Transitions: Part Two

#revnaomi #uu - There are times in each of our lives where we have to let things go. As the disease progresses and I grow weaker and more tired, I am finding myself letting go of things that are important to me, work that has nourished me and my spirit. But there is nourishment in letting go, too, knowing that some of what has so challenged and changed me and been part of my spiritual practices will be carried on.

Several years ago, Tim Atkins and many other Unitarian Universalists were yearning for a steady source of Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist quotations. At the time, Tim and I were figuring out how to use Tumblr effectively as a tool for faith development. From this yearning and opportunity and challenge - why shouldn’t we do it if our religious association didn’t? — came UU Quotes Tumblr.

Over the past few years, UU Quotes Tumblr has been a great deal of fun, and shown a lot of my limitations, and limitations of my religion’s spoken record, beginning with who’s in the record and who was excluded. I tried to work around and through that, bringing my training in cultural studies to the effort, and there is still much more work to be done.

So when I knew I was reaching the place where letting go of maintaining and resourcing the UU Quotes Tumblr  was here, I thought of Tim, who was part of creating it. For those of you who do not know Tim, he is a faith leader in the fullest sense: a religious educator, serving our Unitarian Universalist Association on the Appointments Committee, coordinates social media for Church of the Larger Fellowship, is a graphic artist, and is a ministry innovator. If you know the “Love Without Exceptions” tagline or the UU Media Works Collaborative, then you know a little of Tim’s exceptional work. Tim Atkins’ curation of UU Quotes Tumblr will change it, and will change it for the better, I am sure. May those of us who value UU Quotes thank Tim for taking on the challenge.

Tim will also be curating my Pinterest boards. Again, Pinterest is another social media tool that Tim and I engaged to explore it as a tool for faith formation. Tim had already been a co-curator of some of those boards, and now I release them completely to community curation.

Every life reaches times when we must let go. I am in one of them. And I am enormously grateful to Tim Atkins for picking up some of what I need to release. Thank you, Tim!

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Faithful Curators - Social Media & Noticing

During “The Age of Collaboration” Minns Lecture, I spoke of curating as one of the faithful spiritual practices for our digital age. Curating has two parts: the practice of noticing and sharing the good and weeding out the distracting and detrimental.

Every vibrant faith tradition has lively dialogue and people creating and sharing goodness in many ways. Thanks to inexpensive and free blogging tools and sites, more and more of that dialogue and goodness is shared via the blogs, and from there through other social media. As the number of blogs proliferate, curating is required. Why? We cannot read everything, and everything we read is not going to lead us into stronger spiritual practice or more active and engaged faithing.

One can be a connective faith leader by practicing good noticing what is worth noticing and sharing it, and helping us through the sea of ideas, stories, songs, service projects, and ethical actions to what we can implement, retell, sing, and join. No one faith leader will be the best curator for any one religion. And those who curate effectively are always noticing and sharing what other significant curators are noticing and sharing.

Good spiritual curation requires knowing one’s mission and gifts and what is likely to be helpful to one’s spiritual and faith communities.

Aggregators and blogrolls are tools for curation. UUpdates is one of the best tools for Unitarian Universalist faith curators, since it is a blog aggregator (blogs meeting particular guidelines can be registered and their feeds added), not a blogroll (an already curated list of blogs). Both blogrolls and aggregators are good things in our digital age, but I prefer aggregators because then I am introduced regularly to voices and issues that might not surface in my RSS reader (which is one way to have a personal blogroll, as opposed to a public list on your website).

Becoming a regular part of a network of curators (we all can curate!) is another important tool. There are few social media curation networks I can visit on a daily basis when I don’t find something worth sharing. Pinterest and Twitter are my favorite social media curation network homes. But others prefer Instagram, Tumblr, Kleek, YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook.

There is a lot of good being created and shared in the world, and noticing that goodness changes us. When I can slip into a social media network for a few minutes and meet a spiritual piece that challenges me to be better, a song that sustains me through difficulty, or an act of generosity and witness that calls me to join it, that abundance changes my perspective on the day. Hope is being made real in all kinds of places and ways. We have only to notice and share it, join it, and risk making it real ourselves.


Called Forward Faithfully: Diigital Media & Ministry

(This is a continuation of a series based on the Minns Lecture, “The Age of Collaboration,” I offered with Peter Bowden.)

We ordinary people all have some extraordinary gift – maybe even several – to share. That gift might be just what makes it possible for someone else to do something great in the labor of creating global goodness. But we have to connect faithfully with one another to share those gifts.

