Saturday, October 29, 2005

New Links

Check out the new links sidebar, "UU Congregations with Military Members." Want to see your congregation listed? Just e-mail me.

Big thanks to our newest blogger, David Pyle, for this excellent suggestion.

Being a Liberal Patriot

When did it happen that Liberals in this nation were no longer Patriots?

I was speaking with a person about defeating a constitutional amendment here in Texas that would ban gay and common law marriage, when a person listening in accused me of hating America. When I looked at the person in shock, he said that the family was what made America great, and that Gay marriage would destroy America.

I was shocked. Before I could respond, the individual stormed off. I have never, in my life, had someone question my Patriotism. Never.

I am an Eagle Scout, the son of a Soldier, and spent 8 years in the Army myself. I have worked for the American Red Cross, received awards from the American Legion, and am an avid student of American history. When I was in Bosnia, I was proud every day to put on my uniform with the American flag sown on the shoulder.

And yet, because I am a religious and political liberal, it is just assumed that I hate this country. I would be willing to die for this country, and as a soldier I knew I might have been called to take life in defense of it.

This nation was founded as a Liberal Nation. Think back to the radically liberal ideas of the founding fathers. Many of them we have yet to live up to.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

The Declaration of Independence is a document to stir the soul of any progressive or liberal. It is the grand vision… something the progressive movements of today are severely lacking. The constitution was an experiment in liberal good government that is undeniable. People often forget, the “conservatives” of 1776 supported the British…

I love and believe in America. Though she is not perfect, I think she has done more good than harm in this world, and that is not a thing you can say about many nations throughout history. America is in the position to do even more good within our world in the future, with progressive leadership.

So, why does that gentleman who questioned my patriotism feel that way? Who’s fault is it that the conservatives have wrapped themselves in the American Flag, and left the liberals and progressives out in the cold?

It is our fault. It is the fault of the Liberals in this country. Once again, we have allowed others to define us… and we suffer from the results of having done so. Far from being secondary to our mission in making a better world for our children and grandchildren, I think taking back our identity of being Liberal Patriots of a Liberal Nation is essential to achieving those goals.

Think back to those words from the Declaration of Independence…. That all people are equal, and should be treated as such before the law. That all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That Government exists to secure these rights, and that the people should control the government, and even get rid of it if necessary.

A Liberal vision indeed. In the time of a King, saying that governments were formed by the people was radical… Leftist…. Liberal. In a time of aristocracy and slavery, saying that all men are created equal was beyond radical… it was visionary. In a time of privilege for a few, treating everyone equally before the law was unheard of. Telling people they had the rights of their own life, their freedom, and the chance to be happy was promising more than anyone had ever promised a people before.

Now, think on the goals of modern Liberals. We have helped to secure the right to vote for women and non-whites in this country, now we are working to make sure their political voices are heard. We are working to insure that we protect the equality of minorities, and are still fighting for the equality of Gays and lesbians, as well as the handicapped. We defend those who are most often treated unequally before the law. We work to end the death penalty, end unjust mandatory criminal sentences, and live up to the promise that people can have a secure enough standard of living to be able to pursue happiness. Who is securing the environment for future generations to live in happily?

Who indeed are the true inheritors of the Liberal Vision that founded this great nation? Who indeed are the successors to Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and ole Tom Paine? Who’s blood is it that should be most stirred… who’s soul is it that should be most called to action by the sight of stars and stripes fluttering in the breeze?

Who is more the American Patriot? Those dedicated to the Liberal vision announced to the world in the Declaration of Independence, or those who defend the rights of the wealthy, powerful, and privileged? Those who seek to expand the rights of all Americans (and even all peoples) or those who seek to restrict them? Would the modern conservatives have identified more with the rebelling colonials, or with the British King?

Those who protect and advance the cause of Liberalism in this nation are the true defenders of what it means to be an American. We have allowed those on the other side of the aisle to claim the title of “Patriot” while spurning the liberal vision that being an American Patriot should require.

We Liberals need to reclaim the flag… Reclaim the pledge…. Reclaim the Declaration of Independence…. and Reclaim our Nation. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

(Former) Sergeant Pyle reporting as ordered!

Yes, I know, Sergeant Pyle. Very funny. What is worse, my middle initial is G. It was much worse when I was Private Pyle, David G.

For those of you who dont get why this is funny, Bless your young souls!

Thank you very much, Greg, for your welcome! Finally, we have worked out the technical difficulties!

Well, let us see... I am a U.S. Army Veteran, a former Paratrooper, who spent time in Latin America with the 7th Special Forces Group, and time in Bosnia with the U.S. National Intelligence Cell. In fact, it was my time in Bosnia that started me on the path to becoming a Unitarian Universalist.

Having seen the results of Religious Warfare, I determined to find an religion dedicated to ending religious hatred. That was how I became a UU, but my beliefs have grown so much since then.

After the Army, I completed a Bachelor's degree in History and Political Science, and worked for several years in the Special Events industry. Over time, I became deeply involved in the UU Fellowship of Galveston County (

Eventually, a friend asked me if I was considering Seminary sometime... and things clicked. I had realized that I was so deeply involved, because I was feeling a call to ministry. But what kind of minister? I could be a parish minister, but that didnt seem quite right. Maybe a religious educator...Then, that same friend asked me where I might best serve, and once again it clicked.

Not many who are called to UU ministry have my military background, love of soldiers, and deep belief in liberal religious theology. It is my goal to become a UU Military Chaplain in the U.S. Army.

Now, I am many years away (being a first year student at Meadville Lombard Theological School) and there are many obstacles in my path. I will become a minister in our faith whether that call takes me to the military or not. But such is my goal, and it is something I think this former Sergeant could make his life's work.

So, I hope to contribute here, for now, as a former Sergeant who is learning how to be a Chaplain. I also hope that I will be able to bring more UU's to understand the value of the military as a force for peace, and to help alleviate some of the prejudice that UU military members often feel in their chosen religious faith.

Yours in Faith,
David Pyle
Galveston Island, Texas

"I am a militant pacifist... I will fight for peace!" -- Albert Einstein

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Welcome to new Blogger

Welcome to our newest blogger, David Pyle. Hopefully David will post soon and tell us a bit about himself.