Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reviving the Spirit

(Today Chicago was sunny and robustly alive with nature and life in full abundance!)

Many of us realize early on that this journey called life is not a dress rehearsal and so we begin in earnest to try to understand the lessons and challenges that confront us. We are all challenged in vastly different ways. Some of us have been wounded by assaults on our spirits that come in the form of attacks on our personhood and identity as women as people of color as seniors. This may result in individuals becoming unsure of themselves, second guessing themselves. Their self esteem may plummet. Such individuals may demonstrate distrust and appear unresponsive and shut down. Others that have been the victims of mean spirited behaviors might withdraw and become defensive as a way to protect themselves. Still others react and become recluses. Why some individuals experience hard times and never catch a break while others seem to fare better and are the recipients of generous gifts of time, money and friendships is cause for speculation. Regardless of which category you fall into we can all benefit from a "Revival of the Spirit." Giving in to negative energy does nothing but attract more of the same. We have to remember that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Every opportunity we get we should be feeding our souls and loving ourselves to reverse the negative energies that have settled in our lives.

Whether we cause the energy or not I believe that we are responsible for the transfer of the negative energy. We are vibrational beings and we can be invaluable to ourselves and others when we remember the following:

1. We are always in charge of the way we feel so do not subject yourself to feeling bad any longer!
2. We can create a life that meets and exceeds our wildest dreams! Why not get started! What do you have to lose except your chains and your depression?
3. The way we use our time will directly impact the quality of our lives. If you want to know what you think look at the results. How ya living!?

If the above is true then what keeps us from directing the way we feel and creating the lives we want for ourselves? Primarily fear! Fear drives us to remain in our comfort zones - our misery. And we know that misery loves company. Yet, we all say that we all want good health, personal development, good relationships, dynamic careers, financial abundance, fun filled lifestyles.

Besides releasing the fear what would we need to do to have these things?
1. Get clear about our priorities. We are all over the place. Get still and get clear about what you want and then tell the Universe. And do it with preciseness and clarity! The clearer you are the clearer the energy vibrations working on the demonstration of your request will be!
2. Become attuned to your feelings. We have to process what we are feeling. Our emotional incompletions cause us to create a casing around our hearts so that we do not have to feel. We have to get rid of the junk/stuff around our hearts. We have our work cut out for us! But it will be worth every minute of it! Have fun in the process! Attend some workshops! Find a group of like minded individuals and hang out with doing these things!
3. Learn to communicate in the moment. If we do not do this we continue to create h baggage that we are always working to heal so we always have a back log. Why not ask for what we need in the moment. Tell the truth with love and compassion. Most importantly, tell the truth to yourself. Request specific help from the Universe and connect with your strengths. What do people commend you for? What rocks your world? These are the things you should go after.
4. Find/create a support system that allows you to take back your life! If your broken script (and it is broken) asks you who do you think you are? Remind yourself that you are a child of the Most High! You no longer have permission to abuse and neglect yourself!God don't make no junk!
5. Let go of the negative stressors in your life. They rob us of our healing powers. Stress robs us of the ability to flow with life and to take authority over our lives. Begin with your health! Stuck energy due to poor diet and stress and unhealthy life styles coupled with deep rooted pain blocks your energy and keeps us from claiming a healthy and full life.

What does a healthy you look like? Walking and stepping in our greatness! It is time for us to stand in our greatness! The world needs us! Our children need us! Every situation in your life is talking to you. Your life is talking to you. It is time to forgive! It is time to give it over and give it up. Bring some joyu in your life!

We must commit to daily spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, affirmations, visualizations, chanting, dancing, music, walking, execercise, singing etc.

Tomorrow I will begin to meditate from 6:30 am to 7:00 am. It is time to get still and hear that small quiet voice inside speaking to you!The following emotions are stored in our organs:

liver - anger & depression
spleen - worry
lungs - grief & sorrow
kidney - fear
heart - joy

I leave you with the following words of wisdom:

1. Don't let your circumstances continue to dictate your life! Increase your flow of abundance.
2. Realize that you are already great! Are you going to allow it to shine?
3. Develop an attitude of gratitude for what you already have.
4. Increase your flow of abundance
5. Walk into your heart and experience more joy

Question: What does a healthy lifestyle look like for you? Describe your life in 20 words or less. What is it you want in life? If you do not have it - why not? How can you focus on what you want and not on what you don't want?

Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ima Gontellit

The title for this post comes from a small local Chicago paper that I recently picked up. The columnist's weekly reflections titled, The Chatterbox, and written under the name of "Ima Gontellit" is a compilation of all the political, social and entertainment news in the city.

I am taking license to gather my reflections and comings and goings using this very entertaining title. It is far more creative than my usual, Odds N Ends, that allows me free rein to wrestle my unruly life into a post and send it forth into the world.

I currently have a pain running from my left arm that started this morning. I had intended to workout. I did manage to find the time yesterday. But having gotten busy with work things today I postponed the workout. The pain has now proceeded into my left leg. It is not unbearable but I know that pain is my body's way of communicating to me. So as soon as I finish this post I am going to make myself a nutritional drink and then work out. After that I can expect to be engaged in a couple hours of conference calls - all dormant and passive activities. I have already checked emails and responded to several, begun a couple of future sermons and talks, organized my things-to-do list and actually whittled it down and organized the piles of papers and gotten them to almost disappear and at least appear I really have been busy working and yet the question I pose in the face of a potential health situation is, " In the grand scheme of things, what have I done that made a difference to the world and others today?"

I used to struggle with this question until I recently realized this small truth - I matter! My life matters as much as the work that I am doing! I matter! I am a manifestation of the Divine and I am the vessel and vehicle designated to do the work! And when I take care of myself I am affirming that I matter! When I take care of myself I am maintaining the unique temple that allows me to move about and have a presence in the world to do this important work that is critical enough to exhaust me and keep me up at night and causes me to rise early in the morning and keeps me toiling in the vineyard. Some of you know what I am talking about! My body is the instrument that allows me to do the work that I have uniquely claimed that no one else can do like Qiyamah can do. So there - thank you Spirit for reminding me that I am important and that instead of doing the ten things that I was going to do I will put a pin in my post and a "to be continuned" and go and exercise this body which is needing to move itself in a way to relieve the discomfort. How do I know that? Because I know my body. Just because I do not listen to it does not mean I have not taken the time to understand it and work with it.

Question: What is your body trying to tell you? Are you listening? What is the relationship between the sacred work that you are called to do and the body that you have been given and blessed to work with? Do you take it for granted?
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gender Violence, Human Rights and Clergy Sexual Misconduct

A Nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is finished. No matter how brave the warriors or how powerful the weapons.
--Cheyenne Indian proverb

Gender Violence, Human Rights and Clergy Sexual Misconduct

Human rights in the last few decades has provided a significant framework for global women’s movements while advancing women’s rights as human rights. One of the primary issues impacting women regardless of their country’s gross national product or labels that designate countries as developed or developing is gender based violence. Globally, gender based violence appears to be the primary cause of most violent attacks on women. As a result, gender violence has achieved global visibility due to its pervasive nature. According to Charlotte Bunch, a significant number of women worldwide are routinely subjected to “torture, starvation, terrorism, humiliation, mutilation and murder.” Grave human rights violations against women continue unabated. Unfortunately, many of these violations are often condoned and sanctioned by legal systems and government policies. Gender based violence restricts women’s contributions and development in various ways including the familial, societal and economically. Gender violence often leads to the disintegration of families, medical problems, inability to fulfill employment obligations and even loss of life. Women’s abilities to live full and productive lives are restricted by gender violence. In retrospect, male violence against women and children has been a focus of feminist research and activists in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe for over four decades with more recent growing concern in developing nations.

The crime of clergy sexual misconduct is just beginning to be acknowledged in developing countries and appears not to have surfaced on women’s agendas around the world. While most industrialized nations have established public policy to begin to address many forms of gender violence and to provide support services and interventions for the victims and perpetrators, clergy sexual misconduct has not yet demanded such systematic attention and services. Thus, in most countries around the world, clergy sexual misconduct has not yet been perceived as a social problem. Furthermore, it has been noticeably absent from the UN’s definition of gender violence as seen below:

"Gender violence refers to any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. Violence against women shall be understood to encompass but not be limited to: physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family and in the community, including battering, sexual abuse of female children, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence, violence related to exploitation, sexual harassment and intimidation at work in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women, forced prostitution, and violence perpetrated or condoned by the State."

