In December of 2016, after some church shopping in the Bay Area, I joined the UU Fellowship of Sunnyvale.
I recently spoke at the Wild and Precious Life Service on January 22. I have also played the violin in services.
Ave Maria, December 18, 2016
Sunrise, Sunset, October 2, 2016
My Spiritual History
I became a Unitarian-Universalist during the first time I lived in California, in the 1990s. In my enthusiasm, I joined two UU churches, not just one: Neighborhood Church and Throop UU Church, both in Pasadena. At the time, Neighborhood was much larger and offered interesting classes that helped me learn about UUism, but Throop was in walking distance of my apartment, which was important to me on Sunday mornings. I don’t qualify as a new UU anymore, although I sometimes still feel like one.
In the same burst of excitement about my new faith, I wrote up an explanation of my view of “spirituality” that I sent to James Park, a fellow seeker whom I had met online in the usenet newsgroup soc.religion.unitarian-univ. We discussed what the word meant to us, and he wrote that he was collecting different viewpoints–“spiritual paths,” he called them–and he asked me to take a shot at writing about the “humanist UU” viewpoint. I gave him permission to post what I had written on his website.
I never would have predicted that that little thing that I wrote in 1997 would still be around today, and would still show up in google searches on my name–on the first page of those searches, no less! I lost touch with James Park years ago and don’t think the email I have for him still works. At one point I wrote to the University where the site is hosted for more information, but received no response.
Re-reading it now with the benefit of over 20 years of following a UU Humanist spiritual path, I’ve decided there is no point in being embarrassed about an old posting from the pre-Google, pre-Facebook era. In fact, it still holds up pretty well. Sure, I would no longer call “spirituality” an “unnecessary and confusing word,” but I still have complicated thoughts and feelings about the concept. And, I’m still talking about those thoughts and feelings in public, even giving sermons about them!
First Parish Watertown
My church in the Boston area was First Parish Watertown, founded in 1630. In the summers, like many UU churches, FPW schedules lay services led by their members. I presented one of these services each summer for the last four years I lived in the area. I have collected them here. Two of my sermons were directly inspired by blog posts. I think there are quite a few similarities between blogs and sermons. It’s fun to think of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s itinerant lecturing and preaching as a kind of 19th century blog: a way to spread new ideas and stimulate discussion among a wide audience. He’d definitely have an internet presence if he lived today.
Summer Services at First Parish Watertown
- June 28, 2015: Role Models and the Spiritual Self
- July 13, 2014: Transformation
- July 14, 2013: Faith Communities, Virtual and Real
- July 22, 2012: Introverts, Performance, and Church
When I came back to the violin most recently, FPW was my musical home base. I played in many a service and talent show there over the years. The first and as yet only recording on YouTube of the Anton Stamitz viola concerto was made at the FPW Talent Show: