Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sour Grapes Moment: Did the level of civility hurt the Hallman campaign?

Ms. Kitty has an interesting post up about how very civil the recent campaign for UUA president was. Now, as Robin Edgar will no doubt show up here and mention, Diane Miller felt that there were untrue rumors spread about her during her campaign, an opinion that shows a charming innocence about the way elections work anywhere as she seems to think that supporters of one candidate having false negative ideas about another candidate is sufficiently unusual to be worth comment*.

Anyway, the Hallman/Morales campaign was a very civil campaign. Too civil, perhaps.

I was a member of the UUA election mailing list for several months and I developed the impression that everyone's attempts to be polite actually made for a far less accurate picture of things and one that might have slanted things toward Morales.

For example, it was made very, very clear that there was to be no questioning of the veracity of anything the candidates said. As Morales has a serious fondness for hyperbole and Hallman does not, this meant that he was free to make questionable assertions, knowing they would go unquestioned, and phrases like "a star-studded cast of religious educators" were, in my opinion, insufficiently made-fun-of**. For awhile, his supporters were actually calling him "the Prophet of the Possible" with no obvious discouragement from the Morales campaign. Let's hope he leaves that off his business cards. On the upside, if you reread "Pride and Prejudice," Mr. Collins is a lot funnier when you have Morales in mind.

Anyway, maybe it's polite to accept Morales' fondness for grandiose phrasing. But I do have worries about how it's going to sound when his purple prose is speaking for us all.

Even more worrisome to me was that because the candidates could not be criticized, rumors that Laurel Hallman was the principal architect of Pathways and did a terrible job of it were forced underground rather than being addressed up front.

Less than a month before the election, I received an e-mail, from someone with a UUpdates blog no less, that asserted at least half a dozen unsupportable accusations about Hallman's part in Pathways*** and about the overall sanity of the Pathways project. I put together an FAQ addressing all these concerns and put it on the list, but it was too little too late.

I fully believe that the person who wrote me the email believed what he said about Hallman. Maybe that's what he had been told. I wish he had accused her of these things on his blog or before the election list turned into one dull endorsement after another and the Hallman campaign pulled out as the campaign probably has more information that I was able to glean from UUA sources.

But hey, it was a civil campaign.

CC

*Also, Miller was shocked and saddened to find that "identity politics" was an issue in the election where the black guy ran against the woman. I supported her, though halfheartedly, and am horrified to discover that the UUA elected, I think, the right person in Sinkford as his opponent was apparently Howard-Dean-level not ready for primetime. I wish Hallman had run then. Or Morales, though he would have had to start his campaign as he was graduating from Starr King. Also, I hate it when people talk about "identity politics" as if it is something new and excludes the idea of decades of upper-middle-class white men voting for each other.

**If you can read "a star-studded cast of religious educators" without thinking of this Onion article, you're a better person than I am. (Note to the CSO's mom: Gastonia gets a shoutout in that article)

***My favorite was the idea that Hallman was crazy to think that a large UU church could be built within 20 miles of another large UU church. When I pointed out that my church and UU church five miles down the road have a combined population of about 1,300 I wasn't surprised not to get a response.

(EDIT: Suzie pointed out that I named the wrong organization in one of my comments. She's right, I was wrong. Cecile Richards is still head of Planned Parenthood. If you follow that link, you get her analysis. She believes the election was decided by gender more than I do, but whst she has to say is interesting.

As a response to what she has to say, I will say that I think Morales was a better politician and that his dancing-around of the question about patriarchy was just the politiciany way he answers questions, not any real substantive comment on his feelings about feminism. For an example of what I'm talking about, note the question Robin keeps talking about where when asked about mistakes they had made, Laurel directly addresses Pathways and acknowledges that some of the mistakes were hers while Morales gives some blather about how difficult it is to schedule a church service because his church has SO MANY MEMBERS.)

41 comments:

Scott Gerard Prinster said...

Interesting -- I hadn't heard that rumor about Laurel being responsible for Pathways. Actually, I hadn't heard anything negative about her from Peter's supporters, only that they thought he'd do a better job. Maybe I just wasn't listening closely enough; it has been a busy year.

Robin Edgar said...

:Ms. Kitty has an interesting post up about how very civil the recent campaign for UUA president was.

It does seem that this particular UUA presidential campaign was indeed relatively civil if one ignores Rev. Peter Morales' rather less than civil belittling and maligning of "obsolete religions" in his stump speech. I am not sure how civil it is to describe U*Uism itself as "a tiny, declining, fringe religion" even if it is largely true. . . I must say that I have had a field day with *that* less than flattering decription of U*Uism. It has been almost as much fun as The U*U Movement. :-)

:Now, as Robin Edgar will no doubt show up here and mention, Diane Miller felt that there were untrue rumors spread about her during her campaign, an opinion that shows a charming innocence about the way elections work anywhere as she seems to think that supporters of one candidate having false negative ideas about another candidate is sufficiently unusual to be worth comment*.

