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Open Forum 

UU’s pride themselves on their appreciation of diversity, in thought as well as relationships.

The acceptance of people, ideas and thought is a cornerstone of the UU way of looking at their world and its surroundings.

The attempt of this Forum is to provide an opportunity for Members and Friends to express their feelings, ask the tough questions of life, share the joys of the day with others through poetry, book reviews, art, graphics or whatever.

All expressions of thought within reasonable decorum will be accepted.

What is it that you would want to say to the world?

For what others think, read the following Thoughts.


10 Useful Funeral Tips and Facts

1. Don’t use your will or safety deposit box to hold a description of arrangements you have made for your funeral! Funerals usually take place (including disposal of the body) less then a week after the person dies. The Will does not even get officially read until after the funeral has taken place! By then it is too late. So a Will, in itself, is no guarantee that you will have the funeral that you want.

2. Final expense insurance for burial arrangements does not protect against inflation. It is just an insurance policy designed to deliver a predetermined lump sum.

3. You’re possibly thinking, “I wouldn’t know what to do”. Strangely enough, the first instinct most people have is to call the family doctor, and as it happens, this is the first thing to do if the death occurs at home. The family doctor (or a locum if necessary) will attend and confirm the fact of death, and will later complete a death certificate (and a cremation certificate if required).

4. Many funeral homes require embalming if you’re planning a viewing or visitation. But embalming generally is not necessary or legally required if the body is buried or cremated shortly after death Eliminating this service can save you hundreds of dollars.

5. There are a couple of reasons why funerals are important. The first is technical – a funeral makes sure that a body is legally buried or cremated. The second reason is that a funeral helps the family come to terms with the death. It is important to remember that a funeral is not for the dead, it is for the living.

6. Scattering the cremated remains after cremation can leave family and friends without a place or manner in which to pay tribute. You can satisfy both your wishes and those of family and friends through permanent memorization. This gives your family and friends a place to visit, which often helps in the recovery process. Keep in mind that federal, state and local regulations may limit the areas where cremation remains may be scattered.

7. Children should be given the opportunity to attend a funeral, especially that of a close relative. However, they should never be forced to go. It is always helpful to explain what to expect at the funeral before the child is asked to decide if he or she wants to share in the experience. As parents are the best judge of the character of their children, they are usually aware if a child is likely to be ‘too sensitive’ to attend or is likely to become hysterical.

8. Helping a grieving friend often means that you too will share some of the pain. This takes courage and a special kind of friendship. Your friend may want to talk, cry, share, reminisce or even just sit in silence with you. A good time to visit a bereaved friend is “after the flowers have died”, that is after about a week or two. It’s also important to maintain regular contact with your friend six to eight weeks after the death.

9. Floral tributes can either be sent to the funeral home or the residence. If sent to the residence, usually a planter or a small vase of flowers indicating a person’s continued sympathy for the family is suggested. The florist places an identification card on the floral tribute. At the funeral home the cards are removed from the floral tributes and given to the family so they may acknowledge the tributes sent.

10. Extra funeral services may include embalming, other preparation of the body, and transfer of the remains from the place of death to the funeral home in town or to or from a location out of town. Facilities and equipment may include use of the funeral home for a viewing or visitation, funeral ceremony, and use of the hearse and flower car, limousine and other automobiles. Merchandise may include the casket, the vault, or the urn.
By Glenda Erceg


Signs That a Loved One May Have Dementia

Everyone changes as they grow older. Their bodies don’t work as well as they did in their younger days, they find wrinkles on their faces and gray in their hair, and they may suffer from a little memory loss. None of this is anything to worry about, because it’s just the normal progression of life. However, in some cases, the person may be suffering from the onset of some type of dementia. Dementia starts with memory loss and progresses through stages that rob the patient of the ability to do daily tasks, and cause mobility issues and general disorientation. You may have a loved one who isn’t remembering like they used to do and wonder if it could be the onset of dementia. What symptoms should you look for in order to tell the difference between normal aging and this more serious condition?

