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Images of Courage and Conviction
Cut out, photocopy, or print out images from magazines, newspapers, textbooks, websites, wall calendars, and/or non-profit organizations' annual reports and fund-raising appeals. Visit a library that has a photocopier and peruse history picture books. You may also find images among your congregation's photo archives, or your own.
Be sure to include everyday moments of courage, as well as heroic moments, and include images of children. Some suggestions:
- Rosa Parks
- Jackie Robinson
- Mahatma Gandhi leading the 1930 Salt March for Indian independence
- Famous historical news photos, such as the man standing in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square, or the young woman kneeling over a student killed during an anti-war protest at Kent State
- Images from the civil rights movement, such as the anti-segregation lunch counter sit-ins or Rev. Martin Luther King speaking
- Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation
- A child — or anyone — performing alone on a stage
- A child — or anyone — learning to read
- Women working on micro-enterprise projects in developing countries
- Striking workers
- People clasping hands (to indicate the courage of standing with a friend or ally)
- A photo of your congregation breaking ground for a new building
- Photos of your congregation's social action activities
- Lou Gherig retiring from his baseball career, after diagnosis with ALS
- Photos of marriages of same-sex couples, from Courting Equality by Pat Gozemba and Karen Kahn, photographs by Marilyn Humphries (Boston: Beacon Press, 2007)
- Parents with their newborn or newly adopted children
- Someone standing up to a tyrant, bully, or other oppressor
- A person asking for help
The website of photographer David Bacon has many social justice images, including workers' strikes and immigrant rights demonstrations. The International Longshore & Warehouse Union website has photos from a 1934 strike in San Francisco, and other, more recent labor protest images.
Universalist Itinerant Preachers
Reinforce the session theme by representing Universalist itinerant preachers among the images you collect. Find a drawing of Nathaniel Stacy in the online Dictionary of Unitarian Universalist Biography. Though they came somewhat later than the preachers portrayed here, you may like to include a photo of Olympia Brown or a photo of late nineteenth-century Universalist itinernant preacher Quillen Shinn, on his horse.
Read about Maria Cook, a very early Universalist woman preacher, in the online Dictionary of Unitarian Universalist Biography. Also see Prophetic Sisterhood: Liberal Women Ministers of the Frontier, 1880-1930 by Cynthia Grant Tucker (Boston: Beacon Press, 1990).
Online, read "Of sand bars and circuit riders: voices from our Universalist past" by David Reich from the July 1993 edition of UU World. The article includes a number of brief and often humorous stories that participants may enjoy. From the introduction:
With their quick wits, their talent for improvisation, and their radically democratic bent, the circuit riders and their followers were quintessentially American, and their lives were the stuff of which good stories are made.
The online Dictionary of Unitarian Universalist Biography includes additional, interesting Universalists, including noted itinerants Hosea Ballou, William Farwell, and Caleb Rich; see the index of Universalist articles. It is also interesting to read some of the many obituaries of Universalist clergy and laypeople from the Universalist Register, on the Unitarian Universalist Association website.
There are many resources for Universalist history, both on the Internet and in readily available books. A very accessible, brief history of Universalism can be found in The Larger Faith by Charles A. Howe (Boston: Skinner House, 1993). Universalism in America: A Documentary History of a Liberal Faith, edited by Ernest Cassara (Boston: Skinner House, 1997), includes many wonderful excerpts from Universalist primary source documents.
Though it is out of print, ministers and congregations may have access to the two-volume collection, The Larger Hope by Russell Miller (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 1979), which includes a number of stories and many photos.
Be aware that Universalism has been a controversial subject since its earliest days. If you search on the web or in a large library for Universalist resources, you may find as many anti-Universalist resources as you do favorable ones. Further, a strain of modern evangelical Christianity has embraced the classical Universalist teaching of the goodness of God. Often listed under the name, "Biblical Universalism," these movements are not necessarily at odds with Universalism in its historical form, but they are not part of the heritage that has become Unitarian Universalism.
You can also find many resources concerning courage and conviction in religious life. In addition to the Unitarian Universalist resources listed above, you may wish to explore books by the Buddhist author Pema Chodron, such as Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion (Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2003) and The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2007).
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