Why innovation is hard, the ‘nones,’ and more UU blogging

Daring to innovate

The Rev. Dan Harper begins a series about innovation in liberal congregations, acknowledging that change is difficult and will be resisted.

Innovation is hard first of all because most of us turn to organized religion for stability. We are trying to make meaning out of our chaotic lives, and liberal religion can help us find that meaning in order to make sense out of chaos, to find a sense of purpose, to come up with some values that can provide stability. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, October 17)

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern reports that the Palo Alto UU congregation has a new-to-them benediction, cobbled together from various sources.

We have been ending the service by taking hands and saying it—a feat that the people at UUCPA attempt with good humor, since it’s not easy to hold hands and hold a piece of paper at the same time—and I see a lot of smiles. (Sermons in Stones, October 12)

On a larger scale, June Herold challenges the UUA to think seriously about moving its headquarters out of New England, and investing the savings in congregational growth.

[Let’s] say that leaving headquarters in the Boston area is the right thing to do. . . . Why not rent? When we own property we have to take care of it, and that’s costly. Until we are aggressively growing in attendance nationwide, I question why we would continue to spend down on assets to fund buildings and property and not the survival of our congregations and faith. . . .

All I’m saying is that assumptions should be aggressively double and triple checked when it comes to the potential uses of $35M. (The New UU, October 14)

Faith and practice

The Rev. Jude Geiger points out the differences between belief and faith.

If one’s faith is entirely dedicated to adherence to right beliefs, when those beliefs are challenged or insulted, so too is one’s religious life. . . . Belief can make false gods of our opinions. In this way, faith can almost be the opposite of belief. (Rev. G. Jude Geiger, October 13)

After watching their teacher’s faith in action, the youth in the high school religious education class Walter Clark teaches learn to be less hostile toward Christianity.

I overheard one of my youth chatting with a youth from a different church. His new friend was claiming Christian were close minded, intolerant and idiotic. My youth turned to him, seeing I was there and said, “Hey, Walt’s a Christian, they aren’t all bad.” (Lack of a Clever Title, October 15)

Julia Shu writes that, despite its difficulty and complexity, service is Unitarian Universalism’s prayer.

[Social] justice isn’t all about glamorous trips to impoverished villages to build houses. In fact, a goodly portion is exhausting, frustrating, and painstaking. . . .

[Service], despite its many and complex trials, is worthwhile. Because it is this physical embodiment of asking for what we need most, a method of praying while walking, that can most intuitively satisfy our thirst. (Vive Le Flame, October 17)

Unitarian Universalisalism and the ‘nones’

Responding to a Pew Research study about the rise of the religiously unaffiliated (the “nones”), John Beckett tells us why he is spiritual and religious.

I am spiritual because I want to feel the connectedness between myself and my fellow humans, my fellow creatures, and every other thing in this Universe. . . . I am religious because I want to learn from those who came before me. . . . I am religious because I want to be a part of something bigger than myself. . . . I am religious because I need support and accountability.  (Under the Ancient Oaks, October 17)

Kim Hampton claims that for religious communities, “running after the nones is like tanning salons offering their services to black people.”

[If] a substantial majority of the “nones” do not consider themselves religious—and not just unaffiliated, why are so many religious folk (especially liberal religious folk) running after them as if they were the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? (East of Midnight, October 15)

Sarah MacLeod recounts her journey from being a “none” to being a Unitarian Universalist.

I’m five years from being one of the Nones—five years in a Unitarian Universalist community that feeds me, teaches me, listens to me, cares for me, and sometimes drives me mad. It’s the right place for me today, a previous None. . . . (Finding My Ground, October 14)

Around the blogosphere

Personal circumstances bring a particular focus to Sara Lewis’ thoughts about generational shifts.

[How] many of the GI generation are left in leadership in our congregations?  With the passing away of my own grandparents last week, I’m particularly sensitive to the fact that this is a generation leaving us. . . . And there were some important strengths and values expressed in the GI generational value system—do we lose that too as we lose our elders? (The Curriculum of Love, October 15)

The Rev. Meredith Garmon writes a series about “the electronic self,” about the interaction of identity and social media.

“Just be yourself,” we are often told. So how do you be yourself through these electronic social media? What is your electronic self? What is it that is presented in “social media”? Are you being yourself? How would you know? Which self? Which part of you does the social media magnify, or change? (Lake Chalice, October 14)

UUA trustee Linda Laskowski begins a series about the UUA Board of Trustees meeting, highlighting items from the board’s agenda. (UUA View from Berkeley, October 15)