Handout 2: Contemporary Unitarian Universalist Pulpit Messages
From “Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later” by Rev. Dr. Michael A. Schuler (July 4, 2010)
In the long run, it seems obvious that no one “owns” anything. Evidence suggests that we are all mortal beings and whatever we manage to accumulate will, in the end, belong to someone else…
[One family] gladly agreed to limit their own economic opportunities in the interest of protecting [land they owned] from the predations of future commercial developers. Whether or not their own family chooses to continue living on and working the land, [they] feel confident that future generations will commend them for their consideration and foresight.
From “Moral Sentiments” by Rev. Dr. Galen Guengerich (October 30, 2010)
The free market system, along with its political counterpart, democracy, is based on the obvious conviction that I am motivated by my own interests. Furthermore, it rightly presumes that I know my interests better than anyone else. The theory is that is you take a group of people and set them free to pursue their own interests, better things will happen than if someone else defines their interests for them. In order for people to pursue their own interests they need to know what those interests are and possess the ability to pursue them. The increasing disparities in education and income among Americans threaten to make our democratic and capitalist claims into a farce.
From “What Would Jesus Buy” by Rev. Kaaren Anderson (2011)
It’s almost like Americans are being the Christmas tree with the most shiny objects on it. Our self-worth is determined by how bright our lights are, how many baubles we have hanging from us, what we can provide for our children by buying them things. If I can have the new PlayStation, the newest shoes, the trip to the latest hotspot, then I’m the tree with all the stuff and I’ll be noticed. It’s become a season of “see me.” See me with the right things that I have collected and bought, and in that “see me” is the root of our self-worth being grounded.
But here’s another thing, if you get so focused on what you put on your tree, you don’t pay attention to putting any water in the stand, you don’t feed the tree. With all the focus on the baubles, lights, and the gifts under the tree, we don’t pay attention to watering the family, to the quiet calm of what we need with one another. And put most acutely, without water, the tree’s gonna die.
From “Is Money Really a Danger to My Soul?” by Rev. Andrew C. Kennedy (2011)
I am not here—especially here in this magnificent facility—to call the kettle black, to "bash the rich," nor to romanticize poverty, either. As Jacob Needleman notes in his book, “Money and the Meaning of Life,” in many households, the most intense and violent emotions are centered around money—the lack of it, the need for it, the desperate difficulty, sometimes, of getting enough of it, and the fears of what will happen to us without it. In many important respects, money is power, reality, safety and security, if not happiness, and I believe the lack of money, despite what Jesus and the other religious traditions may say, can truly break one's body, one's home, one's family, and one's spirit. So, let us not romanticize poverty. Indeed, it may be heresy to say this, but sometimes I believe money is the answer, for it can buy: food for the hungry, medicine for the sick, shelter for the homeless, a walker for the unsteady, books to read, games to play, cakes for birthdays, trips in the summer, tickets to the theater or a ballgame. And on and on, we could go. For money is the answer to some things—many things—and I suspect it is only those who have never known the sting of poverty that can pretend otherwise.
Money can be especially dangerous if we make it our god—if we make it our ultimate concern. That is, we endanger our lives, our souls, if we make money the most important thing—or even nearly the most important thing—in our lives.
From “Fairness” by Rev. Roger Fritts (March 14, 2010)
How do you decide when you are doing enough good? … When it comes to helping others I like the ancient idea of tithing. The idea of giving away a tenth of our income as charity first appears in the book of Genesis. Not 50 percent of your wealth, but 10 percent. When it comes to fairness, tithing remains a helpful and frightening guide. Ten percent of my income, 10 percent of my time, 10 percent of my life, I should use to help others. That is my goal. It is scary.
I can only say that when I give money to this or that organization, such as Haiti relief or to the health care fund at Children’s Hospital, and of course to our church, or when I spend 10 percent of my time going to an immigration rally on the mall, I do not feel like a chump. I feel strong, powerful, and loving.