Amazing Coffeehouse/Open Mic on Jan 2nd

Unitarian Universalist Society: East opened the first Coffeehouse/Open Mic of 2016 with a full roster of talent. Acts included a pianist, solos on guitar and vocals, groups, spoken word, poetry and prose. Several debut acts wowed the audience with a guitar solo and a vocal perfomance.

The audience included friends, members, family, acquaintances, and visitors, filling the meeting room with laughter, cheers, applause, and even a few tears.

Coffeehouse Open Mic  1-2-16

Our next Coffeehouse/Open Mic is February 6th at the Meetinghouse

We hope you will come down and entertain us with song, music, acts or readings. Or, simply enjoy the entertainment and cheer on the entertainers. We have amazing talent right here in our own community and are always treated to friends who show up to entertain for the show as well.

  • Doors open at 6:00 for Happy Hour
  • Bring your own food and beverages
  • Sign -up is from 6:00 – 6:45
  • Entertainment begins promptly at 7:00

Please invite anyone you know who may be interested in performing or enjoying the show.
Contact our office at 860-646-5151 or send an email to [email protected]

Join us the first Saturday of every month!

Memory Page for Pawel Jura

As our community mourns the passing of our beloved former Director of Music Pawel Jura, we encourage those with memories of Pawel to share them in the comments area at the bottom of the page. Please note that your messages will not appear immediately, all messages are moderated and we will get them up in a timely manner. Your email will not appear.

To add photos to this page,  send them to [email protected]. Please include a short comment or caption.

Unitarian Universalists Congregation of Fairfax is also posting memories and photos of Pawel. Visit to see more.

Read more about Pawel, “A Community in Mourning“. Click here for Sunday’s, March 1, 2015 sermon “What Does the World Require of Us (Revisited for Pawel Jura)“.

Watch a slide show of Pawel’s life here:

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, VA is planning a memorial service for Pawel on Saturday, April 4th at a time to be determined.
Pawels Magic Hands

Pawels Magic Hands

Pawel at Jen and Peter's Wedding

Pawel at Jen and Peter’s Wedding

Children's Choir, Missa Gaia Easter 2014

Children’s Choir, Missa Gaia Easter 2014

Pawel and Friends

Pawel and Friends

Pawel Jura, Music Director

Sunday at the piano.

Missa Gaia Easter 2014

Missa Gaia Easter 2014

Pawel and Jean

Pawel and Jean

Pawel and Jen

Pawel and Jen

Pawel at work at UUSE

Pawel at work at UUS:E

Pawel picking out music at UUSE

Pawel selecting  music at UUS:E

Pawel and Friends

Pawel and Friends

Duo Piano Concert May 2014

Duo Piano Concert,Saint Saens “Carnival of the Animals” in May 2014

Unitarian Universalist Society: East Choir

Universal Voices on Easter morning

Pawel and Fay

Pawel and Fay

Announcing: Director of Music, Mary Bopp

The Unitarian Universalist Society: East Director of Music Search Committee, the Policy Board and Rev. Josh are deeply pleased to announce that Mary Bopp will become Unitarian Universalist Society: East’s new Director of Music on Feb. 1st, 2015.

Mary Bopp, Director of Music, Unitarian Universalist Society: East

Since 2002 Mary has served as the Music Director and Organist at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Whitestone, NY. She is a pianist and co-founder of Chamber16, a dynamic consortium of musicians based in New York City. Explore Chamber16’s website here.

Mary has performed as a soloist and collaborative artist in a wide variety of settings ranging from Weill Hall to the Knitting Factory, and the Los Angeles Bach Festival to the New York International Fringe Festival.  In 2001-2002 she was a coordinator/performer in daily concerts for World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers at St. Paul’s Chapel.  She was featured in a live broadcast on WNYC in the Queens finals of Battle of the Boroughs and most recently performed the Mozart Piano Concerto no. 13 at Saint Peter’s Church in New York City with the Chamber16 orchestra. Mary made her debut at the age of thirteen, performing the Mozart Concerto in d minor, K. 466 with the Peninsula Symphony in her native California. She proceeded to win numerous awards and honors including first place in the Music Teachers Association of California state solo competition.