Charming innocence had nothing to do with it AFAIAC. Rev. Diane Miller doesn't come across as charming or innocent to me or other people who she let down with her negligent and complicit "whitewashing" of U*U clergy who were clearly guilty of conduct unbecoming a minister or even worse clergy misconduct.

:Anyway, it was a very civil campaign. Too civil, perhaps.

Perhaps.

:I was a member of the UUA election mailing list for several months and I developed the impression that everyone's attempts to be polite actually made for a far less accurate picture of things (snip)

Typical U*U behavior. . . Often such "attempts to be polite" are actually attempted to suppress legitimate criticism and dissent.

:For example, it was made very, very clear that there was to be no questioning of the veracity of anything the candidates said.

Again, par for the course for U*Us, perhaps *especially* when it comes to questioning of the veracity of what U*U clergy say. . .

:As Morales has a serious fondness for hyperbole and Hallman does not, this meant that he was free to make questionable assertions, knowing they would go unquestionsed, and phrases like "a star-studded cast of religious educators" were, in my opinion, insufficiently made-fun-of**.

Let's not forget "We can be the religion of our time". . . If that's not extremely optimistic hyperbole crying out to be made fun of I don't know what is. . .

:When I received an e-mail, from someone with a UUpdates blog no less, that asserted at least half a dozen unsupportable accusations about Hallman's part in Pathways*** and about the overall sanity of the Pathways project. I put together an FAQ addressing all these concerns and put it on the list, but it was too little too late.

Well that wouldn't be the first time that you have done too little too late would it CC?

:Also, she was shocked and saddened to find that "identity politics" was an issue in the election where the black guy ran against the woman.

ROTFLMU*UO! As though she and her supporters didn't make anything out of the fact that she would have been the first female President of the UUA. The 2001 election campaign was all about "identity politics" at least as far as the identity of the candidates goes. One woman, one openly gay man, and one "person of color". Any one of them would have been a "first" for the UUA.

:I supported her, though halfheartedly, and am horrified to discover that the UUA elected, I think, the right person in Sinkford

Surely you mean the "lesser of two evils" and, from where I and other victims of U*U clergy misconduct stand, I am not sure if that is true. . .

:as his opponent was apparently Howard-Dean-level not ready for primetime given her meager understanding of what politics is like.

I am sure that Rev. Diane Miller had a pretty good idea of what politics is like.

Robin Edgar said...

"I hadn't heard that rumor about Laurel being responsible for Pathways."

Interestingly enough Scott, Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman somewhat defensively and evasively brought Pathways up herself in the October 2008 UUA Presidential forum in which the candidates were asked to respond to the following question -

"In the past, how have you responded to, evaluated and learned from *mistakes*, your own or those of your team?"

You can read what Rev. Hallman said, and my partially suppressed take on it, on the Mistakes and Candidates post of Lizard Eater's blog. The comment thread is a very good example of how some U*Us, including U*U bloggers, suppressed legitimate criticism of presidential candidates during this election campaign.

Here are my comments that LE suppressed -

Rev. Hallman's ability to responsibly acknowledge and deal with reality, to say nothing of her honesty and personal integrity is called into question by her statements here. She claims that, "we were not creating a mega church. We never intended to create a mega church." I guess that depends on what the meaning of "mega church" is. . . Pathways was supposed to have over a 1000 members, definitely a "mega church" by U*U standards albeit not a "mega church" by mainstream Christian standards. The fact remains that Pathways was originally intended to be what can properly be described as a "mega church" within the context of the UUA. If I remember correctly UUA officials said that Pathways would be considered a "failure" if it did not reach a membership level of 1000 members. According to the most recent UUA figures Pathways currently has just over 100 adult members.

Rev. Laurel Hallman's assertion that,

"I firmly believe that had we kept the management of the project local, that we would have changed the benchmarks as we saw the project not performing at the level that we had originally anticipated, which was we now know somewhat grandiose."

is just a tad disturbing.

One has to wonder just what other "benchmarks" Rev. Laurel Hallman is willing to change when observable reality does not align well with the original "great expectations", to say nothing of reasonable goals, of the UUA. In any case, no matter how one changes the "benchmarks" for Pathways it was, and still is, a monumental failure in comparison to what it was originally intended to be.

I can't help but ask if,

"When all else fails, change the benchmarks."

is the motto of Rev. Laurel Hallman and/or the UUA?

Reading the UUA's official report about the Pathways fiasco would lead one to think so. . . What else is Rev. Hallman willing to change the benchmarks on when a reality check shows that UUA is missing the mark that it set for itself?

Robin Edgar said...

I would appreciate it LE if you could take a risk by seeing your way to posting my follow-up comment which very justifiably calls Rev. Laurel Hallman's honesty and integrity into question on the basis of her well documented words here. I do not believe that you would be making a mistake in doing so unless you are afraid of repercussions down the road a bit from type UUA personalities as it were. The more I read what Rev. Laurel Hallman said here the more I get the distinct impression that she is not only not admitting to any serious mistakes herself but is in considerable denial about the Dallas/Fort Worth Pathways Church "experiment" being a failed experiment.

