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No. 21, March 15, 1968, p. [5]

at the ARLINGTON STREET CHURCH

Where was God?


To Whom It May Concern:
Last Sunday I decided to attend the Arlington Street Service, as I have an interest in the Unitarian Universalist Church. To my great dismay, the scene was more like Kenneth Grahame's invasion of Toad Hall by weasels and stoats.
The weasels hung listlessly over the altar facing a full congregation of souls, people, human beings, hoping to hear something and perhaps start a thing going or at, least spread a warmth or glow. Of course, I realize that we all need to "dig" ourselves and nobody is going to stand up in front and give the holy directions. But, at least you could have given them something, even if it was only to increase popularity for your own cause. The first step here would have been to try out your public speaking ability elsewhere.
My walk through the snow-drenched Garden on the way there was three times more inspiring and worthwhile than anything that happened during your "service" except perhaps for the beauty of the stained glass windows that morning.
Sincerely yours,
Martha Dixon


To Whom It May Concern:
Sunday, March 3rd, I went to the Arlington Street Church to see the people of AVATAR and Fort Hill, specifically Mel Lyman. Mel was not there but I was not disappointed. Eben Given, a man with deep, happy, sad eyes gave a soft, beautiful monologue. An amount of praise is given to the people, all the people who put together and did this wonderful program.
Many times my eyes were filled with tears because of the gentleness and beauty with which the sermon was given. It was quiet when I walked into the hall and I felt as though I had walked into a warm aura, haunting sereneness filled the air.
The discussion that followed helped dispel many stories that have been said about the Hill. Stories that are started by people who do not know, will not, and do not understand and do not want to know, maybe because of fear and maybe because of opposition of opinion. I spoke with Lew Crampton, nice person as seemed many of the people there, and I felt at ease talking to them.
When I get the courage to go to Fort Hill, I am sure I will be greeted with friendship and kindness. I don't know what I will say to the people, I may just watch. By meeting them I hope I will understand them better and maybe be a part of them.
Marlene


Arlington Street Church
Dear David:
I thought that you and Eben and Bob McQuaid and the others did a very good job at the Sunday morning worship service here at Arlington Street Church on March third.
I must say in all candor that I thought it could have been better had some preparations been made. It would have been especially helpful if you had done the group singing that we discussed. It was a learning experience for the Lyman Family, I know. The discussion was an excellent one, and I hope you got a good feel for the kind of church we are trying to have here.
I am holding a check for Mel and will be glad to turn it over to him if he will come in to see me. A number of people were disappointed about Mel's absence, and there was a good deal of talk that we would like to have all of you — and Mel — again this year. This service, for all its shortcomings, was, I think, appreciated by a large majority of those who attended.
The fact that Mel was unable to be with us was quite a disappointment and placed us in a very awkward position, as his absence was not explained in any way. We had done considerable publicity in the belief that He would indeed deliver the sermon, as Lew Crampton and you indicated.
With every good wish, I am
Yours sincerely,
W. Edward Harris
Assistant Minister


-UNITED ILLUMINATING-

You are a hypocrite, W. Edward Harris. We would have explained to you and your church that Mel Lyman was there in that church to the extent that we could express him. That Mel Lyman is the Truth and the Life and if we expressed the truth it was because of Mel Lyman and it was Mel Lyman. He is Love and Consciousness and if we expressed that love and consciousness that was Mel Lyman and that was Christ.
But neither Eben, Bob nor 1 could say any of this to you or your congregation because YOU DIDN'T ASK. If you had sincerely wanted to know we would have sincerely answered you. You say, "But I did ask, 1 asked you twice." But there was no depth to your question and so there was no depth to the response that we gave you. And it did hurt Eben and Bob and me, believe me. Mel Lyman is full in our hearts but we could not speak of him to you. Because you worried about all your advertising and your congregation and you said, "of course the right answer must be that he is already in our hearts," but there was a note of uncertainty in your voice and my head and heart were full of many answers and within me WAS Mel Lyman but he was silent and he was sad and before I could begin even a simple answer we were all swept along by the time schedule and the business of the church and a waiting audience and so you didn't get an answer, W. Edward Harris, because you DIDN'T REALLY ASK — from your heart. But I don't blame you. You are a good man and I like you. But you are fooling yourself, Ed, if you think you are helping people to find Christ and God. You will only BEGIN TO BE BORN when you throw out all that bullshit that you hold so dear and important. Throw away your black robes, and that little electric clock on the pulpit and break down — no, smash them down — all of those little walls around the pews that separate the innocent lambs that sit in your church. And about that check you are holding for Mel and will be glad to turn over to Him if He will come in to see you... We all got a good laugh out of that one.
My God, Ed, look at yourself. You are getting fat and stiff and you worry a lot .... If we ever do another sermon in that church, look out. We are going to burst down all those silly little walls and all those orderly unitarian minds and we WILL let the LIGHT and TR UTH shine in that temple of waiting that you call a church. Because we learned our lesson, Edward Harris, and we will not be limited any more by your expectations and your worries. Every day Mel Lyman is more conscious in our hearts and it won't be long so that when you ask, "Where is Mel Lyman, "you will not get a sad look and a partial answer but instead a joyous smile and a laugh. Do you understand what I am saying? Then come and see me.

Love,
David


March 7, 1968

Dear David:
Your letter was more illuminating than your service on Sunday. The prime reason I wanted all of you to come in beforehand was to see what you were getting into. I tried to deal with you all as openly as I know how and I fear your name-calling reaction is somewhat reflective of the feelings you have about the service. It would be hypocritical of me if I did not point out that the service — the time from 11 until noon — was lacking. If you were unable to give expression to your convictions regarding love and consciousness, as you indicated (Eben) you were, it was due primarily to faulty preparation. I tried to tell you there were certain physical problems that militate against the freest kind of expression. I personally find the boxed pews and the high pulpit a bother and we are taking steps to change some of it. One last thing about the service — it was pretty good — not excellent not great. It was well received and I hope you did appreciate the reaction of the group. While a number of people were not pleased, for any number of reasons, and have expressed themselves to me the vast majority were stimulated by the service and appreciative of your efforts. I am in the latter category. I do not "live" by public opinion and I believed that you did not which was the reason for my candid letter.
I do not judge people, as your letter judges me, so I have no way of replying to the — how shall I call it? — "abusive", "frank", "candid" personal assessment of me. You are seeing me as stereo-typically as many see the Lyman Family. In this I am only referring to what you apparently think my views are. As to the personal comments — "fat", "stiff", "worry a lot" I am grateful. They are accurate and they are me.
As to my expectations — well I wanted the Lyman Family to be themselves — nothing more, nor less. You weren't and you admit it. True freedom consists of being able to give expression to one's being and that takes some planning, (some worry?) and some work.
Let me say that I am not sure I understand what you are saying in you letter. Because I am not sure I do not judge you. I do not think or feel that you understand me. It is for that reason that I will come: to see you — and soon. Openness, tolerance and love are not achieved very easily.
Lastly, I am enclosing an honorarium for the Lyman Family. I wish it could be more. I believe in you.

Love,
W. Edward Harris
The worried, fat, stiff, hypocrite


Mel Lyman