From Your Interim Minister
Almost 50 years ago, I had an encounter with a strange example of triangulation. Triangulation is the use of a third party to achieve an end indirectly. In its crudest form, it involves getting someone to somehow do your dirty work for you. It can be quite a bit more subtle than that. My strange encounter had to do with someone I knew, about to be confronted by a group that had come out west to claim a car that they thought had been loaned to my friend, while he maintained it was a gift for long and honorable service to their organization. There was no written agreement. The triangulation came as a result of the claim by my friend that he couldn’t emotionally cope with defending himself, and so he asked, would I and a couple of others please defend him instead of defending himself. Yes, this really happened, and it was in the late 1960s or early 1970s, in Berkeley, which may explain some of the weirdness. I guess I advocated well enough–my friend ended up keeping the car, but I felt I’d been used in an act of highly questionable integrity.
Triangulation is a common misbehavior, sometimes based on fear of confrontation, and sometimes based on the wish to get one’s way. We should all strive to eliminate it in our lives, not least in our church-lives. Along with malicious gossip, and smears, and rumor-mongering it’s in a class of behaviors that damages—and can destroy—trust within the beloved community.
Congregations like to create Mission Statements, but in my view, a Covenant of Right Relations is more important, or at least it should come first. I hope to work with those of you most interested in this subject to create such a Covenant before I leave you. If approved by vote of the congregation, I would hope that every room in our buildings has a copy near the door so that everyone, including visitors, including children from an early age, know that there are guidelines for how we behave with each other, that is, kindly, and honorably. Some of this work is being done in our Chalice Circles, and I would like to see it become part of the fabric of our community.
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Facing the July Newsletter deadline, I have waited as long as I could to try to get a read on the GOP’s legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act (aka, ‘Obama care’). After viewing various TV and print reporting leading up to this moment, I judge that there are enough Republican Senators who cannot stomach the cruelty of that legislation—and others who fear the political consequences of its passage—that it will fail in the Senate on June 29th or whenever it comes to a vote. You are reading this Newsletter some time after we know the answer.
As religious liberals we know that political decisions come from religious and ethical values, and we also know that many in the U.S. hold religious and ethical values that are contrary to ours. All we can do is make our voices heard, and so because it appears we will be given more time this summer to put some ‘heart’ back into the Bill, let’s lobby our Senators intensively and do our best to send the Bill back to the caucuses and conferences and maybe even open hearings. I ask our Social Justice leaders give thought to how we might best be heard in the Senate debate that we hope is coming. The pain and suffering this legislation will inflict on millions of the most helpless must be opposed with all we got.
— Rev. Leland