Thursday, April 30, 2009

That's Aphasia!

(to the tune of the Dean Martin classic "That's Amore!")

When you want to say "Hi!"
But then -- who is that guy?
That's aphasia!
When the words that you know
Seem to drift through the snow
In your brain.

It's a stop
On the drop
That will take us all down
To the Big Home.
At this stage
Of our age
It's as normal
As ... Whatzisname's Syndrome.

There's a name for your ill.
Don't forget it -- you will.
It's aphasia.
Backs get old, so do brains.
They crack under the strains
Of the years.

So when sentences halt
Please don't let the fault
Shock or ama-aze ya.
Just be grateful for all
The words you still recall
With aphasia.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Faith in Hard Times

If you haven't noticed it already, I hope you'll take a look at my current column on the UU World web site, A Religion for Hard Times.

What I'm trying to do in this column is challenge both Unitarian Universalism and the too-easy critique of Unitarian Universalism by asking how much substance we provide for people when life becomes difficult. The question itself is challenging, and the too-easy critical answer is: not much, because we don't have dogmas that make the promises people need to hear in hard times.

The gist of the column is first to introduce the idea of radical uncertainty: that we really, really don't know what's going to happen to us, to our communities, or to the world, even though we like to tell ourselves that we do. Second, to look at the two obvious ways of responding to radical uncertainty: panic and denial. And third, to say that real faith has nothing to do with promising people that some higher power will make everything work out the way they want. That's just another kind of denial, and even religions with an all-powerful God (in their higher forms) are not that naive.

What I want to call faith -- and I think I'm being consistent with many major religions here -- is a third response to uncertainty, one that senses a way to move forward without demanding promises about how it will all come out. That kind of faith is independent of dogma, and many UUs have shown it at some point in their lives.

But we tend not to talk about it, and I think that's a mistake in times like these. I think we need to offer each other assurance, not that everything will come out the way we want, but that there is a third way -- a way of faith -- in which to face life's uncertainty.

Naturally, it's all said better in the column. But the UU World web site doesn't have a comment feature, so if you want to comment you can do it here.