Monday, January 23, 2006

Fixing UUism: Abandon our History

by Indrax

Abandon our History
Wicca started out in 1954 when Gerald Gardner published the book style="font-style: italic;">Witchcraft Today. It has since grown
dynamically and is (for better or worse) a cultural icon. Some would
argue that Wicca is in fact much older, but this is not relevant to my
point because Wicca ACTS like a
new religion. It spreads quickly from person to person, it adapts and
mutates easily, it knows how to handle being a minority religion, and it
doesn't have a centralized bureaucracy.
Unitarianism started in the 1500's, and Universalism in 1793. Both
claimed roots back to Jesus. Most Unitarian-Universalists think that we
are an old religion with a rich history. For this reason we style="font-style: italic;">ACT like an old religion. We are hard
to explain, and slow to change. We lost our minority religion stance
when we had Unitarian Presidents, and we are centered in Boston. These
things need to change.
Unitarian-Universalism was created in 1961. It is vastly different from
any religion that has come before. It is accepted by less than one half
of one percent of the population of America, and is virtually unheard of
elsewhere in the world. We are a new and small religion, and we need to
act like it. We need to simplify our message, so that people can learn
about us more easily. We need to be less attached to traditions, and
more encouraging of adaptations. (And more apt to style="font-style: italic;">adopt adaptations) We need to learn
to use our smallness, instaed of trying to bark like a big dog.


TheCSO said...

Wicca also isn't taken seriously by most people, and for good reason. When you have a religion that "mutates easily" and "doesn't have a centralized bureaucracy" (for better or for worse, the UUA *does* serve as a centralized Wiccan bureaucracy to some degree..) you end up with a religion that exists in the public consciousness as represented by those practicioners who scream the loudest. That would, to put it mildly, not be a religion I would want to be associated with.

I can certainly see value in embracing our smallness in certain ways. Still, I urge great caution. I would hate to see UUism lose what little credibility it still has over trying to be a "new religion". The current emphasis on a specific political/social agenda - and the rejection of alternate agendas - has already done more than enough damage in that regard.

Or just declare Unitarianism and Univeralism dead, and that Unitarian Universalism is now a "rationality optional" religion. That would be a valid path to take, and it would resolve my personal theological crisis as well. I'd then know that whatever I am, I'm not UU, and wouldn't have to worry so much about how the UUA is too orthoganal to my views for me to join.

Chalicechick said...

Re: Paragraph 3

No, don't do that.


Robin Edgar said...

Needless to say I believe that U*Uism should do the exact opposite and reclaim its history and monotheistic religious heritage. I dare say however that U*Uism as I have experienced it has quite regrettably proven itself to be a "rationality optional" (to put it politely. . .) religious community in ways that are completely and utterly incompatible with good old Unitarian Reason and thus effectivley betray U*Uism's Unitarian religious heritage.

Speaking of 'Witchcraft Today' I am really quite honoured by the number one result of this Google search. . .

Chalicechick said...

Didn't your momma ever tell you that guys who google themselves all day go blind?


Steven Rowe said...

"Unitarianism started in the 1500's, and Universalism in 1793."

arent these dates comparing apples and oranges? the Universalist Church as a denomination started in 1793, the Unitarian Association as a denomination started in the 1820s; the doctrine of both goes back further (both claim to be Biblicaly accurate). Most of the unitarian Presidents were prior to the Unitarian Association. (and of course Universalists can only claim one President's mother and UUs cant claim any president or thier mother).

Not that i dont agree that we need to act like the tiny minority we are.
signed grumpy amateur historian

Robin Edgar said...

Well I like to think that I act like the tiny minority I am. . . ;-)

signed grumpy amateur eclipsologist ;-)


fausto said...

I think abandoning our history is certain doom. I think exactly the opposite: we need to revive it, reclaim it, and preach it boldly!

We may preach other things, too, and perhaps we even should, but our heritage is our core identity, and once we abandon it we have no core identity.

Obijuan said...

So, by this logic, every time a religion experiences schism, the splinter group should start counting their history from the point in time of the split and disregard everything that came before? Sorry, no. The "new entity" of Unitarian Universalism has no existence without what came before. To disregard history, no matter how much we've changed, is to cheapen identity. Never mind the fact that we still have plenty of members who were around before the merger. I doubt they'd appreciate being told: "That church you used to be a part of that meant so much to you? Never happened."

fausto said...

Obijuan, I like the way you think.

Anonymous said...

Ok. I take it back. This is my new least favorite proposal. Maybe it’s just because I am a hard core history geek. But can you explain to me how fumbling around in the ever present now without any sense of how we got here is going to help us find where we are going? Even a Zen master, who always says live in the moment, is aware to the culture and past that made it possible to sit by this bonsai tree. I suppose in a culture where huge majorities cannot identify what century in which the Civil War took place, this idea may have some appeal. But then isn’t studied ignorance what we are counter-culturally opposed to?