Friday, January 20, 2006

Fix UUism Contest

The much-heralded Sliced Bread competition is coming to an end. It was a contest to see who could come up with the best idea for fixing America.

To be honest, I'm pretty underwhelmed by the ideas people came up with. They are all the stuff of New Republic essays and the sorts of things I've read before.

I've heard more original ideas from my readers in the past two days.

So I'm starting a UU sliced bread competition.

Send your ideas for fixing UUism to Chalicechick at gmail dot com or post them here. In a week or so, we will vote on them. If I've gotten a lot of ideas, a week or so after that, we will vote again. I will find some sort of strange prize to send the winner and perhaps the runners up if we have more than a few ideas. Oh, and I will mail a letter with the top few suggestions to Sinkford and any relevant UUA big cheeses.

  • I have long observed a correllation between Attention Defecit Disorder and UUism, so I'd keep my idea to a couple of paragraphs or so if I were you.
  • My views on what's a good idea aren't significant here. Anything I consider a serious entry, I will post. So if your idea is a real idea but something I would hate, such as, oh, requiring that congregations set aside X% of their budgets for political action, send it anyway.
  • Keep an eye on economics. I'd love to raise minister pay, but if your idea is "have the UUA start a fund to subsidize minister pay and improve their benefits" and you have no idea how you will pay for it, I won't vote for you.
  • Don't forget church polity. Don't suggest something that the UUA can't do.
  • I gave three sample ideas. When I get a few more, I will put them in individual posts so we can more easily discuss them.
  • The fact that the three sample suggestions all involve GA does not mean all suggestions have to.

Sample ideas (that will be included in the voting)

So, any other ideas?



Robin Edgar said...

How about if U*Us made a reasonable effort to actually practice what they preach rather than doing the exact opposite and pretending that they have done no wrong whatsoever. . . That would resolve most of the various injustices, abuses and outrageous hypocrisy that I have either directly experienced or have witnessed within UUism. I could provide a fairly long list of specific injustices, abuses and hypocrisy perpetrated and perpetuated by U*Us but in view of U*U ADD I will keep this post as short and bitter as it is right now. More later. . .

Robin Edgar said...

Needless to say U*U sliced bread is rather less than wholesome, and often rather stale, white sliced bread with a thin, even quite tokenistic. . . outer crust of "people of color". . . Yes I am suggesting that U*Uism could be significantly improved by being more genuinely diverse in the cultural and racial mix of its membership which still seems to be predominantly made up of White Anglo Saxon U*Us aka WASU*Us. ;-)

Chalicechick said...

I put up the first one, but the second one doesn't seem like a viable suggestion. I'm sure if Sinkford could snap his fingers and make the UUA more diverse, he would be very happy to do so.

If you have a real, concrete plan for making the UUA more diverse, particularly one that doesn't pander, I'm all ears.

But just saying "We should be more diverse" is not a plan in the sense that the other suggestions are.

indrax said...

This Beliefnet discussion posed the question of a contemplative order for Unitarian Universalism. Currently, the conversation has shifted to an email list, but it is largely inactive.
The idea is to found a 'Chalistry' (A UU Monastery) which would serve several functions:
* It would give UU's (and others) a place to spend months or years in a calmer lifestyle with time to explore their unique faith.
* It would be an ideal retreat and conference center for UU's and others in the region.
* It could serve a charitable mission, directly putting our ideals to action.
* All these would in turn provide Unitarian Universalists and society with deeper insights into "UU theology"

Again, this effort is floundering, but with denominational support and maybe even funding, it could be something great.

Robin Edgar said...

My second "idea" is a perfectly viable "suggestion". You asked for "ideas" about how U*Uism could be improved, not concrete plans as to how to actually implement those ideas. None-the-less I could certainly provide plenty of suggestions about how U*Uism could move towards being more culturally diverse. I had a really good idea about a decade ago that could have helped U*Uism move towards greater cultural diversity but it was falsely and maliciously labeled as a "cult" by intolerant and abusive fundamentalist atheist U*U bigots. . . Remember Creation Day?

Where might U*Uism be today, in terms of having gained greater cultural diversity, if the spiritual growth of Creation Day had been actually encouraged rather than sincerely ignored and even actively slandered and suppressed by intolerant and abusive U*Us?

Think about it. . .

Anonymous said...

I’d like to expand on a comment that “indrax” made, “* It would give UU's (and others) a place to spend months or years in a calmer lifestyle with time to explore their unique faith.”

A problem for me is that UU is primarily a community of like minded people, many of whom have found their way there from elsewhere. And that is okay as far as it goes.

But UU lacks a theology and an a “yoga” or practice that can enable people to transcend where they are, to become more whole, more integrated, more loving, etc.

A yoga or practice set could be developed. It might look like Buddhist “insight meditation.” It might contain physical practices such as T’ai Chi or yoga. It might stress community service and interpersonal relations.

Anonymous said...

