Thursday, December 01, 2011

Boston Unitarian: to triumph over old age

Boston Unitarian: to triumph over old age:

"To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent that is to triumph over old age."

--Amos Bronson Alcott

A quote from the Boston Unitarian's blog. A quote the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association might want to email its members as --like me-- we're not getting younger, but for the Ministers there's the added burden of the collapse of post-1968 Liberal ideologies (evidenced by the incoherence and nihilism of #Occupy) and I think it's going to be a tough slog for many of them.

History repeating itself.   Maybe as in the odd life of Chicago's First Universalist beloved Rev Hugo Prosper Leaming Bey; a Unitarian Minister so overwhelmed by empathy he declared himself quite other than he was (see Reinventing the Tribe of Ishmael). A sort of luck and pluck reinvention of oneself we Chicagoan's like to pull off in our Augie March world, but free and disciplined search for truth Leaming's life ain't.

Buck up Reverends. The times they are a changing and you don't need a Weatherman to know which why the winds blowing. Don't repeat the 60's slogans ...without at least some deep reflection 'cause for many of the activists it all ended waste or worse, no hope, no kindness, no cheerfulness or reverence; just drugs and cycnicism. That was the only real truth. That is my memory.


JMP said...

That link to the Ben-Ishmael article was eye-opening. I was aware of Indiana's passage of eugenics laws (shades of Nazi Germany!) and had heard of the Jukes and Kallikaks, but not the Ishmaels. As to Leaming Bey, what was the purpose in his reinvention of the Ishmaels? Just to justify his own transformation? I don't quite get it. He would have done better by turning it into a fantasy-fiction paperback novel on the alternative history shelf at Barnes and Noble.

Bill Baar said...

Very complicated story with Rev Leaming. I think he came to Chicago's First Universalist in 1960 and stuck with them maybe into the early 80s. He was a while minister and guided them through the tough decades of the 60s and 70s and the transformation of the south side into African American neigborhoods. He was deeply involved in the civil rights movement, latched onto the Nation of Islam, and then eventually announced he was African American himself. I've read a first hand account of his announcement to the congregation and it must have been a bit surreal because he was a white southerner (from Richmond) and must have seemed completely opposite of what he proclaimed. He was deeply loved I believe by the congregation and I don't think anyone really cared what he thought he was, or it didn't matter much, and in fact, I like to think in Chicago, we're free to reinvent ourselves as we see fit and who is to say otherwise.

Any ways, that passion that was evident in Leaming seem to be reappearing in others, and I suppose we might see similar outcomes. People getting so wrapped up in the "movement" of their time, they lose touch with reality a bit (one could argue they're just in touch with a higher truth I suppose).

I'll try and write more on him. His a fascinating story I think.