Welcome to CommUUnique – a forum for news, events, and discussion for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff (in Dallas, TX).
We have decided to bring our monthly newsletter into the 21st Century and put it into blog format. Rather than putting out a monthly PDF newsletter, it will be updated on a regular basis and articles will be posted as soon as possible after they arrive in my inbox.
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We are dedicated to keeping discussions respectful and loving, in keeping with the church’s Covenant. Anyone who seeks to create dissonance will be removed. This does not mean we will not tolerate disagreements; it simply means we ask that those who disagree to remember there are sometimes many equally valid perceptions to any point.
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Latest CommUUnique News & Events:
When the Thirteenth Amendment was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 it granted freedom to slaves; however, it left a loophole. It did not grant the same rights to criminals. And that particular clause has been used through history to create a new kind of slavery that largely targets African Americans and other minorities. 13th brings together activists, politicians and scholars to discuss the ramifications of this clause.
The sad reality is that slavery was about economics at its core. When the slaves were granted their freedom they left a gaping hole in the South that needed to be filled. Since the powers that be could not legally enslave them again they created a campaign to criminalize the African Americans that exists to this very day.
This manipulation of history began with the film Birth of a Nation. The black characters in the film were portrayed as less than human and, since it was such a popular film, it embedded that image into the brains of white Americans throughout the country. Black men became associated with rape and crime. D.W. Griffith, creator of the film, showed members of the KKK burning crosses. A practice the group embraced after seeing it on screen.
By criminalizing the black man, it enabled law enforcement to arrest them on minor charges, or even bogus ones. Once they were incarcerated they were used as labor to help rebuild the economy. While most of us like to think our country has moved past that way of thinking, it has not. Only the language and manipulation of current events has. Today the United States makes up only 5% of the world’s population yet we have 25% of the world’s prisons. These prisons, now largely privatized, have over 2 million inmates and over 40% are African Americans.
Unless we, as private citizens, start to rail against this injustice it will not stop. Private corporations are joining together to create laws and purchase our politicians in an effort to insure the prisons remain full. Today they are working on creating a GPS system that will track those who are not in prison. For a young black man who has been targeted by law enforcement there is no escape, even in the outside world.
A relatively small organization called ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) has been recognized as the group behind such laws as Stand Your Ground. This is the law George Zimmerman used to be acquitted of murder in the case of Treyvon Martin. The evidence made it clear that he incited the violence and shot Martin on April 11, 2012; however, the Florida law that allowed him to declare self defense saw him go free. Although many corporations cut their ties with ALEC after this incident many did not.
There was one statement made by an ALEC executive that really struck me. He stated that ALEC did not want voters to pass their laws, they want fewer voters. It’s easy to see how interconnected they are with the recent upswing of laws that keep people from being able to vote.
On a positive note, it does speak about the potential of Black Lives Matter. It is not an organization, but a movement. And, although, the government may try to destroy it they will not be able to. There is no address, no specific person to target and that makes it a problem for them, but a boon for those of us who continue to battle injustice.
Join us for this important film. Its creator, Ava DuVernay has done a wonderful job with this essential information and its Emmy award is well deserved.
Louisa May Alcott was born on November 29, 1832, her father’s 33rd birthday. Although she was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania her childhood was nomadic. Amos Bronson Alcott was a forward thinker and firmly believed in the power of education for all children. As a result, his methods of training up his students were considered to be tantamount to sacrilege in the days of Victorian ethics. He refused to discipline children by physical means and allowed them the freedom to ask questions. This was a courageous move at a time when child rearing was peppered with axioms such as, “spare the rod and spoil the child” or “a child should be seen and not heard.” Despite all this he refused to compromise his convictions and established several schools only to have to move on to another location when his student population dwindled to only his own children. At one of these locations he welcomed a young black girl into the school, causing a scandal.
Amos and his wife, Abigail May Alcott, were staunch abolitionists and, at one point, ran an underground railroad. Abby was also a force to be reckoned with. She was considered to be one of the first paid social workers when she ran a relief agency for young Irish immigrant women. They could come to the agency for information on which employers were considered to be reputable and guide them away from those who were not.
