Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A more positive online presence for UUism

I often find myself having the same argument on different sides. In college, there was an entire semester when I was the go-between between a professor friend and my father, who were having an argument-by-proxy on whether language creates thought or thought creates language. The professor eventually convinced me that language creates thought*. (e.g. Changing the "Department of War" into the "Department of Defense" did not change people's impressions of that government agency. It just made the word "defense" scarier.)

I think I'm doing it again.

I just finished a long argument in the comments section of one of Happy Feminist's posts about how appearing angry is a bad thing for feminism.

Yet as Left Coast Unitarian points out, there are a lot of people airing complaints about UUism. I'm absolutely one of them.

I can satisfy myself with my reasons for the contradiction as I understand them. (One example is that I doubt that many potential newcomers who saw our fairly dry criticisms of the UUA are scared off, but anger is a bad tool for recruitment so I'm not crazy about feminists who appear really angry getting on the news and making those conservatives who complain that feminism is all about bitterness appear to be right.)

But the larger question of: "Are we hurting our faith by bitching so much?" still exists. A few people, PG and Will, for example, have asked me about UUism after finding my blog other ways. (PG got an actual answer. Will, if you're reading this, you will get one.)

I guess partially the issue exists because it's hard to write about how happy you are. There's not much to say. I mean, I've written several posts about what I love about UUism.

But at the same time, if we all focussed our blogs on that, it would get dull. I read libertarian blogs and feminist blogs as well, neither of them focus so much on what they love about libertarianism and feminism. Mostly they write about critiques of things going on in their world looking at them from their own political perspective. When people within the movement bitch at each other, I generally regard it as fueled by each side's love of the movement as they percieve it. But James is probably right that newcomers don't necesarily see it that way.

(This whole conversation brings to mind my college friend Jesus Boy, who lived near the model dorm room used by the admissions office and would tell tour groups "don't come here, it's a crappy school.")

Any thoughts on this one? IMHO, it would be really cool if we had a place to send newcomers to show that our criticisms do come out of love.. If there were a giant group blog called "what I love about UUism" that we could all link to and submit our positive posts to, I would contribute to that. I would kind of hate to be part of the editing process, but I would contribute.

(Added later:

The following suggestion just showed up as a comment on The Happy Feminist:

You know, I'd love to see feminists have a Positive Day each week. A day they could write about the wonderful opportunities in their lives, how great it is to be a woman in this century, hell, even the good men they know, and how great it is to have them in their lives. I think it would be a grounding experience, good for the morale too. )


Ps. While I'm being positive, random thought about the UU blog awards--it really does suck to be running against such deserving competition. (e.g. I seriously heart my How to run a Goddamn Meeting post and yet the series Jess did on Singing the Journey is a really valuable, wonderful thing, too. They are good in such different ways.)

*This is explained most accessibly in Stephen Pinker's book Language and the Mind, which is made much more readable if you do a shot every time you spot a straw man argument.


Jess said...

I've got a kernel of an idea I'm working on for additions to my own site - "Best of UU"

I'm thinking a compendium of links and excerpts from things all over the web about Unitarian Universalism that I find inspiring and inspired. It's not quite fleshed out yet, but I'm working on it. ;-)

Chalicechick said...

I'm envisioning an icon we could all have on our blogs that would lead right to it.

That would be cool


Robin Edgar said...

Worst of U*U? ;-)

Anonymous said...

I think self-criticism is the sign of a healthy organization or movement. It's one of the things I love about being American-- that we have such a rich tradition of protest and self-criticism.

It can give the wrong impression to outsiders, but that's a small price to pay when the alternative is pretending everything is just hunky-dory and ignoring problems.

Jess said...

Best of UU is up and running - let me know what you think or if you have anything to add. ;-)