The Emerson Avenger

The Emerson Avenger is a "memory hole" free blog where censorship is scorned. This blog will "guard the right to know" about any injustices and abuses that corrupt Unitarian Universalism. Posters may speak and argue freely, according to conscience, about any injustices and abuses, or indeed hypocrisy, that they may know about so that the Avenger, in the form of justice and redress, may come surely and swiftly. . . "Slowly, slowly the Avenger comes, but comes surely." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

In 1992 I underwent a profound revelatory experience of God which revealed that the total solar eclipse "Eye of God" is a "Sign in the Heavens" that symbolizes God's divine omniscience. You may read about what Rev. Ray Drennan of the Unitarian Church of Montreal contemptuously dismissed as my "psychotic experience" here: - This revelatory religious experience inspired me to propose an inter-religious celebration of Creation that would take place whenever a total solar eclipse took place over our planet. You may read about what Rev. Ray Drennan and other leading members of the Unitarian Church of Montreal falsely and maliciously labeled as a "cult" here: - I am now an excommunicated Unitarian whose "alternative spiritual practice" includes publicly exposing and denouncing Unitarian*Universalist injustices, abuses, and hypocrisy. The Emerson Avenger blog will serve that purpose for me and hopefully others will share their concerns here. Dee Miller's term DIM Thinking is used frequently and appropriately on this blog. You may read more about what DIM Thinking is here -

Thursday, April 30, 2009

How Many U*U Congregations Did The UUA aka Unitarian Universalist Association Of Congregations "Lose" In 2008-2009 Anyway?

There seem to be varying numbers floating about as to just how many U*U congregations the UUA officially "lost" in the most recent certification count. I first caught wind of the UUA "losing" a significant number of congregations during the telephone presidential forum in which UUA Presidential Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman expressed concern about this issue assuming I heard her correctly. I initially thought that as many as 74 U*U congregations may have gone AWOL by failing to certify their membership as UUA congregations by the February 2009 deadline. It now appears that the actual figure is closer to 40 or 50 UUA congregations missing in inaction as it were. The most recent information that I came across today on the blog/website of the Florida District of the UUA indicates that 50 UUA congregations failed to certify their UUA membership in 2009. Here is the pertinent quote from the Trustee Report about the April 2009 meeting of the UUA Board of Trustees -

"Paul (Rickter) reported that 50 congregations failed to certify for GA 2009."

Other official UUA figures would indicate that the UUA "lost" over 40 congregations at minimum.

If it will make U*Us feel better, this quite dramatic "disappearance" of about 50 U*U congregations is not the greatest loss of UUA congregations over the span of one single church year. Forty years ago, between 1968 and 1969, the UUA lost no less than 59 U*U congregations dropping from an all time high of 1,350 congregations to 1,076 in just one year. UUA congregations continued to drop over the next decade to a low of 988 congregations before creeping back up to a high of 1,050 or so congregations by the turn of the millennium. At a current level of 997 certified congregations the UUA only needs to "lose" about 10 more to break the previous record of having only 988 certified congregations.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Unhealthiness Of The Unkindness Of The U*Us - David Throop Speaks Up About Over-The-Top Criticism And Verbal Abuse In The U*U World

Lone Star State U*U David Throop asks 'What would make our churches healthier?' on his UU Covenant Groups, Lay Preaching & Evangelizing blog. Throop suggests that the U*U faith aka the U*U Movement "would be healthier if there was less unkindness." His blog posts speaks specifically about verbal abuse rather than other forms of "unkindness" of U*Us. According to Throop, "Most of the time, UUs are kind to each other. But every once and a while, good people get their ears burned off by their angry co-religionists." As someone who has had his ears burned off by angry, to say nothing of just plain insulting and abusive, U*U clergy on several occasions I can relate.

David Throop references the Independent Affiliates Revisited (Again) (And Again) blog post of the UUA's Pacific Central District Trustee Linda Laskowski. He cites a letter of UUA Moderator Gini Courter who speaks about being "verbally abused and treated in other totally inappropriate ways by leaders of some of our former independent affiliates." Throop says, "A friend who works at the district level told me a similar story, about bringing some unwelcome news to a group of (adult) YRUU facilitators, and being shocked at the level of verbal abuse she took. . . I've also know a whole series of past congregational-presidents who don't come around so much any more. Several of them have said that the level of verbal abuse they took in the position had shocked them." It seems that David Throop's blog post was inspired by, and is a response to, a fairly recent blog post by fellow Lone Star State U*U the Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle who is minister of Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston Texas and who asks 'What would make your faith community healthier?' on his 'Keep The Faith' blog.

David Throop answers Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle's question "in the double negative" by saying "less unkindness." He insightfully points out that "more kindness isn't really the solution. No matter how much kindness we've received over the years, it can be greatly undone by a single angry heated tirade." Not that I haven't being saying pretty much the same thing for well over a decade now. . . ever since the angry heated tirade of the intolerant, abusive, and quite belligerent "fundamentalist atheist" Humanist U*U minister Rev. Ray Drennan in which he contemptuously dismissed my revelatory religious experience as "your psychotic experience" and angrily and indeed heatedly demanded that I seek "professional help". . . U*Us know, that angry heated tirade in which the self-described "pastoral specialist" Rev. Raymond Drennan angrily labeled Creation Day as a "cult" and dismissed my monotheistic religious beliefs as being nothing but "silliness and fantasy". That angry heated tirade which Rev. Diane Miller, the Director of the UUA's very aptly named Ministerial *Fellowship* Committee, foolishly pretended was "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership" when my formal complaint about his anti-religious intolerance and bigotry was passed on to her by former UUA President Rev. Dr. John A. Beuhrens in the spring of 1996.

Here is my comment responding to David Throop's blog post. Hopefully he will be kind enough not to "memory hole" it. . .

I think that your point about "less unkindness" is very valid David. Quite regrettably the highest levels of the current UUA administration, apparently including UUA President Bill Sinkford and UUA Moderator Gini Courter herself. . . turn blind eyes and deaf ears to people complaining about the "unkindness" of intolerant and abusive U*U clergy who are allowed to deeply insult, outright defame, and otherwise verbally abuse their co-religionists and non-U*Us with complete impunity. If you have any doubts about this I can present plenty of evidence to support what I just said including, but by no means limited to, this email string between me and Rev. Dr. Tracey Robinson-Harris regarding the "unkindness" aka over-the-top criticism and verbal abuse of one Rev. Victoria Weinstein aka Peacebang.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cue The Twilight Zone Theme Song. . . This One Is Almost Eerie. . .

The Emerson Avenger blog received a visit today from someone at Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts. This person ran a Google search for - what's a famous avenger - and The Emerson Avenger blog post titled 'Is Famous Unitarian Thomas Jefferson Numbered Amongst Famous White Supremacists As Well?' is currently ranked at no. 3 in Google for that particular Google search. I guess it would be fair to say that former U.S. President, famous Unitarian, and even somewhat famous White Supremacist. . . Thomas Jefferson is something of a famous avenger as well, if only within the context of that famous post 9-11 joke about Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden encountering 72 Virginians in heaven.

It seems the person who made this Google search was probably not a Unitarian aka U*U since their query lacked the obligatory question mark of Unitarians. I can't help but wonder what went through the mind of this person at Emerson College when their Google search for the truth and meaning of what "a famous avenger" is brought them more or less full circle back to a blog named after famous ex-Unitarian Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Maybe Jewish Morals Is What They Were Searching For. . . Or Maybe Somebody *Really* Was Looking For Rev. Peter Morales' Opinion Of Judaism. . .

In any case *somebody* from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in Columbus, Ohio, ran a Google search for - morales judaism - earlier today and paid a visit to The Emerson Avenger blog post titled Did Rev. Peter Morales "Mess Up" His UUA Presidential Campaign "Stump Speech"?, and so it goes because too many U*Us obstinately refuse to practice what they so insincerely preach. . .

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman And Rev. Peter Morales Have Both Responded To The Open Letter About Clergy Sexual Misconduct Of Nashville U*Us

It has just come to my attention minutes ago that both UUA candidates Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman and Rev. Peter Morales have formally responded to the Open Letter About Clergy Sexual Misconduct that was addressed to them by the Denominational Affairs Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville. Rev. Peter Morales responded quite rapidly, within about a week of receiving it, whereas Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman took closer to three weeks to respond. The timing of Rev. Laurel Hallman's response, which was made yesterday, suggests that the UUA Presidential candidates may have received a follow-up question submitted to them for answering during the telephone forum of yesterday. I listened to that telephone forum and no question concerning clergy misconduct was fielded but that does not mean that someone from the Denominational Affairs Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, or indeed someone else concerned about UUA (mis)handling of clergy sexual conduct or clergy misconduct more generally, did not submit a question via UUA Secretary Peter Rickter. For now I will simply post the responses of Rev. Peter Morales and Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman below, with some pertinent embedded hyperlinks, but I will most certainly put in my two cents worth later, probably in the form of separate blog posts although I may update this one.