Amos and Abby were Transcendentalists and maintained friendships with many like-minded persons of the time, such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson was, in fact, a Unitarian minister who left his position to pursue the course of reaching perfection through self reliance and philosophical dissertation. In fact, they did attempt to create a communal living situation called Utopian Fruitland in Concord, Massachusetts that ultimately collapsed.
Louisa was the second born of four sisters. Just as in the book Little Women, the eldest Anna, took a very traditional path and married, giving birth to two boys. Younger sister, Elizabeth, died at a young age, much in the same manner as the character, Beth, and May, the youngest, went off to Europe with a friend where they studied art. She might have become a very famous artist had she not died after the birth of her daughter, Louisa (Lulu) at the age of 39.
Louisa was 35 when she wrote Little Women in 1868. When the book speaks of their father coming home from the war very ill, it was actually referring to Louisa herself. She spent a short six months as a nurse at Union Hospital in Georgetown. There she contracted Typhus and had to return to her family home to recover. At the time, Typhus was treated with a form of mercury which could be attributed to her poor health the rest of her life.
Even though she struggled with health issues Louisa managed to write Good Wives (1869), Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886). With her earnings she provided a more comfortable existence for her parents who had brought them up in extreme poverty.
Louisa was considered to be one of a small group of women writing during what was termed the Gilded Age who addressed women’s issues in an open and candid manner. Although she did enjoy success, one wonders what she might have accomplished had she not succumbed to her illness in 1875 at the age of 55. It’s interesting that she died just two days after her father.
When I was considering what to write next, I knew I needed to return to the Principles but I also realized February is Black History month. Originally, I planned to write of the two separately; however, the more I researched the more I realized they really aren’t necessarily separate topics. The goal of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other black activists is also the Sixth Principle of the Unitarian Universalists. We all want to work toward a community of inclusion and wholeness as members of the human race.
Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke often of a beloved community:
“The end of violence or the aftermath of violence is bitterness. The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation and the creation of a beloved community. A boycott is never an end within itself. It is merely a means to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor but the end is reconciliation and the end is redemption.”
For King, the ultimate goal of his hard work is a community within which we are not only connected physically, but also spiritually. Together we can build a haven of love, safety, peace and justice.
There are beloved communities cropping up across the globe as I write this. As such, while this may seem a lofty dream at first glance, it is already happening. Homes are being shared where everyone participates in running the household and they come together to stand against injustice as one. Democratic communities, such as the tiny houses community in Denver, Colorado, are designed to give the homeless a say in their own lives. Churches, such as the Unitarian Universalists in several cities around the world, are joining forces to battle against hatred, racism and injustice.
We will get there because we must- for the sake of us all.
The Dallas Peace and Justice Center (DPJC) will host a panel discussion to present legal, moral and economic arguments for the abolishment of the Texas death penalty.
Rev. Holsey Hickman, Greater Dallas Community of Churches, St. John Missionary Baptist Church, and former Chaplain at Lew Sterrett
Dr. Rick Halperin, Director – SMU.Human Rights, Internationally Renowned Resource on the Death Penalty
Susybelle Goslee, Capital Punishment Issue Chair, League of Women Voters
Justin Moore, Esq.
Melanie Hebert – A family member of an executed death row inmate
Sehla Ashai – Civil Right Activist/ Immigration Attorney
Dallas Peace and Justice Center, SMU Human Rights Program, Friends of MLK Library, and Amnesty International DFW
Join TalkBack in the Sanctuary after the service.
Participate in our Religious Exploration programs.
Walk the Labyrinth & the Sacred Grounds.
Meditate in the Shambhala room of the Charity Building.
Enjoy connecting in beloved commUUnity.
February 17th, 11:15 am, Workshop 2
Where Do We Come From? UU Roots: This workshop offers a brief overview of Unitarian Universalist history, focusing on ideas and people more than on institutional and denominational structures.
This is part of “The New UU” program. Please visit our Religious Explorations page for more details.
The simplest way to explain Roy Zimmerman is to say he sings “Funny songs about Peace & Justice.” Add pointed satire and amazing insight into the world around us, and you get a bit closer.
