The Virtue of Character
#30 Small Group Ministry Session Written by Rev. Jude Geiger, MRE, First Unitarian, Brooklyn – Based on the sermon, “The Real Dirt” preached by Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons at First UU on 4/22/12 found here:
Welcome & Opening Chalice Lighting (Please read aloud) #484 In Singing the Living Tradition by William Henry Channing
Statement of Purpose: To nurture our spirits and deepen our friendships.
Brief Check-In: Share your name and something you have left behind to be here.
Reading: An Excerpt/Edit from the sermon, “The Real Dirt.”
The producers of the modern french fry seem to believe that nobody will appreciate the integrity of good soil or of the potato that grows unseen underground. Likewise, nobody will appreciate or even know if you do good unseen, underground. The social Capitalist, the voice that’s always running the cost/benefit analysis, argues with Jesus on this point, saying, “I mean, if you’re going to do a good deed anyway, why not get the benefit of having people know about it? If you give all your money away to charity and you do it anonymously, no one’s going to think you’re a good person, they’ll just think you’re poor.”
Here is where I disagree. From what I’ve observed, the deep truth of a person or thing eventually seeps out and becomes legible. No one can pretend to be something they are not forever. Any kind of façade that does not integrate with what’s behind it ultimately crumbles. Conversely, if you focus on being the person you are even in ways that are not visible to others, people will get it, even if they don’t know why.
Discussion Questions: Our founding American Unitarian minister, William Ellery Channing once said to a classmate, “In my view, religion is another name for happiness, and I am most cheerful when I am most religious.” The larger context for this quote was a discussion around the notion of ‘making America a better country.’
How does Rev. Levy-Lyons’ notion of “the deep truth of a person” relate to your sense of character? Where are you in the continuum between the ‘social Capitalist’ and ‘Jesus?’ Can you share a story of a time when someone’s hidden character shined brightly? How did it move you? What about religious living brings you inner satisfaction, or happiness as Rev. Channing spoke of?
Closing: (please read aloud – responsively if you have several copies) #568 “Connections are Made Slowly” by Marge Piercy In Singing the Living Tradition)
 “The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion 1805-1900,” Dorrien, Gary. P.15