Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Excited about tomorrow’s talk after church
August 8, 2015, 3:12 pm
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So happy to welcome back Rev. Dr. Jay Atkinson to give a talk  about our religious heritage in Poland in the 1500s. A Unitarian movement in exile, the Polish Brethren had no church but had a printing press.  Consequently, liberal religion had spread through Europe before their church in Poland was crushed. Jay’s Powerpoint shows historic sites, current day Unitarians in Poland, and UU pilgrims from here who went on a tour that he and another scholar guided last summer. At noon in Pilgrim Hall at 890 Morse. Jay will be at church with us at 10:15 too.  Freewill donations accepted.  Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento (UUSS)​ August 9, 2015


Minister’s Newsletter Column: Gratitude, Generosity, and Tipping the Scales of Equity

As I sat in my favorite pub, I contemplated whether to leave a generous tip or just an adequate one.  “Would that extra dollar make more of a difference to the server, or to me?”

Summertime for many of us is a time of travel, dining out, recreation and entertainment.  For many others, it’s a time for landing a seasonal job, or finding a few extra hours of work in a restaurant, motel, bar, or valet parking lot.  Such extra work may help to feed the family, pay rent, cover medical costs, save up for school, or enjoy some recreation time.

Most of those venues do not pay much to their workers.   Restaurant servers rely primarily on tips.  A café of empty tables yields very small wages!  Hotel maids clean and turn around rooms in 30 minutes, risking injury with heavy mattresses.

I admire the energy and hard work of people who give their time and talents in service to me and to others.  I try to say “thank you” and show patience when it might help.  I also try to leave a generous tip.  In a motel I leave a couple of dollars on the bed every morning, unless I really have made a mess.  I tip if someone carries my bags, but in the motels I use, that’s not likely.

The standard gratuity these days for restaurant meals is 15% of the total bill for adequate service, and 20-25% for very good service.  (The total bill includes the tax.)  For terrible service… talk to the manager.

My nephew Scott has worked in food service at various levels for over 10 years.  I was amazed when he told me that dining patrons often leave without paying the tab!  He also confirmed a newspaper article that said we should leave a tip in cash, as restaurants may not pass on the full amount of the tip to the server if it’s on a credit card.

Showing gratitude and generosity is a way to affirm and promote our sense of inter-dependence.  It’s a good personal practice at any time, whether away on vacation or visiting local eateries.  It’s good for our own spirits, and it makes the world a better place.  Blessed be!

With gratitude,


Meet the UUs of the Philippines– group journey March 2012

Click on this link to see the PDF.  I promise: no viruses.  It’s a page from the November newsletter

Family Minister’s Message for August Newsletter–plus a CORRECTION!: “So Far Apart, Yet So Close to Our Basic Humanity”

 {An edited and version of this appears in the August church newsletter.  I received a helpful reply by email from a church member about one of the assumptions I make in this article.  I have copied her reply and posted it as a comment to this post.}


So Far Apart, Yet So Close to Our Basic Humanity

A highlight of late-night General Assembly socializing in Charlotte was chatting in a hotel bar as the TV showed CNN coverage of New York State’s legislature’s approval of marriage equality for same-sex couples.  The whole bar applauded.

After GA I visited friends– I hiked the Appalachian Trail for a full hour, took a history tour by trolley of Asheville, ate locally grown or fished food in cool cafes, and picked a quart of black currants from their back yard, which one of my hosts baked into a pie.

Then on to New England, and New York City.   The Amtrak ride from Providence to New York was crowded with commuters and post-July 4 vacationers.  I admired the finely tuned complexity of the NYC public transit system and complimented myself that I could re-learn it after a year’s absence.

New York has become a “green,” energy-conserving, pedestrian- and bike-friendly city.  Crowds enjoyed themselves on sidewalks, in Central Park, and at plays and musicals.  Me too!  A friend’s son gave a tour of the floor where he works, midway up the Empire State Building.  Great views all around.   A new friend’s pal gave a tour of the underground loading docks at Rockefeller Plaza.  Clean, enormous, fascinating. Cheaper than the observation deck.

