This fall I have been preaching monthly on the Sources of Unitarian Universalism. You know, the ones listed in the front of the hymnal and on many an Order of Service and almost completely disregarded by UUs everywhere. In addition to the sermon, I've been offering an evening of conversation about the Source, a kind of "extra credit" activity that includes refreshments (both alcoholic and non) and an activity to stimulate conversation.
This coming Sunday I am preaching on the Third Source: wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life. For the activity, I found a game, "Enlighten", which is a kind of religious Trivial Pursuit board game. I had a hard time visualizing just how to play it so I enlisted a small crew of women to help me figure it out.
We met last night for a soup and salad supper and then tackled the game. I thought I might know a few answers after reading a bit of Huston Smith, but the questions were hard! Even the Christianity and Judaism questions were beyond me in many cases. But we persisted and gradually figured out the rules and started doing better on the questions.
The real bonus of the evening was the hilarity engendered as we tried to pull answers out of our aging brains, knowing that we had some knowledge about the question but not enough to be completely sure of ourselves. We'd get some right, unexpectedly, and then get something we were sure of completely wrong. And the penance for making a mistake---well, that too was a fascinating and laughter-producing exercise!
And we learned a lot! The conversation night will be the Saturday after Thanksgiving and I hope to get a few takers, even with the awkwardness of the date. What I hope people learn is how complex religion is, the incredible variety of human religious experience and thought. It doesn't matter so much whether folks know the answers to the questions or how the game turns out.
It does matter to me that we understand the strong drive to create meaning out of life, to decipher its complexities and create rituals to comfort, to communicate with the Divine, and to honor the glory of the earth. If we can find that in ourselves, we will be "enlightened" indeed.
IN OTHER NEWS: My brother Buz has had heart problems much of his adult life and has struggled to maintain his health with a variety of interventions, including massive heart surgery to repair his almost-nonfunctional heart. He has just come successfully through yet another intervention, this one lasting over 9 hours, to install a Ventricle Assist Device. The VAD will keep his failing heart pumping for another couple of years, during which time he will be awaiting a heart transplant. The problem is that he is a great big guy---6'4", 240 or so pounds, barrel-chested, not fat---and will need a great big heart to sustain him.
I often ask myself if I would have his courage and fortitude, to endure the kinds of tests and defibs and meds and implants and surgeries that he has endured. He is fortunate to have a terrific wife, my sister-in-law, who has been part of this process ever since they met and married a few years ago. He is 9 years younger than I am, way too young to have to experience all this. And yet he continues to be sweet-natured, optimistic, hopeful, and determined to live as well and as long as he possibly can. Seeing this strength in him has strengthened me and I am so happy he is my brother.