Helpers among the community of Pittsburgh area UUs. Link to the main Sunnyhill site.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Now that the elections are over -- Humanist meet and ponder.

From Ken:

Now that the sporting event (a.k.a. election) is over, we could review the process and examine its effects on the American public as well as other nations. As you may recall, we did not get the opportunity to have a full meeting due to the fire alarm and our having to leave the building early.

We can now question the effects of the voting and whether America has been made better by what has been experienced as a result of the recently held election. Two questions should be "Should getting people to vote be what really matters or is there something more important?" "Should elections be about who has the power to impose conduct on the others?"

You may want to review the attached article which had been made available before, but is even better now that the emotions have settled. This point is now very obvious: "partisanship serves as a filter. A partisan filters out facts that are inconsistent with the party's approved worldview and exaggerates facts that confirm it." "That suggests that political polarization is the result of deep and self-reinforcing psychological and social forces."

(See the comment for the article.)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

New web design at

Hats off to Peter and the others who made a redesign of the web pages at Sunnyhill.Org. What do you think? Tell us in the comments section of the blog.

There is a web crew email discussion list that accepts mail, Sunnyhill - web - crew @ Sunnyhill.Org. (Retype without the spaces.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Open Mic Night at the DownUnder

You are invited to attend the DownUnder Coffeehouse on
Saturday, December 18 from 7:30-9:30 for an Open Mic night
featuring some of best local acoustic performers, including
First Church's own Rich Wells. Any wanting to be added
to the playlist, should send email by December 5th.

The DownUnder Coffeehouse is open the third Saturday of
every month in the basement of the Allegheny Unitarian
Universalist Church, 416 West North Ave, North Side.
Suggested donation is $3.00. Call 412-322-4261 or see for more details.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Need a Spiritual Lift -- err -- Left

The Democrats Need a Spiritual Left

This piece is so right-on says a net friend in Pittsburgh, Jim. He and Holley love this guy, Rabbi Lerner. He's totally right in his analysis of why Kerry failed to reach a mass following when his opponent was so vulnerable on so many issues.

God is Truth, Truth is God, as Gandhi liked to say.

The Democrats Need a Spiritual Left by Rabbi Michael Lerner
For years the Democrats have been telling themselves "it's the economy, stupid." Yet consistently for dozens of years millions of middle income Americans
have voted against their own economic interests to support Republicans who have tapped a deeper set of needs.

Tens of millions of Americans feel betrayed by a society that seems to place materialism and selfishness above moral values. They know that
"looking out for number one" has become the common sense of our society, but they want a life that is about something more - a framework of meaning and purpose to their lives that would transcend the grasping and narcissism that surrounds them. Sure, they will admit that they have material needs, and
that they worry about adequate health care, stability
in employment, and enough money to give their kids a
college education. But even more deeply they want
their lives to have meaning - and they respond to
candidates who seem to care about values and some
sense of transcendent purpose.

Many of these voters have found a "politics of
meaning" in the political Right. In the Right wing
churches and synagogues these voters are presented
with a coherent worldview that speaks to their
"meaning needs." Most of these churches and synagogues
demonstrate a high level of caring for their members,
even if the flip side is a willingness to demean those
on the outside. Yet what members experience directly
is a level of mutual caring that they rarely find in
the rest of the society. And a sense of community that
is offered them nowhere else, a community that has as
its central theme that life has value because it is
connected to some higher meaning than one's success in
the marketplace.

It's easy to see how this hunger gets manipulated in
ways that liberals find offensive and contradictory.
The frantic attempts to preserve family by denying
gays the right to get married, the talk about being
conservatives while meanwhile supporting Bush policies
that accelerate the destruction of the environment and
do nothing to encourage respect for God's creation or
an ethos of awe and wonder to replace the ethos of
turning nature into a commodity, the intense focus on
preserving the powerless fetus and a culture of life
without a concomitant commitment to medical research
(stem cell research/HIV-AIDS), gun control and
healthcare reform., the claim to care about others and
then deny them a living wage and an ecologically
sustainable environment --- all this is rightly
perceived by liberals as a level of inconsistency that
makes them dismiss as hypocrites the voters who have
been moving to the Right.

