Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda
news of our historic UU church in Ruthven (Kingsville), Ontario

March 2021 Newsletter

February 26th, 2021 . by William Baylis

Click here and enjoy!

Speaking in Tongues

February 21st, 2021 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn – Circle of Song
~)-| Words & Music: Tony Turner

Posted on Report from Parliament Hill – With Andrew Hall (9 July, 2015)

Reading – The Book of Love by The Magnetic Fields

Video animation by Kayla W (5 August, 2010)

Sermon – Speaking in Tongues – Rev. Rod


Read: [Print-ready PDF document available for download]

There’s a song by the band The Magnetic Fields, called The Book of Love, which talks about how “the book of love is long and boring”, going on to say that no one can lift the thing, as it’s “full of charts, and facts, and figures… and instructions for dancing”, as well as full of music – some of which can be transcendental, while some it… less so.  According to the song, the “book of love” is full of gifts, but the singers are more partial to the act of gifting itself – at least at first glance.

And putting aside the metaphorical immenseness of this book, the singers affirm that they like to express their care by reading to each other, singing to each other, or giving each other gifts… the singers even express a specific desire for wedding rings as the gift of choice.

The song has a neat mix of cynicism and idealism in it, commenting on the complex and over-calculated advice on how to find and maintain love, while also proposing that a variety of simple expressions of love may do the job just fine.  [a link to the song in the description and the online version of this service]

I’ll say that, when the song comments on the sheer magnitude of “the book of love” making it impossible to lift, I believe it.

For six years, I sold books at a large book retailer, and there was a lot written about love.  That store, of course, only held a fraction of all that has been written about it, but I’m sure that no one person could lift even a portion of the “books of love” that I sold.

The actual section labeled as “love” was relatively small – at least compared to other sections, such as history, or programming languages, or fiction.  In fact, the section for “love” wasn’t actually labelled “love”, but there were rather subsections, usually under Self-help, for relationships, dating, sex, and things we’re supposedly too young to know.  Many of these books are full of charts, facts, and figures… and instructions for dancing – we had those too.  In a secluded corner of the fiction section, there was also a modest erotica shelf.

Erotica, of course, coming from eros – one of the Greek words for understanding one way of expressing love, along with words like agape, storge, and philia.  All translatable to “love” in English, but referring to its different dimensions, like the familial love of a parent to a child, or siblings’ fondness for each other, or friends caring for each other, or physical ways of expressing close intimacy.  These exist in the English-speaking world as well… but Greek can sometimes be more precise about these things.

But the fact is, the bulk of the books in the store were, more often than not, somehow related to love, writ large.  Most fiction books had at least some romantic subplot, or an epic journey by protagonists doing grand things for the sake of the people who mattered most to them.

I came across the Sufi poet Rumi’s poetry on love in the religion section.  And a lot of that section was about love, writ large, including promises of boundless, universal love, grace and forgiveness, and unconditional caring.  The Bible alone has a whole array of the dimensions of love, including all the Greek categories of agape, storge, and philia… and even erotica – if you know where to look (hint: it’s the Song of Solomon).

Interestingly, many of the folks who came to the store were often looking, not specifically for books about love, but books to express their love – gifts for someone who they care for.  One of the easiest parts of my job was finding the shelf where a specific book was, while one of the hardest parts was finding the book that someone was looking for… when it was a book for someone else.  It required quite a bit of listening, and some strategic questions, and it also gave me insight about the extent to which the customer had been listening to the special people in their lives.

One of the “books of love” that I ran into, and which was very popular while I was employed at the bookstore, was The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman.  Chapman is a Baptist pastor, and also holds a degree in anthropology.  He developed a working theory that people tend to express their caring in five main ways.  Quickly, I’ll say that he lists these five different ways as: 1) words of affirmation, 2) quality time, 3) receiving gifts, 4) acts of service, and 5) physical touch.

Now, I’m not going spend a lot of time laying out Gary Chapman’s thesis, or promoting it.  If you’re curious, there’re plenty of resources online for that – along with the books.  And while the scholarship on it is sparse, these love languages, as described by Chapman, are recognizable expressions of caring that we may be familiar with, and we may already intuitively have a preference for one or two of these.

Now I’m wary of subscribing to the orthodoxy of numbered lists.  I can’t say with certainty if, in reality, people have five love languages, or three, or fifteen.  Or if the five can have subcategories, or be amalgamated.  But in essence, I can appreciate Chapman’s thesis as a worldview that can help make sense of some of the ways that people express themselves to each other, as well as the discrepancies between people, when they seek to relate with one another.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect from this outlook, in my opinion, is the enhanced awareness that it can bring for recognizing that: yes – people express themselves differently, and that taking some care to appreciate how others express their care might help us deepen our connections with others, as well as help us understand when there are disconnects… such as when our expressions of affection don’t land well with others, or when we’re confused by the way that others might be trying to connect with us.

