Friday, April 8, 2011



SMilnor: So here we are, my friend: two Susans out of the pulpit. That’s not a job update, by the way. But we are both clergy women not serving congregations at the moment who still seem to have a lot to say. Wouldn’t you agree? I’ve always thought it would be fun to tease out topics with someone whose mind is electric. And that’s you!

SMinasian: You make me laugh! I think we are right where we need to be. We have always preached with conviction, and so why would we stop now? I think it’s great that we don’t have one congregation. This technology gives us an opportunity to speak beyond the church building. So yes…let’s tease out topics, my friend.

SMilnor: We have a lot of common ground. We are both Southern women, and clergy, both mothers of a daughter, both progressive in our views, yet we come at questions from two different faith traditions. There you are, ordained in the United Church of Christ and committed Christian, and, here I am, ordained by a Unitarian Universalist Congregation and a broad theist, influenced by feminist, ecological, and nature-based spiritualities.

SMinasian: Yes, Susan! We are Southern women with a twist: we are from the South, but we are not totally of the South. We are clergy women who know what it’s like to be discounted by some men and disappointed by some women. AND our daughters. Well…they are great…so far. You know, whenever I preach, I talk about how the United Church of Christ has been known as Unitarians Considering Christianity or Utterly Confused Christians. It always gets a laugh. While the UCC talks about having a broad continuum…I’m not sure we are so great at living that out or even getting that message out. I think the UCC and the UUA folks have so much to offer the world, but we do such a lousy job of getting the message out. That’s some of what excites me about us doing this blog.

SMilnor: You said it, Sister! And I think you just referenced a slew of topics we could take on. By the way, I totally agree about those of us in liberal religion not presenting our message well enough. One of the problems is that we are always differentiating ourselves from everyone else. One thing I want to do in this blog is find common ground and mutual appreciation. On that note, let me just confess something. I love my Unitarian Universalist faith tradition; it’s one of the few places I could fit with honesty. But there are some things I envy in your tradition. I am fascinated by the thought of having one common text from which to understand the world AND preach. Sometimes I feel like the UU freedom to preach from ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is overwhelming. Where do you start? I’m always pushing myself to do something serious enough and worthy of people’s time and attention. But, then, maybe that’s true for every preacher. Anyway, I look forward to exchanging ideas with someone firmly rooted in one theology and scripture.

SMinasian: One theology? Sometimes. It’s the scripture piece that I think means a lot to me as a preacher/pastor in my tradition. While it isn’t perfect, I follow a three year cycle of scripture called the Lectionary. Many people will tell you that following this Lectionary keeps them honest and their agenda out of their preaching. I don’t think that is really true. I think any preacher can impose their agenda into any text…scripture or not.

The Gospels are where I live. I find the life and earthly ministry of Jesus to be the centerpiece of how I understand my own faith and at the same time the laments of the Old Testament give my heart some comfort as an Armenian American who is always seeking justice for a Genocide that is in continual denial by the Turkish Government.

What I love about your tradition, Susan, is the willingness to broaden the wisdom for other sources. The revelations that are inspired by God can be revealed through stories, poetry, film, paintings, dance and music. I think the way Unitarian Universalists are able to see Holy inspiration in other places is so liberating. While the United Church of Christ talks about the “Still Speaking God,” I think there are times when the Unitarian Universalists embrace this still speaking voice more seriously.

SMilnor: I hope we do that. I really do. We can all learn so much from each other. And on that note, Susan, let’s set out the agenda. Here we are going to engage not just in dialogue, but in“duologue”: – the conversation of two good friends who are perfectly willing to agree when we do (probably a lot of the time) but who can tease out nuances and even disagreements as they come up, and, most of all, do it with appreciation for the other’s different perspective. One of my favorite quotes is from Barry Holstun Lopez in his book Of Wolves and Men: “Someone else does not have to be wrong in order for me to be right. “

What do you think?

SMinasian: Amen, Sister!!! So let’s give it a try. What’s our first “topic to tease”? I hope you have a lot of hairspray!

SMilnor: I always have hairspray. What say we do a piece on “Raging Revs” – the tension between being sweet Southern belles and passionate preachers willing to take on the times?

SMinasian: Let’s go!

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