Sunday Service, October 20, 2013. The Reverend Neal Jones has been the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia since 2004. With a background in clinical psychology and pastoral counseling, Neal preaches and lives a practical spirituality that seeks personal wholeness, relational respect, social justice, and ecological responsibility. His academic pedigree includes Wake Forest University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Baylor University. It was good to welcome him to Charleston and to hear him speak on The Spiritual Test.
Our guest preacher this Sunday, May 5th, is Rabbi Stephanie Alexander. Charleston’s first female rabbi, Rabbi Stephanie Alexander, received her B.S. from Tulane University. She earned ordination, and a Masters degree from Hebrew Union College, and served Temple Beth El in Dubuque, Iowa, before joining historic Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue in July 2010. Rabbi Alexander is an asset to the Lowcountry’s faith community and will likewise grace our pulpit. She talked to us this morning about our presence in life, and how sometimes just showing up can be the most important thing we do.
Special musical note- the beautiful piano prelude this service was performed by our own young Max Hunt.
Our book this week is a personal favorite, Lifecraft: The Art of Meaning in the Everyday by the late Reverend Forrest Church. Church, who was senior minister at the distinguished All Souls Unitarian Church in Manhattan, serves up some thoughtful, brief meditations on making life more meaningful. There’s no dogma here; readers will find gentle anecdotes drawn from Western philosophy, music and art, as well as from Church’s own life and experience. He states that life becomes more meaningful when we intentionally divide it up into various projects – the parenting project, the career project, the God project, and so on – and prioritize those based on our own situations. Those situations will change, and we must change with them, Church asserts, citing a touching example of a professional football player who quit the NFL to spend time with his terminally ill preschool-age son. A case where presence was the most important thing. At the book’s close, Church prods those who feel stuck in a rut to simply “turn the page,” much as readers who find themselves reading the same paragraph many times without paying attention need to move on. Church does not offer earth-shattering advice here, but readers will be comforted and perhaps challenged by his call for self-examination.
A resolution about the Charter for Compassion will come up at the Church’s Annual Meeting in May. Compassion is the principled determination to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, and treat others as we wish to be treated. The Charter is cooperative effort to restore not only compassionate thinking, but more importantly, compassionate action to the center of religions, moral and political life.
Under the category of “things we seldom discuss,” let’s take up the concept of salvation. Are there ways a compassionate approach can save us and others? How? From what? This sermon was delivered by Rev Danny Reed on Sunday, April 28, 2013. A particularly thought provoking message as we head into the Nehemiah Assembly tomorrow night.
I book for this week is The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships by Patrick J Carnes. Exploitive relationships can create trauma bonds–chains that link a victim to someone who is dangerous to them. Divorce, employee relations, litigation of any type, incest and child abuse, family and marital systems, domestic violence, hostage negotiations, kidnapping, professional exploitation and religious abuse are all areas of trauma bonding. All these relationships share one thing: they are situations of incredible intensity or importance where there is an exploitation of trust or power.
In The Betrayal Bond Patrick Carnes presents an in-depth study of these relationships, why they form, who is most susceptible, and how they become so powerful. He shows how to recognize when traumatic bonding has occurred and gives a checklist for examining relationships. He then provides steps to safely extricate from these relationships.