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The Rev. David Clements's address to our church community, was delivered via Zoom from West Lake, Ohio where the time was 9.01 pm - 10.30 am our time! In Dave's first address, he challenges us to become "spiritual entrepreneurs". Dave commences with Richard Branson's definition of an entrepreneur: -  "Being someone who wants to make a difference to other people's lives". What Dave loves about this definition is that you don't have to own or run a business to be an entrepreneur. Mother Teresa, by Branson's definition was also an entrepreneur. Listen on for Dave's challenge to us all - to be "spiritual entrepreneurs" and how this will benefit us a Unitarian Universalist community seeking to grow from where we are today.

On Stupidity

Today's address is given by Aaron Poeze, a member of our congregation. The music is provided by pianist, Robyn Filmer who is playing for the first time at our Church.
As election day looms, it is appropriate and timely that Aaron's address is about individual and collective stupidity. But this is only one side of what Aaron refers to as the stupidity-intelligence binary. Intelligence is so often oversimplified by attempts to measure or quantify it  - such as IQ. And there are the assumptions we might all make about letters that appear before (Prof. Dr.)  - or after someone's name (such as academic qualifications). Aaron observes that in living our lives, there will be many opportunities for us all to act wisely and intelligently  - with insight but also to display individual and collective stupidity. Listen on for Aaron's penetrating insights into the "Stupidity-Intelligence binary" that we all find ourselves on -  lurching somewhere between these two extremes.

In this Mother's Day service, our lay leader, Jennie Dyster focuses on the life, philosophy and music of the Unitarian composer, Edvard Grieg and his wife, the famous soprano, Nina Grieg. Jennie describes Edvard as a man "who never lost the common touch". An inclusive humanism under girded his world view and convictions. Grieg interacted with kings, queens, kaisers and musical geniuses on the same scale of respect and enjoyment as he did with peasants, shepherds, shop-keepers, sailors, farmers and fiddlers. His life and music was concerned with speaking to, uplifting and protecting the precious human spark he recognised within each person. Grieg, the Unitarian  - was a man shaped by his quest for spirituality.
Jennie is supported musically by Margaret Lambert whose inspired playing of some of Grieg's best known music also includes the less-well-known but very beautiful "Reflections" that she uncovered whilst preparing the music for this service. Listen on to Jennie's unfolding of the story behind this remarkable Norwegian musician and Unitarian and excerpts from Margaret Lambert's musical tribute to Grieg.

Weird Ideas

Today Jennie explores historical examples of how weird, "fringe" ideas and theories may one day find validation through social and scientific consensus to become orthodoxy.

Out of Step

Jenny commences her Easter address with a quote from the Unitarian hymn writer and story teller, Sophia Lyons Fahs explaining to children how the Christian Easter stories surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection morphed into what is the lynch-pin of Christian "faith" and "belief", today.
Jenny also links the festivals of the three major Abrahamic religions and Buddhist teachings with the arrival of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, heralding the promise of light, warmth and regeneration.
Jenny's Easter address provides listeners with a clear statement of what Unitarians share with (other) Christians in the core teachings of Jesus to be found within the New Testament and how Unitarians - while "out of step" with mainstream Christianity in rejecting the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and his ascension into heaven, may still draw on the teachings of Jesus to find inspiration and guidance in how we live our lives.

Our Unitarian Ways

Jennie Dyster, our Lay Leader's address today is titled "Our Unitarian Ways". Our members were required to vote on an issue affecting our "bush-land"  - a very special and biodiverse remnant of Obliqua woodland located in the Adelaide Hills where our bush-carers give practical expression to our Seventh Principle “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”. The service also celebrated our Fifth Principle: "The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large", which guides us in resolving a potentially divisive issue - peacefully and respectfully.

Pockets

Jennie - our Lay Leader has been reflecting on clothes - their power to impress others and to oppress the people who make them. Today, Jennie focuses on pockets  - fashionable and unfashionable, deep, generous - usually male - pockets and shallow, and female pockets-less generous or missing altogether as "unfeminine and unfashionable". Jennie begins with a quote by Stephanie Dowrick: "Generosity arises out of an intention to care, way beyond the limits of one's own self  or the group to which one is immediately attached. It is expressed in a thousand ways ...Giving something up for the sake of someone else...Spreading goodwill and peace".

Jennie's central tenet is that the decisions we make about clothes can help us live out our faith and justice practices. Listen on for much more of Jennie's insightful address.

Happiness

On Sunday, 20th March, 2022, we celebrated the United Nations International Day of Happiness and Jennie Dyster, our Lay Leader chose "happiness" as her theme. Jennie commenced with a reading from the Dutch Author, Guus Kuijer's "Book of Everything". This was followed with some anecdotes that explored the nature of happiness and some of the myths. We finished with a meditation. Listen on for another of Jennie's memorable addresses.

My talk today is on the "Psychology of Denial". There's a lot of denial happening lately, especially as State and Commonwealth elections loom.
I begin by asking the question "Why do people deny the blindingly obvious? Why do we, our governments, corporations - large and small - avoid the hard decisions by resorting to denial. We all do it! I refer to Denial and the use of  conspiracy theories as lazy ways to face up to the realities of global warming, climate change and species extinction. It's easier to deny - to claim that the evidence is a lie or a conspiracy! We are counting the cost of Denial in unprecedented bushfires and flooding events and the consequential rise of zoonotic diseases as natural environmental systems break down due to human over-population and over-exploitation.
I also look to the causes of Denial by describing the phenomenon of Cognitive Dissonance. The term was first used in the classic 1957 study in Social Psychology by the American Psychologist, Leon Festinger - "When Prophecy Fails". If we're really honest with ourselves, we all have cognitive dissonance and denial. It's located somewhere near our "Achilles Heel" - wherever we are at our most vulnerable. Cognitive dissonance occurs when our beliefs and actions aren't supported by the evidence - and especially by the science.  I also despair over the loss of "One Vote - One Value" within the Commonwealth of Australia, one of the world's oldest democracies - now more accurately described as "The Corporate-wealth of Australia". Large corporations and land and property developers buy political favours with donations such as 'platinum memberships' and political donations. Governments are weakening - rather than strengthening ICAC protections against political corruption. I also refer to The Red Flag Act (1865-1896) of the Westminster Parliament to explain political procrastination and stone-walling on many urgent environmental issues where we've already reached the tipping point for species extinction. It will include Us! There is no Planet B!
If you decide not to listen to this, you may be in denial and will become part of the problem! Let's all be part of the solution!

February Dragon

Jennie's Address today is called "February Dragon" a reference to Colin Thiele's 1965 novel. Jennie reminds us that the fire season now extends from November to April. Jennie's focus today is on political inertia following the unprecedented fire storms of  2019 to 2021 and the challenges faced by fire fighters. She recalls the political responses made at the peak of these bushfires: by our Prime Minister - "I'm focused on the needs of the people in this room today"  - and by an Eastern State's Minister - that "this is not the time for a conversation by people who want to politicise climate change."
As both State and Federal elections draw nigh, Jennie asks - "When is the time?"
In Adelaide - we've enjoyed a comparatively cool and comfortable summer. A war is now raging in the Ukraine. Large areas of the eastern states are flooded, inducing a temporary amnesia, washing away memories of Thiele's February Dragon. Floods and fires are both caused by global warming and climate change. Elections are approaching and many pollies are still mute on the subject. Voters, distracted by war - are left with stone-walling, political inertia and inaction by our leaders. Isn't now the time?!

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