I will go barefoot and naked;
I will make lamentation like the jackals,
and mourning like the ostriches.
-- Micah 1:8
Well, I don't know about the lamentation and mourning -- how, exactly, does an ostrich mourn, anyway? -- but the gentlemen of the First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Framingham, Mass., certainly have the "naked" part covered.
A dozen men from First Parish, ages 64 to 87, got naked before the Lord (and everyone else, for that matter), for a fundraising calendar called "Celebration 2012." The calendars, which sell for $15 apiece, feature "a year of dashing, accomplished First Parish gentlemen -- Leo, Holly, Tony, John, Steve, Dick, Stan, Glenn, Larry, Ed, Walt and Jim," according to the parish web site.
"The calendar is part of an initiative to celebrate and honor the men at First Parish," it continues "First Parish Celebrates Men Month." This calendar boldly proclaims the joys of being an older man whether 64 or 87 with whimsy and humor. ...Why did the individual men decide to pose for the calendar? Reasons include: it would be fun; something I always wanted to do but never had a chance to do; great to celebrate senior men; great for other senior men everywhere to see that their contemporaries are active, engaged, and have a sense of humor; time to respond in a positive way to society's worship of youth; a sense of humor and thought this would be a whimsical thing to do; knew the photographer, Lynne Damianos, would create a high quality, tastefully designed photo."
The church calendar is tastefully rendered, thanks to a strategically-placed bag of golf clubs, banjo, laptop computer and what appears to be a large-mouth bass. The eldest pin-up dude is a retired minister who says there is a "certain elegance" to the older male form.
In religious circles, Unitarians do have something of a reputation for having a decent sense of humor about themselves, as evidenced by the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, Canada, which maintains a robust page on "Unitarian humor" under the "What is a Unitarian?" section of its official web site.
Below are my top three chuckles from the Canadian site:
Q: Why did the UU cross the road?
A: To support the chicken in its search for its own path.
Q: What do you get when you cross a UU with a Jehovah's Witness?
A: Somebody who comes knocking at your door for no apparent reason.
Q: How many Unitarians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey, you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is wonderful. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal relationship with your light bulb. Present it next month at our annual Light Bulb Sunday Service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, 3-way, long-life, and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.
Cathleen Falsani is Web Editor and Director of New Media for Sojourners. Her latest book, BELIEBER!: Fame, Faith and the Heart of Justin Bieber, was released last week.