April 2, 2009
Denominational Affairs Committee
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville

Dear Alan and Members of the Committee,

Thank you for your letter regarding the UUA’s response to cases of ministerial sexual misconduct. Let me say at the outset that I understand how painful the experience of Nashville has been. My campaign manager, Dea Brayden, came from Nashville. So, too, did our minister of music, Keith Arnold. I am a close colleague of Mary Katherine Morn, and the topic has come up with Jason Shelton. The pain around this incident, even after all these years, is plainly evident.

Since I received your letter I have read the recommendations of the “Restorative Justice for All” report. I have also had a long conversation with Fred Muir, who not only was involved in drafting the report, but has also had continuing involvement with this issue. I have also read subsequent UUA publications, including a report on Safe Congregations written in 2004. With that as background, let me respond to your questions.

Would I would carry out all 13 recommendations of the 2000 report? After looking at subsequent documents and discussing the situation with Fred Muir, I would say that I think it would be wiser to revisit those recommendations in light of developments in the last nine years. I am not “passing the buck” here or being evasive. We need to look at our recent experience and at current practices of other churches and other organizations like colleges and universities. Sadly, there have been cases of sexual misconduct by ministers since the report was written. It does not look like they were handled as well as we might wish. Also, the UUA’s current practice needs to change immediately. The position now charged with hearing complaints, the director of congregational services, is being phased out. We will need an interim solution while we examine where we should go in the long term.

I am fully committed to taking action. To me, this is a moral imperative. I would seek input from the UUMA and advocacy groups. I would insist that we look at best practices in other associations. Certain criteria would inform any final implementation. One of these would be that a victim receive immediate and compassionate response. My own bias, from what I know of other organizations, is that we need to separate the pastoral and healing response to the victim from the process of judging the offense and taking any disciplinary action. Many organizations, including the UUA, have employee assistance programs where outside organizations handle response to personal issues with complete confidentiality. Again, however, I would want us to look at what experts consider current best practice.

Your second question concerns the critical issues of prevention and support to victims and congregations. The short answer is “yes, of course.” And again, I do not pretend to be an expert on what form that should take. I am absolutely committed to doing the right thing, and I understand that we have fallen far short in the past. The important thing for the president is to consult with advocacy groups and people who have expertise, so that what we do is compassionate, timely and effective. We have, for example, a well developed model for responding to crises. There is a trauma response team that has proven itself to be effective. Perhaps this model should be adapted to cases of clergy sexual misconduct. I would want to see a careful analysis of the options.

As to the area of prevention, there are many things we can do. None, alas, is perfect. Perhaps the most important thing we can do is to be frank about the issue and to train clergy and congregations about safe congregation practices.

In summary, I understand how painful and damaging clergy sexual misconduct is. I am committed to making ours a safer and a more compassionate movement. Any action I would take would be as the result of careful analysis of best practices and the painful lessons we have learned from our own experience.


Peter Morales

TO: The Denominational Affairs Committee of the Nashville, Tennessee Church
FROM: Laurel Hallman
RE: Your letter about Clergy sexual misconduct
DATE: April 17, 2009

Thank you for your question about clergy sexual misconduct and what the UUA’s response will be in my administration. I appreciate the time you have given me to reflect with people who have been working on the troubling effects of clergy sexual misconduct, both within and outside our Association. We all agree that silence is never the answer to this abuse of power.

More than any other profession, the minister carries the power of the office into relationships. Abuse of that power affects the survivor’s very soul. It also affects the soul and spirit of the congregation in which that minister has served. It goes to the heart of our faith to ask serious questions of justice, compassion and hope when the abuse occurs. As soon as possible after the election, I will gather survivors of clergy abuse in our association to talk with me about their experience, whether recent or distant. I will not defend, obfuscate, or discount any person’s experience. I will listen. I will be as transparent as I can be about what is possible, going forward. I can’t promise that I will be able to do everything contained in the 2001 Muir Report, or answer all the questions presented to the board in 2007. I will promise as President to do everything possible, with the resources available, to strengthen our structures of justice, our ministry to survivors, and our ongoing monitoring of complaints through final resolution.

We are fortunate at this time that the President of the UUMA, the Chair of the MFC, and the UUA Moderator are deeply committed to transparency, education, and appropriate procedures when charges of misconduct are brought. I will urge the UUMA and the MFC as well as the UUA Board to continue their educational and procedural work so that our programs of education and prevention always represent best practices and serve the work of justice.

Collaboration will be key to my presidency, and thus I look forward to collaborating with the survivors on this important issue. Thank you for bringing it to the forefront of the campaign.

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What The American "Church Of The Far Left" Does Not Want U*Us To Read. . .

This blog post began as a response to Rev. James Ishmael Ford's blog post entitled 'What the American Right Wing Does Not Want You to Read' in his ever readworthy MonkeyMind blog. Since it evolved into what would some U*Us would call a "hijacking" of his blog post, albeit a quite justifiable one AFAIAC, I have decided to post it here and will submit an edited version of it to the aforementioned blog post. This is a "work in progress" and will evolve a bit over the next day or two -

I hate to have to ever so predictably say so James but the left-wing, including the so-called "Church of the Far Left"*, is guilty of very similar if not identical behavior, and I say that as a left-wing *moderate* myself. Perhaps not so much in terms of advocating "violent insurrection", but the rest of the "dynamic" is all too familiar. . .

Not so long ago you could have said -

"Hints of revolution have peppered the left wing for years, and with the election of George W. Bush has upped amazingly."

It's not like the left wing, including U*Us, don't quickly close ranks, deny the facts on the ground, and try to refocus people's attention back to their issues when confronted by legitimate criticism of various failings. . . Be assured that I can provide plenty of examples of that within the context of U*Uism.

Almost as scary is how representatives of the UUA administration at 25 Beacon Street in Boston appear NOT to be buckling when confronted by legitimate criticism and serious grievances of various kinds. . .

I hope people actually read this recent Emerson Avenger blog post. It is closely reasoned, as is most of what I write about the problems of the U*Us, and it lays the deal out all too clearly...

"Not liking the facts is one thing. Pretending they aren't facts is quite another..."

U*Us, including top level UUA administrators do this all the time James. . . Forget Bill Sinkford's sinking ship I have seen examples of both UUA Presidential candidates, i.e. Rev. Peter Morales and Rev. Laurel Hallman, engaging in this kind of denial of readily verifiable reality. It is one thing to make lemonade out of lemons, it is quite another to pretend that a lemon is actually quite drinkable lemonade. . . That's Rev. Laurel Hallman's bad. Rev. Peter Morales' bad, one of them anyway. . . is pretending that Unitarian*Universalism can be "The Religion Of Our Time" without providing a credible and viable "road map" for how he is going to transform Unitarian*Universalism from the "tiny, declining, fringe religion" he acknowledges it is today into "the religion of our time" within *our* time which I figure to be within 30 years at the outside. . . In fact, during yesterday's telephone forum, he suggested that he could accomplish most of this "miracle" (AFAIAC) within four to ten years. This just doesn't seem very realistic at all. For the record I think they both spoke very well yesterday and if they actually walk their talk, which too many UUA leaders abjectly fail and even obstinately refuse to do. . . they will both make good UUA Presidents. Personally I would like to see the "runner up" replace Kathleen Montgomery as UUA Executive Vice President> I get the sense that Rev. Peter Morales is well suited for that job and may actually be running for it. . .

:Almost everyone has heard how the Chinese curse is "may you live in interesting times..." Damn, these are interesting times...

Indeed they are. . . ;-)

* U*Us can thank The Oregonian newspaper for that particular description of what UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales bills as the "Tiny Declining Fringe Religion" and other U*Us seem to like to call "The U*U Movement".

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Rev. Calvin O. Dame For UUA Moderator?!! Believe It Or Not U*Us, It Could Have Happened. . .

UUA Moderator Gini Courter meet Rev. Calvin O. Dame.

Rev. Calvin O. Dame meet UUA Moderator Gini Courter. . .

"After Olson resigned, five people stepped forward as candidates for interim moderator. In addition to Courter, an information technology consultant, author, and speaker who lives in Traverse City, Michigan, the candidates were the Rev. Calvin Dame, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Augusta, Maine, and trustee from the Northeast District; Patsy Sherrill Madden of St. Louis, former member of the GA Planning Committee and a candidate for moderator in the 2000 election; Dr. Elisabeth McGregor of Sharon, Massachusetts, former first vice moderator and trustee from the Ballou Channing District; and the Rev. Douglas Morgan Strong of Piano, Texas, former member of the GA Planning Committee. After interviewing the candidates, the Trustees submitted their votes by secret ballot."

Source - 'Board chooses interim moderator' UU World: The Magazine of the Unitarian Universalist Association, February 2004

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The Small Group Ministry aka Clergy Sexual Misconduct Of Rev. Calvin O. Dame Cont'd. . .

How ironic. . .

"What it takes is for a congregation to determine that this is one of the most important areas it can focus on if it wants to grow and if it wants to deepen the lives of its friends and members. People seek out churches because they want connection with other people and because they want to find more meaning for their lives and make a difference in the world. Small groups can do both."