Rhetorically asking herself,

"Pathways, people say how, why did it fail?"

and then answering that question by proclaiming,

"Pathways is alive, it’s growing, they’ve called a new minister."

Looks a lot like psychological denial and/or a clear inability to responsibly acknowledge her own "mistakes", to say nothing of the well-documented abject failure of other U*Us including top level UUA administrators. . . Is Rev. Laurel Hallman really all that smarter today than she was yesterday regarding the Pathways fiasco? It sure doesn't look that way to me based on what I have read here.

""But this blog is no way will take pains to avoid offending others."

Unless of course they are UUA Presidential candidates or other U*U clergy. . .

Robin Edgar said...

I understood perfectly your deliberate use of the term "wifebeater" in this blog post, and agree with your response to Anonymous, but it is quite hypocritical in light of the pains that you quite obviously will take to avoid offending UUA Prtesidential candidates.

Interestingly enough the WVC for this comment is 'staffed'

I reread the follow-up comments that I submitted to your 'Mistakes and Candidates' post that you suppressed LE. While I do point out some rather questionable, and even potentially disturbing, aspects of Rev. Laurel Hallman's public statements regarding her involvement in the Pathways fiasco I do not in fact ascribe motives as to why she made certain choices in my subsequent comments, unless you consider possible psychological denial on her part to be a "motive" for her apparent inability to acknowledge and/or accept some responsibility for serious mistakes that she and/or other UUA leaders have made. I pointed out that Rev. Hallman's words seemed to be somewhat "less than honest" but did not ascribe any particular motive for that apparent lack of honesty and integrity in my follow-up comments. Most ironically I did ascribe a possible motive for her behavior in the initial comment that I submitted that you saw fit to publish. . . I clearly suggested that Rev. Hallman appeared to be "trying to cover her ass insofar as her involvement in the Pathways fiasco goes." *That* is ascribing motive, or more accurately suggesting a *possible* motive, for her apparent lack of forthrightness and objectivity about the Pathways fiasco. Personally I see no reason why people cannot suggest possible motives behind the questionable words and actions of UUA Presidential candidates, or any other UUA leaders or U*U clergy, if there are reasonable grounds for suggesting or even outright ascribing those motives. Surely U*Us have a right to know if the words and/or actions of a UUA Presidential candidate call their honesty, forthrightness, moral and ethical integrity, objectivity aka ability to deal with reality, and other personal qualities required for sound and *responsible* leadership into question; and to know this *before* casting their vote for UUA President if they have one, which most U*Us don't BTW. . .

I well understand, and to some degree empathize with, how "less than secure" seminarians and "newbie" U*U ministers can be concerned and even "worried" about possible repercussions and "sanctions" from the UUA, UUMA, and MFC, or individual U*U clergy etc., for allowing other people's criticism of U*U clergy and UUA leaders to appear on their blogs, even though there is no clearly written UUMA guideline or other UUA rule that forbids it, but let's not pretend that censoring and suppressing such criticism of UUA leaders and U*U clergy does not in fact "take pains to avoid offending others" largely for self-interested reasons.

Chalicechick said...

Robin, please don't post all these comments out of context.

If it helps, Lizard Eater chose not to post a comment of mine that was on that very thread. Her editorial decisions are hers and I'm not sure why my readers have to get punished for what you see as her sins.

As for Diane Miller, anyone who thinks they can run for any elected office anywhere without untrue rumors going around about them is far too clueless about the political process to be a good candidate.

Chalicechick said...

Scott,

The short version as I understand it is that Laurel was asked to raise the funds to turn a fairly simple church planting similar to one Laurel had done before into this big "megachurch" idea that Boston had.

She raised the money, but how the money was spent was decided by the UUA and they made some pretty bad decisions that really didn't have anything to do with her.

Today, Pathways is the 20th largest church in its district and is run without external UU funding. It had an expensive start in some senses, but that expensive start was roughly my church's budget for a year, so looked at that way it wasn't that bad.

But I got emails saying things like "Had they hired a competent consultant before Laurel and the gung-ho members of the Large Church group had made up their minds that predictable disaster would not have happened."

and

"It was Laurel's project, period."

Of course, a cursory inspection of the UUA documents on the web show that they had a well-known church consultant working with them on site and it wasn't "her" project exactly.

Which is why I wish those accusations had been made publicly so the air could have been cleared.

CC

Robin Edgar said...

:If it helps, Lizard Eater chose not to post a comment of mine that was on that very thread. Her editorial decisions are hers and I'm not sure why my readers have to get punished for what you see as her sins.

I am not "punishing" your readers or even LE. If I wanted to "punish" her for suppressing my comments I could have and would have done so at the time. N'est-ce pas. It is clear from what I posted hear that I understood her reasons for not posting them to her blog. Right? My comments that she suppressed are very pertinent to the topic of this thread and Scott's comment. *That* is why I decided to post them here and now.

:As for Diane Miller, anyone who thinks they can run for any elected office anywhere without untrue rumors going around about them is far too clueless about the political process to be a good candidate.