 

We ask and want people to live with integrity. Unitarian Universalist Tim Atkins says, “I want to live my faith beyond Sundays. And I don’t think we need to go live in the woods for a month to be spiritual beings. I want to live my spirituality in everyday life, live it where I already live my life. And that life is, in part, on social media.”

 

We really are in this together.

We have a moral imperative to provide loving alternatives to dissolution and despair.

 

We can be inspiration engines, bearing hope and help.

 

We are called to join love’s great transforming power in world change.

 

We can only do this together.

 

This is the age of collaboration.


Called Forward Faithully: Changes for Unitarian Universalists

(This is part of a series of blogs related to the Minns Lecture “The Age of Collaboration” that I co-presented with Peter Bowden.)

As people of faith and faithful promises – that is, people pledged to a covenant – there are many changes we can make. Some of the ideas I will name here arose from social media conversations. Some of them are mine; some originated from others who gave me permission to share them here; all of them are the work of collaboration.

Covenant

Today’s connected age expects both transparency and accountability in our institutions. It is easy to share documents and build databases. Transparency can build not only trust, but improve resources, information flow, and application development. The ministry that needs to be done requires all of us and all our gifts and participation.

 

Covenant - Democracy

The Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly has started using tools to ensure better democratic practice.

  • We have many more opportunities for direct democracy, from videoconferencing to live voting.
  • We need to vote and discuss directly  issues that really matter.
  • We have work ahead to continue in order to ensure lots of roof for, and solidarity with, historically oppressed peoples. Digital media can help us.

 


Many of us are familiar with Accountability Teams, who model right relationship, living in solidarity, and helping us attend to and repair broken relationships. In our connected age, we still can benefit from the help of coaches and exemplars like Accountability Teams. But we are all on the accountability team of life.

There are none of us who do not need to attend to how we are relating to one another and this planet. We have all inherited terrible inequities and wrongs that need addressing and repair. We have all left folks out or been left out. Many of us have been barred or disregarded so frequently and so thoroughly, we have stopped trying. When the rest of us meet that disconnection, reconnection is up to us.

We bear responsibility for one another, no exceptions.

Covenant - Transparency


Faith leadership is connective and transparent.

  • May all of us engage in regular social media practice as inspiration engines and invite participation in our faithful labors.
  • We can stream and provide transcripts for important meetings, and provide timely and easy access to agendas and reports.
  • We can crowd source many new projects.
  • We can use social social media to engage, especially with underrepresented groups, and to inspire.

If our covenant - our faithful promises - really means anything, then how we fulfill those promises and practice our covenant together matters. Today’s digital tools can help us, but only if we really want to live with integrity. I certainly hope we choose that course of wholeness, though it be challenging and even scary, since creative, risky faithfulness will grow from it.

Faithful Changes to Make Associationally

(This is part of a series of blogs related to the Minns Lecture “The Age of Collaboration” that I co-presented with Peter Bowden.)

As people of faith and faithful promises – that is, people pledged to a covenant – there are many changes we can make. Some of the ideas I will name here arose from social media conversations. Some of them are mine; some originated from others who gave me permission to share them here; all of them are the work of collaboration.

Risk Innovating

Some of the work calling us forward involves re-equipping our faith communities. The Unitarian Universalist General Assembly has been engaged in some of that re-equipping work, just changing our bylaws to allow for non-local faith communities. Staff members like Carey McDonald in Youth and Young Adult Ministries are working to re-equip our faith communities to fulfill promises and empower people with fantastic gifts and callings. There are a lot of people, some inside congregations - the Reverend Ellen Cooper-Davis comes to mind — others working in partnership with communities, like my co-presenter, Peter Bowden and even others who are working away from outside. We need everyone for the work.

  • In the age of easier connections and networks, congregations are only one kind of faith community.
  • Small and niche faithful living can have real excellence that matters. Size is not a measure of faithful success: effect in the lives of people and the health of the planet is.
  • We must share better information and tools with one another. Risking is easier when we are not shamed for doing so.
  • As faithful communities, we can document and reward faithful failures.
  • Collaboration is how really effective faithing happens.
  • Celebrate faith communities risking together.

Curating

Curating is not only a spiritual discipline for our age, it is one of the easiest, and broadly participatory practices. As people of faith, we are already networks of curators; let us become even more attentive and intentional about what we are curating and how we share.

