Saturday, September 16, 2017

In times of tragedy from whence comes Grace?

During September, 2017 we continue our discussion of the UUAWOL fiction book for the month which is Dave Eggers' novel, Heroes Of The Frontier. Heroes Of The Frontier doesn't have much of a plot and it not being plot driven so some readers might find it boring but it is rich in character and observations of the human condition. For example, Eggers writes about Samantha, Josie's foster sister, "But Sam had always been flippant about any loss, any tragedy. She felt it her right, as a survivor of a broken personal world." p.136. I know people like this and feel and act this way myself at times. I sometimes feel exasperated with people when I'm not all that empathic and want to say to them, "Look, you need to get over yourself. This shit that has happened to you is really not all that important in the big scheme of things."

Our Unitarian Universalist faith teaches us, though, that every person is important and has inherent worth and dignity and that we should treat each other with compassion. Well when you have been wounded yourself, or worse yet, traumatized, this kind of empathy is extremely difficult if not impossible without the intervention of some kind of grace.

Those of us, who have resolved our trauma and learned from it, are especially called upon to minister to those who are still hurting. To be flippant and dismissive is to protect ourselves from having our wounds re-opened. It is important for us in our ministry to tune into where people hurt and at the very least do no further damage. The intervention of grace referred to above comes from the covenant we make with each other to promote and affirm the faith we have placed in our seven principles. The covenant is a source of grace. The more the merrier. Many hands make light work.


  1. Grace comes from our actions and our actions are based on our intentions and our intentions come from our beliefs. Our beliefs are socially constructed and come from the web of meaning co-constructed with others and it thinking about this co-construction the covenant becomes foundational doesn't it?

    1. We teach what we believe all the time. We can't help but not teach with our example. Steven Gaskin said one time that ultimately all we have to share in this life is our own state of being. So we come to the ultimate question which is what condition is your condition in? And what would improve it if you were so inclined?

  2. Samantha and Josie learned that they cannot pick their parents who turned out to be inadequate, but they can pick people they would like to be the children of and they both picked Sunny who was a very nurturing mother figure for both of them which lasted their life time.

    "We are in the habit of saying that it was not in our power to choose the parents who were allotted to us, that they were given to us by chance. But we can choose whose children we would like to be." – Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

  3. I have wondered for a long time why UUs don't seem to take the covenanting process more seriously. I have rarely heard it preached on or talked about. If a covenantal relationship is even entered into it seems very easy for people to just walk away. If convenanting was elevated to a solemn vow like getting married or joining an Armed Service maybe membership in a UU church would carry more meaning and weight. Easy in and easy out does not support a very secure and meaningful membership.

  4. The call of the covenant is profound and to everyone in UU. Everyone is called no matter background or religious belief or none. Some hear the call and respond, some hear the call and ignore it, and many do not hear the call because they are not tuned in.Those that hear the call and respond become a teacher of God and move humanity forward towards salvation. What the teacher's actions do is save humanity time to reach the Atonement which is when everyone loves everyone all the time. As Jesus said, "Many are called but few are chosen." I think it is more accurate to say that "All are called but few choose to respond." We as UUs are called not just to keep the faith but to teach it. May it be so.

  5. It is written in Luke 12:48 "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more." Not everyone is ready, able, and willing to answer the call of the covenant. For those that are much can be hoped to be gained.

  6. People who have been wounded sometimes play the victim to get the attention and care they crave. The drama they create can destroy relationships, families, and churches. You have probably seen this happen many times in your life. The management of this drama takes differentiated leadership according to Edwin Friedman. This kind of differentiated leadership is something that the governance model of Unitarian Universalism eschews and avoids. Thus, often its covenanting process is anemic and ineffective. Effective covenanting takes moral courage and failure of nerve leads to dissipation and death. Sam is probably an effective leader because having been through hell, hell does not scare her and she dismisses it albeit flippantly.