Call me cynical and jaded CC but I do not believe that Rev. Diane Miller *really* believed that she could run for President of the UUA without "untrue rumors", or indeed very true scuttlebutt, going around about them or even directed right at them. In fact I have my doubts that Rev. Diane Miller *really* believed that the well-documented "falsehoods and deceit" that Rev. Ray Drennan and other intolerant and bigoted "Humanist" Montreal U*Us "spread below the surface" about me were *really* "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership." Was Rev. Diane Miller "clueless" or a knowing and willful participant in U*U institutional stonewalling and denial?

U*Us decide. . .

Robin Edgar said...

"Robin, please don't post all these comments out of context."

I seem to recall posting a direct link to LE's 'Mistakes and Candidates' blog post, so the context is readily available. In fact one of the reasons that I posted my suppressed comments here was to provide the context that was missing on that blog post due to LE's suppression of my follow-up comments.

Robin Edgar said...

:She raised the money, but how the money was spent was decided by the UUA and they made some pretty bad decisions that really didn't have anything to do with her.

Rev. Laurel Hallman's involvement in the Pathways fiasco is not entirely clear but I certainly agree that UUA administrators, including Rev. Dr. Tracey Robinson-Harris if not that UUA "marketing executive" President Bill Sinkford himself. . . have to accept their fair share of responsibility for that fiasco to say nothing of various other big fat U*U fiascos that they share blame in. . .

Chalicechick said...

Is it theoretically possible for a national office to have an election and have rumors not go around about the candidates?

Lots of things are theoretically possible.

Is it at all a reasonable expectation given every campaign I've ever seen?

Not at all.

CC
who, for example, has heard a fuck ton about the election of the new head of Planned Parenthood a couple of weeks ago and whether one candidate is secretly supported by Sarah Palin.

Suzie said...

Chalicechick, you're thinking about the recent NOW election. My favorite headline on that is: "NOW conference infiltrated by NOW members."

"http://www.reclusiveleftist.com/2009/06/23/now-conference-infiltrated-by-now-members/

I just linked to you in my very angry post about this election.

http://echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com/

Joel Monka said...

I don't think any of this makes any difference. Here's what I think happened: the UUA, though in their hearts they would bitterly deny it, is not made up of superior life forms- they are ordinary people. The simple fact is that the American electorate- as a whole, or in subsets such as the UUA electorate- is not ready for a woman president. I believe it really is that simple.

Robin Edgar said...

"Is it at all a reasonable expectation given every campaign I've ever seen? Not at all."

I don't think you understood what I said CC. I clearly said that I DO NOT believe that Rev. Diane Miller *really* expected that there would be no rumors going around about her. I personally think that she was trying to cover her proverbial U*U with her "sermon". I do not know exactly what "falsehoods and deceit" that she is referring to in her "whining" but I have reasonable grounds to believe that *some* of what she was "whining" about were neither falsehoods nor deceit. . . Certainly the criticism that I subjected her to on Election-L during the 2001 UUA election campaign was solidly founded on fact and backed up by documentary evidence. I would not be the least bit surprised to learn that at least *some* of the alleged "falsehoods and deceit" that she whined about in her U*U covering "sermon" were the very truthful things that *I* said about her on Election-L at the time. Quite frankly it may well be "falsehoods and deceit" on *her* part to allege that "falsehoods and deceit" were spread about her. I certainly do not see how she could not directly address any *real* "falsehoods and deceit" that she became aware of but well understand how she would be quite reticent to directly confront unflattering capital 'T' Truths that were told about her. . .

Robin Edgar said...

Joel Monka's comment wasn't visible when started composing mine. As usual I think that he is being overly simplistic and talking through his hat. I have no reason to believe that U*Us are not ready to elect a woman as president of the UUA. Can you say Gini Courter Joel? How about Kat Montgomery? The UUA is full of women in top level positions. there is no "glass ceiling" for President of the UUA AFAIAC.

Joel Monka said...

The US, like the UUA, is full of women in top positions- Hilary and Gini, for example... but unless there's been some startling developments I've missed, neither one of them bears the title "president". The reason many Democratic party insiders turned to Obama, even if it meant withdrawing previously pledged support for Hilary, was that they received studies showing that for president, people would vote for any man, even a black one, over any woman, even a white one.

Robin Edgar said...

Well done Joel! You just ensured that Governor Sarah Palin will never ever be President of the United States of America. You are now officially a hero of the Religious Arm Of The Democratic Party aka The U*U Movement. . . Not bad for a Conservative U*U. :-)

ogre said...

Factoid: Morales won a larger percentage of the ballots cast *at* GA than of absentee ballots (which he still took a majority of).

Based on my own observations and the comments of at least three delegates who were not decided before G.A., the character of the campaigning at G.A. made a difference--the "aggressiveness" of the Hallman campaigners was annoying to some, at least. I'll be the first to acknowledge that it's easier not to be aggressive when you're ahead... but I'll also note that the common wisdom was that Morales was fighting uphill for most of the campaign. So I think that the "more aggressive" campaign (by which I refer to the activities of campaigning, not the actions of the candidates) may be something worth noting for those thinking about future UU elections.