Both sexes fall victim to dementia, although the women diagnosed do outnumber the men. Still, everyone has the same basic symptoms which include:

* Short-term memory loss can become annoying and frustrating as the person is no longer able to remember what they did just a few hours previously. Details about events in their lives, such as what they ate for lunch, may begin to elude them in the very earliest stages of the disease.

* Misplacing belongings is another common symptom of early-onset dementia. Does your loved one lose their glasses or their keys often?

* Confusion is a major factor when a person is suffering from dementia. They no longer understand what they should do in a given situation or understand even why they would want to do it.

* Disorientation as far as place and time are concerned may become evident. They may ask, “How did I get here?” when they’ve actually been in that place for a long period of time.

* Dementia patients lose the ability to make reasonable decisions about things they are doing. For example, they may begin wearing mismatched clothing after a lifetime of being very conscious of their looks.

* Doing the same things over and over may be a sign of dementia. For instance, they might start preparing themselves breakfast just minutes after eating breakfast.

* They may start struggling to express their thoughts, even if they had been very verbal before.

As you can see, symptoms of the early stages of dementia are easy to miss, because most of them happen occasionally to everyone, and aging can cause the same behaviors. However, if you specifically watch for all of these symptoms in your loved one, you may begin to see a pattern emerging.
By Kristie Brown


Scientific Truth and Religion

The following item is from Richard Dawkins, renowned evolutionary biologist, a constant defender of scientific truth and reason. An interesting comparative….


“Now, the invention of the scientific method is, I’m sure we’ll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked. If it withstands the attack then it lives to fight another day, and if it doesn’t withstand the attack then down it goes.


Religion doesn’t seem to work like that. It has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What I mean is, ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything bad about; you’re just not. Why not? – because you’re not!’ If somebody votes for a party that you don’t agree with, you’re free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down, you are free to have an argument about it. But, on the other hand if somebody says ‘I mustn’t move a light switch on a Saturday’, you say, “I respect that.’


The odd thing is, even as I am saying that, I am thinking, ‘Is there an Orthodox Jew here who is going to be offended by the fact that I just said that?’ But I wouldn’t have thought, ‘Maybe there’s somebody from the left wing or somebody from the right wing or somebody who subscribes to this view or the other in economics, when I was making the other points. I just think, ‘Fine, we have different opinions’. But the moment I say something that has something to do with somebody’s (I’m going to stick my neck out here and say irrational) beliefs, then we all become terribly protective and terribly defensive and say, ‘No, we don’t attack that; that’s an irrational belief but no, we respect it.’


Why should it be that it’s perfectly legitimate to support the Labour party or the Conservative party, Republicans or Democrats, this model of economics versus that, Macintosh instead of Windows – but to have an opinion about how the Universe began, about who created the Universe or not, that’s holy? What does that mean? Why do we ring-fence for any other reason other than that we’ve just got used to doing so? There’s no other reason at all. It’s just one of those things that crept into being and once that loop gets going it’s very, very powerful. So, we are used to not challenging religious ideas, but it’s very interesting how much of a furor Richard (Dawkins) creates when he does it. Everybody gets absolutely frantic about it because you’re not allowed to say these things. Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn’t be as open to debate as any other, except that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn’t be.”
Douglas Adams, from an impromptu speech in 1998; taken from a devil’s chaplain, Dawkins, Richard 2003
Thought for the Month
Unitarian Universalism – Where all your answers are questioned!


Definition – “Tomorrow” – One of the greatest labor saving devices of today!




We are pleased to present a program, Easter, the ‘Two Way’ and Ritual Meals given to the Prescott Unitarian Universalist Fellowship by Mr. Marriner Cardon.
Marriner is a long time member of PUUF, a student of religious development, has led many religious education courses and has been an associate and lay member of the Jesus Seminar for 14 years.
His remarks grow out of a question the Jesus Seminar has been considering for several years, “What will Christianity be like in the 21st Century?”
He would welcome your comments at


Another Vexing Question!