It looks like the musical group The Magnetic Fields were on to something when they wrote and sang The Book of Love.  They talk about different expressions of love – love languages, if you will – spending quality time reading to each other, singing to each other, or giving gifts to each other… in their case, the song specifies wedding rings.

We know that having wedding rings isn’t a reality for everyone.  Many of you have them, and many of you don’t.  Some of you used to have wedding rings, but don’t anymore, for a whole variety of reasons… some of these may be tragic reasons, and some of these reasons might have come from an awareness that you were better off without those rings.  Some of you don’t have rings… yet, and some of you have fought for your right to wear them proudly.  Some of you will never, or don’t ever want to, have them.  Different languages speak different to your selves.  And in this church, all are welcome.

My friends, today is Language Movement Day in Bangladesh, and from this, UNESCO derived World Mother Tongue Day, as a way to recognize that the languages that we come from, and that we hold dear to our heart, are an integral part of us.  Sometimes, a mother tongue may be a different language than what is spoken where you now live – I have some experience with that.

Languages come in many flavours – with their own sounds and shapes.  Sign languages, and reading lips, are part of how some members of our community understand others… sometimes from birth, and other times, as we get older.  However it is that we need to express ourselves, or understand others’ expressions, our spiritual imperative is to seek out our companions’ language of their soul, as we look to close the gap in our connections.

My friends, almost every Sunday, I invite folks to stay for Coffee & Conversation after the service, be it at the dining room in our building, when we’ve met in-person, or on our breakout groups when we meet online.  And even though you don’t need my permission, I also make it clear that it’s OK to “tiptoe” out toward the proverbial door at that time.  Because I know that informal coffee and conversation is not always the way that everyone feels most connected in our church – it may not be your “love language”.  For some folks it’s the opposite: church hasn’t happened until a good informal conversation has been had.

However it is that you express your loving and your caring, in our church we seek to affirm that love… without exceptions.

So may it be,
In Solidarity and Love,

Copyright © 2021 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

#131 Love Will Guide Us

Words: Sally Rogers, © 1985 Sally Rogers, used by perm. of Thrushwood Press
~)-| Music: Traditional, arr. by Betty A Wylder, 1923-1994
© 1992 UUA

UUAA Music by Sally Rogers Arranged by DeReau K. Farrar Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout, Director of Worship & Music Allison Halerz, Pianist-in-Residence Audio mix & video editing: Mike Halerz (3 May, 2020)

Love It or Leave It

February 14th, 2021 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Time for All Ages – The Book of Faith – CommUUnion Gathering 2015

At a Young Adults gathering in Kingston ON in 2015, several voices joined in a reinterpretation of the song The Book of Love by The Magnetic Fields.

Video Reading – Homemade bagels | boiled New York / Montreal style hybrid – Adam Ragusea

Sermon – Love it or Leave it – Rev. Rod


Read: [Print-ready PDF available for download]

When I moved for seminary studies to one of the bagel capitals of North America – Montreal – I hadn’t really appreciated the significance of people’s devotion to their preferred “sect” of bagel.

I would soon learn that these can mean much to some folks.

As my new room-mate and her dad helped with the move, I quickly staked out my new neighbourhood, making notes of its amenities and its local flavour.  It was a blue-collar Anglophone neighbourhood along one of the city’s main streets.  I was glad to see that there were two grocery stores within a block, as well as a depanneur convenience store.  My main bank was a short walk away, right next to a post office.  I also liked that there was a public park right across the street, and even a small pub.  There was also an independent local coffee shop that hosted open mics, as well as a greasy-spoon diner that offered student specials for breakfast.  Taking all this in, I thought I’d fit right in.

As I was bringing in some boxes, my room-mate walked in enthusiastically – “Hey, Rod, did you look around the neighbourhood?  What do you think?”

“Looks great!” I replied, “there’s lots of good stuff around here!”

“I know!” she exclaimed, “Did you see the bagel shop at the corner?”

I admit I was rather taken aback by this… out of all the things I noticed during my reconnaissance mission around my new neighbourhood, the bagel shop at a nearby corner hadn’t even entered my radar, and I was perplexed as to why this was the one thing she would care to mention.

A few minutes later, my room-mate’s dad walked in with a batch of things.  The first thing I remember him saying was, “Hey, Rod – did you see the bagel shop at the corner?”

I was dumbfounded, and admitted that I had not seen it… but had already been made aware of it.

It simply did not compute to me that a nearby bagel shop would be noteworthy amid the many other things our neighbourhood had to offer.