The other thing is that stating that it's time to elect an (identity) is a turn-off. Both I and others heard that stated about Hallman, and I know at least one female delegate was turned off by the fact that active Hallman supporters (at least some of them) were citing that.

I don't think I ever heard anyone argue that we should be electing a Latino because he was Latino.

And... after the election results, I heard one female Hallman supporter comment "I guess it just wasn't 'a woman's time.'"

I think that consciousness didn't help.

All that non-categorical thinking training runs against such ideas, and makes them perilous hooks to use to hang "vote-for" arguments on.

I don't think that a "too civil" campaign hurt Hallman. Specific critiques are fair, and if they were unleashed, would not have been deemed wildly uncivil, I think. But just gauging my own reaction to the generic civility of campaign material... I found the campaign slogan "It takes more..." irksome. It felt like it belittled without being specific; it invited the assumption that Peter lacked values or skills or characteristics that were asserted for Laurel, without making that case.

I think that -- for a variety of reasons -- incivility in a UU campaign is an extremely risky thing. This campaign wasn't... and I suspect that had either campaign really broken it out, it would have suffered immense blowback.

Chalicechick said...

(((Specific critiques are fair, and if they were unleashed, would not have been deemed wildly uncivil, I think)))

You should have seen the email I got when I said that I found Morales' letter about the drop in membership less than straightforward. I was actually far nicer about it than I was on this blog but I got email from crazytown Morales supporters calling me all kinds of names.

And the policy on the election list was, very specifically, that it was to be 100 percent positive, as I was told.

I suspect your reaction to the identity stuff was similar to my reaction to "the prophet of the possible." Ick on both sides.

I took Hallman's slogan to be a reference to the face that Morales has been a minister something like ten years and wasn't a UU terribly long before that while she was working with the UUA and running a successful church before Morales even contemplated becoming a UU.

But then lack of experience was something we weren't supposed to mention.

CC

kim said...

I never heard anything about Pathways and Hallman's connection to it. I did attend a workshop at the end of GA that said if you aren't failing sometimes, you aren't taking enough chances. Nevertheless, some of the Pathways decisions were obviously not too smart, no matter who's they were. I believe CC if she says it wasn't Hallman.
Some people speak in hyperbole habitually as a style rather than as a political policy. You just adjust your listening for it. Insisting that people consider every word carefully for ultimate accuracy every time they speak, and never use any hyperbole, is a geek thing. It's akin to my irritation with CC not correcting her typos before hitting "enter". And, yes, I agree that facts should not be inaccurate, and it's hard to draw the line between hyperbole and lies exactly... but, well, get a life. Some people use hyperbole. It's a style. Most people use it some: ever say, "I love _____!" referring to a food or a fashion or anything other than a serious intimate relationship? That's hyperbole too. CC's use of "awesome" I dare say may be hyperbole.
--Kim, commenting from vacation in Seattle

Chalicechick said...

I am a shitty proofreader, no question and I apologize for that annoying aspect of the chaliceblog. I usually correct typos that I notice, but I suck at noticing them.

As for my hyperbole, I'm not a political candidate when I'm writing on the CB and I allow myself a good deal more latitude than I do in the writing I do when I am asking people to give me their trust.

I liked Hallman but had no strong opinion of Morales one way or another until he put up his dramatic post about the UUA numbers being down that made a very tiny drop into a huge deal. I still maintain that he was relying on people not knowing that the actual drop was less than 100 people until the post had made its impact.

I hope Morales does a lot less speaking on our behalf than Sinkford did, but I'm sure he will do some and I'm really dreading the first time Morales writes to politicians in my name because if he makes a mountain out of a molehill and the politician's staff knows it's a molehill, he's going to sound ridiculous and make us sound ridiculous.

CC

Scott Gerard Prinster said...

My impression of the election -- as someone who followed it somewhat closely but not obsessively, and didn't go to GA this year -- was that Morales benefited from another distinction I heard being made between the two candidates. Hallman's administration would be the "old guard", a preservation of the status quo; a Morales administration, on the other hand, would be "a change of direction".

Seriously, is there any language more likely to trigger a Pavlovian reaction among UUs? When I heard that distinction being made between them, and not enough being said by Hallman's campaign to counter it, I figured that Morales' election was a done deal. When Hallman's years of experience can successfully be painted as "old guard", I think our movement's response is going to be predictable.

On the subject of whether our campaigns are civil enough, I can't help but think of how we treat our ministers and have very mixed feelings about this. A congregant once said to me, "I guess you'd better develop a thick skin in ministry, hadn't you?" My reply was, "I'd prefer if our congregants learned how to behave like adults." My one experience with leadership in the UUA will probably be my last, and I don't even know if I'll settle in another congregation after I've gotten my doctorate. I'm not naive enough to think that leadership is going to come without criticism and friction, but as long as UUs think that having a leader means they can declare open season on her/him, I'm going to be reluctant to stick my neck out.

Chalicechick said...

Well, I don't know what you call "Open Season."

