Post-Traumatic Unity

This past Sunday, I participated in the service of re-dedication at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN. … Continued

This past Sunday, I participated in the service of re-dedication at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN. It is eight years since I served there as minister, and one week since a man entered that sanctuary intending to be a mass murderer, intending to be a murderer of children. He killed two adults and seriously wounded 6 other adults before he was quickly subdued by members of the congregation.

That beautiful sanctuary that I helped build and bless, had, through a horrible, senseless act of violence been turned into a crime scene, a trauma center, a wake, a memorial, a weeklong media event.

That Sunday, the children and teens of both the Tennessee Valley Church and the Westside Unitarian Universalist church were presenting the play, “Annie Jr.” But, instead of seeing a play, they saw murder, instead of hearing a musical, they heard shattering shotgun blasts.

It was hard to believe it had really happened until I ran my hands over the scarred walls where pellets were embedded. It was hard to believe until I heard the accounts told in still-shaky voices, over and over. It was hard to believe until I saw signs of traumatic stress in the reddened, tired eyes of so many. It was hard to believe until the names of those killed and wounded were spoken.

The Tennessee Valley congregation was the first church I served as a UU minister. Moving from Chicago to Knoxville and learning ministry in the Bible Belt was a profound experience for me. The need for liberal ministry is clear there, where Christian fundamentalism is strong. The Tennessee Valley congregation has always stood up for equality, diversity, and religious liberty. Unitarian Universalism is a faith that values difference of opinion and belief . As a liberal religion we value people of different colors, genders and sexual orientations. We believe that all people have worth and dignity, and we try to live that belief.

Religious groups sometimes build walls, high brick walls between different faiths and denominations. Some think that those on the other side of their carefully constructed walls are to be feared or hated. Some apply labels, and teach prejudice.
In Knoxville, Unitarian Universalists were routinely labeled “Other”. Unitarian Universalists were often marginalized within the larger faith community. Our children were regularly told by other children that “they were going to go to hell” unless they believed a certain doctrine. The walls between the churches were old and sturdy; the walls were high and well-maintained.

But last week, those walls came tumbling down. Last week the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church was the recipient of wondrous love and generous compassion. Last week, the Presbyterians took in our children as they ran from the gunman. Last week the Baptists brought food everyday. Last week, the Jews lit candles for us and attended our vigil. Last week the Muslims prayed for us. Last week, the Quakers and the Catholics and the Episcopalians brought flowers and sent cards. Strings and strings of colorful paper peace doves were brought for the children.

All last week the church was open to the community, open for silent meditation in the sanctuary, open for shared meals, open for prayer, open for sharing pain and compassion, open for all who brought blessings and good wishes. The church was filled with people all day, every day.

Last week, the walls of religious separation came tumbling down. It was a kind of miracle. A miracle of grace and the human spirit. As Rev. William SinkfordUnitarian, Universalist Association President, wrote in a letter read at the service: “Your love has overpowered fear”. For one week there were no separate denominations or faith groups in the city of Knoxville. For one week, we were one grieving family, one in our sorrow, and one in our resolve to witness to peace.

As the service ended yesterday, lay and ordained ministers walked to the back of the crowded sanctuary and stood shoulder to shoulder with the Rev. Chris Buice, minister of the Tennessee Valley Church as he spoke words of re-dedication of that sacred space. We stood on the spot where the gunman had stood, near where the first victim was killed; we stood confident that love overcomes hate, that love is the spirit of our church. We stood as the congregation joined the children and teens in singing, “The sun will come out tomorrow” – the song they had not gotten to sing a week earlier. We were standing on the side of love.

Rev. Lynn Thomas Strauss is minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville, MD.

  • Arminius

    Lynn,Your words have moved this old guy to tears. America grieves with all of you, and hopes that this horror will never come to pass again.I am Episcopalian, a liberal one. I have read the Principles of your church and agree with every one.Let us hope and pray that the coming together of so many religious groups to help in this tragedy will continue.

  • Anonymous


  • Enemy Of The State

    I can’t match the eloquence the article, so I won’t even try. It was very moving.

  • Arminius


  • Jennifer

    Rev. Strauss, thank you for your courage to minister there, and for the beautiful hopeful thoughts you shared here. I wish you and TVUUC healing and hope.Jennifer O. (a UU from Community Church of NY)

  • spiderman2

    A preachers of false religion is like a person standing in the center of the plaza urging people to come with him/her to hell in the guise of sending them to heaven.It’s a pity that those people died of gunshot wounds but it’s more terrible to think that those people will go to hell because of this FALSE PREACHER.

