News – May 19, 2023

Cover May 21, 2023

Dear Beloved Congregation,

This morning I finished a book that transformed me.  There have been a few I can count on one hand that I feel shifted my thinking in such a significant way that I still recall their contents.  One was by Johnathan Haidt who is a social & moral psychologist: The Righteous Mind, Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.  The main take-away for me was the way he describes the different moral constructs that inform people on the different sides of the political spectrum, helping me connect with people who think differently from me .  A second book that changed me, I didn’t even read all the way through, but my husband Charlie talked about in such detail as he read it, I feel like I did.  We continue to talk about American Nations by Colin Woodard to this day.  Note that “nations” in the title is plural.  Woodard researched the history of the peoples who moved to American soil over all of history, the beliefs they brought with them based on their prior experiences and traced how those world-views informed their actions when they settled here.  Then he connected those world-views to the current day divides in our country.

Two other books that transformed my thinking were in book groups that are part of our anti-racism learning here at the church:  White Fragility by Robin DeAngelo and How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi.  Knowing about racism and institutional racism forever, I felt stuck in figuring out what one person could do to change the systems that perpetuate our racist institutions.  But these books spelled out ways to understand white social pressures that could be overcome and ways of working toward institutional change.

The book I finished this morning is also one I’m reading with 12 other folks here at church.  It was recommended by Paula Cole Jones, who will be visiting us by zoom this Saturday, to help us on our journey to more full understanding of the 8th principle.  

 “We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.
-proposed Unitarian Universalism 8th Principle.

We will be voting on June 4 in our annual meeting whether to adopt the 8th Principle in our congregation.

This book I finished this morning, by Heather McGhee, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How we Can Prosper Together shares the American laws that have created an economic and social divide since slavery.  She is an engaging and well-researched writer that ultimately helped me have an understanding of “why we can’t have nice things” in this country…nice things like national health care, a healthy public sector putting THE PEOPLE first in a democracy.  She shares stories of communities creating change and how they have done it.  She also explains how white people suffer with the policies white people in power have created. There are two main ways:  #1 Losses in the public sphere – public pools, public schools, public parks and libraries, health care, environmental protection.  And #2 a story about our history we know is a lie, that we have a zero-sum game of losers and winners and that we now have an even playing field.  It is a relief to see and know a real story, one that shows what has really happened and one that upholds our future together as a diverse society as a stronger one when we don’t allow the old biases and untruths to hold us down.  I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to take steps toward anti-racist understanding, then actions and policy.  And I invite you to join us Saturday in the Fireside room from 1:00-5:00 pm on Saturday, May 20, for discussions with Paula Cole Jones and to vote yes to adopting the 8th Principle for our congregation on June 4, at our annual meeting.

In the past, I have questioned book discussions.  How much do they matter in bringing about change?  But I have personal experience with books changing my thinking so significantly that I know they matter in the way I live my life.  I know this to have significance in my anti-racism journey and invite you to be involved in our future discussions.   During the Summer, Leslie Morrison is leading another book discussion on Mistakes and Miracles: Congregations on the Road to Multi-Culturalism by Karin Lin & Nancy Palmer Jones.  If you are interested in finding out the details, contact the church office.

See you on Sunday,

Carol Burrus

Director of Religious Community