If you mean certain wiseass law students with blogs snarking on the UUA president, please know that I never forget Neil Gaiman's words:

"It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor."


If you mean in a congregation, it varies wildly with the congregation. I've seen congregations put up with a great deal of nonsense from a settled minister because the search process is annoying and disruptive. Conversely, I've seen ministers criticized for very, VERY silly and minor things by congregations who just don't like authority figures*.

One has to be a really awesome minister to earn my respect as a minister, but it takes a lot to make me actively dislike one. The three most offensive things I've ever heard from UU pulpits have been from guest speakers. Thus far, I've walked out on one Muslim, one Rabbi and seriously wanted to with one atheist but was visiting a friend's congregation and didn't want to make him answer to his fellow congregants for my sensitivity.

CC

*Until UUgirl's blog, I viewed the phrase "speaking truth to power" as code for "I have parent issues" and regarded the people who used it with that in mind. I still consider her an exception to a useful rule.

Scott Gerard Prinster said...

(((Well, I don't know what you call "Open Season.")))

Sorry, I could have been clearer about that. Basically I was thinking about the people who think our leaders are to be treated as punching bags because they remind us of our parent issues. That said, I agree completely with you that there are some great UUs out there speaking truth to power, and we need to affirm their wisdom, because we have so few good examples to learn from.

Scott Gerard Prinster said...

Arg, I've been working in German all morning, and I'm feeling like my statements here haven't been very clear -- sorry about that. I hope that it doesn't seem that I think leaders should be beyond reproach; I just want that conversation to happen with our movement's welfare in mind, and not just because it feels so good to snark at the people leading us.

Robin Edgar said...

Scott Gerard Prinster said, "I'd prefer if our congregants learned how to behave like adults."

And I'd prefer if U*U ministers learned how to behave like adults Scott. . . In fact I would like to see the UUA and it's ever so aptly named Ministerial *Fellowship* Committee *real* transgressive U*U ministers in when they abjectly fail and even obstinately refuse to behave like adults. Quite regrettably both the UUA and MFC, along with implicated U*U congregations, have repeatedly failed and indeed obstinately refused to hold U*U ministers accountable for the words and actions when they behave worse than many children. . .

The proof is in the Peace*bang.

Not that there is not plenty more evidence of the UUA and MFC's grossly negligent and effectively complicit non*responses to unbecoming conduct and even worse clergy misconduct committed by U*U ministers.

Beth said...

Just catching up on ChaliceBlog. I think it was all the email announcements of endorsements that Hallman sent that lost it for her. So annoying.

PS. My mom grew up in Gastonia and Morganton!

Suzie said...

Ogre: I've read blogs (and linked to one in my post) in which people thought that Morales would help us garner more Hispanic members because he's Hispanic. In regard to Sinkford, there were plenty of people who thought electing an African American was important.

I don't know anyone who thought it was important to elect just any woman to the presidency so that we could have a woman. But isn't it an odd commentary that an organization would have women as the majority but not find one sufficiently inspiring to be president. Could it just be a coincidence?

Robin Edgar said...

How many African American or other "people of color" did U*Uism "garner" during the eight years that Rev. Bill Sinkford was UUA President? There was no significant increase from what I can see. . . OTOH I do believe that President Morales will more proactively reach out to try to make the U*U World truly multicultural (not just in terms of Latinos) than President Sinkford did. Indeed I have to ask what *did* President Sinkford actually *do* in that regard? Not much from what I can see. . . Hopefully President Morales will have more success with making U*Uism more truly multicultural rather than pseudo-multicultural, if not fraudulently "multicultural". . . while remaining 97% White.

Robin Edgar said...

BTW CC Was it really *civility* or was it censorship? Was Election-L a "moderated" aka censored UUA email list or was it unmoderated?

Robin Edgar said...

I guess I will give Scott Gerard Prinster another day or so before asking if the cat's got his tongue. . . ;-)

Interestingly enough the WVC is - woodside

Chalicechick said...

Defining "Censorship" when the one doing the "censoring" is (a) not with the government in any capacity and is merely administrating a list that they or their organization owns and (b) has no real power to keep the ideas/writings/pictures/films in question from being widely distributed other ways has never made much sense to me.

But even taking it at the way you mean it, which I would consider "list moderation," my impression was that there wasn't any of that going on.

Indeed, there were a couple of messages that went out where the sender very clearly hit "reply all" and sent a message that was pretty obviously only intended for one person.

Nothing I wrote was ever refused from the list, though I got plenty of emails that, for one example, assured me I was "vicious" for checking Morales' facts and for another a barrage of insults for pointing out that if Hallman supporters weren't supposed to insult Morales supporters, the reverse was also true.

And please don't harass Scott for not getting back to you, at least not on my blog. People are busy and don't always have time to respond. Also, these discussions tend to be rather repetitive and I perfectly understand the temptation to quit. It doesn't mean they can't respond or are afraid or anything.

Just leave it be. Or take it to your own blog.

CC

Robin Edgar said...