  • spiderman2

    A preacher of false religion is like a person standing in the center of the plaza urging people to come with him/her to hell in the guise of sending them to heaven.It’s a pity that those people died of gunshot wounds but it’s more terrible to think that those people will go to hell because of this FALSE PREACHER.

  • Arminius

    Spidey,You are one sick puppy to take such obvious joy out of the slaughter of innocents. Maybe I should read that strange book, Revelation, because you certainly seem like a minion of the antichrist.Take your blasphemy elsewhere. And see a shrink.

  • Marian Parrott

    I was much moved by the Rev. Strauss’s writing on the love and unity experienced by the Knoxville church. Then I read the horrifying and revolting comments of JJ and Arminius, which tell me that there is an abundance of haters out there, many of them prepared to kill. This is truly sickening. Rev Strauss’s experience demonstrates the decency and kindness of most people. Why must we be held hostage to hate? And yes, WHY can’t the moderators clean up this garbage?? It only feeds the fires burning inside these hateful people- and that is what hell is really all about.

  • Ohio UU

    I am so very proud to be a Unitarian Universalist after reading this wonderful essay. There is so much hate and injustice in the world, I am so thankful to be a part of a denomination that stands on the side of love.

  • Arminius

    Marian Parrott:I can understand that you were offended by my post, and apologize to you for this offense. If you really want to know how I feel about this blog, please see my earlier post, the first one here.Spiderman2 has spread nothing but hatred on these blogs. Yes, I know, I should forgive him and try to reason with him. I have tried, as have others. I am Episcopal, liberal. Spidey posted some time back a post calling the Holy Eucharist ‘Holy Feces’. At that point I declared war.With respect,Arminius

  • Anonymous

    On Faith – and once again, you’re allowing offensive posts that promote racism, genderism, ad hominum attacks on gays, as well as direct attacks on individual posters – and the use of extremely foul language to go uncensored.What’s up with the monitoring system here? This is an official complaint and action is expected.

  • sr

    Robin Edgar:There are individual people in *any* religion who don’t live up to the ideals of that religion. Would you impugn *everyone* of that faith because of those individuals? Or because one of them runs for office? Do you believe everyone in America is a racist because David Duke ran for President?And yes, some UU congregations are majority white, or even mostly white. My congregation is, for instance. But I have seen those congregations welcome new people from EVERY background — different countries, races, religions, etc. — with open arms.So don’t knock it until you’ve attended a UU congregation and gotten to know the people there.

  • autonomous

    The Unitarian Church has a long and well established history in the USA. It is Universalist in it’s creed, and has been supported in our early history by many of the Founding Fathers, who were Deists – but were not trinitarians. Within a couple of generations, we have Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau also supporting the UU church – they were the authors of the Transcendentalist movement and were among direct representatives of our early American genius. Many of our early thinkers were sympathetic to the UU philosophy. The UU Church is all inclusive, where most Christian churches are exclusive – UU proclaims the right and the responsibility of each individual to find a Supreme Being or an Absolute power in their own way, and within their own personal framework. They do not promote the Jesus cult, and this is where they find their enemies. That they would be unpopular in the South is no mystery. This is the land of Protestantism and fundamentalism – this is the Bible belt. How this murdering maniac found his way to a UU church is probably no mystery. He was more than likely raised as a Baptist fundamentalist and hated the universalist message of the UU church. Yes he was a crazed individual, but he selected his ‘enemies’ based on his own religious history -and this should not be doubted – a hard but sorry truth.

  • spiderman2

    There is only one person in the history of mankind who died and after 3 days rose again. Not only that, he also foretold that event to happen by reminding the people of the story of Jonah inside the whale’s belly 3 days and 3 nights. Baptism by immersion which he and his followers practiced was an illustration of His forthcoming resurrection.What this person say will be the YARDSTICK on JUDGMENT DAY.”Iam the Way , the TRUTH and the Life; NO MAN cometh unto the Father (Heaven) BUT BY ME”.IF UUs don’t believe this, it’s because they are all LOST and on their way to HELL.Salvation by other means is a lost case. Arminius is a fine example of how people become if his salvation is based on man’s perceived “good works”. It stinks just like the person who’s running to be president of UU (Mr. Morales).

