Upcoming at UUVerdugo

This Sunday, June 24

Americans for Democratic Action 

Guest Speaker: Amanda Cotylo  

10:30 a.m.

UUVerdugo's Summer Sunday Speaker Series begins today! Join us each week as we feature old friends and new ones in our sturdy pulpit, each of whom approaches UU's Seven Principles from a different angle.

Founded in the 1940s, Americans for Democratic Action is a progressive organization that uses grassroots activism to support liberal causes. A target of then-Sen. Joseph McCarthy in 1953, the ADA made former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt its chairperson. ADA organizer Amanda Cotylo joins us to talk about the battle against complacency and the ways we as individuals can create change. She also brings a message of hope: Your vote matters. Ms. Cotylo will share tips for everyday activism as well as some enlightening war stories from the trenches of political campaigns.




Friday, June 29: Monthly Movie Night  

"The Birdcage" (1996)

6:30 p.m.

Pride month at UUVerdugo concludes with Mike Nichols' hilarious 1996 adaptation of Jean Poiret's play "La Cage Aux Folles." Starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, "The Birdcage" is set in Miami, where a gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion agree to put up a false straight front so that their son can introduce them to his fiancée's right-wing moralistic parents.

This event—along with the popcorn!—is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, July 1

UUs And Patriotism

lay leader: Bonnie Keith

10:30 a.m.


As we approach our nation's 242nd birthday, we ask (once again) what it means to be patriotic. Does this change depending on where we live, who's in office, or how much money we're making? Was this nation always "under God" or just since 1954, when those words were added to the Pledge of Allegiance? How does love of country square with our 7 Principles? How do borders figure into an "interdependent web"? Join us for what will very likely be an alternately feisty and contemplative discussion.

Sunday, July 8

Heavenly Bodies

guest speaker: Rev. KC Slack

10:30 a.m.


In the course of our day-to-day lives we receive many messages about bodies, food, and morality. What effect do these messages have on our lives? How does body positivity connect with spirituality? And what might a deep commitment to the value of all bodies bring to our lives and our world? We will discuss the relationship between diet culture and eating disorders, and look toward healing relationships with our bodies.

Thursday, July 12: An Exclusive Test Screening  

"Disturber of the Peace: The Malcolm Boyd Film"

7 p.m.

As a Priest, Author, and Activist, the late Malcolm Boyd's remarkable personal journey traced the most volatile and important moments in America's cultural and spiritual evolution over the last 70 years.

From his early days as a Hollywood Producer (partners with the legendary Mary Pickford), to becoming the '60s radical "Coffeehouse Priest" and best-selling author, Malcolm's story weaves through the violent beginnings of the Freedom Movement, the contentious eruptions against the Vietnam War, and the ongoing struggle for social, income and marriage equality.

Now his compelling life is the focus of a feature-length film portrait. 

This film was produced with Malcolm Boyd's full participation by noted author and scholar Mark Thompson, and award-winning filmmaker Andrew Thomas. Among the many interviews contained in the documentary are the remembrances of Lily Tomlin, Peter Yarrow, and Holly Near.

Join UUVerdugo for this exclusive test screening, followed by a reception and Q&A with director Andrew Thomas.

Sunday, July 15

What a Wonderful World

guest speaker: Rev. Anne Felton-Hines

10:30 a.m.

Is it possible – or even wise? – to believe the world is wonderful, given all the turmoil and tragedies we see in the world around us, and may even be experiencing personally? Can we hear — even sing — Louis Armstrong’s wonderfully joyful song during these times?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, July 20

The Verdugo HUUT! presents "beatlesque

7 p.m.

Our celebrated Hootenanny in the Hills brings L.A.'s finest musicians, storytellers, and comedians to our beautiful sanctuary for a night of music and laughs which the L.A. Times recently called "Hilarious!" and "A compelling experience."

This month's theme is "beatlesque" and, in addition to a couple of especially clever comedians, we'll have several L.A. artists performing either two Beatles' songs each or something equally beatlesque.

Recommended donation: $5

The Verdugo HUUT! is a family-oriented show for audience members 12 and up.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, July 28: Monthly Movie Night  

"About Time(2013)

6:30 p.m.

This wonderful 2013 film by the creator of "Love Actually" is an unabashedly sentimental story about finding delight in everyday things if one is attractive, British, and financially stable.

Starring Rachel McAdams, Domhnall Gleeson, and the incomparable Bill Nighy.

This event—along with the popcorn!—is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.

President's Perspective

Marty Barrett

Thursday
Apr262018

May 2018

Dear Friends,

 

The evangelicals who helped to elect Donald Trump often employ the expression "God uses imperfect tools" to justify their decision. While in this case that excuse seems a desperate rationalization (and is very funny when paired with the idea of a "tool"), the concept is intriguing, isn't it? It suggests, like "any port in a storm" or "the cracks are what let the light in" that we can get at the truth from a number of unexpected angles.

 

In 1884 the British educator Edwin Abbott Abbott (I know what you're saying: If he was so educated, why did he have a redundant Abbott?) wrote the book "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions." While it was written as an allegory of Victorian England, its applications have multiplied since its publication.

 

The book describes a 2-dimensional world, Flatland, and the adventures of narrator A Square. In Flatland, the appearance of a 3-dimensional object causes consternation and panic. The residents simply cannot conceive of a being (in this case, The Sphere) with another dimension. In fact, the residents at first interpret The Sphere as a circle. Similarly, when A Square descends to the 1-dimensional Lineland, he has trouble convincing its monarch of his own existence. Then, when A Square suggests to his pal The Sphere that there might be a fourth or even fifth dimension, well, you'd think that The Sphere would be more open-minded, but he scoffs at the idea. Later, A Square encounters the sole inhabitant of Pointland, who is such a narcissist that he believes all ideas spring from himself.

