This pretty much confirms my negative impression of the UUA Washington office. (In case you don't want to follow the link, the post office has raised the rates for delivering small magazines to the point that publishing a small magazine will become financially unsustainable for a lot of independent publications. The UUAWO is too busy making statements about Burma to actually do anything about this issue, however.)
What is the point of having an office in Washington if they can't be bothered to look at an issue that impacts us and try to do something about it?
I've mentioned several times that one of my primary complaints about the UUA's political behavior is our seeming need to have a poor man's version of every liberal lobbying group out there. Of course, the big non-UU group is the only one anybody cares about, but hey, we get to feel good about ourselves. By handing over our "fuck the Iraqis who will die when the nation descends into anarchy, just bring the white people home" petition, we struck a real blow for peace!
Thus, it especially cheeses me off that the impact of this postage rate hike on independent magazines is a small issue that has not recieved a lot of press. For once, somebody might actually listen to us. But the UUAWO can't be bothered with anything that doesn't have them behaving like the religious arm of the Democratic party.
Though some of the crap they've pulled in the past has seriously irritated me, I've never asked if we really need a UUA Washington Office before.
I'm asking it now.
I was planning to ask this exact question on my blog this morning, but first I had to go teach class and now you beat me to it. I'll be interested to see what answers you get.
You're very well respected in the blogosphere, Jeff. I think you should ask it, too.
It seems to me that we are a microcosm of America. In both cases, we were organized to be a union of independent states (congregations), but are now being run as if it were a single state with some limited autonomy in the provinces. In both cases, those at the top seem less and less in touch with those they claim to be serving. In both cases, time and money are being spent on inconsequentials no one asked for, (like designing and promulgating a new logo for us, or introducing resolutions on talk show hosts in congress), while core duties (advertising for us, defense for congregress) then require special appropriations.
As to your final question, my answer is already on record: no.
Considering that, at least according to 'The Oregonian', the Unitarian*Universalist Association aka the U*U "religious community" is "the church of the far left", perhaps you might want to think of the UUAWO as the religious arm of the Communist Party of the United States of America CC. ;-)
And, considering just how "far left" some UUA policies seem to be, and just how Stalinistic some Totalitarian Unitarians can be. . . I am only half joking here.
"is our seeming need to have a poor man's version of every liberal lobbying group out there."
Sad but true I think. I was discussing this with a friend yesterday who is a Methodist, and who has a fellow-congregant who was originally from Haiti. This man is often absent from church because he goes around the world and digs the wells and builds the homes and feeds the hungry...instead of being smug and indignant and signing things that show how good his denomination is. Not that such acts don't have their place, but jeesh being arrested with Danny Glover does not protect a Sudanese woman from rape and pillage.
See my response at Philocrites.
Apologies for my ignorance, but is there something particular to the UUA that would cause it to be more concerned than anyone else about the impact of a postage rate hike on independent magazines? (I didn't even know there had been a hike, so I guess that shows how little interest I have in the subject.)
PG, the UUA's primary means of communicating with the individual members of its congregations is through the UU World magazine. A recent postage rate hike on bulk mail discriminates against small-volume publications like UU World and offers steeper discounts to larger-volume publishers like mass-media titles and mail-order retail houses.
The UUA maintains a lobbying office in Washington for the ostensible purpose of representing the interests of its members on pertinent matters. Yet when something as pertinent as the Association's ability to communicate with its own members is on the line, the Washington Office can't be bothered to lift a finger.
Meanwhile, the UUA Board has recently severed ties with dozens of former "Independent Affiliates", including some dating to the 19th century and others whose primary purpose it to promote specific religious traditions or perspectives that have long been associated with Unitarianism and/or Universalism, on the grounds that those organizations don't adequately serve the interests of the congregations.
When the two nearly-simultaneous decisions are juxtaposed, the pious hypocrisy is breathtaking. It's made worse by the fact that we congregants whose real, immediate legislative needs aren't being adequately served by the UUAWO also have to pay for whatever it is they do instead.
In an earlier time, it was the same self-satisfied, self-justifying, self-perpetuating entrenchment of hierarchical attitudes by the religious establishment that moved a man named Jesus to pick up a whip and physically chase the sacrifice-vendors from the courts of the Temple. Which took place, incidentally, only a short while after he said, "With what measure ye mete, even so shall it be meted unto you."
In an earlier time, it was the same self-satisfied, self-justifying, self-perpetuating entrenchment of hierarchical attitudes by the religious establishment that moved a man named Jesus to pick up a whip....
do you have a new Jesus to suggest?
(and look what they did to him....)
Which took place, incidentally, only a short while before he said "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?" i.e. A short while prior to his crucifixion. . .
No need to suggest a new one, it's enough just to remember the old one occasionally if the circumstances happen to fit.
You're correct, of course, that the entrenched powers executed him. Are you saying that showed them to be right and him to be wrong?
I understand now why an increase in the postal rate affects UUs particularly. But the UUA still communicates with congregations primarily by a mailed magazine? A bit 20th century of them... I guess it helps to have bathroom or subway reading, though.
PG, the UUA provides a subscription to UU World to all members of UUA-affiliated congregations. It's the only service that the UUA directly provides to all members (currently 127,000 households). Most other services are provided to congregations, religious professionals, and other constituencies. The UUA does provide lots of information online, but people have to come looking for it -- whereas the magazine is mailed directly to them.
It's worth noting that the UUA has provided subscriptions to every member since 1970. The practice of a denomination sending a periodical to all its members is not widespread; most denominations don't do this.
Do most UUs find the magazine valuable? Just curious as to whether something so broad would work well for a denomination that seems pretty congregation-oriented.
I don't know how others think of it, but I love UU World. It's been my favorite mag, or at least one of my favorites, for many years. I also prefer to read a paper mag. But I'm old-fashioned....
I agree with what Kim said.
If we're applying a test of congregational orientation, I think a magazine that keeps every member of every congregation abreast of issues, trends and concerns across our community is a valuable congregational service. Maintaining a costly lobbying office in Washington solely for the purpose of declaring categorical "social witness" positions to the outside world on behalf of all congregations as if they were a monolithic bloc, without regularly reporting back to the congregations as to the substance or effectiveness of its efforts, though? Not so much.
Well, let's say one doesn't like the fact that the UUAWO exists. What does one do to change that?
Hi all. The question has been raised as to what the Washington Office does for UUs. The mission of the Washington Office for Advocacy is to influence public policy decisions made by the US Congress and Administration on issues of concern to the Unitarian Universalist Association. The Office also provides support and resources to congregations and individuals seeking to create change in their communities and states.
The best way to stay informed of what we're doing is to subscribe to our weekly news list, Advocacy News. Advocacy News will let you know what we're actively working on, and you'll have the opportunity to take action on issues that are important to you.
To find information and resources about the UUA's overall social justice priorities, visit the Social Justice section of the new UUA website (www.uua.org/socialjustice). In particular we'd like to point out the Issues page, which lists the different issues upon which the UUA is currently working, and the Action Center page, which lists different online action campaigns in which you can take part. The resources page list a variety of publications and programs that can help you and your congregation do effective work on whatever issues make sense for you.
Assistant Director, Washington Office.
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