Sermons & Other Thoughts from Rev. Brian Chenowith

Tag: Parker Palmer

Journey Into Darkness

Our reading this Sunday was titled, “Potbound” by the poet Diana Chapman Walsh.

It was the usual atmosphere you’d expect from a conference.  A large room with too much air conditioning, bright fluorescent lights, and people easing in to their seats – a few people scurrying across the room to say hello to people they know, but most sitting and looking around, wondering what they got themselves into.

In this instance, it was a room of about 90 clergy, 8 religious educators, a radical Mormon mother, and a secular Dutch teacher that mistranslated the information about the workshop and was probably wondering what the heck she was doing in a room with mostly clergy.

The lights dimmed, soft music began to be played, some people started singing some sort of song, and once that was all done, the lead presenter jumped up to the front and center enthusiastically.  With a massive grin and a very gentle but resonate voice, he welcomed us.  He again welcomed us.  He welcomed us again and again, looking at as many of us as possible.

A colleague of mine turned to me and said, “This is going to be one of those self-improvement things, isn’t it?”  I nodded.  She sighed.  Indeed it was.  One presenter after another that morning glowed about what awaited us, they enunciated their syllables with frightening clarity, and spoke in a gentle lulling tone with a pace that let each word stand out. Anyone that has ever attended a corporate team building seminar, a workshop on empowerment, or anything that even has a hint of being what some call “new age” knows what this looks like. Read the rest of this entry »

The Unpopular Principle

Our reading this Sunday was an excerpt from the book, “Healing the Heart of Democracy,” by Parker Palmer.

This is how the story always goes.  Unitarian Universalist congregations often hold Intro to UU classes for newcomers, visitors, and those wanting to know more about us.  They cover everything you’d expect about our peculiar faith tradition.

Some of our long history, our love of committees and discussions, our self-deprecating humor, and, of course, our seven principles and six sources of faith.  There will be ice breakers, members of the membership team present, usually the minister, and whoever just wants to know more.

As someone that has served two churches before this one as a minister-in-formation, I was usually tasked with leading these introductory courses.  Almost every time, no matter what we did, after the evaluation forms were handed back in, there would always be one person that said we had way too much history in our presentation and another, in the same group, that said there wasn’t enough. Read the rest of this entry »