 

As an allegory of Victorian England, "Flatland" is wickedly funny. As an allegory of who we often are today, unaccepting of the possibility of something outside our own dimension (or safe space, or box, or comfort zone), even when presented with evidence and even when that evidence is put in action, it's damning.

 

I don't know what to do with that Tool in the White House but, in our ministerial search and the things we have to think of going forward, let's not dismiss truth when we hear it, no matter the imperfections of its source. I hope we can add a dimension or two to this congregation.

 

Yours,

 

Marty Barrett, Board President

 

 

 

Thursday
Mar012018

April 2018

Dear Friends,

 

"We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all."

This quote from Eleanor Roosevelt was, when I first read it, a decades-old splash of cold water. On its face it says so much about the things that thwart our natural tendencies toward doing good — that our efforts won't be appreciated. 

But it also countenances so many daily inequalities in our lives which may or may not have different contemporary names, from donor fatigue to atychiphobia (Fear of Failure: Why try at all if my goals are unreachable?) to co-dependence.

In the world of personal news platforms and social commentary, we might put too much spin on our caring because we are prepared either for apathy or for a negative, knee-jerk reaction. The backlash against the impressive and fierce Parkland students comes to mind as an example of our culture's destructive antipathy toward simply showing we care, even if our opinions are different. 

In our UU community setting, that quote has a bearing on our occasional rifts that arise among a group of spirited, educated people, each of whom enjoys the simple pleasure of knowing they're right.

We are losing our minister in a few months, and my predecessor in this position also resigned. Two good, able, educated, spirited people. My goal in this gig, the goal of the Board, and the goal of you, the congregation of UUVerdugo is to recommit ourselves to Right Relations with each other, to throw open our doors, to draw seekers to us, and to seek people out. It is very simply the means of our survival. 

Today, ask yourself: Are these differences of opinion insurmountable? Is there a bridge I can build? What is my fear of not being agreed with?

Like that guy Eleanor was married to said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." And we certainly should not be fearful of caring too much. I personally will not point and laugh at you if I see you caring too much. 

Marty Barrett, Board President

 

 

Friday
Feb022018

President's Perspective: The True Protest Is Beauty

leonard cohen In an unlikely series of events, the true machinations of which are known only to that mysterious and terrifying organization, I have become president of the Board of Directors of my local Unitarian Church in the scenic, doughnut-rich, and fire-scarred Verdugo Hills of Southern California. As such I am called to write a monthly column for its newsletter. What better way to begin the year than with The Slaughter of the Innocents?

In such an ugly time, the true protest is Beauty On Christmas morning, 2017, I was driving to work and was lucky enough to hear a rebroadcast of an interview with the Canadian poet and troubadour Leonard Cohen. Cohen died in 2016 and the interview had been recorded a few months before he took off. He knew he was dying, was in great pain, yet gamely bestowed a lovely, poignant, and oftentimes hilarious valediction.

Leonard Cohen's Final Interview, September 2016

Among other things, he credited his approach to pain management to his decades-long association with an "alternative" Buddhism in a compound atop California's Mt. Baldy. Cohen said, "It makes whining the least appropriate response to suffering."

Pain and suffering are certainly things to complain about, but the only things we can truly control are our reactions to them. As we make our way into the second year of a presidential administration that at times seems both inevitable and the biggest joke ever played, I think of an exquisite protest song Cohen released in 1969—the year I was born—that puts the slaughter of innocents in a Biblical perspective.

"The Story of Isaac" takes the Old Testament tale of Isaac and his father, Abraham, and turns it into an anti-war message. Though he never mentions the Vietnam conflict raging at the time Cohen, speaking as Isaac, tells "you who build these altars now/To sacrifice these children/You must not do it anymore...A scheme is not a vision/And you never have been tempted/By a demon or a god." Isaac's father, on the other hand, was poised to kill his son for "The Beauty of the Word."

The Story of Isaac, Leonard Cohen

Cohen's simple arrangement of "The Story of Isaac" echoes the 14th century "Coventry Carol," a story of the Nativity that's about as far from "Jingle Bell Rock" as you can get. The "Coventry Carol," as we have come to know it, is a lullaby sung by the mothers of ancient Judaea to their children who are about to be put to death under the orders of King Herod. And how will Herod know of these children? By virtue of the census that is bringing Joseph and soon-to-be teen mom Mary to Bethlehem. The Carol is also known as "The Slaughter of the Innocents."

[caption id="attachment_1148" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]phil ochs "In such an ugly time, the true protest is beauty."—Phi; Ochs[/caption]

A Cohen contemporary, the late songwriter Phil Ochs, was fond of saying, "In such an ugly time, the true protest is Beauty." I'm not alone in thinking that the way we respond to ugly things can often be just as ugly. Social media helps this tendency, as they are data-mining, ad-supported force accelerators. We feel justified in leveling the playing field, scorching the earth, rather than "going high," as Michelle Obama said. We must not do that anymore.

I might not believe in "a demon or a god," but I like the high bar Isaac set for sacrificing the innocents among us, whether those be innocent of wealth, innocent of education, or even innocent of common sense. And I would like to make the righteous protests of my future beautiful ones.

Have a beautiful year.