Rev. Calvin O. Dame

Quoted in 'Small Group Ministry Requires Commitment'

Yup, Rev. Calvin O. Dame's rather interesting "loose interpretation" of Small Group Ministry, if not "less than small" gropes ministry. . . sure as Hell deepened the lives of many if not most of the members of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Augusta Maine didn't it?

Let's see now. . .

Rev. Calvin O. Dame's "loose interpretation" of "Small Group Ministry" would appear to have "deepened" the sex lives of a small group of UUCC members.

His "Small Group Ministry" obviously deepened the sense of betrayal of a small group of UUCC's members in more ways than one. . .

Rev. Calvin Dame's "abuse", sexual abuse and/or other forms of abuse, apparently deepened the suffering of a small group of members of the UUCC.

The subsequent "traumatic revelations" of Rev. Calvin O. Dame's "inappropriate sexual conduct toward congregation members" aka clergy sexual misconduct aka "abuse" quite evidently deepened the sense of psychological and emotional trauma in the lives of at least a small group of UUCC members, if not most of them. . .

But don't worry U*Us, there is actually a silver lining to that dark cloud cast over the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Augusta, Maine (not Georgia), by Rev. Calvin O. Dame's "shadow". . . Rev. Calvin Dame's "loose interpretation" of "Small Group Ministry" aka clergy sexual misconduct, which apparently involved multiple victims aka a *small group* of victims. . . has seemingly served to deepen the commitment of the betrayed, traumatized, and abused members of the UUCC to each other and to their beaten and bruised Unitarian*Universalist church.

Well done Rev. Calvin O. Dame!

Your "Small Group Ministry" aka multiple victim clergy sexual misconduct did indeed deepen the lives of the members of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Augusta, Maine, and clearly made a real difference in the U*U World, if not the real world.


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Thursday, April 16, 2009

How Rev. Calvin O. Dame Redefined Small Group Ministry At The Unitarian Universalist Community Church Of Augusta Maine

Rev. Calvin O. Dame is U*U World-famous as one of the pioneers of Small Group Ministry. He was minister of the Unitarian*Universalist Community Church Of Augusta Maine from 1986 until he concluded his ministry there in April of 2006. It would appear that Rev. Calvin Dame lent a whole new meaning to the term 'Small Group Ministry' while he was minister of the Unitarian*Universalist Community Church Of Augusta Maine which is not to be confU*Used with the Unitarian*Universalist Church Of Augusta Georgia of course.

The following paragraph is a slightly modified version of a paragraph that may be found on the 'News from the Search Committee' blog of the Unitarian*Universalist Community Church Of Augusta Maine which "chronicles the progress of the Ministerial Search Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Augusta, Maine; from 2008-2009." -

In the spring of 2007, the Unitarian*Universalist Community Church Of Augusta Maine learned that its choir director and its former minister of 20 years, Rev. Calvin O. Dame, had both engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct toward congregation members. Fortunately, its well-grounded lay leadership took decisive action to dismiss the choir director and initiate a complaint to the UUA regarding the former minister Rev. Calvin Dame.

end quote

The nature of Rev. Calvin O. Dame's alleged, indeed apparently actual, "inappropriate sexual conduct toward congregation members" aka U*U clergy sexual misconduct is not specified in this blog post which does not actually name him, although a little bit of Googling around quickly reveals just who the "former minister" in question was. In light of the fact that both Rev. Calvin O. Dame *and* the unnamed choir director of the Unitarian*Universalist Community Church Of Augusta Maine were found to have engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct toward congregation members one cannot help but wonder if perhaps they worked in concert together at times. Needless to say I am quite curious about just how well, or not. . . the UUA's Department of Ministry handled the complaint that the betrayed lay leaders of the Unitarian*Universalist Community Church Of Augusta Maine aka UUCC initiated against Rev. Calvin O. Dame.

It turns out that Rev. Calvin Dame was a UUA Trustee for the UUA's Northeast District a while back. . . I can't help but wonder what was going through his head when, during the UUA Board Of Trustees Meeting of January 19-21, 2001, a report was heard from the Panel on Safe Congregations: Restorative Justice for All. Was Rev. Dame amongst those UUA Trustees who were "deeply moved and grateful" for this task force's work at offering U*Us some suggestions of how U*Us, as a faith community, can respond better to victims/survivors of clergy sexual misconduct? Did this Safe Congregations report have a very powerful impact on him? How does Rev. Calvin O. Dame feel now in his role as a U*U "poster boy" (for better or worse. . .) for the UUA's model of helping people and congregations move towards "restoration" after such traumas? To be honest I see very little sign of any tangible "restoration" aka restorative justice provided by the UUA reported on the blog of the UUCC's search committee.

Most ironically, in the six degrees of separation department. . . The Fall 2005 edition of the UU World Magazine lists Rev. Calvin Dame's announced departure from the Unitarian*Universalist Community Church Of Augusta Maine right before Rev. Ray Drennan's announced departure from the Unitarian Church of Montreal. Maybe the editorial staff of the UU World should consider calling it the Millstones section. . .

Anyone who has any reliable information about this comparatively recent case of U*U clergy sexual misconduct* is welcome to share their concerns here by commenting on this blog post. Feel free to help make this particular Emerson Avenger blog post one of those "Top Ten Things" that Rev. Calvin Dame "Really Doesn’t Want to Hear" about.

* Needless to say it is entirely possible that Rev. Calvin O. Dame's clergy sexual misconduct at the Unitarian*Universalist Community Church Of Augusta Maine actually spanned several years, and possibly even a decade or two. . .

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Does Rev. Cynthia Cain Of The Lexington KY U*U Church Stand A Chance In Any "Showdown" With The Emerson Avenger?

Apparently Google's just asking. . . ;-)

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's Gone, Baby, Gone. . . Down The Burgeoning U*U "Memory Hole" aka Yet Another Unitarian*Universalist Who Can't Deal With Unpleasant Objective Truth

I had hoped that the disappearance of former U*U minister Rev. Mary Scriver's blog post entitled 'ACCUSING THE CLERGY... AND ACCUSING... AND ACCUSING' was an accidental deletion rather than a knowing and willful "memory holing" of the blog post along with all of the comments submitted to it. I guess that my hopes were what Rev. Charles Eddis would call "wishful thinking", and what I would call giving a U*U the benefit of my ever so Unitarian doubt. . . Quite regrettably for all concerned it is abundantly clear from the Prairie Mary blog post entitled 'A Couple Of Notes' that Rev. Mary Scriver knowingly and willfully deleted her blog post because she could not deal with the content of my follow-up comment which pointed out that she was mistaken about some well established facts about U*U clergy misconduct and other U*U injustices, abuses, and hypocrisy. Here is the pertinent part of that blog post in which Rev. Mary Scriver explains her deletion of her blog post aka rationalizes her "memory holing" of her words and mine, to say nothing of Art's comment -

THE OTHER NOTE is that since Robin Edgar flooded me with line-by-line refutations of everything I said as well as repeating every accusation again, I zapped his comments. Then, in a spirit of equity, I zapped my post. It is NOT "down a memory hole," as Edgar puts it, but "gone, baby, gone."

Most ironically, a good chunk of Rev. Mary Scriver's 'ACCUSING THE CLERGY... AND ACCUSING... AND ACCUSING' blog post was a line-by-line aka point-by-point attempt on her part to refute, or at least cast doubt on, a number of the things that I had said in my initial response to her BETWEEN GOOD FRIDAY AND EASTER blog post. I made it very clear to Rev. Mary Scriver that I had no objection whatsoever to her saying whatever she wanted to say about me, good, bad, or downright ugly. . . on her Prairie Mary blog as long as she allowed me to respond to it. I guess that she couldn't keep up her side of that bargain. . . Instead of allowing me to publicly respond to some of the questionable things that she said about me, to say nothing of other questionable statements that she made in her blog post, Rev. Mary Scriver simply deleted her whole rather questionable blog post lock, stock, and smoking 16' gun barrel. . .

My 'Continuing The Conversation With Rev. Mary Scriver aka Prairie Mary' blog post of yesterday preserves my comment that probably never made it past Prairie Mary's blog "moderation" aka censorship and thus was technically not "memory-holed", just censored and suppressed aka silenced. . . Google cache has quite reliably and quite thankfully preserved Prairie Mary's original 'ACCUSING THE CLERGY... AND ACCUSING... AND ACCUSING' blog post completely intact, albeit without the comment from Art that Rev. Scriver had approved. Gotta love Google eh U*Us? No?

It is now abundantly obvious that Prairie Mary simply does not want to continue the conversation that is apparently just a bit to hot for her to handle. Fair enough. The conversation ends here and now until such a time as Rev. Mary Scriver changes her mind, which may well be never. I am not going to come down *too* hard on Rev. Mary Scriver for trying to "cover up and hide" some rather unpleasant truths about U*Us. I suspect that our conversation may have burst a few "bubbles" and caused a certain amount of "discomfort" if not some outright cognitive dissonance. I also suspect that our conversation may well have dredged up some rather unpleasant memories that Rev. Scriver might prefer not to have been reminded of. . . It seems that she was, and still is, aware of a fair bit of U*U "shit" as it were.

