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Blog roundup, Fall 2011
Online responses to UU World.
After reading the Rev. David Bumbaugh’s Summer 2011 article, “The Unfulfilled Dream,” a parishioner asked the Rev. Andy Burnette, “Are UUs spiritual dilletantes?” Burnette, writing at Just Wondering, replied that he both agrees and disagrees with Bumbaugh. “I think our diversity work already is rooted in the Universalists’ claim of a common destiny for all human beings. As I see it, every Sunday a Unitarian Universalist congregation is like a model of the whole world. . . . There are atheists, agnostics, Pagans, and Buddhists in my church in Danville, just as there are all these people living side by side in the real world.” (May 24)
The Rev. Jeff Liebmann, writing at uujeff’s muse kennel and pizzatorium, offered his “elevator speech” in response to Bumbaugh’s questions about Unitarian Universalist identity: “Unitarian Universalism is a religion promoting the use of human courage and reason in the pursuit of universal love. For me, that’s it. . . . All of the rest can wait. All of our principles and sources are covered.” (June 6)
Bill Baar of Pfarrer Streccius wondered, “what drives this recurring meme of UUs baffled to explain their church? . . . After two years on my church’s board and one of those years as a VP for Programs, I never had a committee chair come before us and say they were at a loss to explain what being a Unitarian Universalist meant. Spending a year on the membership committee of Unity Temple in Oak Park, Ill., in the 1980s, I was never at a loss to tell anyone what being a UU was about.” (June 6)
While reading Doug Muder’s Summer 2011 essay, “Before Words,” John Beckett of Under the Ancient Oaks discovered that Humanism and Paganism share a troublesome habit: focusing so intently on definitions that they “suck the soul right out of it. . . . The future of religion does not belong to those who can best circumscribe the Infinite. The future of religion belongs to those who dive deeply into their part of the Infinite and then join together with other people of good will to support each other, to learn from each other, and to build a better world here and now.” (June 4)
In response to Michelle Bates Deakin’s news report “UUA membership declines again” (uuworld.org, May 23), the Rev. Adam Tierney-Eliot of Burbania Posts pointed to congregational inability to adapt to the surrounding community’s needs: “[We] expect the community to adapt to us. We liberals tell folks that they are all welcome . . . if it is convenient for our particular institution in its current format.” (May 23)
The Rev. Dan Harper announced at Yet Another Unitarian Universalist that it’s “time to panic” about declining religious education enrollment and in follow-up posts provided reasons for the decline as well as recommendations for reversing it. (May 23)
“Ogre,” writing at Sparks in the Dark, compared UUA membership numbers to those generated by a Pew Research study. “Churchgoing UUs are relatively well-off, extremely well-educated older white women. . . . ‘Free-range’ UUs are probably middle class, but are pretty likely to be lower middle class, if not poor; they’re much less educated, . . . they’re young, and male. Simply taking US demographics—young, male, lower education and income . . . they’re also far, far more likely to be mixed race or people of color.” (May 16)
Ogre’s analysis was also a response to “Worker,” who set off a blogging controversy at This is Worker with his statement, “There’s no such thing as a free-range UU.” (May 7)
Faith and Justice, the blog of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, drew attention to Kimberly French’s Spring 2011 story, “To Listen without Judging.” “Unitarian Universalists have a strong tradition of social justice activism. But even so, the story of the abortion hotline established by the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, New York, is inspiring.” (May 2)
Several bloggers responded to Daniel Burke’s Religion News Service article, “Can Unitarian Universalists Make It Another 50 Years?” which appeared in many newspapers and at The Huffington Post. (June 29)
The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein, writing at PeaceBang, noticed a relationship between gender and authority in Burke’s article. “Interesting gender and authority breakdown in this article: the one woman interviewed is also the only layperson the reporter talked to, and she is portrayed as being insecure and apologetic. Five ordained men contribute quotes that cast the vision for the movement.” (June 30)
Writing from a Pagan perspective, Jason Pitzl-Waters at The Wild Hunt had mixed feelings about the story Burke tells about a neo-Pagan lay leader. “While I’m pleased to see UU Pagans get noticed, I’m less happy with the fact that Burke seems to use this moment to underscore how far the UUA has drifted from its Christian roots.” (June 30)
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