Dear Everyone Associated With “Hamilton”

The Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th Street, New York City

Dear Creative Team and Cast of HAMILTON,

I had not imagined that when I finally got to see the show on November 17, 2016 that we would be in a period of shocked horror and mourning. I had so hoped to wait in line for your autographs with joyful crowds.

I have been thinking about all of you in the past week because you are bringing your full spiritual and creative selves to the work of inspiring people and you haven’t had any time off for a death in the family since last Tuesday night, but I know many of you are feeling like there has been one. Me, too.

Your cast album has been on my exclusive play list for at least six months and I have fan-girl’d on Twitter, watched all the #Ham4Ham videos on YouTube and followed anything Hamilton-oriented I could find. I have said to fellow members of the clergy that one reason this show is such an extraordinary, ground-breaking cultural phenomenon is because it is not only a brilliant artistic achievement on every level but that its creators (led by Lin-Manuel) very intentionally created COMMUNITY around it.

The community that you have all so generously created around “Hamilton” the show and the spirit is the community that looks like the America I love and believe in. The first time I heard “My Shot” playing on a college radio station (Best of Broadway on WERS, Emerson College in Boston) and heard, “I’m joining the rebellion/’cause I know it’s my chance/to socially advance/instead of sewing some pants,” I was in my car. I had to pull over and just listen to every word and every voice and every instrument and not do anything else but that or else risk an accident!  I immediately drove back home and downloaded the entire recording and spent the next several hours listening to it. It was like, “Cancel all my appointments! I just downloaded ‘Hamilton!’”

I knew the show was hip-hop inspired. I knew it was a multi-racial cast. I knew I would think it was cool (I loved “In The Heights”) but I did not anticipate that it would hit me in my heart and soul like it did. “Hamilton” instantly became the soundtrack for my ministry and work for social justice with partner organizations (many of which advocate for immigrants – who do get the job done), my life in an extremely diverse neighborhood, and my hopes and dreams for my country in the midst of the rise of Trump.

I am also a theatre person. The disciplines that I have learned through performing have stayed with me in my work (stuff like: Take care of your instrument. Don’t ever phone it in. Keep studying your craft to improve it. Make quiet time for your soul every day. Trust the holy energy that is working through you. Respect its intensity. Eat your vegetables. Don’t skip warm-up). But you guys. You guys are the Olympians. You are the champions. You are the magic-makers whose sweat and water bottles and cough logenzes backstage the audience will never see and whose quick costume changes they will never think about. You are the stars.

I simply want to thank you for all that you are giving of yourselves in the telling of this story and for holding up to audiences what America really does look like – not just its future but its NOW. I want to thank you for all the time you have dedicated to the young people who are inspired by this show, who have fallen in love with history through it, and who can see themselves as leaders because of it.

This coming Thursday night, my two best friends and I will be in the house. If you feel extra beams of admiration and adoration coming from ORCH (Left) G 17, it’s just me shining back at you.

Your obedient servant, V. Wein

The Reverend Dr. Victoria Weinstein



This amazes me. Almost twenty years ago when I was a young aspirant to the Unitarian Universalist ministry and trying to express the harmony I felt between my Witchy Pagan Goddess-loving soul and my Christiany Jesus-loving soul, it was considered quite weird to be a strong feminist who loved Gaia and was drawn to Christian spiritual path. I didn’t let that bother me much, but existed in both worlds, trying to be an emissary between them. I gave programs on the Triple Goddess (Maiden-Mother-Crone) and did an independent study with the great Margaret Miles for which I wrote a big paper on St. Anne as the Crone figure of the Christian trinity. I did a lot of work on comparisons between the pagan Triune Goddess and the holy Trinity, studying with Kim Patton to understand Greek religion and mythology and with Fr. Brian Daly at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology to study the 4th century Trinitarian controversies that led to the Nicene Creed.

I wrote my master’s thesis at Harvard Divinity School on Persephone and Jesus as kind of divine twins, both avatars of resurrection in their cultural and historical contexts (yes, I have copies and you can order one!).

So imagine my sheer delight and sense of appreciation when today, researching readings for the fall equinox, I came upon a website that is ostensibly Christian but contains this thoroughly pagan ritual. 

Not that Matthew Fox and Starhawk weren’t around doing exactly this sort of beautiful creation spirituality syncretic stuff twenty years ago, but to know that this is now available at the click of a button to other people who want to incorporate goddess and Earth consciousness into their Christian practice is very encouraging.

It’s not weird any more. It’s quite ordinary, and many mainline Christian churches I have attended in the past decade would not think twice before incorporating elements of this ritual into their liturgy.  Some call that heresy; I call it progress.


