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Mailbox, Winter 2007

Article about class and liberal religion hits a nerve.
By Jane Greer
Winter 2007 11.1.07

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To say that Doug Muder’s article “Not My Father’s Religion: Unitarian Universalism and the Working Class” hit a nerve would be an understatement. It wielded a mallet, provoking 60 of the total of 110 letters we received! “Seldom has an article provoked in me such a storm of observations, feelings, reflections, and a whole host of other reactions,” wrote Ramon Carrion of Safe ty Harbor, Florida. In many of the letters, the writers still keenly felt class distinctions in their own congregations. In one, the writer, who asked to remain anonymous, told a story of how he had been the one to inadvertently pass judgment:

“I greeted a visitor one morning, a young man whose father had been a UU. He revealed that he worked in a steel mill. I knew that mill. A friend of mine had worked there as a quality engineer. In my mind I envisioned this young man working with my friend solving engineering problems. But it turned out that he was a worker there. I didn’t say ‘just a worker’, but he heard it anyway. When I asked if he was an engineer, he stopped and looked at me, then looked around at the other members. He then made his way out, and never came back. There is no excuse for this kind of careless prejudice.”

We received six enthusiastic responses to Kimberly French’s profile of musician and songwriter Carolyn McDade. “Since I read the article, the melody and words of ‘Spirit of Life’ have been playing in my memory,” wrote Gretchen Warner of San Mateo, California. Five letter writers responded to Tom Stites’ essay on writing haiku. In three cases, the writers were inspired to submit their own haiku!

Elizabeth Weber’s essay about volunteer burnout elicited two responses. “As I contemplate participation in a new congregation closer to home, I wonder whether to join a smaller, more intimate one or a larger one that will be less ‘needy,’” writes Sheila McPharlin of Old Saybrook, Connecticut. “Certainly, I will go slowly in connecting with the new one.”


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