Sunday, January 27, 2008

Easy like Sunday morning.

I chucked myself into the Belief-o-Matic yesterday, to see what the world of online quizzes could reveal about my spirituality, and here's what happened. I'm just giving you the top ten:

1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (93%)
3. Secular Humanism (93%)
4. Neo-Pagan (81%)
5. Theravada Buddhism (79%)
6. Taoism (76%)
7. New Age (73%)
8. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (73%)
9. Mahayana Buddhism (72%)
10. Nontheist (66%)

No surprises there, except maybe Liberal Quakers. Who knew I was so down with Liberal Quakers?

I have this morning off from my church gig, so I'm having a splendid morning alone with my oatmeal and tea and sunshine and fat cat. The Brit was up late with World of Warcraft--which he's being very disciplined about, playing sparingly--so he's still asleep. (I like it when he puts on his computer headphones and says "bye!" It's an accurate thing to say.) I believe the temperature has already jumped about 40 or 50 degrees from where it was a few days ago, and it's going to keep going up. Unless you've spent a lot of time below zero, you can't truly know how good 38F feels. I'm just saying.

I usually have to sing at two services on Sunday mornings, which means that by the second service I am often using the time to make little notes to myself, or to read, or knit, or whatever (if I'm sitting up in the balcony). I've got some notes from several weeks ago when I started thinking about specifically defining my values. At the top of the page I wrote "ubuntu," which is one of those words that I heard or read one day--at the gym in a three year old issue of Ode, no less--and then the next day it seemed to be everywhere, including that day's sermon. (I missed Bill Clinton telling Westerners that we needed ubuntu a few years back.) Here's what Desmond Tutu has to say about ubuntu:
Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, "Yu u nobuntu": "Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu." Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, "My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours"...We say, "A person is a person through other persons"...A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.
Then I wrote a list of charges to myself. It looks like this:
  • Do not cherish your pain. It inhibits forgiveness and progress.
  • Enjoy this very moment.
  • Understand that sorrow is part of life, that emotion is tidal, and let go of losses and regrets as soon as possible.
  • Do not poison your body.
  • Participate in your community. If you don't have one, get one.
  • Nurture your gifts.
  • Call out anyone who makes a racist, sexist, homophobic comment. Words are powerful and people need to understand that.
  • Interrogate your own racism, sexism, homophobia, or whatever. You have assumptions, not answers. No one is served by your rigid pronouncements.
  • Make and Do. Understand what "enough" is. Work and save for things you want, but do not buy into LIFESTYLES.
  • Continue to figure out ways to live conscientiously, even when it causes discomfort or friction between you and others.
I'll add one more right now, so as to provide a segue to my next topic.
  • Some anxiety is warranted but most of it is of your own invention. Feed it with exercise [thank you Marigoldie].
There's plenty more to add, but let's just call it a work in progress, like my healthy lifestyle. I've run a big 12 miles in the past two weeks, which I'm kind of excited about. I just want to get my ass to the gym thrice weekly. Do you know how hard that is when it's 17 below? O it's hard. But so worth it for the endorphins and the fellow-feeling. Yesterday I saw so many things to delight me while I was jogging and lifting weights: the bald one year old walking the track with her mom and giggling her head off, the old lady in yellow giving the barbells hell, the man walking in when we were walking out, with his jeans tucked into sweet, sweet cowboy boots. I actually had a sustained stretch on the track where I couldn't stop smiling, you know that feeling? I don't think the Brit noticed that I was grinning like a maniac. He jogs with me to slow himself down, otherwise impatience and boredom (and, let's face it, the dislike of running that is innate in most of us) spur him on to run a mile so fast it collapses him afterward.

My parents, those sweethearts, had their 34th wedding anniversary yesterday. We gave them a gift certificate from Kiva, so that they can choose a microloan to fund and potentially keep reinvesting it in people's projects forever. I am so pumped about this as a gift.

On a related note, I just found out about Zopa, a social finance website where you can borrow or invest money. A $500 certificate of deposit is currently getting a 5.10% interest rate, and when you invest, you select borrowers (who have to meet credit requirements) that your investment will benefit. You get a guaranteed payout and you help other people achieve their financial goals. What's not to like? As Paul Wellstone said, "we all do better when we all do better." That's ubuntu, Minnesota-style.


  1. i love your list of changes and am trying to work on the last 4 especially.

  2. You just filled my bloghole and then some.

    The list is a work of art.

  3. I literally stumbled across your blog and you have already given me great peace. I think your list is wonderful. Thank you for that.

  4. Yes to exercise!! I've been doing it regularly for about a month and just yesterday my husband & I realized that I've had so much more energy (and positive energy at that) lately. We asked ourselves "Why?" and the only thing we could come up with was exercise. I am finally over the tired hump of making the change. In two weeks we'll do an indoor triathlon & then in April I'll run a 5K race & I think my new goal is to get over the "3 mile hump." I hate running, actually, but I think I'd like to try running more than 3 miles.

  5. we read that same Desmond Tutu excerpt before going to S.A. and then while I was there I asked this little girl that we stayed with if ubuntu really got talked about and practiced and regarded,etc. and what it meant to her and she said that ubuntu just means "all of us. it's the only way to have ubuntu."
    then the bishop Tutu's wife came over with her cane and waved it and said we were all being too loud when we were at this outdoor bar.
    both things were cool.

  6. Lovely.
    And P.S. I'm 100% Neo-Pagan and I don't even know what that means. But secondly I am in your camp, Unitarian Universalism. Amen

  7. I'll see you at the meetinghouse, fellow Quaker. Unless I go neo-pagan, which is actually my number 1, but which unnerves me a little.

    And, here's to your inspiring list.


  8. huh. I took the quiz & came out secular humanist, unitarian universalist, liberal quaker, theravada buddhist, and nontheist. maybe not in that order, but secular humanist was on top which sounds nicer to me than atheist which is what i've been calling myself.