Theme Speaker Report

By Carrie Buchanan

Changes in American attitudes toward homosexuality are a model of how change can not only sweep through our society, but also do so with acceptance and love from a majority of people.

If only we could figure out how to apply this model to the many other changes happening today, we might overcome the tendency to engage in polarizing arguments and instead encourage community and shared values.

These were the topics Rev. Joan Van Becelaere explored in the Talk Back Monday afternoon and Theme Speaker’s talk Tuesday morning, which continued the overarching theme of “Faith, Evolving: How American Religion is Changing and What That Means for Unitarian Universalism.”

Monday’s Talk Back made extensive use of the graph illustrated on this page, which Van Becelaere calls the “Roller Coaster of Change.” She used video clips from Fox News broadcaster Bill O’Reilly and guest Charles Krauthammer to illustrate the emotions expressed by people on the downward slope, such as fear, anger and blame.

“There is no question the country is changing for the worse,” says O’Reilly, who blames left-wing media, including news media, Hollywood movies and other elements of culture, for much of the decline. Krauthammer blames the rise of science, increasing secularization and poor parenting, as well as ownership of cultural media by “the Left.”

About 30 people who gathered for the Talk Back contributed many insights, including the idea that Fox News and its pundits are actually managing to reap huge profits from the situation.

However, the Talk Back discussion moved forward into optimism after Van Becelaere presented a CBS documentary aired in late 2012 or early 2013, showing how two religious groups in particular are also benefiting from changing religious values: Unitarian Universalists and the Amish. The former appeals to those who embrace the changes and wish to move onto the final slope of the Roller Coaster of Change. The latter appeals to those uncomfortable with modern society and seeking answers in a simpler life.

On Tuesday morning, Van Becelaere took the optimistic approach a step further by examining the growing group of Americans who are not affiliated with any religious institution – now numbering nearly one quarter of the 70 percent of Americans who define themselves as Christian, according to a study released in May by the Pew Research Center.

This group, known as the “Nones” because they have no religious home, often describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” Which begs the question: what is the difference. Van Becelaere focused on that question this morning.

Many see organized religion in negative terms, studies quoted by Van Becelaere have found, saying churches and other religious groups have too many rules, and are too concerned with money, politics and power.

Spirituality, on the other hand, is seen by many as an individual, experiential thing: a connection to the divine without the need for rules, politics, money or power.

The afternoon Talk Back sessions, where attendees can discuss the day’s topic and learn more, according to their interests, from the theme speaker, take place at 3:15 p.m. in the Science Building’s Craig Auditorium, upstairs from the lobby where registration took place on Sunday.

And now, by popular lack of demand, we proudly re-present that local Jedi Knight and part-time aluminum-siding salesman, Oberlin Kenobi, with his words of wisdom, his answers to all problems, and his column which we like to call –


Help Us, Oberlin Kenobi, You’re Our Only Hope

Good evening, Padawans and Padatwos.  For this year’s columns, I, in my Force-guided acumen, have decided to concern myself not with the physical college, but only with Summer Institute and its workings.  There’s less chance of my messing things up that way.  Also, Oberlin Kenobi needs no questions.  Using my Jedi mind tricks, I can walk among you and gather your questions, and then make you forget I was even there.  This first question I have stolen from the mind of a certain feline person from the RE program.

Q:  What is the deadline for the OSIRIS?

A:  Why do you need to know?  After all, you are all Unitarian Universalists, and a UU has never met a deadline s/he couldn’t ignore.  Of course, the PBEs (Poor Beleaguered Editors) are also UUs, and therefore have somewhat liberal interpretations of deadlines.

Let’s look at the big picture.  The PBEs like to finish up around 11:30, as the BBE (Big, Bald Editor) can get the issue to the printer and go eat lunch, which, god forbid, he should miss. Therefore, the production of OSIRIS should go into its final stages by 11am.  It never does, but that’s totally beside the point.  Therefore again, if you are emailing the article, if you get it to the PBEs by 10am, you are guaranteed a berth in the paper.  Usually, if you get it to them by 11am, they can find some small corner to stick it in.  Any time after that is chancy, and not recommended.

If you are dropping the article in the box in Stevenson, get it in before breakfast.  The PBEs must then remember to look for it, which is not always guaranteed.  They will never look after the dining hall closes, because that is the time that they are surfing the internet working.

When all else fails, come visit them in their office in room K100 of the Science Center.  There you can embarrass them into printing the article at almost any time.  The major exception is if you haven’t written your article yet.  Then the editors get loud and surly.



You may be noticing that there are adults around campus sporting colorful rainbow-colored scarves! This is an indication that these people have been background checked and are approved to work with children. That means that you (if you are a child) (or even if you are not!) can trust them! So if you need help, or just someone to talk to, feel free to ask any of these brightly colored people!

Thanks! Have a great SI!
The Religious Exploration Team



All ages invited to enjoy creating with Legos, 1:30-3:00 EVERY day in Wilder 115.   A/C space, Lots of LEGOs and big fun!.

Tuesday challenge— Can you make a musical instrument out of Legos?

Wednesday challenge – Things that move!

Thursday – Super Heros

Friday – TBA


Free play with Legos happens everyday!   Build individually or collaboratively.

See you at 1:30 in Wilder 115

Diana Van Winkle


PS  Do you know how tall you are in Legos?


Leading Religious Education Lunch

Do you enjoy teaching in Religious Education?

Are you passionate about Unitarian Universalism?

Do you enjoy being around kids?

