Sermons & Other Thoughts from Rev. Brian Chenowith

Tag: racism

The Larger Conversation

Our reading for this morning was from the poet, Denise Levertov, titled, “Goodbye to Tolerance.”  It was written as a protest against injustice and intolerance.  She writes:

Starting in March of last year, 2017, the Unitarian Universalist Association was in crisis.  It was a crisis that led to debate, confusion, anger, pain, and the resignations of three of our denominational leaders:  the Director of Congregational Life, the Chief Operating Officer, and the President of our Association.  The charge?  That the Unitarian Universalist Association was engaging in a culture of white supremacy through their hiring practices.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with this crisis that rocked our faith, let me back up here a bit.  There is a lot going on here.  I will not go to great lengths to explain our complicated polity and organizational structures.  But here it is as simply as possible:  Our congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lexington, is part of a national and worldwide movement of Unitarian Universalists, the Unitarian Universalist Association.

UUA for short.  The United States is divided into regions and districts.  Some parts of the country just have regions, some have districts, some have both – for the sake of our time together, let’s pretend regions and districts are nearly the same thing.  Each of these regions is overseen by a staff person at our headquarters in Boston.  The southern region, which we are not a part of interestingly enough, had an opening for that staff position. Read the rest of this entry »

The Work Continues

I come from a family of lifelong South Side Chicagoans — it’s something I’ve mentioned before and sort of a point of pride. It is a culture I adore. I love the neighborhoods, I love the accent — though mine has long since faded, I love the rough around the edges demeanor of the people.

There is a harshness to them that is still approachable and you know where you stand with them even when you’re not asking for their feedback. They are a people that speak volumes with just their facial expressions. There is also a deep territorial streak to South Side culture. You speculate about strangers, you wonder what they want, why they are bothering you, and what are they doing in your neighborhood?

As is the case with any neighborhood there were great pilgrimages to other parts of Chicago where these South Side families picked up their livelihoods and culture and plopped them down in the places to which they journeyed — in my case, my family settled in the western suburbs of Chicago.

I grew up confused by people that liked the Chicago Cubs, had a deep appreciation for Mayor Daley, and yes, I was taught that the name of our ballpark was always going to be Comiskey no matter what the sign said. But also, too, I grew up with that insular nature — that hostility toward outsiders. Read the rest of this entry »