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John Murray Distinguished Lecture

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General Assembly 2009 Event 2014

Speaker: Rev. Nate Walker.

Rev. Gail Geisenhainer was unable to deliver this prestigious lecture as scheduled, so Rev. Nate Walker was invited to take her place. "A tall order," Walker said. "Thankfully I have a WWGD bracelet: what would Gail do?" So in the inimitable style of Gail Geisenhainer he began with an allegorical play involving a burning house and a challenging question: who do you save from the fire?

This is at the heart of Universalism and our first Unitarian Universalist principle. God is too good to damn; however, our judgmental minds and fearful hearts cause us to create our own hell, especially when our discriminating minds lead us to generalize or demonize others.

From the allegorical play, he moved on to a true story of a living hell that began with an email message and quickly spread to include a cast of characters covering a wide political spectrum. Further inflammatory emails followed, until (to continue the metaphor) "Our church caught on fire."

His response was a "Ministry of Mediation" involving three spiritual practices of Universalism: communication, study, and imagination.

As the story unfolded, miscommunications were uncovered and demons were revealed as human. Imagination reveals a simple truth: "Hurt people hurt people." Imagination leads to empathy, sympathy, and understanding. And these are necessary to heal a fearful heart and a judgmental mind.

During the audience response, Walker revealed the depths of his empathy, sympathy, and understanding of the entire cast of characters. Some people have an addiction to conflict. Many are in a lot of pain. We are all just kids, growing and learning. And we are all worthy of being saved from the fire.

Read the full story (PDF, 7 pages).

Reported by Mike McNaughton.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

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