Does the future of Unitarian Universalism and the next generation matter to you?

Have you ever considered getting paid for teaching in RE?

We’d like to talk with you about opportunities to become a Director of Religious Education.

Come to our table at lunch on Wednesday for conversation.

Rev. Joe, Rev. Kristen, Rev. Mary and Rev. Renee


A Seminary for Lay Leaders!

Are you interested in seeking out deeper programming for your own personal and spiritual development?  You might want to consider the UU Leadership Institute!

Dean Rev. Renee Ruchotzke will be in the lobby at First Church on Wednesday, July 15 from 1:30 to 3:15pm to answer any questions.



A stream-of-consciousness report about breakfast this morning by Kathy Hoel
On Tuesday, Molly Hirtle came over to our table and sat down. She said, “Whew, I JUST got the last pancakes. Right after a girl came up and asked “are there any more pancakes?” The food service workers said someone took the last pancake and pointedly looked at me.” We told her she was safe now because she exited the situation quickly. Then John Grinstead returned to our table and said, “I found my family. They couldn’t text back because they are getting food – and my daughter didn’t get pancakes ‘cause someone else got the last one.” Molly’s eyes popped. We said, “Is that same girl coming to sit at our table, right beside Molly?” And then Danny Galpern and Kathy Hoel realized the gold mine they were about to witness.


Keep those photos of this spectacular    SI coming in!  I’ve received pics from

Michelle, Carol, Steve, and Ansel Adams

so far. But I know there are more.

Get ’em to me at

Don’t delay. Do it today!


Brad Bolton





If you want to learn about specific ways to help protect our planet — our “beautiful blue boat home” — from the threat of climate change, please come to the Science Lobby (where we registered) any time between 3 and 5 on Wednesday. Bob Mitchell will share his experiences lobbying Congress last month with 900 other volunteers. It’s easier than you think!


General Assembly will be coming to Columbus Ohio in June 2016 with the theme of Heartland and Interfaith.

General Assembly is the annual meeting of the Unitarian Univeralist Association of Congregations (UUA).  It starts on Wednesday June 22 with Opening Celebration. Imagine a banner parade with almost 400 congregational banners!  Business Sessions and workshops start on Thursday.  Each day starts with worship and music.  Sunday morning starts with a public worship where all are invited to attend.  The sound of UU hymns sung by 5,000 is very moving.

One of the highlights is the Ware Lecture which features speakers that call us to be the UUs that are needed in the world.  The 2016 Ware Lecturer is Krista Tippett.   Past Ware Lectures are available on the UUA website.

You can register for the whole assembly or a single day.  Sunday Morning service is open to all and does not require registration.  Contact Laura Howe at with questions or to have the GA chalice at your UU event.

Laura Howe


Story Corps Questions: [side room — cafeteria] 

Tuesday — 3:15 -4:15

What is hardest to accept about yourself?

Wednesday — 3:15 -4:15

Are there times this week or in your life when someone showed you love, even when you were behaving unlovably?

Thursday — 3:15 -4:15

What makes UU’s unique?  What do we all have in common?

Questions: Rev. Lynn Kerr: text – 419-343-2292



The Rev. Lynn Kerr

From Honnie Staple’s

Cell phone



(and other Vitally Important Info to nuture your essence and existence)

I am excited to be at SI especially on the Oberlin Campus which has FREE live theatre which I always prefer to dead theatre.  (Sorry, you zombie lovers out there.)  But I digress.

This year they are doing three plays at 7 pm in Hall Auditorium:  All’s Well That Ends Well on Wed., July 15, Treasure Island on Thurs., July 16 and Crumbs on Fri., July 17.

It is general admission.  Call for reservations at 440-775-8169.

I attended two of their plays last year and they were great.  This group wants to ensure that anyone can attend a performance which is why it is free.  At the end of each performance, one of the actors explains this and adds that they would love for attendees who can make a donation so that their efforts can continue.

I would love to fill their theatre with hundreds of UUs.  We could achieve coolosity and culchah at the same time.  Back the thespians!

On another note, my feet are killing me and it’s only Tuesday.  The cart # is Cal Frye at 440-935-5180. It is best to call between scheduled activities.

Also I feel we should have a cart that delivers massage therapists to our dorms 24/7.

I went to the World Café last night and talked to other folks about our beloved SI and its future.  Look for more discussions this week.  Speak your truth.

Marylyn Devlin


Registration Report for SI 2015

Well, our trusty Registrar has provided us with some great SI statistics. Unfortunately, she threw them at us and said, “You write this.”  Here we go.

There are 89 campers from Kent, 71 fun lovers from Columbus and 59 folks from Akron.  Once again, Kent comes in the lead, although we hope that registrar Amy Kent did not count herself in that number.

85 fearless first timers found their way to Oberlin. We’re so happy you’re here! We’ve all heard our own jokes.

Of the 528 total attendees, we have 52 children, 103 youth and 77 young adults. Our future looks so bright, we have to wear shades.  Failing that, we’ll settle for sunglasses.

We have 17 states represented and 43 congregations have sent us the cream of the crop!

Our youngest SIer is Atticus Cooper-Shumway and we have too many octogenarians to mention.

Hurray for us!


Yesterday’s Puzzle Answers



  1. A Beautiful Mind
  2. Back to the Future
  3. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  4. Dallas Buyers Club
  5. Duck Soup
  6. Kung Fu Panda
  7. Night at the Museum
  8. Quantum of Solace
  9. Superman Returns
  10. Sunset Boulevard



PDF Version

Osiris Tuesday 2015