Upcoming at UUVerdugo

This Tuesday, October 15

  

Viewing Party: The Fourth Democratic Primary Debate


Join UU Verdugo, our community partner Crescenta Valley Indivisible, and your neighbors for a viewing party of the next Democratic debate, featuring the 12 candidates that made the most recent polling and financing cut.

Pizza and snacks will be on hand so please consider bringing a small cash donation, and please send your RSVP to Susan Pearson here, as seating is limited.

Doors open at 4:30 for a 5 p.m. live screening 

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This Saturday, October 19

The Verdugo HUUT! Presents GREETINGS from CREEPY CRESCENTA


Join your beloved Verdugo HUUT for an evening of new and returning performers singing spooky songs, intoning un-nerving tales, and filling the air with pumpkin spice and unease. Our 21st HUUT! features Lisa Finnie, Dylan Thomas, Tim Fleming, Marisol Barrett, Maria Alexander, Paul Perry, Jan Davidson, and players to be named later. In addition to the groovy music, stories, and surprises, you can always count on industrial-strength coffee, the challenging HUUT Kahoot Quiz, and another installment of Tales from El Tujungo.

Doors open at 6:45 for a 7 p.m. show/$10 donation

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Sunday, October 20

Sunday Service: We Matter Simply Because We Exist
Guest Speaker: Carol Pilkington


As a Spiritual Advisor, Minister, Speaker and Amazon Best-Selling Author specializing in grief, Carol Pilkington helps those in transition and/or experiencing loss, whether in the present or something unresolved from the past.  She helps clients move beyond grief so they can be more present to the life they are currently living. Today Carol talks about the concepts of holarchy, holism, and hierarchy--how they relate and differ, and how an understanding of them might help us process loss.

10:30 a.m.

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Sunday, October 27

Sunday Service: Picking Up the Pieces
Minister: Rev KC Slack


We revisit our broken plates in a continuation of our year-long ritual of healing and creation. In this multi-generational service, we will think creatively about how we sort through our ideas and experiences to decide what pieces we take with us into the future.

10:30 a.m.

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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.