Aging | White Plains

When Taking the Keys to the Car Turns Real
White Plains, New York



EVERYBODY had a story to tell about trying to take the keys from an elderly driver. Paul K. Schwarz, a retired Scarsdale Middle School teacher, described meeting with angry resistance from his father, Herbert, every time he brought up the subject of driving.


My dad was born in 1907 in White Plains,” Mr. Schwarz said. “He would have been 101 and he might have made it, because he took really good care of himself, but his one real blind spot literally was the car. There were small accidents, tickets and excuses — the senior Mr. Schwarz once claimed that a police officer must have been colorblind to ticket him for running a red light. Another time he blamed a faulty brake pedal for an accident. After he exited his driveway in reverse and crashed into a tree, Mr. Schwarz lost his insurance. Undaunted, he looked in the Yellow Pages and got reinsured.


Paul Schwarz and his brother tried unsuccessfully to get their father’s doctor to intervene. They even talked about disabling their father’s car but ran out of time. His last accident, on the Hutchinson River Parkway, landed him for eight weeks in the intensive care unit, where he died in 1997 at the age of 90. It was an awful two months,” said Mr. Schwarz, who is involved with several nonprofit groups that work with the elderly. He was speaking at a recent conference here for Westchester police commissioners and chiefs, part of an effort to address the issue of older drivers in the county.


Ken Donato, the police chief in Ossining, recalled reporting a 90-year-old military veteran who worked in his building to the Department of Motor Vehicles, but not until after the elderly man had had three accidents in three weeks, one of which totaled Chief Donato’s car.


Even County Executive Andrew J. Spano shared the story of his father, who called to see if his politically connected son could arrange for the Department of Motor Vehicles to cut him some slack on his eye examination. Mr. Spano refused and then asked his father how he was managing to drive if he had trouble seeing. And he says, ‘Your mother tells me what the sign says,’ ” Mr. Spano said. “I went to the house, and I took the keys away. He didn’t speak to me for two months.”


These experiences have a familiar ring to adult children of elderly drivers. They were shared at the conference, developed by the Older Driver Family Assistance Network, which is part of the county’s Department of Senior Programs and Services. Westchester County is among the three leading counties in New York State that provide a good and practical action plan for dealing with older drivers,” said Tamar Freund, manager for the State Department of Motor Vehicles’ newly created Office of the Older Driver. More than 20 percent of Westchester’s population is older than 60, and the fastest growing segment comprises people older than 85. Statewide, one in seven drivers is 65 or older.


Elderly drivers are not inherently unsafe but have a wide range of abilities, Ms. Freund said. Dr. Cathryn Devons, director of geriatrics at Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, said that aging can affect response time, depth perception, tolerance for alcohol, and, in cases of dementia, judgment. Medications can compound such issues. A chart distributed at the conference that graphs the driver fatality rate is shaped like a U, with 16-year-olds at one peak and drivers 85 and older at the other. (Elderly drivers are frailer, compounding the mortality rate.)


Police officers described elderly drivers who appeared confused and lost or could not negotiate curves in the road and drove onto lawns or did not notice an officer’s flashing lights for more than a mile or appeared to be drunken drivers, but after being pulled over were found to be simply disoriented. In a survey of 21 Westchester police officers conducted in 2007 by the Older Driver Network, all of them said they had observed older drivers in their community who they believed were at risk of an accident. More than 90 percent said they had seen accidents caused by older drivers who were unaware of traffic surrounding them, and 76 percent said they had encountered older drivers who could not see signs.


With such obvious risks to themselves and public safety, moving elderly drivers off the road would seem to be an obvious solution. But even police officers can be hesitant to act, particularly if the driver reminds the officer of his or her own grandparent. How am I going to tell a guy who fought for this country and has two Purple Hearts that I am going to take away his license and take away his freedom?” one police chief asked at the conference. New York State does not mandate that elderly drivers be retested. An older driver may be subject to license review, but only after a written report from a police officer, medical professional or concerned citizen. Most requests for reviews come from police officers, said Frank Vega, a license examiner in the Yonkers District Office of the State Department of Motor Vehicles.


Not only do families hesitate to report their loved ones, but doctors and occupational therapists are also torn between their ethical responsibility to protect public safety and their duty to protect patient confidentiality. In short, they worry about liability. “If I make a report to the D.M.V., I’m not protected”, said Kathleen Golisz, an associate professor of occupational therapy at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry. What I do instead is say, ‘It’s in your medical chart, and it could be summoned in a court of law.’ At the conference for police chiefs, cue cards were distributed to be given to officers throughout the county. They included a checklist on identifying at-risk older drivers, procedures for documenting the encounter and local resources to help elderly drivers.


The county’s Family Caregiver Support Program can help families begin a conversation with older drivers about their abilities and can make referrals to driver evaluation programs. The group also offers transportation to doctor’s appointments, grocery stores and other destinations, said Mary Edgar-Herrera, the program administrator. She noted that in the suburbs, where public transportation is limited, there was a risk of elderly people becoming isolated when they lose access to their cars. Westchester has also initiated a Car Fit” program, where experts evaluate whether an elderly driver’s car is properly adjusted and recommend changes and adaptations. For instance, with some couples, the husband may have been the sole driver for 40 years. His wife may then take over the driving, but never readjust the seat or mirrors.


The Older Driver network also plans a series of talks this fall at several senior centers and libraries. The issue is not an easy one to address, the advocates said. Based on voting records, people would rather drive than vote,” said Ms. Freund, of the Motor Vehicle Department. “Driving in America is so much tied up with personal identity. We will take action with elderly drivers, but we would rather all these matters be voluntary.






It makes sense!



Voices of a Liberal Faith

Watch a twelve-minute audio-visual story of Unitarian Universalism which provides background information, inspirational messages, and includes UU history, theology, worship experience, social justice, and inclusiveness.
If you have Windows Media Player or RealTime Player, click on this link.


Remember, “Growing Old Ain’t for Sissies”


The State of the First Amendment and Survey Report is now available for your consideration. Just click on “Report”.


Native American Thoughts

“We had no churches, no religious organizations, no sabbath day, no holidays ….and yet we worshipped.”
Geronimo (Chiricahua Apache Tribe)


“There is no death. Only a change of worlds”
Seattle (Suquamish Chief)


“It is no longer good enough to cry peace…we must act peace, live peace and live in peace”
(Shenandoah proverb)



 Book Reviews


What or who are “Freethinkers”? American history has shown a wealth of people dedicated to a style of thought away from the mainstream of overtly religious rhetoric so common in the normal historical record. Susan Jacoby’s 2004 book, Freethinkers, A History of American Secularism is an amazing collection of the life and times of those individuals who pursued and presented an uncommon philosophy.


Starting with the American Revolutionary Secularism of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams – of James Madison’s advocacy of government freedom from religious control – Thomas Paine’s diatribes on The Right of Man and The Age of Reason, the author takes the reader through the ensuing centuries with chapter titles such as The Age of Reason and Unreason Lost Connections: Anticlericalism, Abolitionism and Feminism, The Belief and Unbelief of Abraham Lincoln, Evolution and its Discontents, The Great Agnostic (Robert Ingersoll), … through to the 1920’s 40’s and 60’s.


Her easy reading style of writing was helpful to this non-historian; the thoughts expressed were easily grasped. This view of the American process through the eye of the secularist is truly an “eye-opener” and should be required reading to both the free thinker as well as the religionist.


Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, Susan Jacoby:
Henry Holt and Co. 2004
ISBN 0-8050-7442-2


Book Review by Ron Ricklefs


Book Review – Booknotes Life Stories; Notable Biographers on the People Who Shaped America by Brian Lamb, c 1999, Time Books

Did you know that…

…Sojourner Truth’s first language was Dutch because that was the language of the working people around her when she was a slave in Ulster County, New York.

….Ralph Waldo Emerson had a strong sense of place. He considered himself a citizen of Concord, Massachusetts, and was one of the 19th century Concord writers that included Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott.