In truth, I have always been puzzled when people waxed poetic about that special spot in town that had the perfect bagel, that you just couldn’t possibly miss out on.

I’ve never felt like I’ve missed out by being unaware of the bagel geography of the places where I lived.  And the fact that some people would have deep discussions, and sometimes lively disagreements, about this subject always presented me with an unsolved mystery.  I simply didn’t get the passion behind it.

Same goes for the competing fandoms behind the schisms between the New York versus Montreal factions, each one evangelizing to me the nuances that distinguished one from the other.  And even though I have heard detailed exegesis parsing out these differences, I simply don’t have enough interest on the subject to retain the details as to why different kinds of bagel are the way they are, nor why it’s supposed to matter.

The folks that are into bagels – many of you may be among them – are often equally puzzled by my indifference… which they have sometimes interpreted as active hostility.

The fact is, I don’t hate bagels.  If someone offers one to me, I’ll eat it without argument… I’ll even enjoy it.  But to me it’s simply an adequate, edible snack.  I also appreciate that, when used as sandwich bread, they’re a highly effective protein-delivery mechanism.  I simply will never understand the fervent following that other people have for them.  I’ll just as easily have a mildly greater enthusiasm for other ring-shaped breads, such as donuts.  I’m simply not always into the same things that others are into.

And that’s OK.  The truth is that other people’s passion for bagels doesn’t really affect me.  And they don’t need my permission to enjoy what they enjoy.  I can love it… or leave it alone.  You don’t need my permission to follow your passion.  As long as no one gets hurt, you don’t need anyone’s permission to love what you love.  You can be into things that other people aren’t into, and other people can be into things that you are not into.  You can love it… or leave it alone.  That’s the value of a community that has mutual respect for each other’s dignity and which celebrates the diversity that comes with sharing our lives with others.

Some folks are into poppy seeds, some like sesame seeds of different colours.  Some prefer onion and others garlic… others are even into burnt cheese.  And some people are into “everything”.

My friends, on a day when we celebrate love, we also open ourselves to recognizing how love comes in many forms.  In our Unitarian Universalist tradition, this is not an entirely new conversation.  We know that some people express their love in different ways than some of us might.  Some people are into something that we might not be into.  As long as no one gets hurt, that’s perfectly fine – in fact it’s worth celebrating… even if we don’t understand why some folks are so passionate about something that might not speak to us.  We can love it… or leave it.

Part of this ongoing conversation has included our affirmation of LGBTQ+ communities and individuals.  We affirm and celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer… plus, communities and individuals.  Sometimes, it takes a bit of work to explore the fuller spectrum of the LGBTQ+ circle.  Lately in the past few years, we’ve paid closer attention to what it means to better appreciate and recognize the trans experience.  There are also parts of that “plus” that we still don’t talk about often: such as the identities of two-spirit, polyamorous, pansexual, and asexual folks, as well as other sexual and gender identities that make part of our congregations and our wider communities.  This past year, for instance, the Canadian Unitarian Council has been paying closer attention to the polyamorous identities of folks in our national denomination, and that might be a deeper conversation for us some other time.

My friends, how people identify, how they express their love, and how they develop relationships is also part of who their family is.  We know that in our church’s community, and in our larger community, the definition of family goes beyond what was traditionally called the nuclear family – a straight married couple, with children.  Some of you have that kind of family, and that is perfectly fine.  Many of you don’t – either you don’t want it that way, don’t need it that way, or you don’t any more, or you don’t yet… there are single parents, couples without children, single folks, intentional communities of companions and friends – and whatever that family is, it is also worthy of recognition and celebration.  Not everyone’s family is like yours.  It might be hard for us to understand, why some folks’ families are they way they are, or why they might want them that way, but that’s beside the point.  Your families of origin, and your families of choice, are the people who you love and who love you, who hold you and support you.  And that is worth celebrating.  That is worth at least a holiday, or two.

My friends, in this Valentine’s Day and this coming Family Day, may all who you love, all whom you hold dear, and who hold you dearly, be a cause for celebration.

So may it be,
In Solidarity and Love,

Copyright © 2021 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Hymn #299 Make Channels for the Streams of Love
Words: From Richard Chenevix Trench, 1807-1886
Music: American folk melody, arr. by Annabel Morris Buchanan, 1889-1983, © 1938, renewed 1966 J. Fischer & Bros. Co., harmony by Charles H. Webb, 1933- , © 1989 J. Fischer & Bros. Co.

Offered by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Anne Arbor
performed by Allison Halerz (9 August, 2020)

A Faith Worth Failing For

February 12th, 2021 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

National Service – Hosted by the Canadian Unitarian Council – Led by the Revs. Shana Lynngood and Samaya Oakley – 7 February, 2021