The Future of Unitarian-Universalism and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: The Religion News Service is featuring a story (alternate link) on the 50th anniversary of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), and whether the shrinking (162,800 members, down 1,400 from last year) creedless denomination can endure for another fifty years.

“For 50 years the UUA has conducted a virtually unprecedented experiment: advancing a religion without doctrine, hoping that welcoming communities and shared political causes, not creeds, will draw people to their pews. Leaders say its no-religious-questions-asked style positions the UUA to capitalize on liberalizing trends in American religion. But as the UUA turns 50 this year, some members argue that a “midlife” identity crisis is hampering outreach and hindering growth. In trying to be all things to everyone, they say, the association risks becoming nothing to anybody.” Modern Pagans are a vibrant part of the modern UUA, and the article by Daniel Burke starts off the piece with a Pagan member of the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore leading a service. “A recent Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore ended with an apology. Laurel Mendes explained that religious doctrine had been duly scrubbed from the hymns in the congregation’s Sunday program. But Mendes, a neo-pagan lay member who led the service, feared that a reference to God in “Once to Every Soul and Nation” might upset the humanists in the pews.”

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. The Associate Press reports that Angel Valley retreat in Sedona, Arizona, where the now-infamous and deadly sweat lodge ceremony led by James Arthur Ray was held, has settled a civil lawsuit brought by victim’s families and participants. The sum is not disclosed in the report, and there is no admission of liability by the owners of Angel Valley. The trial of Ray, who is charged with three counts of manslaughter, continues.

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but apparently Osama bin Laden was killed. PNC-Minnesota has reactions from the local Pagan community. Zaratha “will not apologize for rejoicing in Osama bin Laden’s death, ” Lori Dake thanks the troops, Star Foster is conflicted, and Erynn Rowan Laurie wonders if that means the troops get to come home now. The town of Bel Air in Maryland has overturned its total ban on fortune telling.

Earth Day

“Most people are on the world, not in it—have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them—undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.” — John Muir

“Mother Earth is the living dynamic system comprised of the inter-related, interdependent and complementary indivisible community of all life systems and living beings that share a common destiny. Mother Earth is considered to be sacred, as per the cosmologies of the nations of rural indigenous peoples.” – The Law of Mother Earth, Bolivia
Today is Earth Day (and International Mother Earth Day). Originally spearheaded in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson as a national“teach-in” on urgent environmental issues, it has since become an internationally recognized holiday in192 countries. Earth Day is partially credited with jump-starting the modern environmentalist movement, and helping to pass legislation like the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. Earth Day also had a profound affect on modern Paganism in the United States.

Update: The Law of Mother Earth

For those interested in Bolivia’s “The Law of Mother Earth,” reported on yesterday here at The Wild Hunt, there’s some special analysis and follow-up at the PNC’s “No Unsacred Place” blog. First off, geologist and environmental scientist Meical abAwen has provided a translation of the full document. “Article 3. (Mother Earth) Mother Earth is the living dynamic system comprised of the inter-related, interdependent and complementary indivisible community of all life systems and living beings that share a common destiny. Mother Earth is considered to be sacred, as per the cosmologies of the nations of rural indigenous peoples.” In addition, John Beckett and Alison Leigh Lilly provide some initial thoughts and commentary.