2014-09-11 Service

11 09 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: dav0 Turas




** Announcements **


Welcome to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life.


An Order of Service is available by saying “oos” in chat. For visitors, a special welcome. If you are not familiar with Unitarian Universalism (“UU”), a single service is not enough to experience the diversity of ideas and styles of interaction that we offer, either here in SL or in RL. Please come again.


You might also wish to look at UUA.org. or consider joining the group Unitarian Universalists of SL to receive regular announcements. There are lots of events besides this weekly service to take part in. For example: In addition to the CLF meeting each Sunday at 5PM SL, there is a Baha’i Society of SL discussion group which meets every Friday evening at 6PM SL in the Baha’i Center on the southeast corner of this (UUtopia) SIM.


I have also very recently begun hosting what I call the “Gathering Of Divine” – which is a discussion group that meets each Sunday morning at 9AM SL in Rune Castle, also located on this UUtopia SIM at (132, 171, 29) to explore topics in Agnosticism and Atheism and their relation to faith based groups.


Also please check out our web site: http://fuucsl.org, for more details on these and other such events. We are always looking for members of our community who wish to get more involved. If you would like to try your hand at leading a service, please contact a member of the Leadership Group – their names are available in the notecard dispenser in the welcome area.


Please also join us after the service for coffee and conversation – a venerable UU tradition!


Are there any other announcements?


** Lighting the Chalice **


“We gather this hour as people of faith With joys and sorrows, gifts and needs. We light this beacon of hope, Sign of our quest For truth and meaning, In celebration of the life we share together”

– Christine Robinson


** Joys and Concerns **


Please feel free to share any joys and concerns…


** Opening Words **


Certainty – 9/11 2014


13 years ago today, Islamic extremists succeeded in killing thousands of United States citizens in what we now call “9/11.”


Please join for a moment of silence for the 9/11 victims…




My friend, Joyce Ng, was stuck in building #3 of the World Trade Center when the planes crashed into the towers – building #3 connected the north and south towers, and it was also completely destroyed.  Joyce’s story is also so much more shocking than the filtered news reports – especially hearing it from her again later in person…


I met Joyce shortly after the Boston bombings of 2013, when she responded to an email I had sent out to my department at work, in which I had described our own terrorist experience having been a mere block from the 2nd bomb at the Boston Marathon last year with my wife Karin, daughter Amanda, and friend Tim Campbell, whose wife, Elizabeth, one of the marathon runners, had just turned the final corner in the race from Hereford Street onto Boylston – heading right towards the 2nd bomb.  Elizabeth was then lost to us for the next three and a half hours while we spent that afternoon searching for her in all of the ensuing chaos and confusion.


Not to belittle the horrifying events of the Boston Bombings and the ensuing lock-down searching for the evil doers later that week, but I must admit that when I read Joyce’s response to our own experiences it set me back in my chair. More importantly, her email message drove home a connection with me on another plane altogether.


Joyce is now the founder and President of a charity dedicated to 9/11 victims, and she is extremely busy with 9/11 related activities this month as you might imagine – especially with the opening of the 9/11 memorial in NYC. In fact, I was invited to attend one of these 9/11 events tonight, but I declined so that I could fulfill my pledge to be here with you instead. You can read her stories and those of other survivors on their web site (No longer accessible)


It is with this in mind that I must ask the question: why do these horrible things keep happening?


Who really knows?


“We do not know – neither the sophists, nor the orators, nor the artists, nor I – what the True, the Good, and the Beautiful are. But there is this difference between us: although these people know nothing, they all believe they know something; whereas, I, if I know nothing, at least have no doubts about it.” – Socrates




** Musical Interlude **


** Offering **


Please be generous and donate to the offering plate so that we can help sustain UUtopia


~Principles and Beliefs~


Unitarian Universalists hold the Seven Principles as strong values and moral teachings. As Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove explains, “The Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist religious communities.”


The Principles are:


1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.


As a leadership goal, we are challenged to explore at least one of these principles each week.


This week, in honor of both 9/11, as well as the Boston Bombing tragedies, I would like to explore the 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;


So how do we make peace and serve justice, while still preserving liberty?


How can we reason with people who are so dead set in their ways – traditional or otherwise – that they can’t seem to stop and examine their own irrational and potentially dangerous behaviors before they end up killing people of diverging views?


What makes anyone so certain that they are right about their beliefs that they are willing to kill and die for them in the first place?


Neuroscientist and novelist Robert A. Burton makes the compelling argument in his book On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not, that certainty “is neither a conscious choice nor even a thought process.”  Instead, he says, that unmistakable sense of certainty “arises out of involuntary brain mechanisms that, like love or anger, function independently of reason.”


Our thoughts are subject to constant self-questioning. Because alternative choices are present in any situation, logical thought alone would be doomed to a perpetual “yes, but” questioning routine. It is the feeling of knowing that solves the dilemma of how to reach a conclusion quickly. Without this “circuit breaker,” indecision and inaction would rule the day.


Burton’s thesis is that we ultimately cannot trust ourselves when we believe we know something to be true. “We can’t afford to continue with the outdated claims of a perfectly rational unconscious or knowing when we can trust gut feelings.”


Certainty of faith is also inspired by a similarly irrational sense of certainty (aka the “Leap of Faith”).


Leapin’ Lizards!


I use the phrase “Leapin’ Lizards” – in part as a nod to Little Orphan Annie, but also to pose the question of whether this sort of irrational gut feel is actually housed in the reptilian brain?


The reptilian brain is the most central core lug nut in the machine we call the brain. If faith is housed in this most primitive and irrational component, and we now know that we can’t really trust this irrational component, then how do we deal with people whose cultures dictate that they confine their way of thinking to this most irrational component?


These are the fundamentalists: those who tend to be absolutely certain, for example, that the words written in their particular book of faith are infallible and should not be questioned. These are the ones who adhere to the literal translations of traditional texts as though they are some sort of magical source of power – unquestioned and untouchable.


Don’t get me wrong – preserving religious texts for historical reasons are quite necessary to understand where we came from, but we need to keep all of our myths in the proper perspective. The religiously tolerant must be careful not to allow their respect for religious mythology to be misconstrued as that of enabling the true believers to commit atrocities in the name of these artifacts.


So how do we reach people who are so certain?


“The doors leading out of scriptural literalism do not open from the inside.” – Sam Harris, The End of Faith.


We must be willing to open these doors from the outside.


“Those who are hardest to love need it the most.” – Socrates


** Discussion **


Please discuss…


** Closing words and Extinguishing the Chalice **


“We extinguish this flame but not the light of truth, The warmth of community, Or the fire of commitment. These we carry in our hearts until We are together again.” – Elizabeth Selle Jones


** Dance **


** Coffee Hour **