  • Arminius

    Anonymous:Thanks for trying to remove offensive posts. I know that my post to Spidey could be counted as offensive, so mea culpa. But he offends me, and he offends many others. JJ, of course, is the worst. He has spammed at least 5 blogs here in On Faith in the past day or so. He continually attacks me and others, and should be banned for life.However, I have no hope that On Faith will do anything.

  • spiderman2

    Arminius wrote “Spidey posted some time back a post calling the Holy Eucharist ‘Holy Feces’.”Nobody can make God into a biscuit. The people who are doing it are the ones who are blasphemous. If they treat it as holy (the biscuit, not the ceremony), then they should also treat their feces as holy. It’s normal for false teachers to twist facts so they wound sound “convincing” and “truthful”.

  • Athena

    Stay classy, Spidey. Keep taking advantage of people’s pain to push your own narrow view of faith. If someone had come into YOUR house of worship and started shooting people, I’d like to see you act like your namesake and protect the children, just like those UU people did. No, you’d probably cower behind a pew and let someone else tackle the crazy person. Lynn, I apologize on behalf of On Faith at Spidey and JJ’s tacky behavior. We all grieve with you and your church. As a Pagan, we know that we have no better friends than the UU community.

  • spiderman2

    The TRUTH hurts and oftentimes it will offend those who live in lies. That’s the main reason they crucified Jesus Christ.1+1=3. Somebody has to say that that is wrong. If your answer is 3 (the case of Arminius), it is just normal that he be offended. Offended or in other words, SHAMED.

  • Arminius

    Hi, Athena,Good reply to Spidey.I can see here that you are right – the UU community are friends to all. As Pagans seem to be also! And as are many Episcopal parishes, mine included.

  • spiderman2

    The TRUTH hurts and oftentimes it will offend those who live in lies. That’s the main reason they crucified Jesus Christ.1+1=3. Somebody has to say that that is wrong. If your answer is 3 (the case of Arminius), it is just normal that he be offended. Offended or in other words, exposed. Sorry for the previous choice of word (shamed).I would consider the person who would correct my math as the REAL FRIEND. More so if it’s not math but a matter of Heaven and Hell.

  • Robin Edgar

    SR I have attended a U*U “church” and gotten to know the people there all too well. . . Just Google the Unitarian Church of Montreal. I have also seen plenty of evidence for the kind of anti-religious intolerance and bigotry that I am talking about throughout the U*U World. It is not a matter of a few isolated incidents. It is quite common, and those U*Us who do not engage in it often turn a blind eye to it and condone it, if not outright endorse it. Ditto for various other U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy. I am not impugning *everyone* of any faith because of the actions of a few individuals but when most members of a faith accept certain injustices, abuses and hypocrisy without speaking out against them or taking action to deal with them it does not reflect well on whatever faith may condone such things. I obviously do not believe that *every* U*U is an anti-religious bigot just because it would appear that an anti-religious bigot may be running for President of the UUA, however it still says something about U*Us and U*Uism more generally when a candidate for President of the UUA can say what Rev. Peter Morales said in his “stump speech” with virtually no criticism from his fellow U*Us. Rev. Peter Morales is by no means the only U*U saying such things, he is not even the worst, yet he and those even more outspoken than him are given carte blanche by the UUA and U*U “churches” and many individual U*Us.

  • [email protected] Parrott

    Arminius-my apologies. I misinterpreted what you said. Spiderman-I am sorry, but you are giving Christianity a bad name ( or whatever branch you belong to, which is not clear-you appear to despise Catholics and others). It would be better for your faith,whatever it is, on the whole, if you would just be quiet. A little humility, and civility, would perhaps make you more effective-I suggest Jesus Christ as your model of these traits. I have attended a number of UU churches and all I can say is that some of you apparently view a refusal to agree with narrow and bigoted views as intolerance. In any case, to spew hatred on a grieving person or group is beneath contempt, as well as un-Christian. Read the Good Samaritan story.

  • Anonymous

    Robin Edgar is well known on UU-related internet sites. He had a negative experience with a particular UU congregation and has since spent a great deal of energy campaigning against UUism. So view what he says in that light.Rev. Strauss, thank you for the description of the ceremony. I’m impressed at the way the whole community came together in just one week to make the church a holy place again. I’m thinking of everyone there as they walk the long road of grief and recovery.

