W&R WISE WOMEN CONTRIBUTIONS

SORORITY

by MISTY SHEEHAN, ’05 UU W&R Core Group’s Grassroots Development Coordinator -

In the beginning Mahakali/the Eternal Feminine/Sophia

birthed Time out of the Timeless. The One became two, shakti/shakta; yin/yang; female/male and from them came the ten thousand things. Unnamed/nameless was the Original; countless/millions/ ten thousand are the shattered shards of original nature. We put names on these things and call them male/female; black/white; Christians/Pagans; Americans/Iraqis, yet all are of the original nature. Sisterless in my biological family, my life I have spent traveling looking for my sisters. I have traversed the Eurasian continent looking for them. Maya is my sister in India. She studied English Literature; I studied Sanskrit Literature. Our children are the same age. Our lives wove together through a Jesuit priest. She was raised a Christian, but eloped with her Hindu husband at age sixteen and became a Hindu. I love her laughter, her teasing, her fine sense of what is needed. Her husband and she lived in a one-bedroom apartment with their teenaged sons. Her husband was abusive; my husband was abusive. She left him twice; I left mine once. I never came back; she came back twice. The second time I didn’t hear from her again.

Meili is my sister in China. She studied and taught in the U.S. and helped me get a job in her home city in China. On Sunday, there in China, I used to go to her family’s house for Sunday dinner. After dinner, Shao Hong, her sister’s husband, played the guitar and we sat around and sang songs until the TV came on at night. Her father had been diagnosed with liver cancer and had much of his liver removed. Part of his therapy was doing Taiqi. Now he taught me Taiqi.

Meili had the opportunity to go to Japan as an engineer and her husband was able to go too. Sadly they had to leave their baby girl, Meilin, with her parents; the government wanted to be sure that they came back. The last I saw her father, he cried.

Meilin had been allowed, finally, to go to Japan to be with her parents, but he may never see any of them again.

Elsa is my Chinese-American, meimei, little sister. She came here with her husband who was an artist and talked herself into graduate school even though she hadn’t gone to college in China,. She and Paul, her husband, fought constantly. He said she had to work as a computer programmer so he could paint. He got her a Dalmatian to keep her happy, but she didn’t want a Dalmatian. She wanted to pursue her own career in business. The only way she could stop work he, said, was to have a child. When she refused to get pregnant, he said he would leave her. She could not believe it. Marriage is forever in China. She stayed with me when divorce proceedings began. Then she got her MBA and met an American man. They are now married and go fly fishing together. Alia is my Saudi Arabian sister. She attended graduate school in my university. We met through a mutual friend, Jenna, who is Jewish. Alia wore long pants and a long sleeved shirt or sweater in classes. One time we talked her into a canoe trip. Alia understood that she would be much more comfortable in a bathing suit so borrowed one. We told her also that usually when we went canoeing we were naked. That was okay with her too. She wore her bathing suit canoeing.

Afterwards she returned to Saudi Arabia. We never saw her again.

Lindiwe is my South African sister. She came to the college where I was teaching on a library grant and stayed with me because I had room and lived close enough to the college that she could walk. My living room was full of South Africans. I had no idea so many people from South Africa were living in the Chicagoland area. They spoke their native language, Xosha, with “ clicks” interspersed through it. A
librarian, she came over to learn library techniques and to get books for their library. Under apartheid, libraries for black students had no books. We got
together books but we couldn’t ship them, it cost too much, beyond both of our incomes.

Up in Wisconsin canoeing, on the dark of the moon, my headlights picked up a body in the road of a fox that had been hit by a car. His wife stood by the side of the road and didn’t leave when we stopped. “Get up,” her eyes pleaded to the inert form. “Why don’t you get up?” Foxes mate for life. Driving home from Glen Arbor in Michigan, I screeched to a halt as a doe and spotted fawn started to cross the dirt road. The fawn scampered to the other side of the road but the doe moved back into the forest and stared at me hard with her dark brown eyes, separated from her child. “Go ahead. Be with your child; I’m a mother too,” I told her. Dignified, she cursed me if I would move. I didn’t…and she crossed the road to her child and they quickly disappeared into the forest. We are all shards of the Original, pieces of glass, made of the same material. I pick them up to destroy the evil forces, the weapons, which have come to destroy the beauty. Female energy, as well as male energy, is necessary to the successful application of our ideals in the world.