 

  • Learn about the commons, care for it, and contribute to it regularly.
  • Notice what is great and who is risking faithfully. Share that good news.
  • Worship and faith development resources lend themselves easily to open-source curation and development.
  • Utilize citizen journalism and citizen inspirational sharing in blogs, social media, and associational publications.
  • Transform associational publications into inspiration engines.

Teaching & Learning

One of the realities of networks and new technologies is that they develop new applications, new wisdom, and new tools all the time. Learning, teaching, and creating go together in this exciting innovating age. Many faith development leaders are engaged in equipping our communities with and for this digital age. All of us need to be teaching and learning, though. As Unitarian Universalist consultant, congregational coach, and educator, Connie Goodbread is fond of saying: “faith development is all congregations do.”

  • We must continue to create and share tools for comprehensive social media education, and integrate those into our faith development program for families and communities, along the lines of Our Whole Lives, the comprehensive sexuality education program developed by the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association.
  • We could create an electronic pilgrimage, mapping an Abolitionist Trail, marking sites of faithful resistance to slavery.
  • We can create more digital study spaces and help desks and offer free online courses teaching basic graphic design.

Re-equipping for innovation, teaching, learning, and curating are connected practices. We cannot attend to one particular area without engaging the others. Part of what we teach and learn as we risk faithfully for change is how to be brave, how to innovate, how to faith well, and how to curate (we notice what is good). When we curate, we notice who’s failing well, who’s learning, who’s teaching, and find resources in others’ stories of re-equipping and helpful practices.  What matters is to begin.

Many of these suggestions do not require major money. But they do need generosity and time and collaboration. Others of them are things we really need to put big resources into - they still need generosity and time and collaboration. We are in this together. We need one another to be faithful.

Faithful Changes To Make Associationally

(This is part of a series of blogs related to the Minns Lecture “The Age of Collaboration” that I co-presented with Peter Bowden.)

As people of faith and faithful promises – that is, people pledged to a covenant – there are many changes we can make. Some of the ideas I will name here arose from social media conversations. Some of them are mine; some originated from others who gave me permission to share them here; all of them are the work of collaboration.

Financial considerations are a big one for a lot of us. Faithful risk is truly very different for each of us. Some of us are already in more vulnerable life positions than others, and we need the folks who are relatively less vulnerable to help support those who are more vulnerable.

Financially

Some changes cost money. Sharing our resources involves more than sharing pictures of our cats and dogs and our cookies for bake sales. We also need to share financially.


Associationally or denominationally or in association with liberal and progressive denominations and associations, we can:

  • open benefit options to those in shared ministries, including lay communities ministries;
  • create crowd-funding platforms for new projects;
  • create a digital music licensing and download library for liberal and progressive religious music;
  • create a pool of inspirational images and a way


It is easy to talk about what’s wrong and miss our own part in failing to be bearers and builders of hope. Yes, there’s a lot of stuff that is broken and doesn’t work. But how does our faith feed us? How do we share and inspire?

Inspirationally

Our calling, beyond all others as faithful people is to inspire, encourage, and help us aspire to and then fulfill those covenanted faithful promises.

  • Be an Inspiration Engine, someone who notices and shares goodness, who creates and offers hope, who connects us to our better selves and to healing and repairing this world.
  • Follow brief weekly inspirational messages with practices.
  • Be mindful of our need for positive messages.
  • Empathize with risk faithers and support them.
  • Become a risk faither yourself.

We are all in this together. We need one another to be faithful. We need one another to share resources. We need one another to stay steadfast and fulfill our faithful promises. These are some of the changes we can make, and which we must share.

Community - All Kinds

In preparation for the Minns Lecture for March 9th, “The Age of Collaboration,” my co-presenter, Peter Bowden, and I have a weekly question. This week’s question is:

What does it mean to be a member of a community?

We tend to think we know what community is, based from our existing experiences. Community is:

  • a network of people who rely upon one another (family, friends, neighbors, towns with volunteer emergency services, a peer support group, a faith community)
  • who engage in meaningful and frivolous activities together (such as: a community of scholars, a community of artists, friends who play together, a watershed protection community, a faith community)
  • who live in a particular place or area (such as: Lovell, Maine; a commune; a housing association or council; a bio-region; a faith community)
  • who share ownership in something (a condo association, a co-op, a faith community)
  • who practice together (such as: a sporting community,  a crafting community, a faith community).

You might notice that faith communities historically fulfill all those definitions of community.

Communities rely on certain traits and practices to be enduring. A flash mob is a kind of community, but it is an ephemeral kind, until you realize you’re meeting up with an engaging in public art or demonstrations with others and grow more enduring connections, or if the flash mob arises from an existing network of people engaged in a shared practice our pursuit together, such as economic change or joyful public art.