  • Arminius

    [email protected] Parrott:No problem, I’m very glad we got this straightened out. It upsets me no end when someone like yourself seems to be offended by something I said.Spidey is a case unto himself, and is apparently hopeless. I have encouraged him many times to take to heart the true teachings of Jesus, but he apparently has never even heard of our Lord. He is mired totally in Revelation and the darker parts of the OT, and is apparently a minion of Jerry Falwell’s church.

  • Robin Edgar

    Autonomous, you might want to autonomously do some research, or what U*Us might call a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, before making statements based on unfounded assumptions and personal prejudices. According to news reports the shooter Jim David Adkisson apparently hated Christianity as much as he hated liberalism. Most ironically Jim Adkisson would have found his anti-Christian intolerance and bigotry being tacitly condoned, endorsed, and even actively supported in a good many U*U “churches”. Adkisson would actually have found himself to be quite welcome amongst the intolerant fundamentalist atheist faction of “Humanist” U*Us. It would seem that Jim Adkisson selected U*Us as his enemies based on his own political convictions more than his religious convictions. Adkisson actually had a fair number of like-minded friends and fellow-travellers amongst Unitarian*Universalists when it came to his religious beliefs or perhaps I should say his anti-Christian bad attitude – a hard but sorry truth. . .

  • Robin Edgar

    Marian Parrott might want to read the New Testament thoroughly before suggesting Jesus Christ as a model of humility and civility. Anyone who knows what he is reported to have said is aware that he was ready, willing, and able to be more than a little bit rude at times. Indeed he was quite capable of being physically violent on occasion. As far as “narrow and bigoted views” go, you can hear some preached from the pulpit by U*U ministers on any given Sunday in too many U*U churches, to say nothing of being spouted by many U*Us on any other day of the week. Just because a religious group suffers some kind of tragedy does not place them beyond valid criticism. If U*Us, including U*U ministers like Rev. Lynn Thomas Strauss, try to capitalize on the Knoxville tragedy for PR purposes, to say nothing of marketing purposes, by pretending that U*Uism is so much better than other religions they can be taken to task for their hypocrisy. It’s part of a free and responsible search for the truth. . .

  • Robin Edgar

    Arminius, I regret to have to inform you that the U*U community is by no means “friends to all” as you might wish. Try being an “out” Republican in almost any U*U community and see how friendly and welcoming U*Us are. In fact, even Episcopalians are likely to be made to feel considerably less than welcome in “Humanist” dominated U*U “Welcoming Congregations”. U*Us can be, and are, far from friendly to a variety of kinds of people. Come to think of it. . . Try being poor, with nothing more than a high school education, and see just how welcome you are in any number of U*U “churches”.

  • spiderman2

    Arminius wrote “Spidey is a case unto himself, and is apparently hopeless. I have encouraged him many times to take to heart the true teachings of Jesus, but he apparently has never even heard of our Lord.”Arminius, try Parrott’s advise : “It would be better for your faith,whatever it is, on the whole, if you would just be quiet.”You’re always like an unthinking banging cymbal. And you know what? Cymbals can only communicate with another cymbal like Parrott. You guys never think. The way you use your head is like banging it. Both of you, continue with your math and the next time your teacher teaches you that 1+1=3, believe it and keep quiet. Doomsday is just around the corner. And it’s MAN-MADE. Stupidity will make it happen. Think about this. Why are animals not given the ability to speak? The answer is they would just be like banging cymbals. You two got brains. Please use them, would you?

  • Linda G


  • autonomous

    Robin Edgar – do you preach on Sundays? Sounds like you’ve been on a pulpit (or at least a soapbox) a time or two yourself. Apparently you had a bad experience with the UU church – get over it and move on over to a more mainstream church that supports your particular convictions. There are plenty of them out there to choose from. If you begin to have problems with other congregations, you might want to engage in some inner soul searching for the cause. Spiderman2 might invite you over to his Pentacostal church for some downhome testifying if you play your cards right.

  • norman ravitch

    The attack on the Unitarians was political not religious.

  • Grashnak

    Isn’t bizarre how people like Spidey can somehow simultaneously believe in a good and loving god and yet presume to act on his behalf like complete and utter jerks? What kind of god would have a cretin like that for a representative? Not one I would worship.