She earned her Master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music with Constance Keene and Marc Silverman followed by post-graduate studies with Phillip Kawin and with John Perry as a scholarship student at the Aspen Music School.

Mary loves her cats, hiking, kayaking—anything that allows her to be in nature—animals, old movies, tarot cards, reading, history, ethnic food, and music of many different styles. With regard to her spiritual journey, she says, “I have followed and continue to follow many paths. The only thing I can’t tolerate is intolerance!”

The Unitarian Universalist Society: East search committee was impressed with Mary’s creativity, her piano performance skills, her wide-ranging knowledge of music, her experience directing choirs, her enthusiasm for working with musicians of all ages and abilities, and her open and generous spirit.

Before the Song at the Sea

Matt Meyer


Matt Meyer

Matt Meyer

The song at the sea must have been an incredible party.  The Israelites have made it to safety.  The Red Sea has swallowed up their enemies, and their powerful god has liberated them from generations of slavery.   

And you have to imagine that the actual walking through the Red Sea, when the waters had parted, leaving them this magnificent passageway to freedom. Well that must have been pretty incredible too.  

If you’re like me, you have a pretty clear mental image of the event, as Charlton Heston raises his staff and a mighty wind comes and parts the waters.  But there is another story of the way that it happened that has come down to us through the Jewish tradition.  

The story says, that when Moses and his people were trapped between the Egyptian Army and the sea, the people had begun yelling at Moses, asking why he had led them out of the safety of Egypt.  He asked God “what now?”  God rebuked Moses and told him to tell his people to just keep on walking and stop doubting. 

So a man named Nachson, a leader of his tribe, begins to wade on into the water.   He steps in, expecting the waters to part, but they don’t.  So we walks in up to his waist, expecting them to part, but they don’t.  When the water is up to his neck, he expects it to part, and it does not.  It is only when the sea is up to his nostrils, we are told that God opens up the path before him.  

God wanted to free the Israelites, but first they had to do their part.  Liberation didn’t come because they sat back in comfort and asked nicely. If you have ever worked to get our government, or any major institution or corporation, for that matter to change its way, the story of Nachson may feel familiar to you.  He was in almost over his head, before the way started to clear. 

-wade in the water-

 Why would he do such a thing?  What gives a person such solid faith in the path before them? 

Sometimes I hear stories about people I admire, and I try to ask myself, who am I in this story?  To be honest, I’m probably not Nachson.  I’m probably not pharaoh, or Moses either.  I’d like to think, of the bystanders watching Nachson walk into the sea, I would have at least been one of the supportive ones.  “Keep up the good work Nachson, I’ll be right behind you as soon as the path is dry!”

Shane Clairborn, a radical Christian activist, worked to set up an intentional community where people can not only believe in Jesus, but follow the example of Jesus’ life, by holding property in common and loving their neighbors in action as well as words.   To hear him tell his story though, of fundraising and conflict and getting his jaw broken in a rough neighborhood, he often seems to be in a little over his head.  But, Shane says, “Some of us have just caught a glimpse of the promised land, and it is so dazzling that our eyes are forever fixed on it, never to look back at the ways of that old empire again.” 

I imagine that Nachson, had seen somewhere in his heart, a dazzling glimpse of the promised land.   He saw clearly where he and his people were at, with a powerful and angry army coming up behind them, and he saw where they were headed  – through troubled water, and onto freedom.  The path from here to there was clear, and no sea was going to stop him from walking it. 

-wade in the water- 

One of the first real discussions I ever participated in on the subject of racism was a white-identity group at UUA General Assembly many years ago. 