A portion of the donations will benefit the Social Justice Ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff
See RoyZimmerman.com for more on Roy and his music!
A Man Named Pearl tells the inspiring story of self-taught topiary artist Pearl Fryar. It offers a message that speaks to respect for both self and others, and shows what one person can achieve when he allows himself to share the full expression of his humanity.
Pearl was stung by the racial stereotype. But rather than become angry and embittered, it motivated him to prove that misguided man wrong. Pearl bought a house in a “black” neighborhood and began fashioning a garden that would attract positive attention. His goal was modest, but clear: to become the first African-American to win Bishopville’s “Yard of the Month” award.
Realizing he would have to do something spectacular to impress the Bishopville garden club, Pearl began cutting every bush and tree in his yard into unusual, abstract shapes. He didn’t know it then, but he was creating a magical wonderland that would, in time, not only garner local recognition, but also draw thousands of visitors from across the United States and around the world. …
But the impact that Pearl and his art have had on his community is not just economic. He’s also had a profound spiritual influence. As Pearl’s minister, Rev. Jerome McCray, says of the garden: “It’s the one place in all of South Carolina that people can go, both black and white, and feel love.”
You can view the trailer here:
Starting February 3rd:
The Young Adults will roll into a program for all adults to participate in Religious Exploration.
Adults at UUCOC are encouraged to:
• Join in the TalkBack in the Sanctuary after the service.
• Participate in our Religious Exploration programs.
• Walk the Labyrinth & the Sacred Grounds.
• Meditate in the Shambhala room of the Charity Building.
• Enjoy connecting in beloved commUUnity.
February 3rd, 11:15 am – Belief-O-Matic!
Bring your smart phones and join a group activity where we all take the (in)famous Belief-O-Matic online quiz, discussing questions about god, the afterlife, human nature, and more. What faith are you really? Belief-o-Matic can tell you!
the Men’s retreat is coming March 22-24, 2019 and
The Women’s retreat is March 29-31, 2019
Registration is open for you to come and enjoy a quiet weekend with familiar faces and new friends at UBarU!
Lodging in the Dwight & Marie Brown Center along with your meals from Friday dinner – Sunday breakfast are included.
Early Bird cost is $155 for the weekend with shorter stay options, if you prefer. Arrive after 4 p.m. on Friday
A rejuvenating time for fun, quiet and renewal is awaiting you in the Texas Hill Country.
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” — Leviticus 19: 33–34
The current situation at our borders is both inhumane and immoral. It’s become a militarized zone where human beings are mistreated on a daily basis and families are torn apart with little hope of being reunited. Immigrants seeking asylum from atrocities in their homelands are greeted with tear gas and hatred. Children whose only crime is being born in a foreign land are dying from abuse and neglect. Thousands seeking the American dream are met with the new American nightmare. Can we truly proclaim to be “One Nation Under God” when we turn away those seeking our help?
The irony of this situation cannot be ignored. America is largely responsible for the destabilization causing people to flee the home of their ancestors. One example of this is our military policies in Guatemala during the Reagan administration. By supporting the wrong factions in South America we created and upheld the oppressive government people are fleeing. Then, once they arrive, they are denied asylum.
Let’s be clear. The Trump administration does not believe every immigrant is a terrorist. That particular message is pure propaganda aimed at feeding on the inner fears of their political base. In reality, the fear of the administration is that the current white dominance is being threatened. With more brown-skinned people moving in there will soon be a majority of other nationalities with voting rights.
As Americans, we cannot stand by and watch the inhumane treatment at the borders. We must be outraged and demand justice for them. The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is calling for persons across the nation to stand behind the moral imperative as we demand:
*A clear and just immigration system that strengthens our democracy through the broad participation of everyone in this country.
*An immigration system that, instead of criminalizing people for trying to raise their families, prioritizes family reunification, keeps families together and allows us all to build thriving communities in this country we call home.
* The demilitarization of our communities on the border and the interior
Immigrants are not criminals, terrorists, or gang members. They are our fellow human beings and deserve the same respect as the rest of us. It is time for all of us to stop our passive stance and speak out against these atrocities clearly and loudly.