  • spiderman2

    Linda G. wrote “If people like you are going to Heaven, I’ll take my chances in Hell.”Now we know why the Lord speak in parables. Some people can’t stand staring at the light directly. Between eating biscuits and “hard meat” preaching, they would rather eat biscuits as their stairway to heaven.”My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. They would rather burn than carry that very light load. How stupid. Very stupid.”Iam the Way, the TRUTH and the Life; NO MAN cometh unto the Father (Heaven) BUT BY ME.”

  • Robin Edgar

    I accidentally submitted the post below before entering my personal information.

  • autonomous

    Robin Edgar – I suggest Buddhism for your next adventure in religion. A superior philosophy in every way, in my personal opinion.

  • spiderman2

    Autonomous wrote ” (Buddhism)A superior philosophy in every way, in my personal opinion. “Buddha’s flesh and bones are still in his grave. And followers of Buddhism are easily swayed to communism (China, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea).

  • autonomous

    Spidey – at least we’re quite sure the Buddha lived and died. As to the life, death, and supernatural resurrection of the ‘savior’ you allude to, much evidence is lacking that this individual ever lived, much less arose from the dead. And don’t confuse religion with politics and governments – unless of course you’re equating rightwing republicans with fundamentalist Christianity ….. then you would have a point.

  • pegleg

    Robin Edgar….I’m a working class biker. For 25 I years I have been a practicing UU in 3 different cities. I have held leadership positions in each church along side academics who easily make 3 times what I make.I am welcomed, accepted, loved and no one tries to change me. We have at least 20-30% of our members that are lower income and working class.Maybe you need to start a free-market, conservative Ayn Rand church that allows religious diversity with capitalist-conservative politics.

  • spiderman2

    Autonomous wrote “much evidence is lacking that this individual ever lived, much less arose from the dead. “I can’t blame you if that is your belief. Would you think the first men on the moon would be able to return on earth if the people responsible don’t hold some scienctific facts that are usually unknown to ordinary people? We true Christians hold some “Christian facts” ourselves that sadly can’t be shared to the “natural man” that easily. You see how hard I try doing it but many people just can’t get it.

  • Grashnak

    spiderman2 wrote:”Would you think the first men on the moon would be able to return on earth if the people responsible don’t hold some scienctific facts that are usually unknown to ordinary people? We true Christians hold some “Christian facts” ourselves that sadly can’t be shared to the “natural man” that easily. “Um, except that of course the science behind the moon landings is openly available, observable, repeatable, verifiable by experiment, and demonstrated by basic physical laws that can be explained to anyone.As compared to your secret, mystic, hateful nonsense which is none of the above.

  • pegleg

    Spiderman…I sincerely mean no offense but I am not in the least interested in “Christianity” as I have seen it practiced. I do not believe that a human sacrifice is necessary to alleviate my sin. I do not believe in the afterlife. I believe that the Bible is a wonderful book combining fable, history and philosophy. The fables (parables) are there as a teaching tool and the miraculous events are simply the attempts of simple non-scientific people to describe events that would be explanable if they occured today. And yes..I have read the Bible extensively and often dumbfound my Christian friends with my knowledge of scripture.I appreciate your efforts but I’m fine and totally happy with my religious choices. I suggest that you apply your well meaning efforts to getting the Christian house in order. If you could cast out the scoundrels in the bunch, you would have a damn fine religion.

  • spiderman2

    “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: NEITHER can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14)As I’ve said, it can’t be easily shared unlike science. The Book is full of parables and metaphors coz some people won’t be able to handle the TRUTH.

  • Paganplace

    With regards to the original column, and the neighboring churches who rose to the occasion…That’s good. In the face of such inhumanity, I’d expect no less of my fellow humans, of course. Let’s hope that this occasion at least results in a sober reconsideration of some of the rhetoric out there, even if a couple on this thread try to justify the shooter’s actions by continuing to attack the UU and those of differen forms of belief. Post-traumatic stress is serious business, something I know, well, too much, about. Particularly if rooted in a single incident, it’s very recoverable, though. And immediate care of the best human kind is one of the best things for it. The nature of it seems to be bound-up fight-flight-freeze reflexes, and the solutions aren’t so much cognitive as experiential. Felt in the body, even as the brain tries to orient to the feelings of continuing threat the body sends.In a somewhat emotionally-stilted and word-based culture, it’s important to remember to let those emotions release.