Asking Scott Gerard Prinster if the cat's got his tongue if he fails to respond to a comment I posted within a few days counts as "harassment" CC? That's news to me. . . Is that being worked into your "thesis" on internet harassment by third parties? Let me know if you need any help with that project. ;-)

Chalicechick said...

Nope, what you do isn't really what I'm writing about and I don't consider it a winking smily sort of situation.

AS for "harassing," part of a frequently used definition is repeatedly annoying someone for no good reason. I really don't think "you want them to respond and they're busy or don't want to" is a good reason.

You rarely limit it to one post where you accuse someone of ignoring you, you often come back over and over demanding that the person respond.

I'm just asking you not to do it here. If the conversation is over, it is. Move on.

CC

Robin Edgar said...

:AS for "harassing," part of a frequently used definition is repeatedly annoying someone for no good reason.

Exactly. The key word being *repeatedly* CC. I made one single follow up comment indicating that I expected a reply Scott within a day or so. That hardly counts as "harassment". In any case I do want him to reply to my comment for a "good reason" or two.

When I do repeatedly annoy people it is usually for what I consider to be very good reasons such as demanding justice for myself and other victims of U*U clergy misconduct and/or other injustices and abuses directly perpetrated by *some* U*Us and indirectly perpetuated for months, years and decades by all those other good U*Us who choose to do nothing. . . If U*Us actually responded appropriately to my "annoying" communications of various kinds there would be little or no need for me to repeat them ad nauseum would there? As it is I foresee another round of "electronic communications" being fired off to the Board of the Unitarian Church of Montreal and the UUA in the coming days or weeks. I already gave UUA Moderator a little prod by submitting the following annoying "sour grapes" comment to the Moderator Gone Missing post of her Just Gini blog yesterday -

It seems to me Gini that your heart is a rather difficult one to trouble. . . Do you have a "firewall" around it like Rev. Beth Miller perhaps? When are you, the UUA Board of Trustees, and the UUA as an institution if not a *religion* going to finally get around to sincerely and genuinely Standing On The Side Of Love for any and ALL victims of U*U clergy misconduct? When will the UUA, and the U*U religious community more generally, finally provide some long overdue genuine and tangible Restorative Justice For ALL victims of clergy misconduct that has been perpetrated by transgressive and indeed outright abusive U*U clergy, and perpetuated for years and even decades by the ongoing negligence and institutional stonewalling and denial of the UUA? You and all other UUA Trustees will be hearing from me again shortly but I really should not have to repeat what I have said several times before over the last several years. It is high time that you and the UUA Board of Trustees started to actually practice what you preach about Standing On The Side Of Love with ALL victims of clergy misconduct committed by U*U clergy. Where have you been Gini? Where *will* your heart be the next time that I communicate with you?

Sincerely,

Robin Edgar

Don't you feel privileged having me share such "privileged information" with you on your blog? :-) Heck I haven't even posted it to The Emerson Avenger blog yet. You and your readers are the very first U*Us other than Gini to see it.

Allah prochaine,

Robin

jUUggernaut said...

I was at Peter's booth Saturday mid afternoon as delegates were passing by when a woman from California specifically asked him about Pathways. He said this:

If the money had not come from private donors but say, the Ford Foundation, not one penny would have been forthcoming without a realistic business plan that included outside financial review. Pathways had neither.

The Pathways postmortem report confirms Peter's assessment fully.
It really is that simple: the Pathways architects did not have the competence to even realize that these are basic planning and managerial essentials. The project tanked not because the evil UUA pulled its support but because it was ill conceived and badly managed. And since Laurel Hallman self-identified as one of the project's architects and managers I would characterize Chalicechick's excusatory interpretations as unconvincing.

The Pathways issue indeed could have hurt Laurel's campaign greatly but to their credit the Morales campaign consciously decided not to make Pathways a campaign issue and they kept to it. Indeed, when I later brought Pathways up on my own Peter's campaign manager Dea Brayden called me up and demanded I drop the subject. (After the election I learned one key fact about the silence over Pathways in a private conversation with someone directly involved that leaves little room for interpretation but have not had a chance to ask permission to share it.)

Instead the campaign insisted on focussing on Peter's positive religious vision for Unitarian Universalism and on the skills that he brings to leading complex organizations. The election results speak to that: I am delighted that Peter's positive campaign convinced a clear majority of voters and wasn't a toss up. Peter won on his merits and substance and not one bit by putting down his opponent.
As I said to Dea yesterday: The best part is that we didn't have to make up Peter's qualifications, they are entirely for real. And his vision is infectious.

I have great - and justified! - hopes for Unitarian Universalism with Peter at the helm.

I am also grateful for the contributions to the debate and issues addressed by Laurel Hallman. I attended Rev. Pupke's Stewardship track and it taught me a lot about Laurel's perspective and its relevance. I believe we will see more of Laurel in coming years as she shares her workshops on spiritual practice and curricula for deepening our spirit. This is excellent work is nourishing many people among us and now she will have a lot more time for this much appreciated work than she would have in elected office.

