Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Top Ten List: Benefits of Joining a UU Congregation — or at least this one



People have asked me about the reasons one would join

a congregation—the benefits as well as the expectations

of members. 

Here’s my list, in ascending order of importance.

Number 10: The wider world of the UUA (support and

advice to look for ministers, build RE, and raise money;; District Assembly and General Assembly; “World” magazine;

Skinner House UU books; Heritage Tour to Boston).

Number 9: Beacon Press, one of the last remaining

independent publishers, and a courageous one at that!

Number 8: Washington and Sacramento UU offices to

keep us abreast of key issues and to help us make our

voices heard by the government (of the people, by the

people, for the people.)

Number 7: Leadership development opportunities

through volunteer involvement here and at workshops in

the Pacific Central District, with our clergy’s support.

Number 6: Voting at congregational meetings. Influence

in building the future of UUSS!  Next meeting:  Oct. 18, 2009.

Number 5: Adult Religious Education classes for learning

and spiritual growth. Ministry Circles for building closer

connections with other members, special-interest


Number 4: The rare and precious opportunity for intergenerational

friendship—with people from one week old to 100 years old, and

fun events for all ages.

Number 3: The support of trained Lay Ministry listeners and other caring


Number 2: Pastoral and staff support—listening and

pastoral care; information to help you connect with

groups, resources or programs; weddings/memorials;

coaching of volunteers.  And I include  in my morning prayers

this congregation and those with concerns I know about .

Number 1: Regular worship services! Rain or shine, your

worshiping community is here for you every Sunday of the

year—not to mention special-event services and rituals.

Well, I ran out of numbers!

But I would add: “The inspiration of being part of a vital,

values-based spiritual community, which encourages us to

deepen and express our own beliefs and to put our beliefs

into action to make the world a better place.”

What would you put on the list that I left out?




As I drove to work Monday my car felt sluggish, as if the power steering was not working. I had the AC on; it was already hot outside. Then, leaving the ATM parking lot, it moaned and gave a grinding sound.

I made it to work, asked Dave for the name of a trustworthy repair shop for Japanese imports and took it right away. It took awhile for them to open up the chest cavity and tell me about the crank shaft, pulley and other stuff that was dire. The estimate climbed from under $200 to $350 and on and on.
This was all by phone, as I was far away from Sacramento. I was hiding out in the hills with a bunch of Unitarians. Lay leaders, the toughest kind. (Program Council planning retreat.) Final tally: $1,050, plus tax.
Not ready to pick up, however.

So this morning before walking to the light rail and virtuously taking train and bus to work, I went to N Street Cafe.
Ramzi the owner told me it was worth keeping the car even if I had to pay this much money. He also has a 1997 Honda Civic, which he bought in 1997, like me and he says it’s worth keeping. His is in the shop for some body work after he scratched it on a freeway wall while trying to avoid rear-ending someone.

Ramzi and I rarely talk much when I order my coffee, and never about cars. Whence this male bonding?

He had greeted me at the counter by asking,
“Where’s your cup?” (The tall, red plastic UU Service Committee fair trade
coffee cup I bring in.)
I replied:
“It’s in my car, which is in the shop. And it will cost me $1200 to get it out of the shop so I can get the 50 cent discount on a cup of coffee next time I come in here.”

Whose Budget Cuts Hurt the Most?

This is 40 words too long for a letter to the editor in the Sacramento Bee. So I offered it as an op-ed column. We’ll see.

Whose cuts hurt the most?

A State plan to “borrow” local government revenues has caused Sacramento County to lay off dozens of Sheriff’s deputies. Yet Republican Assembly and Senate members purport to worry about public safety.

They would not countenance charging an extraction fee for our State’s oil deposits, or allow a modest tax increase on those of us who could afford it. Now they protest the Governor’s plan to cut costs with early parole for some inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses.

What did they expect? The Governor did say the cuts would be painful for everyone. Did he mean ONLY the sick, hungry, disabled and elderly? And the nursing home and in-home care patients? And their laid-off low-wage care givers? And the victims of child abuse?
These are easy cuts to accept if you don’t see any of the people they will hurt.

Chances are that most of us won’t know or see anyone who is harmed by an early parolee either, so it should be just as easy to accept the cuts in prison expenses. Such are the risks we must accept if our leaders are to be inflexible and shortsighted. Such are the costs to our local communities of the dogma of “no new taxes.”

In a time of crisis, I’d like to think we were all in this together, but that’s not the way our elected officials are governing.

Early Riser’s Ride
August 6, 2009, 9:15 am
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By 5:40 AM Thursday I decided that I wasn’t going to get back to sleep for any of the 22 minutes that remained before Capital Public Radio newscasters would talk me awake.

Instead of the usual trip to the YMCA, I resolved to bike to work for the sake of the planet, my health, and my highly virtuous persona.  I shaved, showered and ate some unsweetened shredded wheat with chocolate soy milk (to use it up, since it’s long past its expiration date). Instead of my 45-minute meditation,  I headed right out in the cool air at 6:45 AM.

On this, my weekly visit to the N Street Cafe (which is on N street), I had 14 oz. of dark roast organic coffee and 2 oz. of dark roast Fair Trade decaf, so I could feel virtuous yet again.

They have the Sacramento Bee on the center table, so I can read it for free and enjoy the feel of good ol’ newsprint in my hands.   I wrote in my head my daily letter-to-the editor tirade at the current governmental foolishness or political dishonesty or at the stupid meanness of one of the other letter-writers. In the past 10 years I’ve probably written 1,000 trenchant letters in my head and four in real life. Two have been published.

The sun was now beaming through the cafe windows.  I hopped on my bike and headed west toward work, a few miles away through tree-lined streets, some busy business roads, and the Sacramento State University campus as well as along the American River.

I felt that somehow something was missing. I felt lighter because I had not brought my backpack–was that it? I stopped to pull a rubber band out of my pocket and hike my right pant leg up my calf, out of reach of the greasy chain. Then: “Oh. My helmet.” It was on the table at home. Home was just a few blocks away, but I wanted no more delays.  And it felt good to be without the bulk and tightness of a polystyrene and plastic helmet,  and to feel the strong wind keeping my scalp cool and giving me more of a pompadour than a helmet-hairdo.  It was foolhardy also, and I enjoyed that, even as I imagined scenarios of crashing and dying.  It’s sad how small of a personal transgression it takes for me to experience the delight of rebelliousness.