Clergy Sexual Misconduct in the United States
Until recently, little attention has been paid to clergy sexual misconduct and few statistics exist. The few that are available are oftentimes generated from denominational records which tend to be suspect and are often under reported. Findings generated in a study published, in 1992, revealed that the majority of denominations do not yet have any written policies and procedures, nor written materials addressing clergy sexual misconduct. By 1995, a number of experts had emerged identifying clergy sexual misconduct as a serious social problem.

Investigations of the Catholic Church sex scandals have resulted in a rather gloomy prognosis for the Catholic Church and the vocation of the priesthood. Father Norman Rotert, a priest of forty-two years fore casted the following pessimistic prognosis:
“The paternalistic attitudes, the increasing consciousness of women, the lack of appreciation for the value of celibacy, the large percentage of gay priests, the pedophilia crisis, all have so impacted our vocation recruitment efforts that I see no possibility of salvaging the priesthood as we know it today.”

It appears, that many, if not most religious institutions until fairly recently have acted with complicity and condoned clergy sexual misconduct by ignoring, denying and withholding information about the misconduct of its clergy. Overwhelmingly, religious systems as currently structured perpetuate the potential for such abuses of power against women and children. Thus, male privilege and power greatly impact the safety of women and children and compromise their quality of life. As a result critics were highly incensed by the church’s leadership reactions in the face of the scandal.

Thus, the rhetoric of contemporary social problems illustrates the fundamental importance of placing the interests of women and children in the forefront of clergy sexual misconduct. In the case of clergy misconduct, such a shift of emphasis can only partially undermine theological positions naming the problem as the sin of the individual but the behavior of social systems organized around patriarchy and dominance. The behavior exhibited by the clergy and many of the excuses articulated bears a strong resemblance to domestic violence and child abuse. The similarities include:
• In earlier years the behavior was not perceived to be abnormal or criminal conduct
• The perpetrators of violence against women and children are predominately males and the victims predominantly females and children.
• Males represent a disproportionate number of individuals that commit acts of violence
• Males violence against women and children appears to bear a correlation with their beliefs in women’s and children’s inferiority
• Males violent behavior manifests a cluster of behaviors directed against women and children that include rape, wife abuse, incest, pornography, and global sex trafficking (to name a few)
• Differences in power and privilege among men and women are often acted out in ways deemed detrimental to the well being of women and children.

Hence, gender violence is a significant barrier to social and economic development. Its existence produces an unsafe and hostile environment that is counterproductive to achieving a quality of life for women and children. Likewise, clergy sexual misconduct creates an unsafe and hostile environment for women and children seeking the solace of faith communities. Until we recognize this truth we cannot address this growing problem with individuals that come into faith communities looking for answers to questions of ultimacy (How can my life count for something?)and intimacy (How can I have meaningful connections with others?), nor can we offer the safety they should expect.

Come Back Queens

(This image reminds me that spring follows summer like joy cometh in the morning. Once again Chicago weather has betrayed me. It has gone from temperatures in the 70s to snow outside my window! Lord, save me from the cold! lol)

Strands of a song came to me today, "Something inside so strong - I know that I can make it. Something inside so bold - I know that I can make it." I remember other black women teaching me this song when I did not know it and then my singing it. These women and I were from the National Black Women's Health Project. Our mantra was, "Black and Female - I Know the Reality." The reality was that many of us we were "sick and tired of being sick and tired" and that many of us had suffered from being strong black women taking on life, often by ourselves and that some of us had been deeply wounded in the process of trying to get grown and happy in America. We were reminded by Lillie Allen that we all started out loving, zestful human beings who had lost our way in the maze of negative images and stereotypes heaped upon us. We learned and were reminded by hearing our stories that society had systematically imposed all kinds of -isms that assailed us from all sides, sometimes all at once. But together we could hold each other and love each other into wellness and release the traumas that our bodies held that were making us sick and killing some of us, while many of us died. Billye Avery told us her story. So we learned to tell our stories and spoke our truths amidst tears with babies sleeping in back rooms while hands and arms held us and reminded us that they we were good enough just as we were and that we deserved happiness and that we deserved the best that life could offer. And these hands and words helped many of us to walk through the terror of our lives to get to the other side of the joy waiting for us. These circles of sisters made all the difference for some of us. I know they did for me and my daughters (and I hope for my son). These circles did not cost anything other than our time and our commitment to ourselves.

