A Gradual Process of Becoming
DANIELby Beth Cortez-Neavel
ecortez [dot] neavel [at] gmail [dot] com
“I’ve been a Unitarian all my life, before I knew what a Unitarian Universalist was,” says Daniel Rigney (age 65).“I’ve had that view of the world. And so for me it’s been a gradual process of becoming.”
It’s Daniel’s first General Assembly and he says he’s really enjoying it. He retired from a position at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas a few years back as a Professor of Sociology and now lives in Houston with his wife. He says for him, being a UU is an oasis or an island refuge in a sea of red.
“It’s an oxygen tent because I find the conservativism of southeast Texas almost suffocating at times.,” he says. “And so I really am grateful for a place where I can go and be among kindred spirits.”
Daniel says he moved to Emerson UU in Houston recently because he felt that church was particularly climate conscious. He joined five years ago, but has been a “chronic visitor” of our faith since he was a 40-year-old college professor.
“For the last several years, UUism has filled a very important role in my life because it’s given me a focus in retirement,” Daniel says. “It’s given me an avenue for participation and even activism in the climate movement.”
That’s one of his passions. Daniel says his campaign is to encourage every Houston-area UU congregation to buy renewable energy. “I’m very much interested in the shift to renewables and what I can do to promote things,” he says.
He wants to begin his campaign small and grow out to other faiths and other cities. “And then ultimately, nationally,” Daniel says.
“I will say this. UUism has given me tremendous service opportunities like mentoring in the third ward [a predominately low-income black neighborhood], early childhood education, food bank, voter registration,” he says. “I marched in New York. I was one of the few Texans probably at the climate march in New York. There were 400,000 people and I was one of them.”
He says his involvement climate justice ties perfectly into the UU principles.
“The UU seventh principle is that we live in an interdependent world, in a web of interdependence,” he says. “This speaks directly to [that]. It also speaks to the principle of social justice and living in a democratic society – one’s that equitable and fair and distributes its resources fairly. I feel very much at home.”
The authors of #Living UU are Beth Neavel-Cortez and Kristen Psaki. Beth is a free-lance journalist based in Austin, Texas. She is a life long Unitarian Universalist who knows that story-telling is what saves us. Kristen is a member of First Unitarian Society of Denver. She is pursuing ministerial ordination with Unitarian Universalist Association. Kristen loves chocolate and coffee, together or separately.