I stayed my last two nights at the international youth hostel.  Though large and busy, it was well kept.  The teens and young adults were generally courteous and clean guests, and they were friendly to the odd older person, like me.  But NYC doesn’t need an international hostel for variety.  Ethnic, national and religious diversity teem on the streets.

On my way to a public bus to catch my plane home, a young woman street vendor at one of the ubiquitous chrome wagons charmed me into getting chicken gyros with rice, $4.99.  I asked:  “Is it Halal?”

“Al-ham du-lillah!” she said. (“Thanks be to God!”) “Yes, of course it is Halal.  Are you Muslim?”  (She had on head-covering, a baseball cap in pink.  Her dad sat nearby.)

No, I said.  (I didn’t explain that I’m Unitarian and concerned about factory farming cruelty, and that I assume Halal and Kosher meat wasn’t farmed that way. Hope I’m right!)

I asked, “Are you from here?”  She said she was from Egypt but has been here 15 years, which I took to be more than half her life.

“Do you still have family there?”  She said yes.

“Are they okay?”  Yes, she said, they are.

“Are they happy?”  Yes, she smiled:  happy too.

“Well, God bless Egypt!” I said.  She repeated this, and thanked me.

She handed me the bag of fresh hot food, and I headed for the bus, following her dad’s directions.  She said, “Take care, my friend!”  We human beings can be so far apart, yet we can get so close… to our basic humanity.

Yours in service,


P.S.—See Pastor Cranky’s  summary of June’s General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations from Charlotte, NC.

Unitarian Universalists in the Philippines–this Sunday after each service

A Philippine UU Adventure–adults, youth, kids welcome!

Did you know there are 29 indigenous UU congregations in the Philippines?  I hope you can stay after service just an extra half hour this Sunday for a short video and visit with members of our San Mateo (CA) church, who will tell you about their UU partner church in the Philippines.  The link will show you their visit to the village on Negros Island.

This Sunday’s visit and video will be brief, and will take place twice!  They and I will see you in the Fahs Room at 10:40 and 12:30.  I plan to visit the Philippines in March 2011 with a group tour through the UU Partner Church Council.  Think about joining me on that trip, but at least come to meet thes Bay Area UUs who are coming over here to introduce us to one part of our global UU family.

Sister Cities: Sacramento-Bethlehem

A parishioner asked me to join the advisory committee of the Sacramento to Bethlehem Sister Cities Initiative.  I think he asked me because of my interest in cross-cultural experiences and international pilgrimages (I visited Unitarian ethnic Khasi tribal villages in far NE India as well as 400-year-old Unitarian sister churches in Erdhely (a Hungarian-speaking Romanian-owned province, known as Transylvania to non-Hungarians).

Visits and cultural exchanges (as noted on their new web site) between Sac and Beth have been taking place for a few years–the Bethlehem mayor has been here at least twice, and his son and grandkids live here.  The only other mayor’s son I knew was in junior high school with me.  When he got in trouble with the law for burglary a number of us had a good burst of Schadenfreude, as kids and Southern Indiana Democrats will do.

Anyway, I do hope to visit Bethlehem–during good weather only–as well as some other Palestinian cities and Israeli cities.  My geographical knowledge is bad, so I need to learn more.  All I know is olive oil, King David and the Babe in the Manger.

Bethlehem’s local government has officially approved the connections but Sacramento’s City Council has yet to vote.

There is  an excellent opinion column in the current week’s issue of Sacramento News & Review, which says that the delay in our city’s official approval is due to political intervention by folks outside of the Sister City community.  Be that as it may, the friendships and exchanges will continue.

Somewhere on this blog is my letter to the city council urging a positive vote.  If you live here, I invite you to contact the Mayor’s office and City Council members with your support.  Check out the HISTORY section on the initiative’s web site to find out the purpose of Sister City relationships if you aren’t sure of where you stand.

Day 1–UU Youth Heritage Trip to Boston
Youth and Mentors in SMF Airport Ready for Boston

Youth and Mentors in SMF Airport Ready for Boston