Written by: Rev.Larry Brumfeld, Chaplain
Do you need great photos for cards, Facebook, Instagram, or maybe your Breeze profile?
Or just to have some wonderful images of your family?
Vijay Tanwar, our Congregation President and very talented photographer, is offering a special deal on family photographs. Take them at the Gaylord Texan, Dallas Arboretum, or anywhere in the local area. The charge? A $25 suggested donation to UUCOC!
Please contact Vijay at President@OakCliffUU.org for details.
Look for a special way to help out the church this holiday season!
Our UUCOC Angel Tree will be in the lobby again this Sunday.
Items range from $ to $$$.
On Tuesday, January 1, 2019, our First Tuesday Films, in conjunction with The Dallas Peace and Justice Center will present Dark Money. A film that shows us exactly what happens when corporations fund political campaigns. It is about the issues that arise when donors contribute to those nonprofits set up with the intention of influencing the American vote. Although it is set primarily in Montana, it is relevant to every state in the nation.
On this particular night, we will have a guest. Katy Bettner co-produced Dark Money, and will be available for discussion after the show.
Here is a description from Katy herself:
Katy Drake Bettner is an executive in the entertainment industry having co-founded both Playful Corp with her husband Paul, a game studio in McKinney TX and BetRed Stories, a media company with her friend Amy Redford out of Sundance Utah.
Katy is a member of the Women at Sundance Leadership Council, Women Donor Network, Way to Win, the TED community and serves on various boards including the McKinney Chamber of commerce. The Bettners work best when they have way too much on their plates so Katy is also active in politics and philanthropy while raising 3 kids (10/8/5) and a fluffy dog while splitting time between McKinney and Sundance. (Dark Money, The Infiltrators, Raise Hell: The Life &Times of Molly Ivins, Swallow, Always in Season, Akicita).
You can also read my review here: https://www.oakcliffuu.org/wp/2018/12/first-tuesday-film-review-dark-money/
The other day I reviewed the film Dark Money for our First Tuesday Film taking place January 1. Since documentaries are not generally “feel good” movies I watched The Man Who Invented Christmas as a way to balance out my mojo. Instead, I was struck by how similar the messages were. I wondered, for a moment, if anything has really changed over the centuries. It feels as though Scrooge and Marley were merely updated to corporations.
The thing is, I still see the potential for a far-reaching change that could never have happened before. Where there is dark money there are investigative journalists shining a light on it. Where there were workhouses there was a Dickens illuminating the dark dismal corners. After Dickens, the workhouses were closed. Where the dark money has infiltrated government it is being exposed and investigated.
It’s a different world today and nothing can be hidden any longer, regardless of efforts by those who wish to get away with bribery or threats. Social media may have brought us “fake” news, but it also brought us transparency and a majority recognize the truth amid the lies. Those who refuse to see it are bound by their own ignorance and, let’s be real, the ignorant don’t change the world.
I write this on Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and I am reminded that tomorrow the days get longer, the sun stronger and the light brighter. It can be a new beginning if we choose to see it as such. As for me, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is all good for the darkness of the world must be exposed in order to allow the light in.
Enjoy this season with family and friends, then come back renewed to continue the work we are all called to do. May 2019 be the year we side with love more fully and seek justice so we show the inherent worth and dignity of all persons to the world.
Regardless, a good time was had by all and there were some interesting gifts given out. The Animal costume reappeared as did a tutu and a complete hula get up! The favorites that were stolen a couple of times were the lava lamp and the foot bath.
No matter what we ended up with though, it was a great time spent with our UUCOC family!
Recognize Dec 2
Clint Chamberlain 11/26/2014 November 26
James Fairchild 11/26/2014November 26
Jean Kelly 11/29/2015 November 29
Sarah Ricke 11/29/2015 November 29
Recognize Dec 9
Pat McAfee 12/05/2010 December 05
Recognize Dec 16
Becky Brown 12/16/2013 December 16
Dan Brown 12/16/2013 December 16
Recognize Dec 23
Bernie Tjarks 12/18/2014 December 18
Recognize Dec 30
Charles Cranford 12/24/2014 December 24
You can download past issues of the OakLeaf from January of 2012 to April of 2018 from our archives.