The Celtic goddess Morrigan is known as a goddess of the battlefield. Known by the raven, she attends the battlefield to stir up the energy of the heroes to go forth and do battle for their king. But to look at her from another aspect she is the energy, the harbinger of energy, the muse of energy, that is necessary to fight evil forces. Look at women today who have banded others together against evil, Mother Jones, Karen Silkwood, Ang Song Suk Yi, Erin Brochovich, MADD, the Mothers of the Plaza in Argentina and the Raging Grannies. These women, our sisters, have gathered that female energy and gone forth on the battlefield for humankind, for their children, for others’ children. This energy is needed today as male forces battle in a war, a war that will benefit their institutions, but not the people within those institutions. With our sisters, our sisters from around the world, our sisters from the forest, we need to go forth and show the men how to live at peace in a fractured world.

From PAT SIMON’s Education for Peace corner of UU W&R –

WAGE A PRE-EMPTIVE PEACE:

  • Discover how 2 percent of the annual defense budget can go toward proactive policies that dismantle the sources of domestic and international violence.
  • Establish a U.S. Peace Academy as sophisticated and effective as the U.S. Military Academy.
  • Learn how we can approach gang violence, racial and hate crimes, and even international conflicts with psychological and emotional powers as effective, and in many cases more so, than the application of brute force.
  • Help move the American political dialogue to a higher level conversation regarding the realities of both war and peace.


This is from CAMPAIGN for a U. S. Department of PEACE: www.dopcampaign.org

Dear President Bush,

Question 3. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians? (continued)

 

JOSEPH PRIESTLEY DISTRICT, SOUTH, NEWS

From ACCOTINK’S MARSHA WHITE

Winter Solstice

This year at Accotink, Winter Solstice – the longest night of the year – is celebrated two times: in the church services on Sunday, Dec. 12. Come celebrate the winter season with song and ceremony of thanks and of hope. We will explore the dynamics of light and dark throughout the ancient and present civilizations. Light comes from darkness, growth from barrenness, and spring from the depths of winter. Our regular Sunday service times are 9:30 and 11:15 AM.

From ANNAPOLIS’ SUSAN ECKERT

UUCA Sun Circles’ YULE, Sunday, December 19, 2004, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. –

Men, women, and youth of all ages are invited to participate in Full circle’s ninth annual celebration of Yule. At the winter solstice – the peak of darkness – we celebrate the rebirth of light. We tap the ancient roots that feed modern Christmas practices and savor the miraculous fruit of mid-winter. We seek peace on earth and goodwill towards all beings.

We need to prepare a place for you at the feast table, so please send an email to susan.still@comcast.net to reserve a spot. Bring an entrée, salad, or dessert for the feast and bring some greens and/or lights to deck the halls. Don your gay apparel (Renaissance/medieval garb encouraged). Traditional recipe ideas are available.
6:00 p.m. Gingerbread Extravaganza and Hall Decking
7:00 p.m. Feasting, Music and Merriment

From RIVER ROAD’S HELEN POPENOE

Solstice Celebration – Fireside Room – 5:00 PM – December 19 –

“Lasting Values for the Dark Days” is this year’s theme for the longest night of the year and the beginning of the return of the sunlight. What values, healing traditions and connections for renewal remain evergreen in your life?

We will enjoy simple circle movement (to bring our whole selves, not just the intellect) into the experience. For afterwards, please bring your own cup and refreshments. Our circle of equals is open to all over age 10.

For directions to River Road Unitarian Church, see www.rruc.org

Candlemas is on February 6 with Merry Urbia, 301/654-6725 as convener.

Dear President Bush,
Question 4. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though Lev. 19 expressly forbids this: How should they die?
Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
Merry Christmas from Boecky
P.S. Question 5. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves? B.

WOMUUNWEB DEADLINE for Spring 2005 issue is March 7, please. Send your news to Helen Popenoe...
Many thanks to Al Carlson, GWA Webmaster, for creating this ... site for readers to access the WOMUUNWEB archives.

Respectfully Submitted by Helen Popenoe

© 2004 UU Women & Religion