  • Anonymous

    “And followers of Buddhism are easily swayed to communism (China, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea)”Unlike those in Russia, of course. Communism has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with economic class. Spidey, you claim to be so insightful about God, but you keep showing that you have less common sense than my cat does.

  • Enemy Of The State

    I don’t know if there’s a god or not, but those individuals that stood beside the grieving parishioners and supported them with love and solidarity certainly expressed the highest good of the human heart and of their respective religions.I hope they continue to show love and tolerance long after the event and build bridges rather than erecting walls.

  • Paganplace

    It would probably be a lot easier if people would stop seeing Communism and anything that smacks of ‘socialism’ as innately evil, compared to sacred capitalism, and understand that the problem with Communism is that it’s too innately-corruptible to be practical: socialism is nice, if you never forget it needs just as much liberty and oversight as does capitalism. As capitalism goes, there’s a difference between a mom and pop hardware store and Enron, too. So it’s no flag to wave. Just a way of organizing, …or letting someone else do it for you. Nothing sacrosanct about any of them.

  • Paganplace

    And, frankly, if someone thinks Buddhists are too ‘innately prone to socialism’ …may I point out that a whole lot of Christians seem to me to be awfully-prone to thinking the ‘Invisible Hand of The Market’ is one and the same as certain other invisible hands they like to credit for… the rest of the world. But it doesn’t stop the greed and hate and strife, does it?

  • Paganplace

    Frankly, I think that if there’s one thing we can learn from recent events… in the world and in our communities, is that we *need* each other, with all our different views and perspectives. Some are terrified of and angry at this fact, but our world has gotten *too complex* to even imagine that of the competing ‘One Right Views’ have anything *like* what we need to live and prosper together. With all our differences, *because of and using to the fullest,* all of our differences. Not in spite of them, or waiting till after all differences are somehow eliminated. Our *differences* are how we’re going to get through this. Cause the contents of any one human head or any one human religion…. Are not enough.

  • spiderman2

    Pegleg wrote “I suggest that you apply your well meaning efforts to getting the Christian house in order. If you could cast out the scoundrels in the bunch, you would have a damn fine religion. “By showing what is false Christianity (Catholicism, liberal protestantism, etc.) I think Im doing just that.***Anonymous wrote “Communism has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with economic class.”There are many poor Islamic countries but none of them turned communist. Catholic countries are also easily swayed to communism because many of its priests believe in it. Religion is a big factor in communism. Many buddhists are godless people. That is part of their religion. Shifting from Buddhism to communism is not such a big deal for them. For true Christians, the shift would be unthinkable. It’s also unthinkable even in Islamic countries though it’s a false religion.

  • Paganplace

    So, Spidey, as an apocalyptic ‘true Christian,’ what’s your position on an apocalyptic ‘True Christian’ walking into the local UU and opening fire?

  • Paganplace

    Cause you, Spidey, choose to *speak* the extremism. Is how it plays out in action what you *choose,* or not?

  • Paganplace

    See, there, big guy ”spiderman,’ I think what this is about for you is not humans, nor the world, but all these things you demand about a doomed and damned world representing an *excuse* for you thinking you can *conrol* your own little world through books and extremism, and hurting others. Like if you make the outside world *so* horrible, doomed, and irredeemable, you get to feel like your idea of your book may as well be ‘in control.’ People were *shot.* Children. Human children, with minds and souls and memories, were *traumatized* cause some loser got it in his head he could give himself permission to blow away unbelievers. For *him,* it was easy. All *he* had to do was lose heart. Lose humanity. Lose any semblance of the *souls* some purport to be ‘saving.’ By speaking hate. What about you, apocalyptic little man?Is this what you want?

  • Arminius

    Hi, Paganplace,My friend, Spidey will not listen. If he replies at all, it will not be to what you have so rightly said, but to spew more of his end-of-days twisted ‘theology’.You need to understand that Spidey is not a Christian. He is the brainwashed product of some really nasty cult, perhaps bred of Falwell. A true Christian follows Jesus, and the love that He taught. Spidey has never mentioned Jesus in any post. Spidey has never used the word ‘love’ in any post. The Sermon on the Mount is not in his demented realm of belief. He despises the Last Supper, and has profaned it, even though it is a central factor in most of Christianity. He is only focused on the ‘Last Days’, and apparently is gripped by a sadistic hunger to see most of humanity tossed into the mythical ‘burning lake’. He can never be reached, except perhaps by a skilled professional who is versed in deprogramming. Most of what he spews is simply comical, but some of his posts have disgusted and outraged me, not just from a religious standpoint, but from a universal moral standpoint as well.I pity Spidey. He truly walks in darkness.