We were in an oversized room in a convention center, a dozen white college and high school students sitting in a circle.  Someone said these words that hit me.  The said, “Racism is the name a system that pushes down one group, People of Color.  But the other half of the system is a process of lifting up another group, white people.  

I have gone on to learn more since then, about what that lifting up and putting down looks like in real life, but that first sentence, that definition, articulated, what had been for me, the missing half of the story on race.  

This other half of the story included me – included my place in things. I started to look back on my life at these invisible forces that, like gravity, shaped the world around me and pushed me, so silently, in a certain direction:          

-that time the police let me go with a warning,

 -the first good paying job I got through a family friend,

-everyone who said I looked like a “natural’ leader,

-the private school I went to,

-the other time the police let me go with a warning,

-the honors classes I took, strangers who naturally trusted me,

-my own trust in the government to be on my side,

-and last but not least, the other time that the police let me go with a warning. 

Coming to look honestly at my place in this old empire of ours has felt at times like being in over my head.  How uncomfortable to realize that despite my best intentions, I am sometimes in the position of the Israelites fleeing the Egyptians and that I am at the same time also the Egyptians.  

Most of the Egyptians weren’t bad people, you know, they were part of an unjust system, where exploitation of the most vulnerable was just built into the their economy.  

The sneaky thing about white privilege is that I did not ask for it.  

It’s like finding some extra money in my pants pocket after doing the laundry.  

All along the way, my employers, and the police, and locally funded schools, and standardized tests, and family connections, and the housing market, have all been slipping money and other privileges into my back pocket, and I never even needed to pay attention to it.  In fact, I was encouraged not to. 

But walking intentionally into uncomfortable conversations about race, going into the discomfort, sometimes up to my neck has given me, if not a glimpse of the promised land, at least a vision of the way toward it. 

Once the Israelites were out in the desert, and the way forward looked difficult, some among them we are told, asked Moses to take them back to the more comfortable land of Egypt and back to slavery, rather than trust that they could cross the sea.  I can understand that. 

What’s a white person to do when we inherit money accumulated by our parents or grandparents in a time when their careers and even their neighborhoods were closed to people of color.  

What’s a man to do when corporations slip an extra 30% in income into our back pockets, just for being male bodied.  

What’s a heterosexual to do when federal marriage law slips some extra money in our back pockets for loving someone of a different gender.  

Looking around to the systems of inequity in this old empire that surrounds us, is uncomfortable. Finding all those dollar bills and benefits in my back pocket, feels a little like being trapped in Egypt as an Egyptian.  Living in comfort made affordable by the cheap labor of exploited people.  The Israelites had a plan for liberation, but what of the middle class Egyptians.  The story doesn’t tell us if any of them felt uncomfortable with their place in things.  

I am stunned by the courage of that Mexican man on the immigration rides in Arizona, who at great personal risk boarded a very public bus in order to speak his truth about humanity in an unjust system. 

But I am equally impressed by the white woman who sat near him and was willing to get into that struggle up to her neck. I had thought perhaps that she would have had nothing to lose, by showing her identification to the authorities, but she sought a greater purpose.  Perhaps she saw a glimpse of the promised land, through the realization of living her values in troubled water. 

Our broken immigration system is troubled water. 

A public school system that fast-tracks some to college and some to jail, is troubled water. 

A consumer culture that urges us to find comfort in things at the expense of relationship is troubled water. 

The separation of people according to racial profiling is troubled water. 

Wading through those troubled waters of injustice can bring us to the other side, where we can realize the promised land of justice, equity and compassion in our human relationships.  

I don’t know if there is a god out there somewhere who has specific opinions about how we go about bringing change to the material world.  My experience though, tells my that god or no god, some plans work better than others.  Sitting back in comfort and asking nicely for change, tends not to work.  It is rare to find a story of societal transformation, without some troubled water.  Without someone moving forward into the depths, holding fast to a vision of the promised land.

