Monday, January 18, 2010

An open letter to the YRUUer who reads the Chaliceblog "religiously"


When you father told me on Sunday that he skims the Chaliceblog, but you read it religiously, I was mildly horrified. Firstly, for years I was able to maintain the polite fiction in my head that my blogging and church lives were separate. This has never been true, so no doubt it is a healthy thing for me to be facing that my online life and my real life have a lot of overlap. Further, we youth leaders strongly believe in there being some separation between our personal lives and our youth leader lives. But I've given that a lot of thought over the past few days and I think I'm OK with this.

The logic behind this separation is that you guys aren't supposed to be our best friends. We aren't supposed to lean on you for help, we're supposed to be available for you to lean on us. My impression is that you're not so much a leany sort of person, but we're there for you no matter what and you should never feel like it is your job to be there for us. It's not.

Other than that, I really don't mind you knowing the same amount about me that any other reader of the Chaliceblog knows, maybe a bit more in that you have a little more context. It doesn't bother me that you know, for example, that on Sunday I had to suck it up and be enthusiastic and lead a youth group meeting about the MMDT when I had just found out about the death of a family friend. I suspect you get that part being an adult is having to do stuff like that. It sucks, but it beats the hell out of being a teenager. I promise.

Anyway, reading this blog, you're going to hear that people within Unitarian Universalism don't always agree about the proper way to do things or the proper next steps for the church and sometimes don't particularly like each other. I had the benefit of an Aunt who was very much caught up in the politics of the Presbyterian church when I was a kid so I was raised on this stuff. Plenty of UUs seem to sail through their religious lives without really thinking through the conflicts that go on under the surface of the denomination. I have mild concern that I am warping you in some sense by putting this stuff in front of you, but I don't see you as a surface-sailing sort of person, so I think it's a warping that has probably happened anyway or would have eventually. My one worry for you is that when you care about this stuff, people start telling you that you really should go to seminary because "only ministers care about these things." I think that's a polite fiction some ministers have themselves. If I can hazard a bit of unsolicited career advice, I don't think ministry is the path for you. Goodness knows I'm not suited for it.

So in many senses, I'm going to think of you as just another reader. If you were just another reader, I wouldn't need to write this, though. If you don't mind, I would like to make a some requests.

1. Take me with a grain of salt. Part of expressing yourself through writing, and personal narrative writing at that, is sometimes you go overboard. I don't really write about our church all that much, so I'm not so worried I'm going to rant about that, but if I am particularly ranty about something else, it's probably just a mood and I'm going to get over it. And sometimes I'm just plain wrong. You don't strike me as the sort of person who believes a blog, even one written by someone you like, as gospel truth, but I wanted to emphasize that. Check the facts yourself, draw your own conclusions and feel free to take me to task in the comments when I'm wrong. As you've no doubt observed, nobody else around here has any compunction about doing so.

2. I have been considering instituting an "if you're insulting another commenter, then you're talking about something other than the content of the post. Off-topic comments deserve to be kicked" policy similar to the one that used to have. If I've got youth reading this blog and commenting, then that makes me even more inclined to do that. Anonymous commenting is always allowed at the Chaliceblog so you may post anonymously any time you want, but I invite you to talk to me about it if you would like to start commenting. Intellectually, I would put you up against just about anyone who comments here, but I have a youth leader's Mama bear desire to make this a safe place for you anyway.

3. Never, ever, let yourself feel responsible for my feelings. A "Hey, I'm sorry to hear about your friend" is fine, but beyond that, if my life sucks and I feel bad about it and write about it, I'm probably venting and I'm really fine and above all, I have it handled. I don't write many posts like that anyway, but I used to do it more and you never know what's going to happen.

4. If anything here ever bothers or upsets you, feel free to talk to me or talk to Jana-who-creates or TogetherBeth or someone else you trust about it.

That's a lot, but these issues are complicated and I wanted to lay all that out. It doesn't surprise me that some youth eventually found my blog and started reading it. Goodness knows that's what I would have done when I was your age. And yeah, if I can talk down to you for one more second, you do remind me a lot of me at your age.

God help you.



Ps. See you Saturday, if not tomorrow night. I will e-mail TogetherBeth cleaned up scripts by tomorrow and I will bring the costume piece I promised you tomorrow if I can.

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