Yet liberals, trapped in a long-standing disdain for
religion and tone-deaf to the spiritual needs that
underlie the move to the Right, have been unable to
engage these voters in a serious dialogue. Rightly
angry at the way that some religious communities have
been mired in authoritarianism, racism, sexism and
homophobia, the liberal world has developed such a
knee-jerk hostility to religion that it has both
marginalized those many people on the Left who
actually do have spiritual yearnings and
simultaneously refused to acknowledge that many who
move to the Right have legitimate complaints about the
ethos of selfishness in American life.

Imagine if John Kerry had been able to counter George
Bush by insisting that a serious religious person
would never turn his back on the suffering of the
poor, that the bible's injunction to love one's
neighbor required us to provide health care for all,
and that the New Testament's command to "turn the
other cheek" should give us a predisposition against
responding to violence with violence.

Imagine a Democratic Party that could talk about the
strength that comes from love and generosity and
applied that to foreign policy and homeland security.

Imagine a Democratic Party that could talk of a New
Bottom Line, so that American institutions get judged
efficient, rational and productive not only to the
extent that they maximize money and power, but also to
the extent that they maximize people's capacities to
be loving and caring, ethically and ecologically
sensitive, and capable of responding to the universe
with awe and wonder.

Imagine a Democratic Party that could call for schools
to teach gratitude, generosity, caring for others, and
celebration of the wonders that daily surround us!
Such a Democratic Party, continuing to embrace its
agenda for economic fairness and multi-cultural
inclusiveness, would have won in 2004 and can win in
the future. (Please don't tell me that this is
happening outside the Democratic Party in the Greens
or in other leftie groups --- because except for a few
tiny exceptions it is not! I remember how hard I tried
to get Ralph Nader to think and talk in these terms in
2000, and how little response I got substantively from
the Green Party when I suggested reformulating their
excessively politically correct policy orientation in
ways that would speak to this spiritual consciousness.
The hostility of the Left to spirituality is so deep,
in fact, that when they hear us in Tikkun talking this
way they often can't even hear what we are saying ----
so they systematically mis-hear it and say that we are
calling for the Left to take up the politics of the
Right, which is exactly the opposite of our point ---
speaking to spiritual needs actually leads to a more
radical critique of the dynamics of corporate
capitalism and corporate globalization, not to a
mimicking of right-wing policies).

If the Democrats were to foster a religions/spiritual
Left, they would no longer pick candidates who support
preemptive wars or who appease corporate power. They
would reject the cynical realism that led them to
pretend to be born-again militarists, a deception that
fooled no one and only revealed their contempt for the
intelligence of most Americans. Instead of assuming
that most Americans are either stupid or reactionary,
a religious Left would understand that many Americans
who are on the Right actually share the same concern
for a world based on love and generosity that
underlies Left politics, even though lefties often
hide their value attachments.

Yet to move in this direction, many Democrats would
have to give up their attachment to a core belief:
that those who voted for Bush are fundamentally stupid
or evil. Its time they got over that elitist
self-righteousness and developed strategies that could
affirm their common humanity with those who voted for
the Right. Teaching themselves to see the good in the
rest of the American public would be a critical first
step in liberals and progressives learning how to
teach the rest of American society how to see that
same goodness in the rest of the people on this
planet. It is this spiritual lesson --- that our own
well-being depends on the well-being of everyone else
on the planet and on the well-being of the earth --- a
lesson rooted deeply in the spiritual wisdom of
virtually every religion on the planet, that could be
the center of a revived Democratic Party.

Yet to take that seriously, the Democrats are going to
have to get over the false and demeaning perception
that the Americans who voted for Bush could never be
moved to care about the well being of anyone but
themselves. That transformation in the Democrats would
make them into serious contenders.

The last time Democrats had real social power was when
they linked their legislative agenda with a spiritual
politics articulated by Martin Luther King. We cannot
wait for the reappearance of that kind of charasmatic
leader to begin the process of rebuilding a
spiritual/religious Left...

My personal assumption: When you got west far enough you end up back in the east. And, I guess, it goes the other way as well.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

UU Church of the North Hills -- arts festival

Please extend our invitation to your congregation and any others to attend our first annual Arts in The Autumn Festival, running from Friday, November 12 through Sunday, November 14. The exhibit opens at 1:00 pm Friday and continues through 6 pm Sunday afternoon. Special events include: Meet the Artists, with Food and Entertainment, 7:00-9:00 pm on Friday; a folk concert and musical spoons workshop with Simple Gifts, 2:00-4:00 pm on Saturday; a jazz concert by the Carl Arter Quartet, 8:00-10:00 pm on Saturday; and of course, your very own Tom Roberts and Jennifer Russell singing American classics at 1:00 pm on Sunday. Everything is FREE. Refreshments will be available at all times.

