Posts By Ed Lane

Sixty Years of Change

By , Published on June 15, 2017

Carl Scovel, celebrating the 60th year of his ordination, (mine too, May 12, 1957) presented a paper to UU ministers on the major changes that have happened in our ministry and churches in those sixty years.   Continue reading…

James Weldon Johnson

By , Published on January 28, 2017
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Worship Service
Sunday, February 5, 2017
10:30am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Ed Lane, preaching

Born just six years after the Civil War, Johnson was a poet, author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, musician, and civil rights activist. He and his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson created “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” in our hymnal. The brothers wrote more than 200 songs for the Broadway musical stage and edited two volumes of Negro Spirituals.
The NAACP was founded in 1909; Johnson joined it five years later and became its chief executive in 1920. He was a leading figure in the creation and development of the Harlem Renaissance, a 1920’s African-American cultural center, drawing black writers, artists, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars.

One of his best-known books is God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. Rev. Catie read some of it in a recent service here. The purpose of today’s service and sermon is to open the door and allow Johnson to speak for himself.

Children attend the first 15 minutes followed by Religious Exploration classes. Childcare available for infants and toddlers.

Senior Youth Group meets; time TBD.

A Lyceum on the Second Amendment

By , Published on December 23, 2016
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Needham Lyceum

Sunday, January 8, 2017
9:15am in the Parlor
Ed Lane speaking

“A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

We’ll begin with its English history and the American debate between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists over the proposed Second Amendment, which became part of the Constitution in 1791. We’ll look at the six Supreme Court decisions—1876, 1886, 1929 1939, 2008, 2010—on the Second Amendment.

We’ll look at the current issues and options in the continuing debate on the right to bear arms.  You will be surprised at some of these!

Our UUA Beacon Press has published a book; Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People, And Other Myths About Guns and Gun Control, by Dennis A. Henigan.

Ed received the UUA Skinner Award in 1967 for “The Most Significant Sermon of Social Concern,” a sermon on the need for gun controls that he wrote fifty years ago.   


Cuba and Fidel Castro

By , Published on December 3, 2016
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I’m not an apologist for Fidel Castro. He committed many atrocities after he came to power in 1959 having lead the revolution against Fulgencio Batista. One of my major concerns about U.S. foreign policy is that decisions are too often made in the absence of the historical context of issue in question. Continue reading…

From Liberal Christian to Liberal Humanist

By , Published on December 21, 2015
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“From Liberal Christian to Liberal Humanist” DOC

UUs don’t often use the term “liberal” to describe themselves any more—and for good reason. It’s come to mean left vs. right on theological, social, political issues. The humanist/theist controversy plagued us for a long time. But sixty years ago I was gifted with a different meaning of “liberal” from a very conservative Christian theological scholar whose theology was very different from mine.

Our theme for January is “Authentic Self.” In his “Divinity School Address” Emerson said: “The true preacher can be known by this, that he [sic] deals out to the people his [sic] life—life passed through the fire of thought.” This autobiographical sermon will attempt to do that. At its center, as the sermon title implies, is an understanding of the meaning of “liberal.”

Children attend the first 15 minutes, then go to Religious Exploration classes.

Senior Youth Group meets at 7pm in the Parlor.

Principle and Practice in Diplomatic Recognition: A Lyceum in Two Parts

By , Published on November 5, 2015
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Many nations around the globe experience government change  by civil war, revolution, insurgency, etc., not by a democratic process.   But this is not new.  In a timeline of world history change by ballot  rather than bullet is the exception rather than the rule.

The question we face—particularly in the Middle East today—is whether and, if so, when to recognize a new government that has  taken power.  Is how it came to power a factor in whether or not to recognize it?  Why do we recognize a country?  The answer to that may seem obvious but it isn’t.  Is it appropriate or wise to use recognition or on-recognition as a political tool?  What are the principles for making those decisions, and do our decisions follow or contradict those principles?  

When Ed was a magazine editor in 1956 he was present at an Associated Church Press interview with Secretary of State John  Foster Dulles.  You may be surprised at Secretary Dulles’ “off the record” response to Ed’s question about his strongly stated principle of recognition de facto in his book, War Or Peace published in 1950 but the policy of recognition de jure followed by the Eisenhower administration when he was Secretary of State from 1953-59.

On December 6 we’ll look at the history, the principles, and the practice of recognition from Thomas Jefferson, our first Secretary of State, down to the present time.  We’ll note how the policy reshaped during the 30-year debate over China from 1949, when Chiang Kai-shek was defeated by Mao Zedong, to 1979, when the People’s Republic of China was recognized by Jimmy Carter.
On December 13 we’ll note the ways in which our policy of  nonrecognition contributed to (even created?) the crises in Vietnam, Cuba, and Iran.

Transforming our Political System

By , Published on September 16, 2015
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Many of us have said that our political system is broken!! Considering our monthly theme of transformation, here is a panel of our First Parish news junkies to give their thoughts. Among the issues to be discussed are money and campaigns finance, reallocation of the budget, effects of lobbying, and efforts to change the electoral college. The subject of political transformation is immense.  But is it not time to start thinking about it and to take pieces of our system and consider what improvements might be possible. This panel discussion is just a start and perhaps more will come with time and study.

The panel consists of four members of our weekly news discussion group made up primarily of First Parish  members

A Night of Poetry with Jane Hart

By , Published on March 5, 2015
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Sunday, April 19, 7:30—9:30pm in the Parlor

“It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”

~ William Carlos Williams

 April is National Poetry Month, and First Parish will host once again a night of poetry. Poet Jane Hart will be reading from her recent work, and you’ll have the chance to share some of your favorites poems.

 A lifelong Massachusetts resident, Jane has made her home primarily in the southeast, where she is inspired by the nature outside her windows, as well as human nature, and—when she can get it—travel. Her poetry is inflected with music—she has a degree in Music Composition from Berklee College of Music—and syntax borrowed from studying American Sign Language. Jane was a 2006 and a 2007 winner of the Worcester County Poetry Association contest, a 2010 resident at the Frost Place, a 2012 nominee for Best New Poets, and a 2014 Poetry Fellow at the Writers’ Room of Boston, where she composed new work and contributed to a blog about writing. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Ocean State Review, Southern Poetry Review, and The Worcester Review. Jane holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts (2013), and is currently working on a full-length collection of poems tentatively titled, Heard, Half-Heard.

After brief refreshments, we will have an open mike, at which point all of you will be invited to share a couple of your favorite poems – either from your own work or that of another.







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