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Services are 10:30 a.m. at 50 School Street
Informal summer services start on June 26
Summer services begin at 9:30 a.m.
First Parish is a Welcoming Congregation and is Fully Accessible

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nicaragua discussion

Following the fall of the Samoza dictatorship, many U.S. volunteers went to Nicaragua to work alongside the people of that country. Sally Lockwood -- now a librarian at Cornell -- was one of those volunteers. On Thursday, September 23, she will be speaking about her experiences and about her brief acquaintance with fellow volunteer Ben Linder,  who was working on a small hydroelectric plant in the North when he was killed by U.S.-backed contras.

Sally will be a guest speaker in my Geography of Latin America class at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The class meets in room 332 of the Science Building at Bridgewater State University. Please let me (James Hayes-Bohanan) know if you have any questions about this event.

World Peace Prayer Society

First Parish has hosted its sixth annual Celebration of Peace with a 24-hour observation on the weekend closest to the International Day of Peace. The event has brought together many members of the church and the wider community, including students, faculty, and staff of Bridgewater State University.

The conclusion of the 24-hour event is the sharing of a simple prayer for peace around the peace pole which we have erected on the School Street side of the church property. That pole, bearing the message "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in more than a dozen languages, is one of many thousands of its kind that have been erected throughout the world.

According to the World Peace Prayer Society, the poles:

Symbolize the oneness of humanity and our common wish for a world at peace

Remind us to think, speak and act in the spirit of peace and harmony

Stand as a silent visual for peace to prevail on earth

The Peace Pole at First Parish is one of more than 200,000 found throughout the world.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Atacama and the camanchaca

First Parish began its church year with the traditional Water Communion, in which members and friends pour water representing summer travels into a common vessel. The collected water is used in rituals throughout the coming year. Nothing is universal to all UU congregations, but the Water Communion comes close; it is anticipated throughout the summer by UUs of all ages.
In keeping with the water theme, Rev. Ed Hardy delivered a sermon about the preciousness of water, and began with a geographic explanation of how something so essential could be both abundant and scarce at the same time. Though 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered with water, most of it is not available for direct human use. As Rev. Ed noted, 97 percent of the planet's water is salty (as the oceans gradually accumulate salt from the continents, and never give any back) and a further 2 percent is in the form of ice.

This is not to say that the water in oceans and ice caps is not useful; in both forms, water helps to regulate the climate through a complex set of processes of energy and material circulation. Climate change and the melting of ice will not help with the supply of fresh water, by the way, as melting glaciers and ice sheets become ocean water.

Rev. Ed also correctly pointed out that the 1 percent of the Earth's water that is both fresh and liquid is poorly distributed with respect to human needs. As an example, he mentioned the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, the driest place on Earth. The average rainfall is just a millimeter per year (we get 1200 times more rain on average), and in some parts rainfall is measured in years between events, rather than annual totals. In some places, rain has never been recorded by humans.

The Atacama serves as a reminder of the importance of geography and of the extreme variability of conditions on the planet. It also provides a number of intriguing examples of how things are not always as we would expect them to be. In the case of the Atacama, what is most fascinating is the adaptability of both humans -- one million of whom live there -- and its plants and animals. In the Atacama, the best examples of human ingenuity are really just humans having the wisdom to mimic natural adaptations. National Geographic's  The Driest Place on Earth describes how both humans and plants capture the moisture of the region's abundant fog, known as the camanchaca. After all, this place may be the driest on the planet, but it is adjacent to the largest ocean!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dead Man Walking Author to Speak in Duxbury

Sister Helen Prejean, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Dead Man Walking will speak at First Parish Church Unitarian Universalist Duxbury on Saturday September 18.  Sr. Helen’s talk is free and open to the public.

Sr. Helen’s talk will begin at 4:00.  The church is located at 842 Tremont St. (Route 3A) Duxbury (781-934-6532). Copies of Sr. Helens’ books will be available for purchase at a reception following her talk and Sr. Helen will be available to autograph copies for those who are interested. 
Having dedicated her life to the poor of New Orleans, Sister Helen began her prison ministry in 1981 when she became pen pals with Patrick Sonnier, the convicted killer of two teenagers, sentenced to die in the electric chair of Louisiana's Angola State Prison. At Sonnier’s invitation, she visited him as his spiritual advisor. 
Sr. Helen achieved national prominence with the 1993 publication of Dead Man 
Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. The 
book was number one on the New York Times Best Seller List for 31 weeks. It also 
was an international best seller and has been translated into ten different 
languages.  In 1996, the book was developed into a motion picture starring Susan 
Sarandon as Sister Helen and Sean Penn as a death row inmate.

First Parish Church Duxbury is planning other events focused on raising public 
awareness of the death penalty.  On Friday, September 10, the movie Dead Man 
Walking will be shown in the Church’s Harvey Assembly Hall and on Friday and in 
October there will be a potluck supper followed by a discussion of the movie, 
Sr. Helen’s talk and the death penalty.  Both are open to the public.