CC, the UU Voice had a suggestion in their Summer 2005 issue that actually sounds very workable. In essence they proposed eliminating all the districts. In their place create specialized teams for small, mid-size, and large congregations that would vist and work at every congregation every three years. Go here for more details:

So:eliminate districts/create specialized on-site teams

Anonymous said...

At least once a year, each congregation should devote a service to considering the theology of a Unitarian, Universalist, or UU theologian.

How many congregations do a service about Martin Luther King the Sunday before the MLK Day holiday? We pay quite a lot of attention to someone who didn't even share our theology. Yet when was the last time you heard a sermon about a theologian from our own heritage? Channing? Ballou? Parker? James Luther Adams? The last Unitarian theologian I heard about at my church was Emerson, and that was 3 years ago when we were celebrating the bicentennial of his birth. I've heard about MLK three times since then.

At the very least, UUA should begin a program urging ministers to preach on a theologian from our heritage once a year. Each fellowship should be urged to devote one service per year to a similar topic.

Even better would be for those of us in the pews to ask for such services.

Anonymous said...

Replace Emerson as the examplar of our faith, preferably with Theodore Parker.

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.

Anonymous said...

All social justice activities whould be placed within a religous context.

Unlike many of the posters, I do see a role for social justice activity, as well as the pronouncements at GA and from the UUAWO. I see a double-standard in those who argue against these things. Why is it OK for conservative religious communities to make such stands, but not OK for UUs?

What I see lacking in our social justice activity and in the pronouncments from GA and the UUAWO is any kind of religous context for these activities. That's why they come off as representing pronouncments from a wing of the Democratic Party.

We should ask the social justice committee, or whatever similar body is active in each congregation, to cite a relgious grounding for each action it undertakes. It need to be a citation specifically from the Old or New Testament, although culturally that would be more powerful when speaking to the general public. We could equallly cite writings from the Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim traditions.

Each Study/Action Issue submitted for conisderation at GA should include similar religious grounding, and the study materials UUS sends around on each issue should include plentiful citations from mulitple tradations laying a religious foundation for the issue.

GA should institute a requirment that each Action of Immediate Witness submitted for consideration should be similarly grounded.

Any pronouncement from UUA headquarters or the UUAWO should include similar citiations. As trained religious prfessionals, the staff of these organizations should make a strong effort to use different citations as much as possible, rather than taking a shortcut and using the same citation repeatedly.

Anonymous said...

UUism can be more diverse -- if we stop running away from communities when they stop being white. I was for 9 years minister of a church that stayed. By the time I left it was multiracial and had more members from the poor and working classes than is typical of UU congregations. We can become more diverse by encouraging entrepeneurial ministers to go into communities where the UUA will never spend money. That means raising support outisde the UUA structure and -- like the Baptists -- practicing congregational polity, rather than enforcing a franchise system.

Anonymous said...

I'll add another idea to this discussion. UUs need to minister to new immigrant groups. For example, many Haitian immigrants are middle class. That makes one less boundary for the typical UU to cross. Again, I don't expect the UUA to act on this without a lot of pressure. But what if some committed people in a metro area identified a growing immigrant/cultural group, made personal contacts, raised funds for translation services, and just did it in a UU church in a community where Haitians live? I predict that in two generations there will be Haitian liberal Christian churches, some of whose members will be people who would have been happy to be UUs -- had they or their parents been evangelized. BTW, I know of one Ethical Culture Society has brought Haitian immigrants into membership. Haitians are just one example, of course. Two California UU churches have Spanish services and Laino/a members.

Anonymous said...

We need a renewed emphasis on community at UUCA churches. Not just covenant groups or special issue groups, but real community, with funds made available earmarked for community building. Why doesn't our 800-member congregation (UUC of Atlanta) have something like a bridge club? Sure, we're rolling out Small Group Ministry and Covenant Groups, but that focuses on the deep spiritual part of our religion. We need to have more fun, community building events, which will not only interest old members, but keep the people who come in the door once and never come back. Community was the main reason why I started going to UUCA, almost the unanimous reason way people were in my New UU class, and why I’m becoming a member in Feb.) Luckily we've got an active 20s/30s group that I jumped right on into, but most don't, and its hard to strive for better events when we have to chip in for them.

Anonymous said...

Change the introductory webpage to make it clear that UUism is an actual religion. Ideally, the main part of the webpage would present information describing UUism. There could be pictures of W.E. Channing & Hosea Ballou, some old buildings, a contemporary religious service, children etc. There could be links to classical and modern UU writing. There could be a prominent link to UUworld. Two tiny buttons in the corner could link to "UUA Bureaucracy" and "Democratic Party Press Releases"

indrax said...

I second that, uuwonk.

Even th UUA newcomers section is not very clear. A good place to link to for information would help alot when UUism comes up in conversation.

Bill Baar said...

The religous right is a movement.

It's not a Church.

UU's are a Church.

A Church is best off not mixing it in politics.

If you want a Liberal Religous movement, then start one. Don't use our Church.

Anonymous said...

Fix UUism?

Two words:

Talk theology.

--Dan Harper