Heartbreaking conflict, teaching men and boys, marketing UUism, and more

This religion will break your heart

Writing about a conflict at Starr King School for the Ministry, the Rev. Tom Schade considers larger issues of trust within Unitarian Universalism.

There is a persistent anti-authoritarianism in UU culture (I hereby dub it “PopUUlism”) that believes that an elite manipulates our process somewhere inside that black box of confidentiality, no matter how transparent the rest of the process is.

While knowing nothing about the particulars of this case, I suspect that the larger issue involved is the conflict between transparency and confidentiality in the poisonous UU atmosphere of distrust. (The Lively Tradition, June 5)

Theresa Novak, a SKSM graduate, believes that three important points have been lost in the discussion.

1. The underlying racism of the reaction to the selection of the Reverend Rosemary Bray McNatt as SKSM’s next president

2. Ignorance of the power dynamics of institutions, including those of small religiously liberal seminaries

3. Hubris and confusion about what the “empowerment” of students actually means. (Sermons, Poetry and Other Musings, June 5)

Acknowledging that Unitarian Universalism often breaks our hearts, the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum advises, “Carry on. Love on.”

If you stay in this faith long enough, your heart will be broken. Somebody you loved and trusted in this faith will do something you think is so hurtful and incomprehensible, so wrong-headed, that it will break your heart. Or something will be decided that you just can’t agree with, and it will break your heart. And then, if you stay long enough, it will happen again and again. (Rev. Cyn, June 5)

The Rev. Scott Wells expresses a similar take on UU “mishigas,” with a sharper edge.

There’s a Yiddish word you should learn if you don’t know it. Mishigas. Crazy-nonsense. Boy, do we have it. Good, self-differentiated people smell it and they stay away or leave. Remember that the next time you hear someone mew about the Millenials being our future. (Boy in the Bands, June 2)

Marketing UUism

A blogger attends First UU of San Antonio, and reviews her experience.

I’m not sure what to think of this service. I expected something a bit more like Unity, Church of Religious Science or Divine Science. I didn’t hear any mention of Jesus Christ and only found the word “God” in a few of the hymns. Most songs were about the clouds, community and beauty, etc. . . . I’d call this church a true “feel good” church. While I didn’t get much from it, I’m glad there are denominations like this that are welcoming to gay, lesbian and transgender people, who often find it difficult to worship openly with their partner in an environment filled with judgment. (Steeple Stretch, June 2)

After two young adults mention valuing Christmas Eve traditions, the Rev. Elizabeth Curtiss asks, “Why do we assume that what attracts young adults is novelty, the unexpected—which it often is—without remembering that in the ever-more-violent fluctuations of their emerging years, they also yearn for anchors?” (Politywonk, June 3)

The Rev. Andy Burnette responds to the Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley’s recent UU World article, “Into the Beyond.”

Church needs a reboot in many ways. . . . But if we beg every young adult who comes through our doors to tell us how we should be, we are serving neither the Millennials nor Unitarian Universalism well.

Are we inviting Millennials to learn from us as well as to adapt our faith to their tastes? Are we inviting them into transformative community with us, or asking them how to build monuments to Millennial identity? (Just Wondering, June 4)

The Rev. Elizabeth Stevens wishes we’d worry less about “Selling God.”

Here’s the thing. I am an institutionalist, and will likely embrace whatever logo, slogan or ‘branding’ they come up with—mostly because I don’t think it’s going to make that much difference one way or the other. What drives growth isn’t advertising, or slogans, or cool logos. That might get people through the doors, but it doesn’t lead them to stay.

People stay when they find what they need. (revehstevens, June 4)

Teaching men and boys

Liz James writes about what she and her husband teach their sons about living in a culture of violence.

I taught my sons to scream “no”, too. I taught them to run fast. I taught them about the risk of attack when walking alone at night (men are more likely to be victims of stranger-perpetrated violence than women are). I taught them about the nuances of consent . . . both for when they are giving consent and when they are receiving it.

And I taught them about privilege, and expectations of masculinity, and hard choices. And then I listened. (Rebel With a Labelmaker, May 30)

For Doug Muder, the #YesAlllWomen discussion was an eye-opener, as it was for many men.

YesAllWomen is at its best when women simply tell their stories, one after another. Read enough stories and the bigger reality starts to break through: The meaning of Isla Vista isn’t that shit happens, it’s that the same kinds of shit keep happening day after day all over the country. (The Weekly Sift, June 2)

And more UU content

Kim Hampton continues her series examining the connection between White flight and the Fellowship Movement.

I stand by my assertion that federal housing policy benefited the growth of Unitarianism (and later Unitarian Universalism) in both good and not-so-good ways. This is not an indictment (ok, maybe it is). But I think to ignore this when talking about how and why Unitarian Universalism is the way it is and WHERE Unitarian Universalism is where it is does us all a disservice. (East of Midnight, May 30)

Justin Almeida answers a friend’s question, “Why would you want to be a chaplain?”

I feel like I can be the person who holds a dying person’s hand as they take their last breath. I want to be the person who can sit and weep with the mother who just lost her child. I need to be the person who can be present with the man who has lost his faith. I can be available to my fellow human being who is hurting, share that dark tunnel journey with them, and walk out out the other end with them into the light again. (What’s My Age Again?, June 1)

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern hopes that UUs in Portland and Columbus think seriously about planning UU day camps during upcoming General Assemblies. (Mookie’s Mama, June 4)

Reading online UU content

One challenge of reading UU online content is finding your personal Goldilocks zone—enough, but not too much.

Since its beginning, the Interdependent Web has been the amuse-bouche of blog coverage—just a taste, carefully arranged. At the other end of the spectrum has been the bountiful buffet at UUpdates.net.

This past week I started playing with a middle range, promoting more online content on the Interdependent Web’s Facebook Page than I can in the weekly column. If you’re looking for more than the Friday column, but not quite as much as UUpdates, try the Interdependent Web on Facebook.