Still, I cannot allow Rev. Mary Scriver to psychologically rationalize her wholesale deletion of her own blog post, along with all approved or pending comments submitted to it, as being done in "a spirit of equity" and NOT constituting "memory holing" of some "less than flattering" U*U history. It is quite evident from Prairie Mary's own testimony that her "memory holing" had very little to do with genuine "equity" aka fairness and rather more to do with a desire to cover up and hide some rather unpleasant truths. True equity and fairness, to say nothing of justice and freedom of speech. . . would have been served by not deleting anything at all and posting my comment, which did include some rebuttals of some of Rev. Scriver's arguments, as per the quite just and equitable "bargain" that I thought I had made with her. Once again yet another U*U minister has proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that Rev. Charles Eddis, minister emeritus of the Unitarian Church of Montreal, was full of hypocritical U*U shit when he plagiarized John Milton's 'Areopagitica' and proclaimed in his "obsolete", decades old, and now evidently quite fraudulent U*U religious propaganda 'What Unitarians And Universalists Believe' that:

Unitarians and Universalists believe, first of all, in an open
search for truth and meaning. Truth cannot be embalmed for posterity. We jealously guard the right to know, to speak and to argue freely, according to conscience, within our own church and in society at large. We are opposed to censorship by church, state, or any other institution. We believe that truth emerges more clearly
under conditions of freedom.

end quote

As is all too often the case, when a U*U minister finds themselves on the losing end of an argument with Robin Edgar aka The Emerson Avenger, they try to cover up and hide the truth rather than acknowledge they are mistaken aka wrong and responsibly make appropriate corrections that align with the capital 'T' objective Truth that so few U*Us seem to believe in in any case. . . Why do U*Us fraudulently pretend to believe in "an open search for truth and meaning" aka "a free and responsible search for truth and meaning" in their religious propaganda when so many U*Us, including rather too many U*U clergy. . . do not even believe in objective verifiable capital 'T' Truth?

Answer me that U*Us. . .

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Continuing The Conversation With Rev. Mary Scriver aka Prairie Mary

Rev. Mary Scriver aka Prairie Mary posted a blog titled 'ACCUSING THE CLERGY... AND ACCUSING... AND ACCUSING' which is currently unavailable to be read. It is possible that this is a temporary glitch and that it will reappear on her Prairie Mary blog or she may have decided to "memory hole" the whole blog post, along with the comments that were submitted to it for some reason. In that Mary Strathan Scriver has not "memory holed" any of her previous recent blog posts that touch upon the problems of the U*Us, including but not limited to U*U clergy misconduct, I hold out hope that this blog post will reappear shortly. For the time being I will cross-post here my initial comment on that blog post which was fortunately a point-by-point response that covered most if not all of the bases in her "disappeared" blog post. As usual I may add some extra embedded pertinent hyperlinks that were not in the original comment -

Hi Mary,

I will respond to this point point-by-point taking pertinent snippets of what you said so as not make it *too* lengthy and repetitive.


Easy enough to do when it comes to U*U clergy who seem to be quite happy to provide no shortage of "ammunition" for accusations of various kinds. Of course the same might be said about any denomination but U*U clergy and Unitarian*Universalists more generally decided to pick a fight with me. At this point in time I have a backlog aka stockpile of "ammunition" that has yet to be used but U*Us have not refrained from passing me more ammunition in spite of requests to do so. . . ;-)

:He had a vision and can’t get his congregation or minister to accept that, though he’s been trying for years.

You could just as easily replace congregation with *denomination* i.e. The Uncommon Denomination aka *The* Tiny Declining Fringe Religion which claims in its obviously fraudulent religious propaganda to be a religion where "Revelation is not sealed!" Coulda fooled me. . . In any case my protest is not an attempt to persuade U*U to accept my vision, it is a protest against the fact that U*Us defecated all over my vision in various ways not the least of them being intolerantly and abusively labeling me as "psychotic" or otherwise insane, otherwise belittling and maligning my monotheistic religious beliefs such as by dismissing them as nothing but "silliness and fantasy", and falsely and maliciously labeling Creation Day as a "cult" even going so far as to make snide "jokes" suggesting a link between Creation Day and the notorious Solar Temple cult. My public protest is a protest against these and other U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy. Nothing more, nothing less. . .

:First, David Pohl -- who was the head of the Department of Ministry when I started out -- used to say that the challenge with the UUA was to fit the minister to the congregation.

Rev. Ray Drennan was in fact a good fit for a U*U congregation that was dominated by a clique of anti-religious "Humanist" U*Us. He fit right in. . . Indeed the *fit* that he threw in my apartment on Thursday November 9, 1995 was a pretty good fit too.

:There is a wide array of styles and convictions in both categories and a mismatch always startles and confuses everyone.

If there was a "mismatch" it was between yours truly and a predominantly "Humanist" U*U congregation that was largely controlled by a clique of intolerant and even outright bigoted anti-religious "Humanist" U*Us.

:If Robin is horrified by the comparatively conservative and classic context of the Unitarian Church of Montreal, proud of being founded in 1842,

That is not what I am "horrified" about Mary. I have no problems with that. My main problem is that the Unitarian Church of Montreal allowed Rev. Ray Drennan and other prominent lay leaders to trample all over the pearls of wisdom I offered them.

:I hope he never drops in on one of the more free-spirited California congregations. I daresay that communion, which is still celebrated in the Christian sense twice a year in Montreal, takes on a whole new meaning in a hot tub, though wine might be involved. The "bread" is likely to be money.

I am not particularly Christian oriented and am pretty open-minded and free-spirited myself. I do realize that many California congregations are largely Humanist but there are Humanists and then there are "Humanists". The latter make a total mockery of the word humanist by being intolerant of and even outright hostile towards the religious impulse in human beings. I expect that some California congregations, even Humanist dominated ones, would have been much more open to my vision even if they chose not to accept it.

:It is possible for a lay member to get out of sync with a congregation or with a minister or even a whole denomination.

I was "out of sync" with the "Humanist" clique at the Unitarian Church of Montreal from the beginning. I tried to work with the more open-minded and moderate member of the congregation but the "Humanist" clique kept trying to sabotage my efforts in various ways, especially when they saw that I was making some headway within the congregation. . . The second celebration of Creation Day scheduled for mid-October 1995 was unanimously approved as an Adult RE activity by the RE Committee but the UCM's Board which was controlled by the "Humanist" clique banned Creation Day from being celebrated in the Unitarian Church of Montreal in an anti-democratic "in camera" segment of the October 1995 Board meeting that was so secretive that it wasn't even mentioned in the minutes of that Board meeting. . . About a month later Rev. Ray Drennan was angrily describing Creation Day as "your cult" to my face and in a moronic effort to cover his ass was repeatedly insisting that he was "just being honest" and was "the only one being honest" with me. The clear implication of that assertion was that a good number of other leading members of the Unitarian Church of Montreal were calling Creation Day a "cult" as well. . . At the time I though he was exaggerating although Frank Greene, the "Humanist" President of the UCM had "jokingly" said "I hope what you are doing has nothing to do with the Solar Temple" when I was organizing the first celebration of Creation Day a year earlier and had unilaterally quashed my attempt to start a spiritual discussion group at the UCM. I was later informed by a church member that Frank Greene had repeatedly referred to Creation Day as a "cult" in a phone conversation with this UCM member that would have occurred in late 1994 or early 1995, months before the selection of Rev. Ray Drennan as the new "settled minister" of the Unitarian Church of Montreal.

:Witness Luther or Emerson himself, who refused to serve communion.

To say nothing of openly reject "corpse-cold Unitarianism". . . That phrase still rings true today in a number of respects not the least of them being the callously indifferent manner that the UUA and individual U*U congregations respond to victims of clergy misconduct of all kinds. . .

:(What about Jesus, who was trying to reform Judaism, not start Christianity?)

Guess who's trying to reform U*Uism? And only in terms of trying to persuade U*Us to actually practice what they so emptily, insincerely, and at times outright fraudulently. . . preach. Of course I could just start a new religion but I have my reasons for not doing so.

:People used to say that the advantage of Unitarianism is that you could change your theology and, since there was no required dogma in UUism, you didn’t have to go find a new denomination. This doesn’t seem to be true anymore.

Maybe it never was true, along with a variety of other things people say about Unitarianism. . . "Revelation is not sealed" my U*U. . . For the record "Humanist" U*Us tried damned hard to change my theology or at least make damned sure that me and my monotheistic theology were far from welcome in their alleged "Unitarian Church" and so-called "Welcoming Congregation". I used to half joke that they needed a Welcoming Congregation program for theists who seem to be the social outcasts of the Unitarian Church of Montreal and no shortage of other Unitarian Churches. It's not really all that funny that liberal Christians and other God believing people are far from genuinely welcome in many U*U "Welcoming Congregations". I like to point out to U*Us that plenty of Christian-oriented or otherwise theistic GBLT people are not *really* welcome in some "Humanist" dominated U*U "Welcoming Congregations". Am I wrong about that Mary?