Please consider joining us Sunday morning for the service at 11:00 am to be sure not to miss Tom and Jennifer. We'd love to have you.

UUCNH is located at 2359 West Ingomar Road, phone: 412-366-0244 for directions.

(P.S. to anyone in the choir: we are in desperate need of women's voices for our Thanksgiving service on November 21, when we will be singing Aaron Copland's The Promise of Living from The Tender Land. Let me know!) Thanks - Kathy

East Suburban UU Church Tree Sale

ESUUC's Christmas Tree Sale calls for Orders and Payment Due by Nov. 21st. Checks should be made out to ESUUC. Delivery date December 17th 7-9pm at ESUUC.

The following items are available,

$15 20” Wreath
$15 6’ Garland
$9 36” Swag
$35 4’-6’ Tree
$40 6’-8’ Tree

We are also accepting donations to provide trees or other decorations to families in need in conjunction with the local food bank. You can email orders to or send orders, payments and donations to:
ESUUC, Attn: Fundraising, 4326 Sardis Rd., Murrysville, PA 15668.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Thanksgiving Feast

Email signups seem to work better for everyone so here is one for the
Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday, November 21.

If you would like to come please reply the number of people attending (including children) and note what dish you will be bringing. We have lots of desserts already.

Sunnyhill’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner
Join us at 5 pm on Sunday, November 21, 2004, for a Thanksgiving Dinner with (if you’d be so kind) all the trimmings. We provide the turkey, apple cider and rolls. You bring everything else, namely a dish to serve 8-10 people and plates, silverware for your family.

Sign up by November 15. When signing up, please specify what you will bring. Items needed include:
A potato , yams or stuffing

There’ll be crafts and games for the kids, and music and fun for all. Everybody’s invited, so please come!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

To Mt. Lebanon library patrons

original source: Mary Beth T.

The Mt. Lebanon Commissioners are reviewing their budget -- and presently, a minimal increase is being suggested for our library. When coupled with the increases in certain library costs, the ML library will be forced to cut staff and hours even further. (Sunday hours were cut last year.) It has been noted that when the public supports certain projects en masse -- as has happened on behalf of golfers, swimmers, and soccer players in recent months -- the commissioners DO listen and respond accordingly.

With this is mind, the library board is asking its patrons to support the level of funding that the library board is recommending -- a level which will permit the library hours and staff to stay as they are presently -- and perhaps even allow the library to replenish its collection and add new programs. (Restoring Sunday hours is perhaps unlikely.)

The following commission meetings are key:

Regular Commission Meeting: Monday, Nov. 8, 8 p.m. at the MRTSA Building, 315 Cypress Way. Attendance by library supporters is crucial. Public comment is allowed at the beginning of the meeting for 3-5 minutes per person, with speakers signing up prior to the meeting.

Commission Budget Review: Tuesday, Nov. 16, 6 p.m., (old) Municipal Building at 710 Washington Road. No speakers allowed, but library supporters should attend the first part of the meeting when the library presents its case for increased funding: supporters can leave soon thereafter.

Budget Public Hearing: Monday, Nov. 22, 8 p.m., (old) Municipal Building at 710 Washington Road. Attendance by library supporters is crucial. Public comment is allowed at the beginning of the meeting for 3-5 minutes per person, with speakers signing up prior to the meeting.

The library will provide buttons to distinguish its supporters from the rest of the crowd.

IF FURTHER CUTS IN LIBRARY HOURS AND STAFFING ARE ABHORRENT TO YOU, please do plan to come to one, two or three of these meetings to show your support.

If anyone is interested in making a "public comment", please contact me for a copy of the "talking points." Six to ten persons have been asked to speak on behalf of the library's various "constituencies". They have been asked to speak very pointedly and personally to the importance of the library to themselves or their groups. I understand the commissioners will allow only a certain amount of public comment on a certain topic, so I think short, sweet, and personal is the best tack to take.