Sorry I haven’t blogged here for so long — but do know that I carry on a lively and constant conversation on Facebook. Go find my page there and “Like” it and join the party!


Missional Church: A Unitarian Universalist Case Study

People are talking a lot these days about being a missional church. It’s a scary word for many who associate the word “mission” with missionaries: people who show up somewhere and coerce, terrify or bombard a people with evangelical zeal in order to make them convert.

We’re not into that, we UUs. Many of us have been hurt by that. We have been angered  and made suspicious by the ways that religious groups and our culture treats our minds, souls and bodies as a mission field for indoctrination so it can sell us things and control us. We’re on edge about it. We’re pushing back: sometimes too hard, sometimes obnoxiously, sometimes in comically hypocritical ways, becoming the very thing we abhorred.

So the word “mission” is fraught. Still, it’s a great word. It’s a word that I hope we can embrace as the marching orders for our future — or if “marching” feels too militaristic to you, then “moving orders.” Mission! It moves. It’s about looking around and seeing where you are in relation to what’s out there around you: seeing where you can connect, help, serve, be in relationship with, learn, and be part of “life more abundant” that gives existence meaning and depth and beautiful intensity.  It’s about paying deep attention to your local context not to convert, but to engage with. The Rev. Theresa Cooley said the coolest thing today at a workshop called “Beyond Congregations” — cool because she’s on the UUA staff and her remark swims against the stream of conventional wisdom (but it’s very wise and spot-on for our times). She said, essentially, “I’m not doing this so that more people will call themselves Unitarian Univeralists. That would be nice, but I’m doing this because I want our values to be in the world, having an influence in the world.”

That’s mission. 

So let me tell you what happened this morning.

While my General Assembly roommate and I were sitting in our hotel room in Kentucky talking about Unitarian Universalist issues, she got an e-mail from one of her local clergy colleagues back in Massachusetts  — a Catholic priest with whom she has formed a close bond — asking for help. His situation was that his parish has been forbidden to host an event with Father Helmut Schuller, an Austrian “rebel” priest who is advocating for the admission of women and married people to the priesthood. The event is in July and was to be the only New England visit by Father Schuller.

The cardinal had forbidden all the Massachusetts diocese from hosting Schuller, and so this local priest was reaching out to his Unitarian Universalist colleague and friend to ask if her church, one of our historic First Parish congregations, would host the event. Without a moment of hesitation, my friend dictated this response to Siri: “We would be honored to help with this. We will be undergoing some minor construction in the Parish Hall but the church will be open.” A few minutes later she thought to add, “The building is not air-conditioned.”

Within an hour, my friend had a slew of e-mails from church leaders with thumbs up messages. This is a congregation that values putting their values into practice over engaging in lengthy processing. That’s missional.

All of these years I have been watching my friend do what she does and make it look easy, which is to build local relationships, be interested in her town, think creatively about where the food pantry might go when it lost its home in the basement of the Methodist church, join the local artist’s guild, connect with the farmer’s market, make the lunch for and host the monthly gatherings of the UU Christian Ministers and work really hard with her congregation to shift their consciousness and practices from preservation, caution and lots of fairly anxious processing to permission, creativity and freedom. Also forgiveness, because you have to get good at apologizing, forgiving and moving on when you want to become a vibrant, missional church.

The little inter-generational theatre group that was originally part of the RE program and then became an independent non-profit, used to use the parish hall and then close down their production and that was that. With encouragement, they eventually made a gift to the church: something they would purchase that they thought the church needed. With more encouragement, they began to make a financial contribution to the church. First $1,000. Then $1,200. Then $1,500 to the operating budget and to thus the mission of the church. Perhaps not surprisingly, the theatre group also began to connect to the ministry of the church, donating tickets to the food pantry to share the nourishment of the arts to go with canned goods and non-perishables that people were picking up. That’s missional church . It breaks down silos and separations and finds ways to offer mutual support. It doesn’t fret about how much money “that” will cost, it asks how much more meaning “that” will generate. Most money fears around shifting to a more missional way of being church aren’t warranted, anyway: by the time a missional congregation gets to the point of deciding to spend money, they have already made serious internal and emotional investments and are thrilled to be funding their calling with actual dollars. The spiritual investment happens first.

Six years ago, when this minister started, this was a troubled congregation with twelve people attending Sunday services. Today they have double the official membership and seventy-five at a typical Sunday service.  But more importantly, people in the community see the congregation as a place that matters.  That’s mission. If the building disappeared, there would not only be a hole in the landscape, but a loss to the community.

I very much look forward to sweating it out with the Rev. Rali Weaver and the missional congregation of First Parish in Dedham, her priest colleague and his supportive parish, and the community of UUs, Catholics and other neighbors in faith to hear Father Helmut Schuller on July 17.