:My own original home church has made me uncomfortable for the last twenty years or so.

How so? Please do blog about it. Is it possible that you are a Humanist U*U who is "uncomfortable" with increasing "God-talk" in your original home church? I have heard about that flip-side of my "coin" but I have yet to hear of any Humanist U*U facing the level of intolerance, contempt, hostility, and outright anti-religious bigotry that I and other theists have encountered in so-called Unitarian churches.

:I googled Rev. Drennan, who reacted so strongly to Robin and who so easily went to a mental health diagnosis, and see that he had earlier served conservative denominations and institutions with a more top-down style -- including formal mental health counseling.

Correct. He was formerly a Presbyterian minister who, according to his own testimony, was subjected to a "heresy trial" and tossed out. Not surprising really when it becomes clear that he was not only an atheist but an outright anti-theist. . . If the hypocrite had an ounce of personal integrity he would have resigned as a Christian minister soon after determining that he was an atheist, to say nothing of an outspoken anti-religious bigot. But don't fool yourself Mary. When it comes to dealing with clergy misconduct at least the UUA has plenty of top-down style. Too bad it has no *class*. . .

:He no longer serves congregations.

He is no longer a full time "settled minister" but he stills serves congregations in other ways, not the least of them being "certified" to deliver Healthy Congregations Workshops of all things. . . Prior to that the UUA's department of ministry put Rev. Ray Drennan in charge of screening ministerial candidates for eight years knowing full well that he was an anti-religious "fundamentalist atheist". I can't imagine why the UUA would do that. Well actually I can. . . It seems that they are still discouraging ministerial candidates who are *too* Christian oriented or otherwise theistic. A U*U ministerial candidate can be as GBLT as can be, indeed it seems that there is plenty of "affirmative action" in the hiring of GBLT U*U ministers (possibly to the exclusion of some "straight" ones. . .), but if a GBLT ministerial candidate happens to be Christian or theistic then that may be a "problem" with the Regional Sub-Committee on Candidacy, especially if it U*Us know who or "like-minded" screeners of prospective U*U clergy are on it.

:Robin, more than most UU’s, insists on emphasizing his personal experience of revelation.

That goes with the territory Mary. It was a prophetic type mystical experience that is in many way comparable to those of ancient prophets and/or mystics. The Unitarian*Universalist "religious community" pretends to be one where "Revelation is not sealed!" and "the word of the prophet still flows." I found out the hard way what a crock of U*U "shit" that was, and still is. . .

:These two people were a clear mismatch.

Elementary my dear Mary.

:It appears that the congregation backed their clergyman.

To the hilt, which makes them all active or passive colluders in Rev. Ray Drennan's anti-religious intolerance and bigotry, and related injustices and abuses in my books. . .

:Robin needs a congregation that accepts revelations and this is evidently not it.

Quite evidently indeed. . . The same might be said about the so-called Uncommon Denomination as a whole regardless of it's *evidently* fraudulent claims to the contrary.

:If he thinks he will convert them by picketing them, he is indulging in the usual liberal parade of conscience with the usual lack of consequences.

Well I am indeed "indulging in the usual liberal parade of conscience with the usual lack of consequences" as you put it, but not in terms of trying to convert U*Us to my "vision", only to try to persuade them to actually practice what they preach about justice, equity and compassion in human relations and other U*U principles rather than making a total mockery of them. . . U*Us should be utterly ashamed of their callously indifferent response to my peaceful public protest against the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry that I encountered at the Unitarian Church of Montreal and other U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy. Indeed it is to the eternal shame of Montreal Unitarians that they have willfully ignored my entirely legitimate protest against very real and well documented U*U injustices, abuses, and hypocrisy for over a decade now. While there may indeed be no obvious "consequences" to Rev. Ray Drennan and the Unitarian Church of Montreal within the so called U*U World there are definitely consequences for these and other U*Us in the real world, not the least of them being that the Unitarian Church of Montreal itself claiming that my protest has caused "irreparable" damage to its reputation aka public image. Maybe they should have thought of that before ignoring me for a decade. . . The same goes for the greater U*U "religious community" which shares in that "tarnished image" that the UUA itself is largely responsible for helping to spread the "tarnishing".

:Second, I am NOT focused on clergy misconduct, sexual or otherwise. Leadership School was my epiphany. What I learned there was that it is the System that makes trouble, creating forces that incline people to break rules, use poor judgment, cross the line, whatever.

I do not disagree that "the System" at the UUA and in individual U*U churches is seriously flawed, but it is seriously flawed because seriously flawed individual human beings make it that way. . . The rules and policies to deal appropriately with my legitimate grievances were and still are in place at the UUA and the Unitarian Church of Montreal but there was no willingness to properly act upon and implement those bylaws, policies and rules etc. Au contraire. . . U*Us misused and abused them to try to suppress my legitimate dissent. In fact Montreal Unitarians have even gone so far as to try to misuse and abuse the Canadian Criminal Code and Montreal municipal bylaws in their deeply misguided efforts to force an end to my legitimate peaceful public protest against their own and other U*Us' injustices, abuses, and hypocrisy.

:Good people in awkward predicaments behave badly.

So do "bad people". . . But I agree that so-called "good Unitarians" have behaved very badly in this "awkward predicament" that is largely of their own making. Things could have gone very differently if "good Unitarians" aka good U*Us had made even a half-assed effort to honor and uphold the Seven Principles and other claimed ideals of Unitarian*Universalism in dealing with my legitimate grievances. Quite regrettably U*Us have repeatedly, indeed shamefully consistently. . . chosen the fate of doing the wrong thing when they have been asked to do the Right Thing in this matter.

:That is, I do NOT believe in evil or bad character, so much as I see misguided expectations and opaque practices.

My expectations were perfectly reasonable. The practices of the Unitarian Church of Montreal, the UUA and its very aptly named Ministerial *Fellowship* Committee are far from transparent but they are not quite as "opaque" as they might like them to be.

:The Alban Institute has struggled with this for many decades now and small progress is made.

From what I can so little or no real and tangible progress has been made when it comes to the UUA's handling of clergy misconduct complaints. There have been some minimal "reforms" on paper but in practice this "progress" is non-existent because UUA officials like Rev. Dr. Tracey Robinson-Harris and Rev. Beth Miller amongst others simply disregard the rules and guidelines that are in place.

:As it happens, I know quite a lot about the Ministerial Fellowship Committee because my home minister was the chair of it in the Seventies and Eighties. They DID put people out of fellowship. I know that the whole committee struggled mightily to understand what rules and procedures would produce the best outcomes. I’ve seen the tottering stacks of material they read and I’ve been before them in my own entry to ministry. They are not devils, they don’t always agree with each other, they are lay people as well as professionals, and they do their best. Which is sometimes just not good enough. And they know it.

Sorry Mary but the Ministerial *Fellowship* Committee and other UUA officials responsible for dealing with clergy misconduct complaints do not do their best, far from it, unless their "best" is pathetic mediocrity and chronic incompetence to say nothing of gross negligence and complicit "whitewashing" of transgressive U*U clergy. . . Here's yet another example of how the corpse-cold Unitarians at the UUA "do their best".

:Third, our North American culture has taken some very abrupt turns in the last fifty years. The white male conformity that came out of the WWII years was the standard for ministry at that time. Now the last of our veterans are gone.

Right. . . So what is is now Mary? White female conformity. White GBLT conformity? Whatever it is in the UUA it is still 97% White. . . Where are all the U*U clergy who are "people of color" other than the "tokens" here and there?

:Call the next wave hippies if you want to. They no longer got drunk at ministers’ meetings -- they got high and sometimes they got laid.

*At* ministers' meetings Mary. That would be a sight to see. . . Sorry Mary but I couldn't resist that "gotcha". ;-) Still, I have certainly heard about U*U clergy getting laid at UUA GA's etc. even when they were married. . .

:It was considered good mental health -- “warm,” flexible, capable of intimacy.

Yes that is pretty much what I read between the lines of UUA President Bill Sinkford's take on clergy sexual misconduct in his 2002 pastoral letter addressing clergy sexual misconduct. He placed a huge emphasis on pedophilia, which is rare, while affirming that adult sexual relationships are a "blessing". . .

:We have not had a wave of people with visions like Robin’s. The people doing fMRI studies would be very interested in his experience and not inclined to put it down.

As far as I am concerned a "religion" that pretends to be one where "Revelation is not sealed!" should be ready, willing, and most importantly *able* to responsibly investigate the kind of revelatory religious experience that I am claiming. The well established fact that The U*U Movement is totally unprepared to do so, in every sense of the word "unprepared", and allows intolerant and abusive "fundamentalist atheist" "Humanist" U*U clergy to deeply insult and defame, or otherwise harass and abuse, people claiming such experiences with complete impunity is a telling indictment of the contemporary U*U "religious community". I was in fact asking Rev. Ray Drennan to help to ensure that my revelatory experience was responsibly investigated by the U*U religious community when he chose the fate of contemptuously dismissing my revelatory experience as "your psychotic experience" and angrily insisted that I seek "professional help" immediately. . .