Martin Voelker

PS: Your comment section has become almost unreadable because you allow Robin Edgar to flood it with endless drivel. He has been banned from most UU blogs (and his erstwhile congregation in Canada) for compelling reasons. You seem to be confusing Freedom to Speak with Freedom to Congest.

Suzie said...

Martin, great St. Bernard photo.

I would have preferred a much more open discussion of Pathways, instead of a behind-the-scenes whisper campaign. I've heard people talk about it in very general terms, knowing only that Hallman was linked to some debacle.

It is convenient for a candidate to appear above the fray while his supporters confide the issue to others.

jUUggernaut said...

The St. Bernard is Myla, we got her from the rescue shortly after our Leonberger (same size) died. I love my dog, she never contradicts me :)

There was no whisper campaign about Pathways and most UUs outside the Dallas/Ft. Worth corridor won't even know one bit about it as it barely got any press. Pretty much the only people who ever mentioned it at all were myself (in comments on my blog and later in two or three very civil elections list posts), John Blue, and Laurel Hallman herself in her Worcester, Mass. candidate forum. Oh, and you.
Some campaign...

As for my cryptic remark about a new bit of information – I probably should not have mentioned it but when the person told me, champagne in hand three hours after the results had come in, I almost dropped my glass. It's a clincher. Had there been a whisper campaign, this would have long been common knowledge. Call me after GA 1013 and I'll tell you.

There were actual whisper campaigns that caught the attention of the elections commission: that Peter would fire most of the staff, would move headquarters to Colorado, would not move to Colorado, and that his resume was suspect or deceptive. All utter nonsense but virulent.

And I almost forgot another one: When I introduced myself to Laurel Hallman (as the man who can't keep his fingers off the keyboard) she said: "Oh! You really do exist, then?!" I got that exact same reaction when I introduced myself at the Hallman booth during GA. Sounds like a rumor or suspicion that I was nothing but a fictional character created to spike the debate. To my great personal relief, I really do exist.

The simple truth is that the Morales campaign was modeled after the Obama campaign: focus on your strengths, inspire, motivate. No need to get nasty. The Obama campaign fired people who didn't want to play it that way. And the Morales team convinced folks with a more aggressive stance to focus on personal testimony rather than arguing over the past.
They did so not only to win but so its participants could be proud of their conduct regardless of the outcome. After all, one of Peter's themes is that we are pretty unified in our overall goals.
So let's leave this behind and get moving forward, together.

Suzie said...

My sister has a beloved St. Bernard named Chloe. I think she still has a MySpace page.

I heard the whispers from people in my congregation, and I live far from you.

Also, I think it's inappropriate to suggest you have some awful secret about Hallman that you can't reveal until later. After all, this is a public space.

Comparing Morales' campaign to Obama's isn't a compliment to many of us who were Hillary supporters. I'm done with the UUA and will continue supporting my own church only because I have friends there.

Robin Edgar said...

JU*Ugernut aka Martin Voelker -

What I post here is not "drivel" even if it *may* appear to be *endless*. If U*Us want it to end they need to responsibly address and adequately redress what former UUA President Bill sinkford once rightly described as my "obviously deep concerns" and then proceeded to willfully ignore for the better part of a decade. I fact your own assertions about me, here and elsewhere, are more properly described as DIM Thinking "drivel" aka U*U BS and I just said as much on The Denver Post website earlier today.

Where do you get the idea that I have been banned from most UU blogs Martin? Sure a few small minded U*U bloggers have banned me from posting to their blogs but the majority have not. In fact I would say that a good number of U*U bloggers, including several U*U clergy bloggers, seem quite happy to post most if not all of my comments to their moderated blogs.

:(and his erstwhile congregation in Canada) for compelling reasons.

Oh really Martin? And just what are these "compelling reasons" that you speak about? The only compelling reason that I can think of as to why the Unitarian Church of Montreal permanently expelled me was because the congregation sought to punish me for tarnishing its quite undeserved public image by going public with my grievances arising from the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry of Rev. Ray Drennan and other "fundamentalist atheist" Humanist Montreal Unitarian U*Us. If you know of any other compelling reasons as to why I was "excommunicated" by the Unitarian Church of Montreal I am all ears. . .

Robin Edgar said...

Martin Voelker said: If the money had not come from private donors but say, the Ford Foundation, not one penny would have been forthcoming without a realistic business plan that included outside financial review. Pathways had neither.

So just where is Rev. Peter Morales', now UUA President Morales', *realistic* business plan for transforming Unitarian*Universalism from the "tiny, declining, fringe religion" that he acknowledges it is today into "the religion for our time" Martin? Can I see it? I won't even ask for an "outside financial review" a *realistic* business plan for making Unitarian*Universalism into "the religion of our time" withing *our* time will suffice. . . For the record that is pretty much what I was asking for in some of the questions that I posed to Rev. Peter Morales on his 'Along The Campaign Trail' blog. Legitimate questions that you claim to have advised Rev. Peter Morales not to answer. So where's the *realistic* business plan Martin? Please direct me to the web page where it is clearly and concisely laid out. . .