-Wade in the water- 

The African-American spiritual, Wade in the Water, comes from the new testament story of the pools of Bethesda, where we’re told a multitude of people waited by it’s shores, because it was known that in certain seasons, god would trouble the water, and the first one into the pool when the water was troubled would be healed of all their ailments. 

In a story of exodus from slavery in our own nation Harriet Tubman was said to sing this song, to tell slaves on the run, that they should follow the water-way, so the dogs would not be follow their scent. 

I can’t say for sure, which character in the Exodus story I would have been.  But I can say that I’ve known some modern-day Nachson’s (say modern-day Nachson) and am planning to try my best to follow them into the water. 

Coming of age in Unitarian Universalist community challenged me to think about how change happens.  From the World as it is to the world as it might be. We have a strong tradition of heresy that, I hope, isn’t coming to an end any time soon. 

I invite you to join me in the heresy of returning any unearned money you find in your back pocket.  I invite you to think of a modern day Nachson in your life and ask them how they do it.  I invite you to wade into the troubled water, of discomfort, of conversation, of action.  I invite you to turn your back on this old empire of ours and join in recommitting to a Unitarian Universalism that speaks of a promised land here and now, and walks steadily into the water to get there together. 


What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Dan Thompson and Rev. Josh Pawelek

Part I, Introducing the Grateful Dead


This morning’s service explores spiritual insights in the music of the Grateful Dead. The Grateful Dead was an American Rock and Roll band, formed in San Francisco in 1965.  They lasted 30 years, through many changes in culture and taste, until the death of one of their founding members, Jerry Garcia, in 1995.   They fused many musical styles including folk, rock, reggae, jazz and bluegrass.  They played some 2,350 shows. The remaining members continue to perform to this day, collaborating with a huge array of musicians.  

To those of us who loved them, the Grateful Dead spoke to two spiritual yearnings: freedom and community.  Freedom to be who you really are, to pursue the things you really like, to step away from the button-down world of business and school and see and experience things in a different light. And in proclaiming that freedom, what emerged was a community—not only of fans and music lovers, but of fellow travelers, searchers, experimenters, counter culturalists, peace-lovers, and out-of-the-box thinkers—people who still share a common bond today, nearly twenty years since Jerry’s death.  

The point of this service is not to turn you into a deadhead. But rather to use the Grateful Dead experience—and to identify music in general—as a kind of stepping stone to enlightenment, our May ministry theme here at UUS:E. The Grateful Dead had some unique successes in terms of their longevity, their output, the huge record breaking crowds that attended their shows year after year, the poeticism of their lyrics, the sense of community that grew up around them, and tie dye.  We cannot forget tie dye.  And so I invite you this morning, as they themselves might invite us, to “come hear Uncle John’s band by the river side. Come on along or go alone, he’s come to take his children home.”

 Rev. Josh:

Dan purchased this service at last year’s Goods and Services Auction. Just a reminder: this year’s auction will happen on Saturday the 18th and yes, there are sermons for sale! Today is a little different than the usual bought sermon in that Dan has written quite a lot about spiritual insights he draws from the Grateful Dead’s music and he will be speaking this morning as well.

A few years ago Dan had read a story in the New York Times about two rabbis who offered a weekend retreat in Litchfield County called “The Grateful Dead: Blues for Challah” (which was a play on the title of a Grateful Dead album, “Blues for Allah.” It was a weekend of discussions, sharing, playing music, singing and philosophizing about the connection between the Grateful Dead’s music and Jewish people.  And Dan thought, there must be connections between the Dead and Unitarian Universalists. And that’s what this morning is really about.