:His time may come, but it looks as though it’s not now, unless he can find or start an accepting congregation.

This is not simply a matter of an unaccepting congregation Mary. We are talking about an unaccepting *denomination*. The Unitarian*Universalist religious community as a whole, particularly as represented by the UUA and CUC, has made it abundantly clear that it is not genuinely open to or accepting of people who claim profound revelatory religious experiences of a prophetic nature, to say nothing of lesser forms of religious/spiritual experience. I know of a U*U woman who experienced a classic NDE during a difficult birthing but who was callously brushed off by her atheist U*U minister when she sought his counsel and comfort.

:I would predict that in Montreal his chances are good except in his old context. He should honor his own epiphany by concentrating on it rather than the weaknesses of those who scoff at it.

I have my reasons for doing what I am doing Mary. You are effectively saying that I should allow U*Us to get away with the "murder" of the character assassination that they are clearly and unequivocally guilty of. . . The anti-religious intolerance and bigotry and other injustices and abuses that I have been subjected to by U*Us goes well beyond "scoffing" and harms my ability to "honor" my "epiphany". Why do you think that I filed a complaint against Rev. Ray Drennan and ultimately felt it necessary to publicly protest outside the so-called church that allowed this fundamentalist atheist bigot and other "church" leaders to egregiously dishonor my "epiphany"?

:Happens all the time. No malign conspiracy is necessary. A congregation can simply drift off into a different direction or a minister can feel a personal conversion that no longer makes the pulpit waltz possible.

True enough, but when there is in fact a "malign conspiracy" in an individual U*U church congregational polity does not help to resolve the situation does it? It seems to me that congregational polity allows for what might be termed rogue congregations.

:I would not be so quick to label this as Sin.

"Enabling" ministers, male or female, is a Sin when one is enabling the sins of the minister. . . Clearly Rev. Ray Drennan and other transgressive U*U clergy have plenty of such "enablers". I wouldn't be surprised if some congregants even enable some U*U ministers when it comes to sexual misconduct. In the spring of 2007, one U*U congregation learned that its choir director *and* its former minister of 20 years had both engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct toward congregation members. One can't help but wonder if they "enabled" each other in their "inappropriate sexual conduct" whatever it may have been.

:Referring to politicians again, for a long time the media and other second-level people suppressed and covered over the “private” lives of presidents like Kennedy and so on.

Yes the UUA and individual U*U "churches" go to considerable lengths to suppress and cover over the so-called "private" lives of U*U ministers, including UUA Presidents like Sinkford and so on. . .

:In the new “Disclosure Puritanism,” all the pockets get turned out -- some of them pretty sordid.

My own "Disclosure Puritanism" has everything to do with U*U allowing U*U clergy to insult and defame me with complete impunity. I long ago told U*Us that as long as they allow these slanderous lies to hang over me like a shadow that I will be telling some rather unpleasant truths about U*Us, some of which are indeed more than a little bit sordid be they real or imagined sordidness.

:It’s one thing to have a president fooling around with the usual adventuring little female --

Tell that to the UUA's own alleged "Slick Willie" Rev. William G. Sinkford. . . Are you condoning Presidents committing adultery or engaging in other forms of sexual misconduct Mary? What constitutes "fooling around"?

:quite another to have senators tapping out signals to same-sex strangers in airport restrooms.

Or fifty something U*U ministers forcibly raping teenage Tibetan refugee girls that they invited to America for that express purpose it would seem. . .

:We’ve developed a peculiar and vicious combination of seeking the smallest detail and then condemning the perps entirely.

As a rule I just condemn the "perps" for what they are actually guilty of, and its usually not just "the smallest detail" by any means.

:The great irony is that often the perps are the very people who encouraged this climate in the first place, mostly for the purpose of getting elected.

Yes this does happen. I am not in fact a "Puritan". I am simply demanding that the UUA honor and uphold and properly enforce its own claimed principles and guidelines etc. In fact I am on record as saying that some forms of non-sexual clergy misconduct are every bit as harmful, sometimes even more damaging all round, then some of the less serious forms of clergy sexual misconduct. My emphasis is on non-sexual clergy misconduct precisely because the UUA has sexualized clergy misconduct to the point of ignoring or dismissing, if not outright condoning and effectively endorsing, fairly serious non-sexual clergy misconduct.

:I see two reasons why the inquiries and proclamations and classes don’t get results. The first is that they don’t address anything but the power inequity (victim, victim, victim), and the second (closely related) is that they don’t ever look at the whole complex structure of relationships and outcomes. (The underdog always wins.)

Thanks Mary, I do so look forward to "winning" in another decade or two. . . Please do explain how this particular "underdog" has "won" in this ongoing conflict. Maybe you can explain to uugrrl how she and other victims of clergy sexual misconduct are "winners".

:So little is done because no one really knows what to do in practical terms.

Right. . . I was and still am ready, willing, and able to tell the Unitarian Church of Montreal and the UUA what needs to be done in practical terms to redress my grievances. I expect that most victims of clergy misconduct can do likewise. If "no one really knows what to do" it just might be because they don't want to know and *that* is because they don't really want to do anything at all. . . My initial grievances could have been redressed with a formal retraction of Rev. Ray Drennan's insulting and defamatory words accompanied by a formal apology that was adequate, and at least had the appearance of being sincere. Quite regrettably the Unitarian Church of Montreal and the UUA repeatedly chose to raise the stakes by not only dismissing my grievances but by punishing me for daring to air what President Bill Sinkford once rightly described as my "obviously deep concerns". . .

:And because the status quo always has the most votes.

The status quo does not always have the most votes which is why the minority that wants to maintain the status quo often resort to undemocratic and outright anti-democratic methods to preserve the status quo Mary. You should know that. . .

:Change means people lose things they value, even if it’s only the right to make the coffee on Sunday morning.

Or the "right" to have an utterly Godless "Humanist" dominated Unitarian Church. . .

:An apology doesn’t do much.

An apology can do a great deal if it is adequate and sincere, but it is true that sometimes there may be things above and beyond the apology itself that are required to validate it. I believe that the UUA has betrayed the "promise" of its official apology to victims of clergy sexual misconduct by failing to live up to its "pledge" to "bend towards justice" in the wake of that now almost decade old apology. To the best of my knowledge the UUA has done virtually nothing to provide any genuine and tangible restorative justice to any victims of any form of clergy misconduct. Nashville Unitarians had good reason to write that Open Letter and yes, at this stage a decade down the road, that official apology seems to be barely worth the breath that it was spoken with and the electrons it is written with. . .

Rev. Mack Mitchell was convicted and sentenced to a jail term for his criminal behavior of raping Tibetan refugees that he had invited to America, apparently for the express purpose of serving as his sex slaves. Some months down the road the UUA's Ministerial Fellowship Committee finally got around to defellowshipping him. If you have any doubts about that enter into a free and responsible search for the truth by asking the UUA for starters, or divvy up for the news articles. Will you take Oprah's word for it Mary? Read it and weep.

:One of the problems with repeating and exaggerating and embellishing such accusations is that they can confuse the actual legal trial to the point of injustice either way.

I am not embellishing or exaggerating anything Mary but the principle that you point to here applies very well to how U*Us are guilty of repeating and exaggerating and embellishing their false and malicious allegations about me. . . That injustice is ongoing with no end in sight, hence my ongoing protest activities.

:Rev. Mxxxxx, if cleared, will also be entitled to compensation for libel.

He wasn't cleared and, unlike some of the U*Us I have the misfortune to know, I am very careful about not libeling people. I tell well documented truths, or state clearly that I am talking about *allegations* when I cannot back an "accusation" with strong supporting evidence.

:There you go again.

Wrong Mary. There's a middle-aged U*U who forcibly raped young girls going to jail again, unless Rev. Victoria Weinstein's parishioner Richard Buell was falsely convicted of raping a neighbor's daughter and even a "female family member" who was most likely one of his granddaughters. As I said, I do not talk about this kind of thing unless I have very reasonable grounds to believe that it is true.

:This is almost exactly the recurring accusation against early 1900’s Bureau of Indian Affairs agents who would not cooperate with the local cattlemen and mercantilists. I think there is a fantasy about older men having access to exotic young girls that comes out of some communal subconscious jealousy.

That may be so Mary but, like many fantasies, that fantasy is based upon reality and sometimes becomes reality again. BTW I am not sure that a neighbor's daughter and "a female family member" count as "exotic young girls". Young? Definitely. Exotic? I guess that depends on what the meaning of the word "exotic" is. . .

:Robin, you seem to think of ministers as being a sort of College of Cardinals. You are greatly over-reaching.

Actually I think that you are engaging in hyperbole aka greatly over-reaching when you suggest the above. On the other hand, since you raised that analogy, I would not be surprised at all if the UUMA and Ministerial *Fellowship* Committee do not share some close parallels with the College of Cardinals in some areas, not the least of them being the "old boys club" aspect. . .

:UUMA chapters have assigned spiritual buddies and often intervene with friends when they see someone getting out of whack or carrying an extra burden, like a spouse with a terminal illness.