Communities require:

  • commitment
  • responsibility
  • right action


Communities are networks of people who share values and figure out how to rely on each other, work fruitfully together, and create more meaningful lives together. 

Digital communities function all the same ways. There are digital networks that share ownership, such as maintaining a wikispace, which is an information sharing cooperative. There are digital communities that form activist networks and engage in social change, and digital communities gathered for peer support, creative arts, scientific endeavors, and entertainment.

Communities, like all living networks, express qualities of emergence: they innovate, experiment, and change over time, developing new forms. That is precisely what is happening through social media: people are innovating and connecting in exciting and often wonderful and deeply life enriching ways through these digital tools.

Digital faithing occurs when people create communities of study, communities of spiritual practices, communities of faithful action (especially expressions of generosity & social justice), communities of equipping (administration, creating and sharing resources, encouragement & coaching). These communities may be more traditionally structured and center around websites or congregations, or they may be more emergent in structure arising from spontaneous engagements and network development, and both forms may work together, just as chance encounter and intentional community always have.

Where I most often bump into assumptions is the belief that digital communities cannot be meaningful. The real test of any community is: would your life, the lives of others, and the planet be a worse place if the community did not exist?

Too often, in our consumer and individual-centered culture, we stop at the first part of the question: would my life be worse if this community did not exist? It is a good question, but it neglects the reality that we are all in this together, and our well-being is dependent on each other and on the well-being of this planet. To truly answer that first part of the question, we have to accept that we are dependent on the well-being of the whole.

You might not think you need social media based communities, but a whole lot of people do, as we set about caring for each other across great and small distances, nurture family connections, share news, organize socially and politically, and create new ways to help one another and the world together. As a Unitarian Universalist, I believe there is a moral imperative for people of faith to participate in the well-being of the world, and that means joining and growing, experimenting with and failing at, risking again and succeeding in digital faith community creation, emergence, and endurance.

What communities are you a member of? What does community mean to you? How might you faithfully participate in, create, or sustain community using digital tools?


You can still register for the Minns Lectures March 8-9th, 2013! They’re free!

Discernment in the Social Media Age

Once upon a time, information and wisdom were expensive to accumulate and share. Schools, libraries, subscription organizations, professional associations, publishing houses, and media companies grew up as ways to share the costs of acquiring and sharing information, wisdom, and entertainment.

Today, thanks to how we have developed tools over the Internet and practices using widely available technology (mainly, mobile phones) information, wisdom, and entertainment sharing, creation, and accumulation is more available than ever before. But the practices we learned to manage gathering information and wisdom in the age of relative scarcity are often counterproductive today.

In the age of relative of scarcity, we were encouraged to become masters of subjects. Over time, as wisdom and information accumulated, it was harder and harder to have mastery of an area’s wisdom and information and specialization became more common. But now, even specialists cannot hold all the information and wisdom to their areas of knowledge in their heads. We store it in the cloud, with other people and other individuals, and we access that information. What matters more is how we know where to find answers, how to ask questions with others, how we share what we know and what we’re learning with others, and how we join in self-organizing systems to continue building world knowledge and deepening world wisdom.

The change in access to wisdom and information and in sharing faithfully together was one of the questions arising from an Age of Collaboration Minns Lecture Tweetchat February 12, 2013.

We need to learn new skills and practices to navigate, access, create, and share information and wisdom in our age of abundance. In the age of scarcity, we learned practices of discernment to help us decide whether an area or a question was worth pursuing for mastery. Today, we need practices of discernment to help us participate and contribute meaningfully in this amazing world that is exciting and new wisdom and knowledge is emerging all the time. As the Rev. Sean Parker Dennison observed in the Age of Collaboration Tweetchat (February 12, 2013) “I like [the] framework of discernment - we CAN have all information, but what is healthy for us? what is faithful?” 

Those of us who participated in the Feb.12 #minnslecture Tweetchat agreed strongly that our faith communities need to teach social media classes and skills. Our faith communities include our congregations and the networks we have and can reach out and create or join via those same social media. My Age of Collaboration co-lecturer, Peter Bowden, teaches programs to help faith leaders and communities learn how to use social media faithfully, grounded in our values. (You can contact Peter and set up workshops or coaching with him.)

