Minister’s Message


I find it so interesting to live at the turn of a millennium. Many large questions and expectancies arise… remember the mass trepidation about all our computers crashing when the final second of 1999 passed and the digital “clock” clicked to 2000? Happily, that scare passed without incident. But many apprehensions remain… some with very good reason.

That’s why I’ve decided to try an experiment this summer. The urge stems from our April 23rd Religious Exploration forum. In keeping with Earth Day, participants viewed and discussed excerpts of the DVD, Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream, which laid out in disturbing detail some of the environmental and social challenges we currently face, and a number of the primary causes.

The overarching philosophical cause is that modern, so-called “civilized” folk have somehow come to believe that we are separate from both the natural world and from other humans… so that exploiting and damaging either “other” for short-term, self-centered gain becomes the dominant mode of doing business. And the DVD suggests that we must be caught in something of a collective trance state to believe that we can continue such exploitation forever. We must be in a dream… because if we woke up to the real results of our current practices, we would see that in fact they are nightmarish. And we would change them—fast.

Thus the title, Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream. And my summer experiment comes from the part that presents a framework for transformative action once one has awakened to this reality. (I’ve modified some of the terms the DVD uses in this table, but the essence is the same.)

“Informal” (Community/Culture)
Institutional (formal Systems of Power)

To explain briefly, together the top horizontal headings name the main goal of the new Dream: to create an Environmentally Sound, Socially Just and Spiritually Fulfilling world. Scanning down the left-hand column, we see that under any of these we might focus on our Individual actions; and/or actions we do relatively Informally in our communities or the wider culture; and/or actions concerning Institutional Systems of Power (government, education, finance, etc.).

So the idea is to choose actions in those boxes that most fit your talents, experience, passions, purpose and preferences. For instance, if an Environmentally Sound world is one of your passions, on an Individual basis you may decide to buy less and recycle more. On the Informal level you could team with others to create an organic community garden that also serves as a butterfly sanctuary. And on the Institutional level, you might lobby a Regional Planning Commission to close a local landfill. (You may know that UU of SCV’s Social and Environmental Justice Team and other congregational friends have been doing just that regarding Chiquita Canyon.) Or, you might do something Individual under Environmentally Sound, something Institutional under Socially Just, and something Informal (communal) under Spiritually Fulfilling. Some choices may deepen things you’re already involved in; some may be a new adventure. In short, this matrix can help you choose your own “Personal Commitments of a Global Citizen.”

Our first three June services will further refer to this matrix, and eventually guide you in filling in your boxes and connecting you to people whose matrices roughly match yours. And the summertime experiment is to act on your choices, and share how things went come September.

I know this is just a start. But as we and millions of others Awaken from the collective industrial/consumerist trance, our commitments to act help Change the Dream of the world. And this can eventually build a new global civilization, the principles, practices and fruits of which are Environmentally Sound, Socially Just and Spiritually Fulfilling. To my ears, a mantra of reverence fit for our newborn millennium.

Beaucoup Blessings,
Rev. Peter Farriday

Previous  Minister’s Messages can be found in the monthly newsletters .

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