Too bad no one intervened when Ray Drennan got out of whack by verbally whacking me. . . I forwarded my initial complaint against Rev. Drennan to UUA President John Beuhrens precisely so that he could exercise some "oversight" over the Unitarian Church of Montreal's handling of my complaint since I had very reasonable grounds to believe that the Board would arbitrarily dismiss my serious complaint, as it did in short order. Quite regrettably so did UUA President John Beuhrens and the MFC under the dubious directorship of Rev. Diane Miller. I am still waiting for the UUA to acknowledge the legitimacy and seriousness of my complaint and overturn those unjust, unequitable, and uncompassionate bureaucratic decisions.

:If a minister had a vision like the one you had, a colleague might very well drop by to see what it was all about, and help to think through the consequences.

Which is very much what I was asking for. . . OTOH I have heard about one U*U minister being given a hard time by his colleagues as a result of daring to speak openly about his vision.

:There is simply no doubt at all that from the very founding of the Unitarian denomination there were accusations of clergy misconduct. Tippy-toeing around marriage and romance goes back to the earliest Boston days. Sometimes it hit the newspapers, but usually such matters are handled quietly behind the scenes. Such accusations are as old as the Bible. Older.

Such realities are as old as the Bible. Heck shooting the messenger is as old as the Bible isn't it Mary?

:They may have perfectly legitimate reasons for not speaking out, like lack of proof, feeling it is irrelevant, or that they have nothing pertinent to say.

Or being afraid of "consequences" from the UUA and individual U*U colleagues. . . You know as well as I do that there is a "code of silence" written into the UUMA guidelines and that there is an even stronger unwritten code of silence. As you are well aware, this "code of silence" weighs much more heavily on "newbie" U*U clergy whereas well established "veterans" who are feeling reasonably secure in their positions have a bit more latitude, but how many U*U ministers have ever spoken up and spoken out about U*U clergy sexual misconduct or other U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy? Very few from what I can see Mary. . . It is only recently that a few fairly senior U*U ministers have dared to publicly "validate" some of my criticism and dissent. For years most U*U ministers did their damnedest to silence me and plenty still do. . .

:They may also be speaking behind the scenes in ways that are effective.

Or ineffective. . . If their speaking behind the scenes, which I do know occurs to some degree, were actually effective surely I and other people would eventually see the effect wouldn't we? I am still waiting for some *effective* results from the UUA in my case and no shortage of other cases. . .

:I am not in favor of witch hunts, exciting though they may be.

Neither am I Mary. I am hardly in favor of the witch hunt that labeled me "psychotic" aka "possessed" and Creation Day as a "cult" aka "coven". . . You are looking at the victim of a big fat U*U witch hunt. But yes, I admit that *sometimes* a witch hunt can be kinda fun. ;-)

:I’m interested in systems that encourage clarity and restraint, not just in the UU world but in our whole culture.

So am I. Unfortunately the system at the UUA does neither when it comes to U*U clergy misconduct. There is very little clarity aka transparency in UUA (mis)handling of U*U clergy misconduct indeed it can be very "opaque". I sought *restraint* for both Rev. Ray Drennan and Rev. Victoria Weinstein but the UUA did absolutely nothing to *real* them in and they both went on to insult and defame other people. There is hardly a month that goes by in which Rev. Victoria Weinstein doesn't insult and/or defame someone on her Peacebang blog.

:I do not think that punishment is as effective as prevention.

Well prevention is great. I have said that an ounce of prevention is worth a megaton of cure these days but when prevention fails then some level of accountability needs to occur. In fact one of the reasons that I decided that it was necessary and desirable to file complaints against both Rev. Ray Drennan and Rev. Victoria Weinstein was to prevent any further insults and abuse against me and other people. It was obvious to me, based on how Drennan behaved with me, that he had a rather short fuse and a less than restrained tongue, and thus was likely to insult and abuse me and other people in the future if he was not called to account. I was honestly concerned that he would publicly say and/or do something that would damage the reputation of the Unitarian Church of Montreal if he was not called to account. He proved me right down the road a bit. . . and I obviously don't care any more about sparing the Unitarian Church of Montreal from public embarrassment after what those outrageous hypocrites put me through for trying to warn them about Rev. Ray Drennan's intolerant and abusive behavior. . .

:What I would say to Robin Edgar is “forget that congregation, tell us more about your vision.”

It's more forget that denomination than forget that congregation Mary, and U*Us will rue the day that I decide to kick up the proverbial dust and "forget" Unitarian*Universalism, as some U*Us have all but demanded that I do. . . It's coming soon though if U*Us don't get around to doing the Right Thing in the next year or two. I will tell U*Us more about my "vision" when U*Us take steps to fully restore my worth and dignity by actually honoring and upholding U*U principles and ideals, especially the one calling for justice, equity and compassion in human relations, rather than repeatedly and continually making a complete mockery of U*U principles and ideals.

I have some very good reasons for taking a "go slow" approach to my so-called "vision" but plenty was available about it on the internet in the past. For now you can browse through this languishing blog. I look forward to the day when U*Us finally get around to examining their consciences about how they have treated me and other people, and then take appropriate action to try to redress the harm and damage that they have directly perpetrated, or indirectly perpetuated, for over a decade now. Needless to say much of the harm that U*Us are directly or indirectly responsible for cannot be "undone", as they say, even God cannot change the past. . . but U*Us can and should do what they can in the present and future to provide whatever restorative justice they can to me and other people who they have harmed, including those victims of clergy sexual misconduct who were promised justice nearly a decade ago but never got any. . .

Herewith is my response to a comment by Art that was posted to this blog post -

:So, while I sympathize with the dilemma presented by a visionary leader being rejected by his flock,

The Unitarian Church of Montreal was hardly my "flock". If anything it was "pastoral specialist" Rev. Ray Drennan's "flock".

:I find myself unable to generate much sympathy for the tactics that were employed.

What tactics might those have been Art? Writing letters of grievance? Finally deciding to engage in peaceful public protest when all other options had pretty much been "exhausted"? If you lack sympathy for my tactics I can only hope that you find the tactics of the U*Us to be quite appalling. . .

:There might have been a wiser way.

There was indeed a much wiser way, the way I initially proposed to U*Us. . . but U*Us abjectly failed and obstinately refused to go that route and, so far, still do. It might interest you to know that after I had publicly protested for a few years and my legitimate protest was obstinately ignored by Montreal Unitarians, other than their deeply misguided attempts to suppress it of course, I made a picket sign that said -


Right on the money I'm afraid. . .

:And that too may have been part of the vision. Sometimes the hardest test of a mystic is that you must often live invisibly.

My revelatory mystical experience was one of the "prophetic" variety. i.e. It conveyed a message or two to deliver. One cannot do that "invisibly" nor is one expected to. I can assure you that I am no masochist as The Emerson Avenger blog ought to make clear. I do sometimes wonder if U*Us are masochists though. . .

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

British Unitarian Rev. Stephen Lingwood Makes A Very Important Point About Unitarian*Universalist Evangelism And Growth

British Unitarian minister Rev. Stephen Lingwood of has made what I consider to be a very important point about the "tiny, declining, fringe religion" known as Unitarian*Universalism aka The U*U Movement in the 'Unitarians In The Guardian' post on his Reignite blog this morning. I could be mistaken but, reading between the lines of Rev. Stephen Lingwood's initial paragraph a bit, I get the distinct impression that Rev. Lingwood may have been a bit miffed by a disappointingly low attendance of his Easter Sunday church service. . . Indeed his blog post, which directs readers to a couple of articles about British Unitarians in The Guardian, concludes with his "important point" which I will reproduce here for good measure -

"This is an important point about Unitarian evangelism. It's not a matter of making people agree with us. Most of the country already agrees with us. But they see no reason to come to our congregations to agree. The issue is not agreement with our principles, the issue is showing people what difference belonging to a congregation makes in our lives. If belonging makes a difference, we need to witness that, if it doesn't make a difference, then we will not grow, and we don't deserve to."

Stephen Lingwood's "important point" about "Unitarian evangelism" aka Unitarian*Universalist marketing and "outreach", which has a direct bearing on efforts to "grow" The U*U Movement, very closely parallels something that I have been thinking for some time now. Although I believe that the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry of the "fundamentalist atheist" faction of Humanist U*Us is a major contributing factor to the lack of growth aka stagnance, if not decline and fall. . . of *The* Tiny Declining Fringe Religion I have come to the conclusion that another major contributing factor is what Rev. Lingwood has touched upon here in his Easter Sunday blog "sermon". Unitarian*Universalists love to evangelize aka market U*Uism by asserting that people are already U*Us but "just don't know it yet!" This of course reflects the fact that the very broad Principles and Purposes of Unitarian*Universalism are, at least in principle. . . very inclusive all manner of human beings. Pretty much anyone *can* be a Unitarian*Universalist at least insofar as U*Uism is ostensibly described and defined in U*U religious propaganda. In that most people living in the "Free World" already ostensibly subscribe to most if not all of the Seven Principles of U*Uism in one form or another they already are U*Us in that sense.

