- Peacebang's assertion UNTIL laypeople decide amongst themselves to support theological studies, it's not going to happen. We work for you. You are our employers. did not ring true with me. Call me an optimist, but I tend to think that a minister is far more like a doctor. You don't "fire" your doctor in any useful sense of the word, and unless you're an idiot, you don't stop going to him because he tells you things you don't want to hear. I'm sure some people don't like it when ministers go too heavily into theology at times, but does one really lose one's ministry for such things?
- As far as I can tell, "I would be so much better at my job if only I could (take this class/attend this conference/buy this book) but my employer won't pay for it" is a near-universal complaint among working people. Most places I've worked for didn't even entertain the idea of such things. One place said they would send me to a training class I felt I could use in leiu of a larger raise. And then they didn't do it. I think in my next job, my policy will be that if I think I would be a more effective employee if I took a class, I will take the time off and pay for it myself.
That said, I didn't need a $60,000 education to do any of the jobs I've had, so maybe the deal is different for ministers. Yet, judging by the Dilbert books, engineers have the same complaint. And two friends of mine who are in education (one of them a principal) came to a conference in DC on their own dime, having gotten only two days off for free from their schools.
- I love the idea of a journal directed toward theology's "intelligent end-users" (a computer geek term for people who can't program computers, but are really good with the programs they use.) I would read it and support it.
- Parisa said something really wonderful when she wrote:
I think that real theological engagement is an iterative project, one that needs both intellect and experience to give it meaning. So it would be great to have more ministers have the time and wherewithal to write theological treatises, but I think the most important project we have before us is engaging our congregations meaningfully in their own exploration of meaning. And IMHO that's where the expectation of participation in adult RE and small group experiences are where it's at.
I would diagnose our problem not as the lack of a common theology, but an avoidance of theology altogether. We have on the whole become products of our culture that likes to spew pablum instead of really wrestling with meaning, especially the tough places where smart, well-intentioned people (in agreement about core "principles") may have experiences that have led them to widely divergent ways of making meaning. I'd like our congregations to be models of wrestling deeply with meaning, starting with not shying away from talking about God or the lack thereof. Right now I don't think they are, and I think both ministers and laity bear responsibility for that. We also suffer for it.
I agree with all of that.
"Following Steve Caldwell's post, I finally went to that Unitarian joke site. The general 'yes, we have no religion' themes were sort of depressing ... "
But this avoidance of theological talk (and probably the related topic of "language of reverence" debates) is the "dead elephant in the middle of the room" that many UUs just don't want to talk about.
From a religious educator standpoint, I would suggest that the avoidance of theological talk is an example of what Maria Harris calls a "null curriculum"
"Null curriculum consists of what is not taught. Consideration must be given to the reasons behind why things are not included in the explicit curriculum or recognized in examination of the implicit curriculum."
Or perhaps it's an example of what Maria Harris calls "implicit curriculum":
"Implicit (hidden) curriculum includes the norms and values of the surrounding society, the setting in which the learning occurs (including the decoration and set-up of the area), and the broader environment in which education occurs."
Both implicit and null curricula co-exist with the explicit curriculum that we consciously present in children's, youth, and adult RE settings, worship, etc.
I'm not saying that the tendencies often found in UU congregations that are lampooned by the collection of UU jokes are good or bad.
I'm just saying that these jokes may help us in exploring the implicit aspects of our community's shared theology (even if the theology isn't shared by all members of the community).
Parisa's last paragraph is especially on target.
Actually, CC, I left Div School with $60K IN DEBT. The actual degree was closer to $100,000.
Aside from that, I dig.
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