But before we go further, I want to confess a fear. Unitarian Universalists often profess a strong identification with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Because UU ministers marched with Dr. King, because a few UUs lost their lives protesting segregation, the Civil Rights movement is a primary lens through which we view our relationship as a faith community to American history. It is also true that quite a few UUs have a fairly strong identification with (or at least fond memories of) the 1960s counter culture—peace, love and happiness; sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, Woodstock, bell bottoms, long, beautiful Hair, alternative spirituality, communes, co-ops… and hippies. Though not entirely by their own design, the Grateful Dead was and is the quintessential 1960s counter culture band. In a 1989 Rolling Stone interview, Jerry Garcia said the real part of the 1960s was not the political part or the social part, but the spiritual part.[1] There’s a lot about the counter culture that I like, but my fear is that we 21st century UUs will become overly associated with that culture as in, “oh, they’re a bunch of 60s lefties,” or “a bunch of 60s radicals,” or worse, “a bunch of hippies.” the problem is that in today’s world  the hippy identity is not what it used to be. it’s become a stereotype, and quite often a negative one. I’ve never wanted to serve a 21st century congregation with a 1960s reputation.  So, a service on the Grateful Dead? Uh-oh! Wear your tie-dye? Yikes!

In the end, I’m not really concerned. In the end, there is something much deeper here than hallucinating hippies frolicking naked in the mud at Woodstock. The Grateful Dead subverted and even shattered many norms and crossed many lines through their music, their lyrics, their do-it-yourself business practices, and their invitation to their fans to be present or, as writer and music producer Steve Silberman says, “to be however you wanted to be, however you felt just at that moment.” Indeed, he goes on, at a Grateful Dead concert “people were freed up to do what they naturally do—to play, to ponder the mysteries at the heart of everyday existence, and to build community with kindred spirits.”[2]


Part II, What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been: Freedom


Grateful Dead concerts—shows—were always unique, never carbon copies.  Night after night the band changed the set list and the song arrangements.  Time was an elastic concept on a Grateful Dead stage. A song ended only when every possibility embedded in the structure, and set loose by the group’s improvisational empathy on that particular night, was tested and fulfilled.  The band would often flow from one song to another without a break, and although sometimes those transitions were entirely too long, they were remarkable transitions—as much a part of the show as the songs themselves. The band would often drop into weird time signatures, 7s and 11s (instead of 3s and 4s) sometimes with members playing each to their own time… Fans rarely heard the same song played the same way twice. Perfection was not the point. Where most other artists try to perfect their stage show and get everything just right and repeatable and synched up with the lights,  it was the sense of imperfection, of change, of adaptability that made a Grateful Dead show an expression of freedom.  

Of course this was not the unbridled freedom we might associate with musical anarchy. Each band member was an individual creative entity, but creative in relation to every other band member. They trained themselves to listen intently to each other and to feel each other’s energy. And they trained themselves to listen to the audience, to feel the audience’s energy.  They played to that energy.  They had a saying that the music played the band. For them the entire experience—the audience, the venue, the song selection, the energy—made a whole. Freedom yes, self expression yes, innovation yes, creativity yes, but always responsive and responsible to the whole.

So what you were left with, with a good show, was this feeling of being lifted up, of participating with the show, of anticipating where the show would go, and moreover, experiencing this with the entire audience… because the audience reaction often guided where the band went with its music.  And so, yes, you had this organic whole… a unique experience. And that is the experience that people still talk about today…

It seemed natural, easy, free. It seemed to just flow. But it actually took years of practice. It took hard work.  At the beginning they practiced almost daily, and sometimes twelve hours or more.  The incredible jams that they played, that we deadheads loved, with changing time signatures and keys that seemed to float around on their own didn’t just happen, they took thousands of hours of practice.  And this reminds me that anything that seems new or interesting or exciting or simple, often takes many hours of practice to make happen.  

It reminds me that to be successful, to gain joy, to spread joy, it is really, really important to do what you love and love what you do.  Because it can take years to become really good at something.  We might say practice brings freedom. Is that enlightenment? I suspect it is.

