Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Is Wrong With UU the Way it Is?

Why are UU's so down with what is wrong with UU's?

I'm really puzzled by this one. I just found Unitarian Universalism and I like it. I still have trouble with the idea of being religious, but most of the time I feel at home here. It's a place and an idea where I fit and and I'm not judged. But frequently when I open UU blogs the subject seems to be what is wrong with UU's and UU churches and OMG-what-we-need-to-change-right-now-or-we-will-never-ever-grow. This does not fill one with confidence.

I understand that churches need to pay pastors and they must have sufficient members and revenue to do so, so I get the church growth thing from that angle. But, for cyin' out loud, what is so wrong with Unitarian Universalism?

Often it seems like the exact things that attracted me to UU fellowship are the things that desperately need to change and that makes me feel like maybe I'm not the kind of person you are trying to attract. I know that isn't true, but sometimes it make me feel unwelcome. I wish there were more people of color and people under 40 in our local fellowship and in the association as a whole, I do. But damn it, I am a white middle-class woman who listens to NPR, buys organic food, doesn't believe in God, and votes Democrat and I don't think I should have to apologize for that. This community sold me on what you had, but then the focus shifted how you should really be something different and you shouldn't want to appeal so much to me. I bought what you were selling because it means something to me.

For a long time, I pretended to be something I wasn't to fit in at my childhood church. I left that behind with great relief, sure that I would never attend a church again. Here I am a few years later finding a church that speaks to me. So why is everyone trying to change it and improve it to appeal to someone else? If I don't fit in as a UU, I can't imagine finding another church that fits.

I hope I didn't step on any toes here, but I wanted to get that off my chest. I really am asking the question, not just complaining. I'd be grateful for any polite arguments, agreements, enlightenment or information on the matter.


  1. You have to realize that you came to UU in the middle of a hotly contested race for UUA President. Growth- the reasons why we don't, and specualtion as to how we could- were the only campaign issues that had any traction at all; naturally it was thoroughly dissected. In the process of doing so, many subsidiary issues that normally aren't that heated were brought to the front burner as well. I expect that things will return to normal in short order.

    Of course, "normal" for Unitarians still means a lot of discussion and introspection; as the joke goes, dead Unitarians would opt for the discussion panel on Heaven over the actual Heaven- but the heat and the note of desperation you noted were primarily election fever.

  2. Don't use the blogs as an indicator of what most UUs think or feel. They are a very small subset of Unitarian Universalism. People who take the time to write a blog usually do so because they have ideas they want to explore (or bones they want to pick) that are about challenging the way things are.

    As a lifer, I'm pretty happy with Unitarian Universalism. Part of the reason I love it is that it is always in tension. Tension with its own history, with the rest of the world, with the many different visions of the future it embraces. I love this creative and dynamic tension. It's part of my spiritual path. UUs have been having these debates for decades and centuries. We're still here, doing the best we can.

  3. Thanks all for talking me down. I'll keep what you said in mind.

    I'm just glad that my local fellowship is very warm and welcoming. Like Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones Diary they like me just the way I am. I'll try to remember to take the web-based doom and gloom with a grain of salt.

  4. I experience some tension as one who does not currently accept the status quo that much within the UU faith but feel that it is the best that I can find. I have been attending UU churches for 25 years and have been a member for 15 years and feel it is important to give the denomination and private individuals plenty of slack. I need them and it, damn it.

  5. I am an African American Middle aged UU who buys organic, votes Democrat, Listens NPR and believes in God.

    While I understand you are trying to make a point, your statement makes an unfair inference and it trivializes an issue of diversity that is important to those who don't look like you.

    I don't want your apology for being white.

    I also don't want you to keep more who look like me out. Either actively, or passively.

    Are we a faith of many colors and ideas? Or the Liberal version of the Mormon Church? (People of Color are long as they know their place and keep their numbers small).

    UU's don't have to be majority of one race, damn it. And Damn you if you can't deal with that.

  6. Well as long as we're all being respectful of each other around here.

    I'm not going to defend myself to someone who damns me without leaving her name, even a fake one. Anonymous, I'll be happy to debate these issues with you civilly.

  7. Has anyone asked you to apoligize for buying oranginc food, voting democratic??? I'm not certain why you feel you need to say your not sorry for this. I'm a UU who doesn't buy organic food or vote Democratic. Those are not things that define me as a UU.

  8. I think the need for change has been constant and on-going throughout our history. UUs are early adopters, we were on board with anti-slavery, civil rights and human rights early. Sometimes we have trouble solving these issues because we are early adopters.

    I think the main reason this is being discussed is demographics of the U.S. We are not growing or shrinking, in part because we limit our target. On the other hand I don't think we should apologize for what we are.

    First we are Welcoming and then the Christian churches start it. We take a hit because one of our strategic advantages is the Welcoming part. Remember when we started being welcoming people were uncomfortable and felt like the church they joined is not the church it had become. In our congregation people left... and eventually came back.

    I think that is always true. We join one church and it changes. Because we have Congregational Polity, and we keep getting new members and it changes things up. I dream of a day when we are ever more diverse. I love the diversity. It enriches my journey. (Most days.) We have to keep changing because the left leaning Christians are still leaning. And we have to be ready to change or die. But this is not new. It has ever been so. We are important, we lead, therefore we must exist.

  9. Bluish said "We're still here, doing the best we can."

    You're kidding me right Bluish?

  10. Humanists/rationalists/atheists used to be very comfortable with UU. Then somebody decided we weren't spiritual enough (though nobody seems to be able to say what that means). Many of us have are gradually switching to secular organizations where we are still encouraged to speak our minds truthfully. The loss of the old UU is nearly as difficult as losing the irrational religion in which I was raised.