…when Ulysses Grant left the White House in 1877 he and his wife traveled to nearly every country in western Europe, and to Russia, Egypt, Jerusalem, India, China, Hong Kong and Japan. He was received as a great soldier, and he astounded his hosts by refusing to go to military reviews. He hated parades. He wouldn’t even look at pictures of military art if he could avoid it.

. …Elijah Muhammad, who was born in 1897 in rural Georgia, the son of former slaves, became one of the early leaders of the Nation of Islam. His significance was his impact on the racial consciousness of African-Americans. Also, he pushed economics or economic initiative for African-Americans. His disciples included Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan and Muhammad Ali.

…when Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique, she was a housewife in Rockland County, New York, doing freelance writing while trying to support her husband, who was changing jobs from theater to advertising, along with three children. She began her work on feminism through the happenstance of doing the fifteenth reunion questionnaire of her Smith College alumni association.

These are just a few of the tidbits found in the short and entertaining biographies put together by Brian Lamb, host of C-SPAN’s Booknotes. He takes an intimate look with prominent biographers at historical figures they’ve researched and written about.

Presented chronologically according to the birth date of the subjects, the interviews start with George Washington and end with Anita Hill, and include among others, Thomas Paine, Paul Revere, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Calvin Coolidge, Robert McNamara, Adlai Stevenson, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Whittaker Chambers, Martin Luther King, and Thurgood Marshall. Each interview is about six pages long.
This book was donated by John Wagner and can be found in the PUUF Library. Review submitted by Betsy Barnes.


Yesterday is history. Tomorrow a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called, the present! Live and savor every moment…..this is not a dress rehearsal!


From the PUUF Bookstore & Library ….. Reviewed by Irene M. Szecsody

One of the Oxford University Press books offered this month is by Ursula Goodenough, called “The Sacred Depths of Nature.”
Ms. Goodenough has been for 25 years: biology professor, research scientist, had federal grants, under-graduate teacher.

Her father influenced her thinking as he was a Professor of the History of Religion and at home his daughter listened to his Yale scholar friends who held forth on Plato and Paul and Freud and Satre.

Her Dad began his famous undergrad course, ‘The Psychology of Religion’, by announcing, “I do not believe in God.”

But as her five children grew and there was more time for herself, her father’s question returned: Why are People re­ligious? And then: “Why am I not religious?”
So Ms. Goodenough approaches “Origins of the Earth”,”Origins of Life,” “Emotions and Meaning”,etc. from her scientific point of view……..Fascinating and thoughtful reading. <



Skinner House Books offers us “Blessing the World,” What Can Save Us Now?”, by Rebecca Ann Parker.
“There are times in our lives when it feels like things are falling apart. When loss strips our days of Joy. When death robs us of someone we love, or violence shatters our sense of security. When war, genocide, and injustice lead us to the brink of despair!” (from introduction) This is a book for those times.
Moments of despair can be opportunities for spiritual and theological breakthrough. We can, according to the author, re­ject our faith, – we can deny our experience, or we can becomer theologians, wrestling with tradition and experience until we discover a new, life-giving faith.
Ms. Parker’s book contains essays under three sections: Finding Our Way, Reconstructing Our Faith, and Blessing the World. There’s something for everyone’s delemma and will turn around the despair, hopefully and thoughtfully.


Book Review – The Hornet’s Nest by Jimmy Carter


One of the new books in our PUUF Library is a fine novel of historical fiction by Jimmy Carter, written in 2003. It was inspired by Carter’s own Georgia ancestors who fought the British during the American Revolution. This is the only book of fiction ever written by a President.


I was quite fascinated by his writing as he put in a lot of suspense. There was empathetic descriptions of slavery and the life of the Indians. The bloody warfare pages were very complete and reflect hours of research. I liked the feeling of the forest and the river areas in Georgia.


It was easy to imagine the author’s soft Southern drawl reading the lines to me. Two characters may have been Carter’s distant relatives so read it and see what you think!
This book was reviewed by Betty Powers and originally donated to the PUUF Library by John Wagner.
“Laughter is the shortest distance between people.”


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