Rev. Josh:

I want to address two aspects of freedom that seem to coincide with peoples’ experience of the Grateful Dead. First, freedom within the music. Although Jerry Garcia is often identified as the leader of the band, there was no leader. Bassist Phil Lesh once said that “nine times out of ten if someone tried to take charge … it would just dissolve in their hands.”[3] Guitarist Bob Weir said it is pointless to try to tell each other what to play.[4] Each musician was free to bring their ideas, their energy, their creativity into each song, night after night, such that no performance was ever repeated. Garcia once described the band as a process rather than an event.[5]

It strikes me that this is akin to what we expect our Unitarian Universalist faith to look like. We want each member and friend to bring their full self to the life of the congregation—their energy, their creativity, their passions, their beliefs. If we told each other what to believe—if we asked everyone to confess the same creed—if we expected everybody to think and act alike—it would dissolve in our hands. We wish for each other the freedom to be who we are. But what keeps it together? There must be some limit to our freedom, some boundary. Well, in talking about what kept the Grateful Dead together, philosopher Horace Fairlamb says the band’s unity was not “the spontaneous product of selfless yea-sayers, but more like the opposite. It was the product of strong personalities who shared a vision with enough commitment to make it work.”[6] And what was the essence of that vision? It had something to do with valuing community as much as individual expression. It had something to do with a desire to listen and respond to what others are doing—to revel in the way one’s own ideas can be shaped and positively transformed by what others are doing—to recognize that in a community where acceptance matters more than agreement and diversity matters more than sameness, we have enormous opportunities for growth. Freedom yes, self-expression yes, innovation yes, creativity yes, but always aware of the other, always responsive to the other, always accepting the other, always open to the possibllity of change in oneself, always responsible for the health, well-being and positive growth of the whole.

Second, freedom beyond the music. In working together in spontaneous, creative ways; in the nightly discovery of new musical paths, members of the band and members of the audience would describe an intense, communal, even spiritual experience, the emergence of a group consciousness. Fairbanks cites drummer Bill Kreutzman’s speculation that “there is some great power, be it God or whatever, that enters the Grateful Dead on certain nights , and it has to do with us being open and getting together with the audience.” Garcia, more cautiously, called the experience “some kind of intuitive thing.”[7]

I can vouch. It was Tuesday, September 27, 1994, the first of six shows at the Boston Garden, and my first Grateful Dead show. I was not a deadhead, though my then girlfriend, Stephany, was. We went to see the show. I was skeptical. I was more of a hard rock, alternative rock, heavy metal kinda guy. The Dead? Nah. Not my thing. I promise you I took no drugs that night and I saw very little drug use inside the Boston Garden. I was moderately impressed through most of the show, until they played the song “Standing on the Moon.” Something happened. Some spirit of the music, of the evening, of the crowd swept me up and for a moment I was enveloped. Whatever it was, it was palpable. For a moment I lost myself in the whole. And I’ve heard countless Grateful Dead fans talk about a similar experience.

I don’t for a minute believe this essentially mystical experience they’re describing is unique to Grateful Dead concerts. People report these kinds of experiences in response to all sorts of music, all sorts of art, all sorts of physical activities, all sorts of worship. It’s an experience of ourselves stepping out of ourselves into a larger connection, a feeling of oneness. In our Unitarian Universalist sources we call it the direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces that create and uphold life. Often fleeting, often momentary, it’s an experience of freedom beyond the constraints of our daily lives, our bodies, our culture. It’s refreshing. It’s rejuvenating, even inspiring.  This kind of experience is one of the reasons the Grateful Dead were so immensely popular. And I believe this kind of experience is one human beings long for.