So what compelling reason does any non-U*U have to actually join, participate in, and financially support any U*U "church" if and when they come to "know" that they are "already" a Unitarian*Universalist? What *difference*, if any. . . does actually joining and *belonging* to a Unitarian*Universalist congregation make in people's lives? What tangible benefit do they obtain from actually attending a U*U "church" on Sunday rather than reading the paper, walking the dog, taking a stroll, taking a bike ride, taking a motorcycle ride, or even writing a manifesto? As Rev. Stephen Lingwood rightly points out, if actually attending a U*U "church" on Sunday doesn't make a tangible positive difference in people's lives; or worse, if doing so actually makes a tangible *negative* difference in people's lives as is perhaps too often the case. . . then Unitarian*Universalism will not grow, and *The* Tiny Declining Fringe Religion simply does not *deserve* to be anything *more* than what it already is. . .

So Unitarian*Universalists aka U*Us.

What are you going to *do* to resurrect Unitarian*Universalism?

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Clergy Sexual Misconduct Inaction Or Clergy Sexual Misconduct In Action. . .

Google is just asking. . .

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Between Good Friday and Easter Former U*U Minister Rev. Mary Scriver Helps To Resurrect The Issue Of Clergy Sexual Misconduct In The UUA

In a blog post titled 'Between Good Friday and Easter' former U*U Minister Rev. Mary Scriver has helped to resurrect the issue of clergy sexual misconduct, as well as non-sexual forms of clergy misconduct, in the UUA. In fact, in a blog post titled 'Sexual Ethics In The Pews', written on Good Friday itself, Rev. Mary Scriver aka Prairie Mary pretty much nailed the UUA to a cross of its own making by, amongst other things, validating several of the statements that I made in my initial comment on that blog post. Herewith, with (in)appropriate embedded hyperlinks, are the comments that Rev. Mary Scriver validated, and an as yet unpublished follow-up comment -

Robin Edgar said...

:Religion and congregations with ministers are about power. The minister is the focus of the power -- those who control the minister control the resources of their congregation.
(quoted from Prairie Mary)

Needless to say, especially within Unitarian*Universalism where congregational polity makes U*U churches highly independent, those who control the resources of their congregation control the minister. . . Right Mary? If a U*U minister displeases those who control the resources of the congregation, i.e. the Board of the church and perhaps also some well-heeled "pillars of the church", the minister can be fired or pressured into resigning.

:They have a certain underground status, access to normally undisclosed information, and influence on the ministers’ actions.
(quoted from Prairie Mary)

Indeed they do, I doubt very much that Rev. Ray Drennan would have dared to label me as "psychotic", trash my monotheistic religious beliefs as being nothing but "silliness and fantasy", and falsely and maliciously label Creation Day as a "cult" (i.e. "normally undisclosed information" as it were) if he did not feel that he had the "moral support" of the Board and other influential members of the Unitarian Church of Montreal who were whispering such things behind my back more than a year before he was selected as the minister of the church. . . In light of how the Board of the church, to say nothing of the UUA and MFC, responded to my complaint Rev. Ray Drennan quite evidently did have that support. No doubt a similar "social dynamic" can and does take place in some cases of clergy sexual misconduct as well.

:This is particularly true of illicit relationships, because another huge source of power in a hierarchical institution is secrets: being able to blackmail, to attach information seekers to oneself, to influence events.
(quoted from Prairie Mary)

To be honest I sometimes wonder if one of the reasons that so little is done about clergy sexual misconduct in the UUA is because U*U ministers have various types of "dirt" on each other and use it to "blackmail" their colleagues into inaction when they are accused of misconduct themselves. . . When one knows that UUA President Bill Sinkford is himself suspected of being guilty of clergy sexual misconduct one can't help but consider the possibility that maybe just maybe his suspected or actual clergy sexual misconduct goes a long way to explaining why so little was done about clergy sexual misconduct, or indeed non-sexual misconduct, during his eight year term as President of the UUA. The very reason that Nashville U*Us wrote that Open Letter is because the UUA failed miserably to live up to the promise of the apparently less than sincere "apology" that it delivered to victims of U*U clergy sexual misconduct at the 2000 UUA GA in Nashville almost a decade ago now.

2:35 PM

prairie mary said...

Robin is quite right on all counts.

But don't just blame the minister. Parishioners collude.

Prairie Mary

Thank you for that very public validation of the concerns that I have shared here Mary. I really do try to be right in what I say. If I think that I may be wrong about something I usually hold my tongue, or state clearly that I might be mistaken about what I am suggesting.

My comment in no way blames only the minister. Au contraire, I think that I made it abundantly clear that not only the Board and congregation of the Unitarian Church of Montreal actively or passively colluded with Rev. Ray Drennan's insulting and defamatory attack on me, which arose from his "fundamentalist atheist" intolerance and bigotry, but they UUA and MFC effectively colluded in it as well thanks to their negligent and effectively complicit response to my complain about Rev. Ray Drennan's intolerant and abusive clergy misconduct. In fact, as I am sure you are very aware, the collusion of parishioners, professional colleagues aka other *fellowshipped* U*U ministers, as well as UUA officials and administrators, many of whom are *fellowshipped* U*U ministers themselves, as is clear in terms of the Ministerial *Fellowship* Committee handling complaints about U*U clergy misconduct of all kinds, is a serious problem. Collusion, be it active support for the transgressive minister and active oppression of the victim, or simply sheep-like passive acceptance of the minister's transgressive behavior and the further victimization of the victim by other U*Us, including U*U clergy. . . is a serious part of the overall problem of clergy misconduct of all kinds. Active or passive collusion of U*U parishioners and U*U clergy is very common and it always adds further insult and injury to the original injustices and abuses initial clergy misconduct, whatever it may be.

I am acutely aware of the collusion of U*U parishioners, as some of my U*UTube videos of my peaceful public protest in front of the Unitarian Church of Montreal should make clear. I have repeatedly spoken about the collusion of DIM Thinking, i.e. Denial, (Willful) Ignorance and Minimization of unethical behavior, of Unitarian*Universalists in their negligent and effectively complicit (to say nothing of unjustly punitive. . .) responses to my own complaints about clergy misconduct, and other people's complaints about clergy misconduct.

You said that I am "quite right on all points" I would just like to confirm that this includes my point about my "educated guess" aka "sneaking suspicion" that one of the reasons that so little is done about clergy sexual misconduct in the UUA is because U*U ministers have various types of "dirt" on each other and use it to "blackmail" their colleagues into inaction when they are accused of misconduct themselves. If you could confirm that and shed more light on that situation it would be most appreciated not only by me but by other victims of U*U clergy misconduct including, indeed perhaps especially, victims of clergy sexual misconduct.

BTW You might want to browse through the "good cop" of the U*U World's blog devoted to UUA (mis) handling of clergy sexual misconduct. Although it is no longer active, because its author was "discouraged" by some UUA administrator's negative responses to it, it is well worth reading. Comments are no longer being accepted since the author has left the blog dormant but you might want to pick up where uugrrl left off on her 'Speaking Truth To Power' blog by commenting on some of her blog posts in your own blog posts here. I intend to do what I can to make the UUA's ongoing mishandling of all forms of clergy misconduct a UUA Presidential campaign issue. You could be an important voice in that ongoing struggle for justice, equity and compassion within the U*U World if you dare to choose that fate. ;-)

Thank you for your helpful input so far,

Robin Edgar
The Emerson Avenger

Here is an additional follow-up comment that I just submitted at about 7pm TEA time -

:The point is that ministers, esp. now that females and older second-career people are common, may also be scared, dislocated, lonely, or confused.

That may well be true in some cases but allow me to point out that female U*U ministers, and older second-career people (female or otherwise), are perfectly capable of engaging in various forms of clergy misconduct, including clergy sexual misconduct. I know of one case of a lesbian U*U minister making unwanted sexual advances to a female parishioner and U*U minister Rev. Mack Mitchell was in his 50's when he invited some young Tibetan girls to his parish and forcibly raped them.

:Predators -- who may be laity or may be colleagues -- are happy for the opportunities. Where’s the book and the workshops for that?

Good question. Chances are pretty good that it doesn't exist. I would be the first to acknowledge that there are predators of various kinds, including sexual predators, in the U*U laity, in fact I could name a few. One who jumps off the page is a "pillar of the church" of an unmentionable U*U church in Massachusett's who was convicted of forcibly raping preteen girls at a time when he was "sixty something" and they were "ten something" if that. . . I suppose that the UUA's Safe Congregations Program addresses these issues to some extent but, like many other U*U policies and "guidelines", the letter and the spirit of the UUA's Safe Congregations policies are probably disregarded and left unimplemented and unenforced in too many cases.

:When I was in the ministry, on two different occasions men I hardly knew bluntly asked me for sex. Could I have sued them for that?

Probably not but, in theory, you could have taken other action if they persisted in their demands if or when you rejected them.

:If they had used force, of course, I could have simply gone to the criminal law.

Of course.

:Should a female minister do that?

Why not?

:What tough old cop wouldn’t laugh?

At what? Blunt demands for sex or rape?

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