We were Come Back Queens! Many of us came back from the brink of despair and disaster. Women talked about abusive relationships - of intrusive procedures that sterilized some and took liberties with our bodies. We talked of children born of rapes and loveless relationships and love gone bad! We talked about the staying power of big mama's love or deceased parents who we regretted not hearing the words and not saying them, "I love you." We talked about dying loves and death a lot. We talked and cried about weak women, ourselves and others and powerful women, ourselves and others. We laughed until we cried and we cried until we laughed. And many of us got to the other side of poor choices and seemingly no choices, of life gone bad, and we took back our lives, and we healed. Many of us went on to do meaningful things with our lives and to teach other women (our daughters and friends) how to vomit up their lives into the loving arms of sisters that were not afraid of the messiness or disgusted with the mess that we had become when we gave away our lives and our power. They let us cry and flail so that we might reclaim our power and know that we could survive the nightmares and terrors and speak the unspeakable and that the ghosts could be put to rest. And when needed we could confront the walking wounded still in our lives - still betraying us and our children's innocence and still living the lies we had believed that they would never do it again and no they did not touch our daughters and sons in secret ways and in sacred places.

We are the Come Back Queens that stepped onto the ships to save our people as they were being taken away. I am personally tired of the argument about who took us (Africans who sold them or whites who stole them). We know no Africans owned those ships. But like Pearl Cleage, I would have liked to have been one of the ones to have turned back the ships - to have swam out and garnered the strength to shout, "jump while you can before it is too late and the water too deep and wounds fatal. I would have liked to have climbed onto those ships with spears and shields demanding my brothers and sisters and burning the ship rather than seeing it sail off never to see my kin again.

But Pearl, we cannot go back and turn those ships around. We cannot prevent the carnage of the Middle Passage. But we can now step down off the auction blocks. We can stop killing each other. We can choose who will touch our bodies and whose children we will birth. We can choose to whom we shake what mama gave us. We can choose choose not to separate our sexuality and spirituality. We can take off our shackles and chains my sisters for we are the Come Back Queens!

We came back when we were not even supposed to survive. We were brought here from diverse tribes and languages and customs and we survived not knowing what had happened to us or to our loved ones who we never saw again. We were brought here grieving that we were torn from and generations later we have made lives for ourselves in a strange land that has become ours. We have learned to sing our songs in a strange land that is now our own. It is flesh of our flesh and bone of our bones. Yet, our songs have become strange and the land familiar. How have we come to this point? A point where internalized oppression might accomplish what racism and slavery were never able to accomplish. Slavery never anniliated or defeated us. But is it possible that our internalized oppression can take us out?

Last night I went to the DuSable Museum to hear author, Tom Burrell talk about his latest book, Are You Brainwashed? The Marketing of Black Inferiority 21st Century Style. Go to It is not a new theme. It is very old and one that each generation of blacks grapples with as the evidence that we are loosing the battle The growing materialism of our people in the face of too little saving and investing demonstrate that we are loosing the battle. I could launch the familiar litany of indicators that we are loosing the battle. Instead, Remember! Lest we forget in the madness and in the distractions that we are the Come Back Queens.

We made a way out of no way! We gathered our senses and rallied, we loved our way through trauma and drama even when it did not look like and feel like love. It was in our DNA and we were acting on instinctive loving that allowed us to survive and begin to thrive.

Let us tell that story! Let us rejoice and be glad for this day. One more day above ground to get it right. One more day above ground to create and build communities of healing and liberation!

Question - What in your life have you come back from that you have not even acknowledged yourself? Gently name that memory and thank Spirit that you survived and promise yourself to love and allow yourself to be loved and celebrate your life today with one other somebody that appreciates you!

Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

Friday, March 19, 2010

Feed back from Readers

Spring has sprung in Chicago! Let all of creation (at least Chicagoans rejoice!)!

Occasionally I receive comments from blog readers that I am inspired to pass on. Here is one such email that is working to encourage much needed interfaith dialogues. The reader states:

I’ve been enjoying your blog, and thought you’d be interested in the work of
a new, vibrant non-profit organization, whose goals promote many of the
values you convey in your writing.

Intersections is an initiative of the Marble Collegiate Church of New York,
and the founding director is the Rev. Robert (Bob) Chase. The group is
multi-cultural and multi-faith, and their goal is to build respectful
relationships among diverse individuals and communities here and abroad.
They are dedicated to forging common ground and develop strategies that
promote justice, reconciliation and peace.

Their projects are unique. For example, recently they:

Created – an award-winning interactive website that
dispels myths and negative stereotypes about Muslims living in the U.S.
This website may soon serve as the template for similar interactive sites in
countries across Europe. Please take a look for yourself at

Explored the human cost of the Iraq War to both Iraqis and Americans – with
public talks and workshops to educate and promote social healing; some with
returning U.S. veterans, others with Iraqi refugees now living here. This
fall, Intersections will take a group of musicians, photographers and
artists on a trip thru Jordan, Lebanon and Syria to meet Iraqi refugees
firsthand. Upon return, these artists will work individually and together to
capture the experiences and current realities of the Iraqis they met, and
Intersections will debut their work to draw attention to this issue. The
Iraqi refugee crisis is one of the most underreported humanitarian crisis in
recent history, with an estimated 4 million Iraqis displaced from their
homes, many living as illegal migrants, unable to work or access health and
other social services.

Be the Change: A Community Outreach Program – NYC, May 18th in cooperation
with The Alliance for a New Humanity, Deepak Chopra and Bob Chase will lead
an inspirational evening of performers and guest speakers, to create a new
vision for our communities and our planet.

Kazakhstan – Intersections has partnered with the Embassy of Kazakhstan, to
engage and promote interfaith dialogue vehicle to promote world peace, and
to counter religious extremism in central Asia. Their work will also help
build the social fabric of this emerging secular nation.

These are just a few examples, go to ( to
find out more. I do hope you will your readers about their work.

Many thanks, best, Meryl Zegarek

Meryl Zegarek Public Relation, Inc.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Getting Back to the Land!

It is an empowering and transformative experience to be able to reclaim ones roots. While that can take many different forms, my siblings and I are in the enviable position to return to our ancestral roots thanks to my mothers visionary leadership, foresight and fortitude. She managed to hang on to thirty one acres, most inherited from her mother. The fact that she is the only sibling from a very large rural family that was able to retain the land that was distributed to them speaks volumns about the many ways that southern blacks have fallen prey to avarice land speculators.

Over the course of the year I will be sharing with my blogging readers the journey that my siblings and I will undertake as we begin the historic process of moving onto the land.

I am giving thanks to the the ancestors, my mother and Spirit for this wonderful opportunity!

Q. What are you thankful for on this day?

Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

Anti-racism Efforts

This is a republication of an interview with John Buehrens, then President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, by the UUA magazine the World in 2001. Joining with and attempting to give leadership to the Association's antiracism work as a white man he admits was "a very humbling experience," In the interview, he discusses how the UUA began to work with Crossroads Ministries and incorporated the power analysis into its efforts to become more diverse. He also discusses the accomplishments and some of the resistance anti-racism was encountered. He is honest about some of the reasons behind this resistance.

The World started with the question of how far he thinks the UUA has come on the Journey toward Wholeness.

JB: There were a number of false starts. It took a while to figure out that what is needed is a spiritual transformation of a predominantly white, middle-class religious movement to become aware of its own enmeshment in cultural and institutional racism.

The resolution passed at General Assembly in 1992 is a plea for a more racially inclusive movement. In other words, let's have more people of color in the UUA. There was a problem with that, though. White liberals wanted more people of color around to reduce their guilt feelings, using people of color as trophies and tokens. When people ask me how we can find more people of color, I tell them, "Stop trying; don't go fishing for people categorically."

Another basic course correction has been learning that racism hurts all people of color. This thing started out as basically a black-white issue. But the rise of Latino/a voices; the presence and the transformation work of someone like [UUA staffer] Robette Dias, who's a Native American; the growing number of persons of color of Asian background--all of this has had to come out on the screen.

World: How did the change in thinking get started?

JB: A big task force met in St. Louis in 1993 and had to select a methodology for trying to advance this diversity agenda [called for in the 1992 resolution]. And when they realized it couldn't be about diversity without dealing with racism, they had to pick consultants who would help us become aware of our own enmeshment in cultural racism. They turned to the Crossroads Ministries. The Crossroads model is not perfect for us, so there's been a big adaptation of that. The approach that Crossroads helped us find recognizes that there are power dynamics involved in cultural and institutional racism, but it recognizes that change comes about in people.