Part III, What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been: Community


Philosopher Steven Gimbel writes that the spirit of the Grateful Dead “gave rise to a culture all its own. The traveling carnival that landed in fields, parking lots, and campgrounds across the country several times a year was filled with folks eager to dance over all the conventions that were socially enforced in the white-bread world they sought to leave. Each tour was a living laboratory, an experiment that was one part social engineering and one part chaos theory. There was an ethos to the parking lot, a social code, an economy, and customs all its own. It was a nomadic culture within a culture that attracted those who felt that there must be a different way.”[8]

I certainly agree. For deadheads, the Grateful Dead was much more than a band.  It was a reason for gathering together. To unite.  It was a shared experience.  The people who self-identified as Deadheads sometimes spent summers trailing the band from venue to venue.  Some of them set up camps and makeshift markets where they sold trinkets and beads and tie-dyed clothing.  They knew not only the lyrics to all of the songs, but the order in which they had been played at the shows they had attended.  It became a community of like-minded people who simply wanted to be there for the joy and connectedness it brought them.  

I never called myself a Deadhead, at least not until fairly recently.  But what did it for me was that I came to realize that if I brought my guitar to a sing along there was probably a handful of Grateful Dead songs that everyone knew and could sing along with and maybe even play along with.  And that was the case more than any other group I could pull from.  And that finally made me realize that yes, there is that thread of community and as much as I might want to deny it, I am a part of it.

 Rev. Josh:

I can vouch. It was spring break, March 1987. I was on tour with the Oberlin College Steel Drum Band in the Washington, DC area. The Grateful Dead were playing four hours away at the Hampton Roads Coliseum in Hampton, VA. We had a day off. We decided to drive to Hampton and set up our drums in the parking lot at the Coliseum.

The first thing I noticed when we arrived is that people were living there—tents, campers, vans everywhere. Lots of laundry drying in the sea breeze. Then I realized we had set up in what appeared to be the middle of an open air bazaar. People were selling jewelry, clothes, food, drugs. I’d always heard about the phenomenon of people following the Dead. Now I was part of it for a day.

We played and played and played. A crowd swarmed around us and danced. It seemed to go on for hours. People came with hand drums and tambourines and joined in. At this point, I can’t remember how long we actually played. I do remember people talking to us once we were done, people wanting to know who we were, where we were from; people thanking us for being there. I remember people wanting to feed us. I could perceive an underground economy in the parking lot, one in which sellers would try to earn a few dollars, but certainly would not balk at bartering or giving away their product for free. There was a sense of flexibility, of many ways to conduct business, of friendliness, of mutual concern, or genuine interest in strangers—a sense of real community. All of it mirrored the way the Grateful Dead conducted their own life as a rock band. I liked it. I was glad I went.


Music can tell us about truth and beauty.  It can enlighten us, or just as easily pull us away from enlightenment in the glitz, the glamour, the selling of sex. But the Grateful Dead preferred its audience to seek enlightenment. They said “come join us, be as you are, if you’re weird, that’s ok; if you’re not that’s ok too. We accept you just the way you are, and you accept us just the way we are. Acceptance. I like that. That’s what makes a community.

Rev. Josh: Acceptance. That’s what makes a community. Amen and blessed be.


[1] Jerry Garcia, Rolling Stone interview, #566, 11/30/89, p. 73.

[2] Silberman, Steve, “Half Baseball Game, Half Church,” in Gimbel, Steven, ed., The Grateful Dead and Philosophy ( Chicago: Open Court, 2007) p. x-xi.

[3] Gimbel, The Grateful Dead and Philosophy, p. 19.

[4] Ibid., p. 19.

[5] Jerry Garcia, Rolling Stone interview, #566, 11/30/89, p. 73.

[6] Fairlamb, Horace, “Community at the Edge of Chaos,” in Gimbel, The Grateful Dead and Philosophy, pp. 18-19.

[7] Gimbel, The Grateful Dead and Philosophy, p. 23.

[8] Gimbel, Steven, “Some Folks Trust to Reason,” in Gimbel, ed., The Grateful Dead and Philosophy ( Chicago: Open Court, 2007) p. xvii.