We also learn by doing and by observing. How people of faith use social media teaches others how to use that media. In social media, religious leadership is demonstrated by people who speak openly of how they are living faithfully, ask big questions, invite and join with others in faithful action, study, and creation of resources. Those showing religious leadership may be sharing with others what kind of casserole they are making (Ethical Eating - UUA), and in that sharing they can be joining others in pursuing ethical eating, in care for their bodies, or connecting with others around food because that is a vital way we form community. Those same networks formed come into play again when needing to mobilize for social justice (Religious Institute) or to ask for help or to create together new inspirational resources (UU Media Collaborative).

How do we practice discernment?

Discernment questions ask us to connect with the values we hold as most important. As people of faith, it will help us to name our important values. For me these include: compassion, mercy, gratitude, love, learning, generosity, reverence, forgiveness, peace, life-affirming, interdependence, equality, dignity, and self-control.

I ask several discernment questions, some of which are old discernment questions I learned at the end of the world when one person could know nearly everything there was to know a single enormous subject.
Is it good?
Is it useful?
Is it just?


In our age of enormous numbers of choices, I ask:
Do I need to do this?
Does this challenge me to live more faithfully?
Is this something needed in one of the communities to which I belong?
How can I help?

You will notice there is a difference between the two types of discernment questions. In an age of abundant wisdom and abundant choices, there are also many more people to share in what needs doing. I cannot be involved in social media every minute of the day. Part of the spiritual practice of discernment is trusting that there are others who are part of the network who can share. There are some things I can do easily, like offer encouragement when someone shares a wonderful new resource with me. Sometimes I will check in on social media and discover that, yes, I really need to share something or create something or ask a big question or counter something harmful going on. This is about taking on my responsibilities as a person of faith, being motivated to be part of the community.

Discernment in today’s age is not about reducing risk or avoiding failure. When trade or creating or sharing are very costly, we seek to reduce risk. We might seek to reduce risk so much we become unable to do very much, because we are ruled by fear.

Part of what we need to discern today is how to risk faithfully, accepting that failure is part of the way to success. We do not learn anything new without failing at it first. We do not create anything innovative without failing at it first. If you have ever tried to create a really new sweet with none of the flavors and ratios of liquids to solids and fats to sugars worked out for you (no adaptation of existing recipes) and you think you are making a new cake but come up with an indigestible mass of goo seventeen times before you discover you were developing a new pudding, then you know the process of failing to succeed. As we risk faithfully, we learn through our failures as well as our successes, and try new ways of relating, new ways of creating, new ways of organizing.

Because the world is changing quickly and new ways of being are emerging rapidly right now, it is riskier not to risk failing. This is, in my opinion, especially true for religions and for people of faith. We have a moral imperative to provide alternatives to distraction, dissolution, and despair in this world. We have a calling to help one another make more compassionate communities and healthier and better places to live and to be better people than is easy for us.

Often, we are discerning: is this worth failing at? The answer is usually: yes. Yes, it is worth fumbling with and figuring out how to incorporate spiritual practices into social media based community life. Yes, it is worth failing many times in joining with others to make for an accountable government or to clean up a waterway or to build self-organizing learning centers like Hole in the Wall educational centers.  Yes, it is worth risking and failing in discovering how to join in the incredible generosity of many, many people. Yes, it is worth failing many times as we quest for knowledge. If something is truly worth succeeding at, then it is worth failing for, it is worth risking faithfully.

How are you practicing discernment with social media? Where are your limits? How are you risking faithfully? What are you doing to add collectively to the good, the just, and the useful?

Join us for the Age of Collaboration Minns Lecture March 9th in Boston. You can register now for this and for both terrific Minns Lectures March 8-9th; both events are free!

A Faith Worth Living


As Peter Bowden (@uuplanet) and I prepare for our Minns Lectures on the Age of Collaboration, we wanted to share some of our thoughts and invite yours by weekly questions between now and the lectures March 9th. (March 8th come hear a great lecture with Rev. Andrea Greenwood on Unitarianism & Children’s Literature).

Take up the question, blog and comment, and check out the UU Growth Lab on Facebook, where we’ll be posting the same question each week.

Join us for a Tweetchat February 12th at 8pm ET(US), too! #minnslecture

Here’s this week’s question:

What is it about Unitarian Universalism that makes it a faith worth living? how is your community changed by it?

Unitarian Universalism is a faith worth living because we teach that everyone is loveable, loved, and our work together is to make this world a more loving place.  I spent years convinced that I was unloveable and that the people who said they loved me did not really know me. I was fearful of being found out as not enough, not good enough to be loved, not kind enough to deserve kindness, not enough in any way. Unitarian Universalism taught me two basis for the assurance that I am loveable, loved, and that our work together is to make this world a more loving place.

