The Uses and Abuses of Scapegoats

Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto Sermons and Reflections
Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto Sermons and Reflections
The Uses and Abuses of Scapegoats
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Ancient peoples had a strange ritual for coping with their own wrongdoing and starting over: the scapegoat, which was literally a goat that was symbolically burdened with the sins of the people and then sent into the wilderness. What do we do when burdened with regrets for wrongs that we can’t erase? Why is our modern practice of scapegoating–blaming and punishing others–so compelling? It is obviously neither honest nor constructive, but it meets a psychological need. Maybe in their very different use of the scapegoat, the ancients had some good insights that we can use today.

Worship leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern

Follow along in the order of service, bit.ly/uucpa_oos_20220911.

9:30: We gather in person, on the main patio, distanced 3′ and masked for safety. Please sign in at the welcome table as you arrive, for the sake of contact tracing.

11:00: We gather in person in the Main Hall, in person on the main patio, and via Zoombit.ly/uucpa_service_11am. In-person, we are distanced 3′ and masked for safety; proof of vaccination is required to enter the Main Hall. You may also sit on the patio if you prefer. Please sign in at the welcome table as you arrive, for the sake of contact tracing. To watch the service live on our Facebook page, visit: www.facebook.com/uucpa/live_videos.

Image: Sending Out the Scapegoat, William James Webb, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons