UU Mormon

Posts Tagged ‘islam

A little setback with NinjaBoy this morning.  He didn’t want to go to church.  He begged to be allowed to stay home.  I quickly discovered the problem — the teacher last week asked him questions.  So I went to the classroom while NinjaBoy was in the chapel service and further explained his idiosyncrasies to the teacher, who promised she wouldn’t call on him unless he raised his hand.

Tangent: My first round of church inactivity in high school was for this very reason.  Teachers kept calling on me and my mind would go blank and I’d stammer “I don’t know.” It didn’t matter what the question was.  I always wondered how the other kids knew what to say (I didn’t realize at the time that there were only three answers to choose from — read the scriptures, pray, listen to the Holy Ghost). And they kept asking me to say the opening or closing prayer.  After the time my mind went blank during a prayer and I stood there paralyzed until the teacher whispered to me like a Primary child (I was 14), I always said no when asked to give the prayer.  For years I said no, and they kept asking, until the embarrassment of the situation became too much and I stopped going to classes entirely. It was also embarrassing to be inactive for such a reason.  I mean, it’s such a minor thing, right?  All you’re doing is speaking to Deity on behalf of all the other people present.  No big deal.  I went back once I turned 18 and could go to Relief Society and the big adult Sunday School class where there were so many people it was unlikely I would ever get called on.  One thing I really like about the UUs — they don’t pray.  At least not in the same way.

After assurance that he did not have to speak if he didn’t want to and he did not have to eat anything he didn’t want to, NinjaBoy was okay with me leaving to go to the worship service.  Unfortunately I was late because I waited to leave until after the chapel service, because there’s no one to make sure the kids get from the chapel to the correct rooms and it’s a little chaotic and it would freak him out if he wasn’t sure where to go, so I saw him to the classroom and then left.

The holiday they were learning about today was the Hajj, which afterward he could tell me absolutely nothing about.  He did not try any of the food.  I saw what they were serving — flat bread, dried apricots, tea, some kind of sesame things I couldn’t identify and a couple kinds of dip.  Not a chance.  But they played tag in the basement so it was all good.

Butterfly learned about meditation and prayer as ways to connect to the spiritual.  The kids were asked what they thought prayer was for, and Butterfly had an idea but was unable to put it into words.  She says she’ll tell me later if she can think of a way to articulate it.

Since I was late to the worship service I had to take the first seat I could find, which was in the middle of a row halfway up and I felt crowded and trapped. I like to be in the back or on an aisle and had to manage a certain amount of anxiety throughout the service which interfered with my ability to focus.

The music was gorgeous as usual (how is that they have so many professional level musicians in one congregation?  Or do they bring in musicians from outside?).  This time it was a folk group.  The music was acoustic, mellow, beautiful and very appropriate for church, I thought.  I’m not sure I could cope with the rock band churches.  Maybe you get used to it though.

The sermon was on the very big and the very small, galaxies and atoms, how we find our place in the vastness of the universe without underestimating our power and potential.  I liked the balance.  In the LDS church we talk a lot about our potential and value as the children of God, heirs to His kingdom.  We don’t, however, talk much about our smallness or our interconnectedness with other forms of life.  We talk about having stewardship over the earth yet there’s no emphasis on preservation of the environment.

The closing hymn was something about a blue boat, and it was terribly confusing to me because during the first verse I realized that I knew the tune and the words were ALL WRONG.  I knew it was a hymn in the LDS hymnbook and I narrowed it down to a Sacrament hymn (something that mentions “the bread and water”), but I couldn’t figure out all the words and I still don’t know which one it is. [Edit: It’s “In Humility, Our Savior”] It’s a pretty one though.

Once the service is over the kids are in class for another 15 minutes so the adults can socialize.  That’s a painful time for me.  I stood there feeling stupid for a minute or two then went and loitered outside Butterfly’s classroom.  I only know two people in the congregation and haven’t figured out how you meet people, but that’s nothing new.  After 8 years in my LDS ward I only know three or four people there.  But when you go to a new LDS ward people know you’re new, and there’s an aura of friendliness even if it doesn’t go deeper than saying hello on Sunday.  I don’t know how well people know each other in the UU congregation, but I feel entirely invisible there.  Which is both good and bad.

There was a group asking people to write to their senators about a bill to reduce carbon emissions that’s in the senate right now, in anticipation of the International Day of Climate Action.  Butterfly wanted to find out about it and is going to write letters this week.


Butterfly’s class today talked about helping people.  And one of the boys, whom we’ll call George, was annoying.  George was the one who last week suggested giving beer to the homeless man, and today he said a swastika was a symbol of peace (it didn’t sound like he was talking about the Buddhist symbol either).  Not only that, but as they discussed serving in the military as a way of helping people, George said that the soldiers in Iraq “could do more for their country,” and he didn’t know that we’re using up our natural resources.  Butterfly was quite offended.  She was so hung up on George that she seems to have missed everything else that went on in class because that was all she could remember about it.

The younger kids started out with a chapel service again.  The thing that struck me this time was the lack of adults as we went in the room.  I was looking around for the teachers, couldn’t see any, and took it upon myself to interrupt the boy who had another boy in a headlock, and the ones who were tripping each other and sitting on each other.  I think they wondered who in the world I was and why I was telling them to keep their hands to themselves.  Why aren’t the teachers in the chapel with their classes?

The subject of the chapel lesson was redemption.  Apparently it’s what they’re talking about in the adult services too, and I wish I could have heard the sermon because it’s hard for me to separate redemption from sin, and I don’t think you can have sin, exactly, in Unitarian Universalism.  Can you?  For the kids they talked about it in terms of taking a bad thing and making it better — i.e. being honest when you do something wrong and apologizing, learning from your mistakes, etc. It was very age-appropriate.

NinjaBoy's prayer rug

NinjaBoy's prayer rug

The holiday for NinjaBoy’s class was Mawlid al-Nabi, Muhammad’s birthday.  I was only in the room for part of the class, but got to hear Muhammad’s life story.  Later they decorated prayer rugs and learned how to use them — NinjaBoy demonstrated for me at home afterward — and tried jordan almonds.  The teacher mentioned that not all Muslims celebrate Mawlid al-Nabi; there is a concern that it exalts Muhammad too much.

There was poster up front that said something like “Unitarian Universalists believe that religions arise out of people’s needs and longings.”  That’s about what I would say on the subject.  And they are a way to help people in a certain society or culture live together (put up with each other) by adhering to shared values.  What those values are and how they are expressed in a religion depends on the circumstances the group lives in.

I tried to do a little helping people of my own halfway through the class.  My favorite kind of service, the kind where you help other people by reading a book and eating cookies.  Unfortunately, my iron was too low and they wouldn’t let me donate.  Dang it!  I’m taking iron supplements and everything!

Next week I’m hoping to go to the worship service.  Really, I think it’ll happen this time.

by Philomytha

Short on words today, but I do have to mention that a miracle occurred this morning.

My boy tasted a date.

This is big. Really big. He also tried pita bread, string cheese, and clementines. The only thing he wouldn’t taste was the hummus.

Need I mention that the teacher bribed the kids with candy if they would taste everything? I don’t think even that would work for me at home.

Today’s holiday was Ramadan. They talked about how it was supposed to remind Muslims of the people in the world who never have enough to eat. And they wrote their names in Arabic.

My daughter’s class lit many chalices instead of just one, turned off the lights, and looked at the flames. Then they were supposed to write about how it made them feel.

Butterfly said it made her feel calm.

She also drew a picture of one way in which she wanted to make the world a better place — a water-powered car. Have I mentioned she’s a little bit of an environmentalist?