Monday, July 12, 2010

A Unique Passing

I was sorry to hear about the passing of the Reverend Paul Sawyer, a UU Minister who believed fully in the advocacy of social justice, at great personal sacrifice. He was a critic of the consolidation of media, an opposer of the death penalty, and outspoken against the war in Afghanistan; an in-depth article is here at the Pasadena Weekly. I worked with him on a Committee for a year or so at Throop Church in Pasadena. It was a memorable experience. Never one to follow the conventional pathway, he took to the fullest extent the Unitarian Universalist tenet for the ministry, "deeds not creeds" and the principle that a minister challenges congregational complacency as abdicating the real "work" that a congregation has to do in growing together religiously.

This philosophical approach is very much akin to the Zen Buddhist framework, and is outlined in books such as "Our Chosen Faith" by John A. Buehrens and F. Forrester Church, as well as " A New Machiavellian View of the Ministry" by Rev. Brandy Lovely.

Paul was one of those very authentic individuals who did not run with the herd, sometimes to the detriment of his ministry. It led to some turbulence, but also framed the issues of seeking the important ethical values and the inclusion of people from all walks of life. He lived his ministry about as close to its passionate truth as any minister I've encountered. His progressive approach incorporated the Transcendentalist vein of UU theology promoted by Theodore Parker, and was that of religious individualism, and the spoken word. As well as a deep appreciation for Jazz music!

He'll be missed.