  • Enemy Of The State

    After reading Spidey’s hated-filled posts, I’m heartened to see that many in the Christian community condemn his nonsense.Though not a believer myself, I certainly applaud everyone who sees their spiritual belief as a springboard to a higher and more tolerant consciousness, rather than as a soapbox to spew hate.

  • Paganplace

    And, just because I’m heartsick about the violence, JJ. Shut up. I’m trying to help make a world safe for you to rave at. You could do us the service of paying attention once in a while.

  • Paganplace

    I will say this, though, JJ. All that blatherskite you were proclaiming. You do realize… A real dude… Took a real gun…. And killed *real people* in front of *real children.* Do you understand what these words mean, JJ?

  • Paganplace

    I have to admit, I’m a little dumbfounded at this, though: “Please, Stay out of Public Bathrooms, Especially Airports”Are you saying you go in womens’ bathrooms at airports and are afraid of me misinterpreting your toe-tapping, JJ? I’m guessing even *you* don’t have quite such a ‘wide stance.’Snap to it. Life is happening.

  • Paganplace

    And all’s I can say about JJ is, as long as he’s here spamming *us,* he’s not out there hurting anyone else. As much as some Christians love to scare him about bathrooms.

  • sanjay mittal

    America should seriously pontificate over its gun policy. Only a moron would kill for no reason at all; accessibility to guns makes the task easier for all these nut cases. And the pro gun lobby only makes it all so simple.Wonder why the church does not use Knoxville to campaign against guns?

  • Judy Wright

    As a UU — and an escapee of a childhood in ultra-fundamentalism in Tennessee — I give thanks for the outpouring of love the Knoxville congregation experienced following the recent, senseless attack. While the cost of the outreach by the faith community was high, and should have never had to be extracted, the acts of love are encouraging and inspiring. May this be the beginning of unity among people regardless of the various religious banners under which they worship and serve.

  • Pamela Tiger

    you go, Taryn’s mom! we are proud to have her as our RE director, and now we know where she got her strength and resolve. i’m sure she’s proud to have you for a mama :)great article. i’m so sorry about this tragedy. there are no words, really. but i just wanted to show support, and say i’m proud to be a Unitarian Universalist, especially in this moment.

  • Sybil H. Argintar

    As the Director of Religous Education at our small, yet growing Unitarian Universalist congregation in the beautiful Swannanoa Valley of Black Mountain, North Carolina, I too have been deeply moved by the outpouring of strength, love, and support to not only those in deepest need in Knoxville, but from within our own church community as well. We stand strong, proud, and ready to move forward as a congregation. We will continue to teach our children the value of love as the doctrine of our church and service as its prayer. They have much to be proud of. No one will ever make sense of the violence that took place in Knoxville. But love, strength, and steadfast community will overcome fear, hatred, and uncertainty.

  • Gordon Bernstein

    I still remember your advice given at the Rededication Rev. Stauss. Breath in, hold for a moment and breath out, repeat. Solid advice.

  • Jackie Simms

    Beautiful article. Thank you!

  • Barbara Rose

    Thank you Lynn!I also attended the heartfelt service to re-dedication and re-consecrate our sanctuary and agree with Rev.Lynn.I was pleased the service was not a rehashing of the event. It was a celebration, a healing event, and an acknowedgment of the heroism & community within & around us. Peace cranes given as a Badge of Courage, words and songs to empower…. Singing “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” brought tears to my eyes. Even though I was not present that day, I have sat with and heard the stories of those present. I too am moving through the stages of grief.I have been a friend of TVUUC since moving to the area 11 years ago and my fondness continues. The closing words Reverend Mitra spoke at the Monday eve candlelight service, the following day, continues to speak to me:“Go forth into life – be daring and audacious enough to have hope. Live in a way that makes love known and real. Stand on the side of love.CELEBRATE. Celebrate. Celebrate! Let your radiant heart song encircle the planet with life, love and peace! We are one!!!

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