A Celebration of the Life of the Rev. Dr. Phillip Hewett, Minister Emeritus of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, will be held at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, March 23, 2018, beginning at 1:30 pm. A reception will follow the service.
News from the parish minister, director of religious education and other staff or key volunteer leaders.
Please join me at the anti-racism rally at City Hall this Saturday sponsored by Stand Up to Racism Metro Vancouver. The rally begins at 12:45 pm.
Some thought on “False Equivalence” (Rev. Steven Epperson)
Given what many of us have been reading/seeing in the media this past week regarding events in Charlottesville, Virginia , I wanted to share some thoughts. On Tuesday, August 15th, the sitting President of the United States said: “You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.” Subsequently, I’ve read the expression “false equivalence” to describe his remarks.
When I hear the expression “false equivalence,” the first thing that comes to mind is messed up ways of thinking/reasoning. False equivalence is a mistaken belief that since two very different things (or arguments) may share a common trait that means they are basically similar/equal.
1) A dog race is about to start. The two hounds running (a greyhound and a dachshund) are equal favorites to win. Ridiculous? Yes. That’s false equivalence at work where sharing a trait—dogs that are hounds—means there are no other essential differences between them. Under false equivalence, each has an equal chance to win the race.
2) “Gang bangers cover their heads with hoodies. Nuns cover their heads with habits. Therefore, nuns are no better than gang bangers.” Just because both cover their heads does not necessarily mean they are equally as likely to rob a gas station at gunpoint.
3) Racism says other races are essentially different. Anti-racism says other races are not essentially different. False equivalence states both are absolutist claims. Therefore, there is no difference between them. Put simply, this mistaken way of thinking/arguing claims apples and oranges are the same fruit simply because they both have seeds.
Examples of false equivalence are seemingly without end (e.g. “creationism and evolution both explain how we got here, so teach both sides,” etc, etc.). False equivalence is contributing to a slippery world of BS and “truthiness.” In fact, far-right protesters went to Charlottesville primed for violence in word and act; most counter-protesters adopted an entirely defensive posture. An adult should know the difference.
Let’s value and use our Unitarian Principle of a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning;” that search means knowing there’s a difference between an apple and an orange, a neo-Nazi and an antifascist, and that the difference means something; that it matters.
An Invitation from Rev. Steven Epperson to UCV members and friends:
Hewett Hall, Saturday, November 12, 2016 6-8:30 pm
Given the outcome of the elections in the States on Tuesday, and the thoughts and feelings many of us may be experiencing, I thought it would be helpful to gather for some food and conversation. Bring a dish to share and your good selves. I will be there and glad to be in the company of any and all who wish to show up.
In the meantime, some thoughts borrowed from Bruce Levine that my partner shared with our Stateside families:
Though dark thoughts, feelings and tears are reasonable responses to difficult circumstances and horrible news, there are other strategies we can bring forward: a thoughtful detachment in order to see, understand and to bear witness a dark sense of humour collective resistance and cooperation kindness to fellow sufferers and savour those moments of respite that come by focusing on the beauties of nature, and on our children and grandchildren.
My best to all on this grey, drizzly Wednesday morning. Steven Epperson
It may look like a hymnal, this book of ours sitting in the racks in front of you when you come to Sunday service; a book full of “songs of praise, especially to God in Christian worship,” according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. But open it up, and what we’ll see is a commitment to religious pluralism in one song and reading after another. Christian hymns and carols are followed by Islamic poetry; there are songs of harvest and the seasons, and the wisdom of Jewish mystics and Psalms. Buddhist sages are here; so, too, the insights of science and reason; hymns in praise of labouring folk, the interdependent web, and prophetic activists struggling for environmental and social justice. A whole, great, teeming congregation of wisdom from the world’s religions, poets and secular sources is gathered here. We turn to these hymns, this poetry and prose to celebrate our history and belief and to accompany us in times of grief and joy.
All too often our world divides up into grim, distressed religious and secular camps. And because of that, I believe that ours is a crucial experiment. Unitarians seek to practice a frank, respectful cohabitation of plural sensibilities, rituals and ways of being in community. We hope that what follows will be a mutually enriching dialogue, where we learn from and strive to support one another in our search for meaning and spiritual growth. And not for a moment should we forget how important an experiment a pluralistic faith like ours could be for a troubled and divided world.