First, the people welcomed me. When I showed up to my first Unitarian Universalist congregation, I visually did not fit in. The music was alien to me. The worship service was alien to me. But this congregation had a tradition of greeting one another. The one thing that showed me I was accepted was when someone bothered to warmly take my hands, look me in the eye, and welcome me — and remember me the next week. That kind of hospitality is lived faith, and it told me that even if the community has its moments of imperfection (we all do), we mean it when we say, “yes, you belong here.”

Secondly, Unitarian Universalism affirmed theologically that the Holy is Love. Universalism has long taught that God loves us all, imperfect, insufficient, and downright troubled. And that gave me a foundation for my heart to rest upon and open up. This faith changed me. This faith continues to challenge me.

I learned from that first Unitarian Universalist community that faithful risk mattered. Our faith would challenge us and change us when we answered problems in our larger community. If there were lots of LGBTQ teens in need of affirmation, then we needed to offer a safe and welcoming place. When there was a need for a kitchen to stage Meals on Wheels in our part of the county, we could be there. Every single missional action that congregation took in the larger community may have seemed to flow easily and naturally from what we believed. But it was always a challenge to us, a change for us, and a challenge and a change for the larger community.

Unitarian Universalism gave my heart a foundation upon which to open and discover my calling: to join with others in making this world a more loving place.

Real ministry and real faith has not been any different for me than that first community. Via social media ministry, I am constantly amazed at how we connect and work together for change. One of my favorite examples of this is the Side of Love's social media campaign: sharing real stories of faithful risk, from all kinds of people (because Side of Love is an interfaith ministry, though Unitarian Universalists participate strongly in it), Side of Love challenges people to keep risking faithfully and change our communities for the better. We pass legislation for equality for all people. We work for more human conditions. We seek to reunite immigrant families separated by an unjust system. We mobilize and act, inspire and dream together.

The tools of connection available to us today have challenged me to keep risking faithfully and changed me, too. But for me, the core of my faithing always comes back to love, and the people who use every tools they can to help us make this world a more loving place. Social media are tools, but how we use them is about our spiritual practices. How we discern, how we reorient to and are encouraged to risk faithfully, how we care, share, and create are issues for people of faith regardless of the tools available to us or our community contexts. One of the things about faithing with social media, though, is that it is public faithing. My ability to live faithfully has been made better because I’m not focused on living in a safe place where I know everyone or am primarily in contact with other people who faith like me. Yet I still am part of a larger faith community that, thanks to the Internet, is connected everywhere around the globe.

I learned in my first Unitarian Universalist congregation that faithful risk is part of how we are challenged and changed and how we have a real and positive effect in our larger world. The ability to organize and risk faithfully now is simply so much easier and larger. Love is vast, and the people living their lives devoted to making this world a more loving place, who want to give and receive encouragement, who are seeking and finding and creating amazing solutions to real-world problems and making real-world successes is all much closer and more possible because of these social networks.

Successful faith practice helps me join others in making the world a more loving place, in sharing words of encouragement and stories of change, in finding out about problems and doing something helpful to address them, in joining together generously and whole-heartedly to love this world into a better place. I am a Unitarian Universalist because I believed that God is Love, that we are all loved and loveable, and that we are here to make this world a more loving place. It is a faith that has changed my life, and I know can be and is part of changing this world.

To learn more about Unitarian Universalism or locate a congregation, check out UUA.org

GoodReads & Religious Leadership

For several years now I have quietly maintained a Goodreads account. As my friends know, one of the first questions I ask after “how are you?” is “what are you reading?” I have not had to ask that so often in the past few years because of Goodreads; instead we  launch directly into conversation about a book that caught our attention. 

To my surprise, over the years, I have not only received many wonderful book recommendations from people who found me via their network of relationships, I have ended up in pastoral conversations about some of the books I am reading.

Unitarian Universalists love to read. We are a people of many books, newspapers (especially in the Nineteenth Century) or blogs (more every day) and have long been so. But this is true for many faithful people and religions: we write and read because our faiths matter to us.

Goodreads is thus a place where we can easily share what we’re reading and what we think and feel about what we are reading.

We can create reading lists, share quotations, form reading groups, and follow authors that matter to us. The asynchronus communication means more people can participate, as they have time.

And, most importantly, we encounter books we would never have met in our regular rounds, especially when we friend a wide range of colleagues, friends, family, and strangers.