Rise of the ‘nones,’ what GA looks like, and more from UU blogs

Rise of the ‘nones’?

UUA President, the Rev. Peter Morales, believes that the dramatic rise of religiously unaffiliated young adults is an opportunity and a challenge for Unitarian Universalism.

Our work in the UUA’s “Congregations and Beyond” discussions is very much focused on how we can connect with UU’s who do not belong to congregations and to this growing part of American society that shares our values, that seeks spiritual community, but that has no religious identity. The future of our faith will depend, in large part, in learning how to engage millions of people who share our perspective. (Beyond Belief, July 10)

Young adult Matt Kinsi challenges Morales to do more than talk about outreach to the “nones.”

You’ve been talking about the nones for quite a while now. Where’s the group of young adults you’re getting advice from on how to welcome young adults into congregations? Where are the committees/taskforces/reports/etc.? . . .

Yes. There’s Congregations and Beyond. Which, to me, has failed to live up to its hype so far. It seemed to hold a lot of promise when it launched. But it seems to have either fallen apart or it never moved beyond “discussions” phase into “actions” phase. (Spirituality and Sunflowers, July 11)

As a former “none,” June Herold writes about her struggle to unlearn individualism and learn to live in religious community.

The religious reasons we come together, the sacred presence of us in community as a religious body and not just as a kind of municipal community center, is something that “noneness” may be “wired” to resist.

I believe we need to consider first how we unravel noneness. Not where—whether it’s in an emerging church, community ministry, a brick-and-mortar congregation, or online. But how. (The New UU, July 12)

Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly

For Jeanne Desy, a recent power outage was “what Buddhists call a dharma gate, meaning an opportunity to realize the truth about reality.”

The truth of my reality was that I used electricity just as much as I wanted. . . . But once the near-hurricane winds went through, I didn’t even have a single yard light, nothing, nothing. . . .

Thinking about climate change, about what enables the American way of life, about what my luxury takes from the earth; being aware of the cost to other beings and the earth when I switch a light on or run up the electric garage door—is this spirituality?

I’m afraid so. (The Dalai Grandma, July 9)

Raziq Brown wonders why he feels merciful in difficult circumstances.

My father had gone into hospice, my family was barely holding it together, and now that I was finally able to talk to my best friend about it, I was being robbed at gunpoint in a gated apartment complex, in an upper middle class neighborhood, by teenagers. . . .

Why could I not summon the vitriol to rage against the boys, the universe, or anyone? When I asked my sister about it she said, “Oh, you’re not angry because you have mercy in your heart. Mercy isn’t just forgiving people, it’s being able to accept that bad things happen and not be bad because bad things happen.” (Vive Le Flame, July 12)

Running to catch a bus, Kenny Wiley gets a reminder that we have a long way to go on social justice issues.

I passed a group of four people, strangers who looked somewhere between 17 and 21—two women and two guys. As I ran by, one of the guys, a white guy, yelled out, “Hey, bro, you running from the cops or something?” One of the women quickly added, “What’d you steal this time?”. . .

I want us to stop pretending that racism is over. If it were, tipsy strangers wouldn’t have heckled me. . . . I want us to stop pretending that we live in an equal society. We don’t. It isn’t one person’s fault, or one group’s fault. Instead of blaming or evading, we can encourage and confront, together. Instead of pretending that all these ‘isms’ are over, we can say “Things are better than they’ve ever been, and there’s so much more to be done.” (Vive Le Flame, July 11)

This is what General Assembly looks like

UUA Moderator Gini Courter shares her perspective on General Assembly, saying, “This is what democracy looks like.”

Justice GA was the result of a deep engagement with the theology that underpins our fifth principle: using the democratic process opens a space for the intimate, the sacred, the formerly impossible. (Just Gini, July 11)

For Peter McDonald, General Assembly was a drug he’d like more of.

It’s been two weeks, and I am jonesing hard. This isn’t fair. Why did you do this to me? GA’s supposed to be a business meeting. What kind of business did you have turning it into a religious experience? . . .

Peter Morales said we need to “get religion.” I got it at GA, and I know I wasn’t the only one, but why settle for getting religion when we can make it. We can make this shit right here, using the seven principles as the chemical formula and the chalice as the crucible. A little religion every once in a while to take the edge off existence is fine, but when I make a habit out of it, I start to get crazy ideas, like going to seminary and opening up a church in the hood, like believing we really can end capitalism and all wars. I want to stay high till I die. (Vive Le Flame, July 11)

“UU Schools” has created a GA Witness project—photographs of General Assembly participants, holding one-word signs describing their experiences. (UU Schools, June 23)

Around the blogosphere

In his new blog, UU Ministers Association Executive Director, the Rev. Don Southworth, invites us to join him on a four-week pilgrimage—to Italy and Silicon Valley.

[In] the past few months I have been on fire looking for the intersections between business and religion, entrepreneurship and spirituality—calltrepreneurship if you will. More specifically between Silicon Valley and Assisi. What can we learn from Steve Jobs and St. Francis? You may be surprised at how much they have in common and how their lives, and the lives and practices of men and women in business and religion, can inspire and teach us to live a called life. (Calltrepreneurship, July 4)

The Rev. Dan Harper uses a video to tempt us into reading Loyal Rue’s book, Religion Is Not About God.

Rue manages to link two of my primary concerns, religious naturalism and the growing crisis of overpopulation. I’m slowly working my way through the book—slowly, because periodically I have to stop and think about what Rue is saying. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, July 10)

The Rev. Scott Wells thinks he’s figured out one reason some churches thrive, in a time when many religious communities are in decline.

Some churches still thrive, and it’s clearly not (to me) because they are more or less institutional, more or less dogmatic or more or less authoritarian. Self-confidence seems to be a better distinguishing factor. . . . Why? Confidence says this is good better than self-assertion, and people can feel the difference. And desperation kills. (Boy in the Bands, July 9)