You have little light bulbs going off in people's heads in the middle of our antiracism training where they realize, "Oh my God, if I'm not part of the solution, I'm part of the problem. If I don't actively attempt to do something about further distributing opportunity and power to people who historically have been excluded, and where the culture reinforces patterns of exclusion, I'm just helping to perpetuate racist patterns." And those patterns also manifest themselves in our congregations and in our association as a whole.

World: How big a struggle is it to grapple with antiracism?

JB: I'm constantly realizing, "Oh, that's another dimension of this that I never quite got right." It's very humbling working on this stuff. Some people believe that there are those who get it and those who don't. I don't buy that.

There are going to be differences of opinion all along the way, and there are going to be mistakes, where insensitive things are done or people run. People get into the notion that, "I thought I could expect that there wouldn't be any racist responses." Well, good luck. The day that happens, we will have entered nirvana.
But I do think we have settled on a common, pragmatic methodology that's not a matter of merely working on prejudiced individuals and not a full-blown political, ideological stance, either, or a creed. We're being honest about history.

The history of this movement around race is not as noble as people like to portray it. There have been moments of real commitment of predominantly white Unitarians and Universalists to undoing racially based oppression. But even during the abolitionist era, the bulk of Unitarians were profoundly conservative and resisted abolitionism, even to the point of boycotting William Ellery Channing's preaching to the degree that he became depressed and ill and retired early from the ministry. His own really quite modest abolitionist notions wouldn't penetrate the heads of his parishioners, who were all tied up with their economic interests in the cotton trade, etc.

World: What do you view as the UU accomplishments?

JB: Well over 500 leaders of the movement have now experienced the antiracism analysis training. The whole model here has been one of transforming the awareness of the gatekeepers, those who hold the power.

We have now gotten to the point where we have 45 persons of color in ministerial fellowship. Most of our ministers don't even know that. We don't regard this as adequate, so we're now trying to add some active recruitment efforts. I think more ministers of color have been willing to take a risk on us because of the Journey toward Wholeness initiative, because they see, "Oh, the predominantly white leadership of this movement actually does grasp that racism is a problem, and they're willing to talk with me as a human being and not a racial abstraction."

World: Many critics of the Journey toward Wholeness initiative have been ministers. Why?

JB: They know it will be hard. And they know that right at the core of this methodology what is at stake is giving away power.

World: Their power?

JB: Oh, absolutely. And let me say, in the defense of people in our ministry, laypeople have no idea how scary and insecure the life of most ministers is, at a very deep spiritual level and at an economic level. Job security in our movement is lousy, as it is in most congregationally based denominations. So I'm not surprised when they put up resistance. They're very good at intellectual defense systems.

World: What tend to be their objections?

JB: Three things. Congregational polity--"Don't tell me what to do; I'll decide when and what." Fine. We're never going to be able to tell congregations when and just how to work on this stuff. But let's admit it: Is this initiative coming from the congregations? No. If we waited for it to come from the congregations, it would never happen. The association has a moral obligation to lead in order to help the whole of Unitarian Universalism adapt to a future that is necessarily going to be more multiracial and multicultural. We are going to persistently suggest that unless you learn to adapt to the exigencies of a more multiracial and multicultural world, your relevance is in danger.

Another area of resistance is, "Gee, this might make me feel guilty or my people feel guilty." That is not the intent, and that is not what happens, but it's guaranteed that when you start working on this, people will experience some conflict, differences of perspectives. You start talking across racial lines, people don't see things the same way. It becomes a real spiritual risk.

The third area of resistance is an attempt to substitute an educational model: "Let's read books and discuss them and debate the world out there and whether racism isn't less of a problem now than it used to be."

World: I think I'm hearing you suggest that this journey is going to take generations. Are we doing process here or are we doing real change?

JB: We're doing spiritual and social transformation. We're trying to do a social transformation of our own religious community, so that it begins to look more like the beloved community. The UUA is a service organization created by and for the congregations. Our job, on behalf of the whole family of congregations, is to make sure that not only does this religious movement not vanish from the face of the earth but that it adapts successfully to the new moral, cultural, and social demands of the age. That means we're always in the uncomfortable position of putting challenges in front of congregations, as well as services.