UU General Assembly
Whew! I am EXHAUSTED! The 2010 Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Minneapolis, Minnesota has come to a close. What a week! Or five days… it just felt like much longer! There were about 3500 participants from around the country and the world. The absolute BEST thing about GA is always the interesting people I get to meet! It is seldom that I meet a UU that I don’t immediately like!
General Assembly is a time for UUs to come together, conduct business, elect officers, set policy, worship, LEARN… oh, and SHOP! There are dozens of workshops held throughout the week. I spent most of the first two days in a series of talks on “The Necessity of Virtue” given by Galen Guengerich, the prominent senior minister at All Souls UU Church in New York City. By Galen’s count, there are seven virtues that are necessary for all humans to follow to reach their highest potential. It was a very interesting lecture series.
It is often said that getting UUs to work together is like herding cats (the T-shirt that says “Cat herder” is a big seller in the vendor hall). Our moderator for the plenary sessions for the past few years has been a wonderfully knowledgeable and humorous woman named Gini Couter. She is well versed in parliamentary procedure of course, but more importantly, she has a unique ability to tell someone to sit down and shut-up in a way that makes everyone giggle… including the person asked to sit down! There are many Gini Couter fans amongst UU GA attendees… I think I am one of her biggest! I won’t bore you with the details of the things we voted on… it was bad enough to have had to sit through some of it!
This weekend was Gay Pride celebration in Minneapolis. Since, like most of the United States, Minnesota does not allow same-sex marriages or civil unions, we UUs decided to lend our “Public Witness” to the debate. On Saturday, during our noon break from meetings, we marched as a body… heavily bedecked in our yellow “Standing on the Side of Love” T-shirts, banners and signage… and rallied in the nearby park, where Gay Pride was being celebrated. We had our own speakers, prayers and songs. We recognized our own UU members who are same-sex partnered and prohibited by their state laws to marry the person of their choosing. We listened to stories of discrimination fostered against same sex partners…. And we prayed for an end to such discrimination.
Shopping is always an important part of GA. There is always a large exhibit hall. The booths in the hall range from small charities trying to raise awareness (and money) for their cause to vendors selling UU friendly T-shirts, bumper stickers, cards, clothes, and paraphernalia. I am bringing home a couple of dozen new bumper stickers… here are some of my favorites:
“Non-judgment day is near!”
“Do you keep hearing crazy voices? Turn off Fox News.”
“Religion is for people afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who have been there.”
“If evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve!”
“I’m straight but not narrow!”
You can see I am going to make a splash with some of my more fundamentalist Christian neighbors! Especially since I have ordered a personalized license plate that says “Buddhist”… I had hoped to get one that says “I TRY to be a Buddhist, it doesn’t always work” but that wouldn’t fit on the license plate! I have seven “liberal” bumper stickers on my car at the moment. Five of them are on magnets, so they can be switched out… I look forward to sporting some of my new bumper stickers soon!
Have I mentioned that THIS is my year to learn about Christianity? Having been largely “un-churched” as a child, there are many things about Christianity that I just don’t “get”. So… this year, in preparation for my 2011 walking pilgrimage across the north of Spain to Santiago de Compostella, I am doing my best to understand Christianity. So far, I have taken a 10 week Catholic inquiry class and I have been attending a Baptist bible study class! I’ve got to say, I have learned a LOT! The difference between the interpretations of Jesus’ message between the two denominations is rather striking! I can’t say I am any closer to believing EITHER interpretation, but I am MUCH better able to appreciate where these groups GET their ideas. I don’t agree with them, but I better understand them… and I think understanding is an important thing!
I drove here to Minneapolis… I stopped in Madison, WI long enough to have lunch with a friend, but otherwise it was an uneventful trip. Tomorrow I will have lunch with another friend who lives a couple of hours north of here. From there I will head up and over Lake Huron into Canada and then down into New York State… where I will visit my parents and my brother’s family. Then I will head further east to visit friends in New Hampshire once again before I head home to North Carolina.
In other words… a really short road trip for me!
You know what I always say…. Life’s a TRIP!