Sunday, January 22, 2006

Fixing UUism: Talk less about Emerson, More about Theodore Parker

Wint'ry Mix

Emerson was a flighty, angst-ridden individualist, who abandonned the ministry. What does it say about our faith that we cite him to people who ask?

I think Parker is a much better example. He struggled to retain his place among colleagues who often conisdered his theology too radical, committed to a religious community that was at best uneasy with many of his ideas. He continued to perform parish ministry through a marriage that was, at best, rocky even by the standards of his times.

Others can probably lay out equally strong arguments to cite other figures. But whatever we do, please, let's drop Emerson. He sends the wrong message about faith and religous community.

10 comments:

Chalicechick said...

I went back and forth over whether this is a rule A violation.

But I figured if we took Emerson out of the RE materials and stopped talking about him from Boston, churches might eventually take the hint.

I personally like Emerson, but I decided it would be fun to watch this one get discussed.

CC

Anonymous said...

of course, Parker's politics (he helped fund violent action against the US goverment) would mire us more in politics again .... maybe more now than it did back then....

steven r

The Emerson Avenger said...

CC did I hear you say that Emerson "sends the wrong message about faith and religous community"?! I could have sworn that was "retired" fundamentalist atheist Unitarian minister Rev. Ray Drennan's prerogueative (typo intended). . . and that of other intolerant and abusive "fundie" atheist bigots within U*Uism.

The Emerson Avenger said...

Thanks for the inspiration CC! ;-)

Slowly. . . slowly. . . but surely. . .

Chalicechick said...

No, Robin, you heard someone else say that. I am on record as liking Emerson on this very thread.

CC

The Emerson Avenger said...

Right CC. I see now that it was Wint-ry Mix who alleged that Emerson sends "the wrong message" about faith and religious community. I wonder what Wint-ry mix thinks of Rev. Ray Drennan's 'Wrong Message' about faith and religious community?

I wonder what Wint'ry Mix thinks about these wint'ry right messages that burn huge question marks into U*U "snow" in response to and protest against Rev. Ray Drennan's various 'Wrong Messages', and other 'Wrong Messages' spouted by wrong-headed and outrageously hypocritical U*Us?

LaReinaCobre said...

If I had a vote, it would absolutely not go to this. I came to UUism by way of Emerson, and still find him to be an inspiration (though I concede that he was highly emotional). I don't like the either/or tone of this proposal, either.

Kim said...

Is there a big problem with being "highly emotional"? Why?

The Emerson Avenger said...

Because sometimes human emotions can and do cause more harm than good. . . Engaging in uncontrolled anger is a form of being "highly emotional" that is harmful to pretty much everyone involved including the person expressing their anger in a manner that goes beyond reasonable limits. Being "highly emotional" can and does include being "highly hateful", "highly contemptuous", "highly jealous", "highly envious" etc. etc. etc. Former UUA President John Beuhrens once described me and other people who spoke out against UU injustices, abuses and hypocrisy as being "overly sensitive souls". Personally I do not believe that I am "overly sensitive" at all. Au contraire I usually put up with a lot of abuse prior to speaking out about it and then usually do so in a very controlled manner that is the antithesis of being "highly emotional".

I cannot say that I find Ralph Waldo Emerson to be "highly emotional" or indeed "overly sensitive" myself but perhaps I should devote a bit more time to studying him in case this Transcendentalist Super Hero is misinformed about him or misunderstands him. Even if Emerson was "highly emotional" on occasion that does not necessarily mean that what he said in his "highly emotional" state was invalid by any means.

Ralph Waldo Emerson sure got it right when he spoke about corpse-cold Unitarianism AFAIAC. I firmly believe that corpse-cold Unitarians could benefit from a higher level of certain human emotions, not the least of them being a reasonable amount of moral indignation, controlled anger and even some appropriate regret, sorrow and indeed guilt when it comes to injustices, abuses and hypocrisy that are perpetrated and perpetuated by Unitarian Universalists aka U*Us, especially when UU clergy and top level UUA officials are the perpetrators and/or perpetuators of U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy. . . Most of the U*Us that I know have a very bad habit of engaging in what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once called "sincere ignorance" (to say nothing of conscientious stupidity. . .) and obstinately turn callously indifferent deaf ears and willfully blind eyes to all kinds of internal UU injustices, abuses and hypocrisy that are brought to their attention by me and indeed other human beings who have shared their own "obviously deep concerns".

I might add that Samuel Taylor Coleridge's ancient ass*essment of Unitarianism still rings true today AFAIAC. . .

Coffee, coffee everywhere but not a drop to smell. . .

Allah prochaine,

The Dagger of Sweet Reason

PB2U*Us

Patrick Murfin said...

Parker? Yes! And Samuel May, Jenken Lloyd Jones, John Haynes Holmes and a bunch of others, who were often cast out or derided by their established and conventional brethren, who themselves had usually adopted the heresy of the previous generation.

But let’s not toss poor Ralph Waldo out. After all, there were so many of him, including his own activist streak on issues ranging from the Mexican War to abolition. He himself warned us that “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” The raving individualist of the 1840’s is quite different from the orator of later decades. And individual or not, Emersonian spirituality is a door through which many still walk to reach Unitarian Universalism. Like him, many of those folks will find their horizons broadened from naval gazing while never abandoning the search for the occasional transcendent moment,.