Monday, August 6, 2007

Completing Sunday with a faith-related post

I stumbled across this blog entry the other day while searching for blogging samples: http://thehanifblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/problem-with-sociological-identity.html

I am curious what those of you who are fellow Unitarian Universalists think about this. It is definitely food for thought, and I haven't yet really fully developed my thoughts about it, but some of the things that came to mind off hand include:

1. The UUA just redesigned its website and is focusing its online material more on those new to the faith. I have noticed some content changes, and I am curious whether the quoted description of the faith is likely to change as well. A change would be consistent with some of the self-study work the UUA has been up to over the last few years. There certainly has been a movement toward greater assumption of the language of faith.

2. I'm not sure if this is any kind of official description, or if it is more a haphazard description that happened to be a visible one on the UUA website. However, it does seem indicative of the lack of clarity inherent in this stage of Unitarian Universalism's history.

This post led me to another discussion of related interest: http://thehanifblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/inclusiveness.html and http://thehanifblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/ia-umbrella.html and http://chalicechick.blogspot.com/2007/07/organization-by-any-other-name.html

My thought is that these conversations have a core issue in common: our clarity of faith. As a faith made up of 90% "converts," I think collectively we are afraid to be clear because it brings up faith-related baggage. The worry seems to be summed up like this "If we clear about who we are, will we somehow end up leaving people out?" As a lifelong UU, I have witnessed plenty of the UUs I grew up with leaving our faith because of the lack of clarity. I am thankful for the self-study happening now among UUs for this exact reason. I think we lose as many folks from our lack of clarity as we might risk losing from a greater degree of clarity about who we are as a people of faith.

Am I making any sense? It is late, so this may be difficult to follow.

2 comments:

LaReinaCobre said...

Yes, I understand what you are saying. I think what UU folks need to think about is whether we want to follow traditional religion's approach to attracting (and sustaining) members, or if we really want to do something radical and substantive.

Even if that means it remains small.

I'm still thinking about this, too. Glad you referenced Jaume's post; it's an important and well written one.

The Procrastinator said...

Hmmm, do tell. What are you thinking of when you say radical and substantive?

Also, I would argue that in some ways, we must take the "traditional" religious approach, if, for example, we are to be accessible in general. That said, in some ways, we have no choice but to take a different approach. We do not define religion in a traditional manner. That is, traditionally, a religion is seen primarily as a collective body for people who share the same creed (or dogma, or a common set of beliefs, etc.). We see religion primarily as a covenantal reltionship. Again, we need to be clear about who we are. When we aren't clear, we aren't seen as substantive. As the author of _The Almost Church_ has been known to say, "People want to be a meaningful part of something meaningful." If we hide those things that are particularly meaningful about ourselves, what reason does anyone have to stick around?

That said, I want to see us grow! Not for growth's sake, but rather because there are many who are searching for us but don't know we exist yet. I believe we do have something meaningful-- a transformative, saving message-- and I think it is that something meaningful that is so needed, especially in our society in these times.