Tuesday, July 24, 2012

From the Heart of the Minister

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – Charles Dickens (a Unitarian)

This summer has brought large contrasts in my consciousness.  I have been blessed to be able to go to Chicago with my wife Jan, to view various museums and the zoo.  I have gone to Arizona for the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly where among other things, I attended a vigil for undocumented workers who are being held in deplorable and I would argue illegal conditions.  As of this writing I am preparing to travel up to Wisconsin to visit with an old friend and to attend a Meditation Retreat. There was the shooting death by a father of his three children who were members of one of our Minnesota Congregations.   I have had time to read and ponder and plan for the upcoming year.  Then the news came out about the Colorado shooting at the movie theatre. These events forced me to travel on another journey, the farthest and most difficult destination of the summer.  This journey, filled with obstacles and wrong turns, was the journey inward.  The journey was a reminder for me to maintain compassion in the face horror.
The Buddha said the first of the four noble truths is,  “the recognition of suffering”.  These events are a jolt, a reminder to us that there is ongoing suffering in the world.  Often the amount of suffering within oneself and in the world can be overwhelming, and we all react differently.  Some look the other way. Some distract themselves. Some strike back in anger. Some decide to live in a nihilistic manner trying to cut themselves off completely from the interdependent web of life.  Some take action to find ways to alleviate their suffering and the suffering of others. 

There is something wrong in our culture that creates the conditions that allows such tragedies as these shootings to occur. We are all trying to deal with the question as to why? I am reminded of the story told by Rev. William Sloane Coffin at the funeral of the death of his son who died in a car accident.  One of his parishioners said “Sometimes I just cant understand the will of God” Sloane replied “I'll say you don't…God’s heart was the first to break”  All of our hearts are deeply saddened for the people who died and those who loved them.

Let these tragedies be a reminder as to why we come together. We build community.  We walk together with each other on this journey of life.  It is a journey that is filled with thought provoking conversations, eating, singing, dancing and much joy.  But it is also a journey for walking with each other in times of challenge and suffering. It is a journey of opening our hearts and being a presence in each other’s lives.  It is a journey to create a culture of love and compassion.  So let us take pause for a moment and recognize how our hearts break with the suffering we experience in our lives and in the world. Then let us remember that we are not alone, we have each other.  We can make a difference in each other’s lives. And we can make a difference in the lives of other people in our community who are suffering. 

I invite you to take that inward journey of self-awareness and then let that journey lead you to make that outward journey of making a difference in the lives of others. 

with a grateful heart

Rev. Jay Wolin

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Ted – a 6 on the JayWo Scale of movie ratings

So it is very simple – if you like Family Guy, you will love Ted.  If you hate Family Guy, you will Hate Ted.  Think of Brian the dog and transfer that to the character Ted. Actually much of the voice cast for Family Guy is in the movie (Alex Borsetein, Mila Kunis, voice of Seth MacFarlane). Giovanni Ribisi is a really convincing creepy character.   I loved the “homage” to the Flash Gordon television show.  Oh and by the way, you will also need to like fart jokes.  I like Family Guy (and fart jokes in small doses)  and found it hilarious.  Not a deep movie, but if you need a hearty laugh (and this humor gives you a hearty laugh) you will love it.

Moonrise Kingdom – an 8 on the JayWo Scale of movie rating.

I really liked this movie.  It is a multi-layered, beautifully aesthetic movie that has deep metaphorical meaning.  I admit I tend to like these sort of movies that speak to a time of coming of age, where youth speak what they think, and act on their emotions despite their fear.  I am also sentimental about camp movies (although I was only a boy scout for 3 days) as I went to sleep away camp for about 5 years and it was a very formative experience for me.  This movie speaks to the sadness, loneliness and pain in the world along with the  wonder, adventure and hope in the world. It speaks to how we can be bold, how we have to take risks to achieve what we need, but also that we can help others find what they need, and in doing so help ourselves.  There is so much more to this well made and intelligent movie, but I will leave the rest for you to see and think about as I think about it some more.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Abe Lincoln - Vampire Hunter

Movie Review – “Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter” 4 out of 10 on the JayWo scale of movie ratings.  I don’t know, maybe I am just tired of vampire movies.  Ok, I am really tired of vampire movies. You may ask, Jay if you are really tired of Vampire movies, why do you go to them? That would be a good question.  We have a rule here since our tastes in movies are so diverse, that each time we go to a movie, we trade off on who gets to choose the movie.  Each of us has the right to veto the others choice, but as in politics, we have to be careful not to use the veto power too often lest we build up animosity around movie choices.  So I like Lincoln of course, and thought it a clever twist on mixing history with fantasy so I agreed not to veto the movie.  To give you an idea of the historical movie I like, would be the 2010 movie “Conspirator” about Mary Surratt’s role in the Lincoln assassination.  

What I really objected to about this movie was that it blames this country’s history regarding slavery and prejudice on vampires. I know you are thinking no one will really believe that.  But on a subconscious level, this country does not want to believe we could do such things.  We don’t want to take responsibility for the errors we have made in our past (let alone our present).  On some level, we can look at this and say it was not humans who caused us to do this.  Is our culture’s obsession with vampires a way of seeing the dark side of ourselves as something other worldly, caused by something outside of ourselves?   We need to look at ourselves in our entirety, with all our good and evil and work to reconcile those with the world.  That would be an interesting movie to me, although I am sure Jan would veto seeing it (and I would have to wait for the DVD or go alone once she returns to Florida).