Thursday, April 15, 2010

Many are called but few are chosen

I am wondering if part of the problem of declining membership in the UUA is that the denomination tries to be too many things to too many people when in fact it is a special faith which is appropriate for only a few.

I don't mean this idea that UU is for the few as an elitist idea or an exclusionary idea but rather as an idea that few people are ready for it, are developmentally attuned to its ideas and values.

I have been studying Ken Wilbur's ideas about what he terms the Integral Operating system. He makes the point that people can be at one of three stages of consciousness: egocentric, ethnocentric, and cosmocentric. Most of the world's religions and Christian denominations are egocentric and ethnocentric. The exception is Unitarian Universalism, Quakerism, and Buddhism which seems to be more comsocentric.

Wilbur makes the point that the majority of humans on the planet today are egocentric and ethnocentric. They comprise about70% of humanity. I personally think that this group is even larger, maybe 80 - 90%. Only 10 - 20% of humans are at a cosmocentric stage of consciousness. Unitarian Univeralism is a cosmocentric religion. The people attracted to it developmentally are in the minority.

My point is that, perhaps it is not the quantity of members but the quality of members which makes Unitarian Univeralism a high quality religion.

If these ideas have any accuracy, then they have important implications for our outreach and recruitment of new members.

As Jesus says in Matthew 22:14, "Many are called but few are chosen."

There are only about 150,000 Unitarian Universalists in the United States today. This is a small quantity of people compared to the 300 million in the Country. UUs are the yeast in the dough.


  1. David I think that you make a valid point in pointing out that Unitarian*Universalism may be something of a niche religion that not all people will want to join but this does not explain the dismally low membership numbers for The U*U Movement. Lets take your thesis at face value and agree that -

    "Only 10 - 20% of humans are at a cosmocentric stage of consciousness. Unitarian Univeralism is a cosmocentric religion. The people attracted to it developmentally are in the minority."

    Well why aren't 10-20% of Americans Unitarian*Universalists? OK, So there may be a few other liberal religions that may compete with U*Uism for "market share" but that still does not explain the *very* low membership numbers. There are only about 5000 U*Us in Canada and a similar number in the UK. Why is this so?

    "My point is that, perhaps it is not the quantity of members but the quality of members which makes Unitarian Univeralism a high quality religion."

    From where I stand David it is the *low* quality of its members and leaders which makes Unitarian Universalism a low quality religion with a very low membership. I expect that is the case for amny other people. I still firmly believe that the main reason so few people chose to become Unitarian*Universalists is the low quality of the "religion" that they encounter in many U*U churches, not the least of that low quality being the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry of the "fundamentalist atheist" faction of "Humanist" U*Us who make any number of U*U "churches" anything but welcoming to God believing people. If Unitarian*Universalism *really* had a high quality of membership and leadership my legitimate grievances about anti-religious intolerance and related non-sexual clergy misconduct would have been resolved years ago. N'est-ce pas?

  2. I mean you only have to read the 'Robin Edgar Sucks' blog, which is almost certainly produced by a "collective authorship" consisting of Rev. Victoria Weinstein aka Peacebang and Rev. Scott Wells and possibly a small handful of other U*Us, to see just how low U*U "religious leaders" can go. . . The moral and ethical mediocrity, to say nothing of the moral and ethical rot, that I and other people have encountered amongst Unitarian*Universalists is quite frankly pathetic and makes a total mockery of the claimed principles and purposes of Unitarian*Universalism. Modern Americans and Canadians can smell hypocrisy a mile away and *that* is the main reason why there are so few U*Us AFA*I*AC.

  3. BTW Your title would be more accurate if it said -

    Many are called but few choose.

    The UUA's all but useless regional and national advertising campaigns, along with plenty of local promotion of U*Uism by individual U*U churches, call many to make Unitarian*Universalism their "chosen faith" but very few people acually choose that fate do they David? They don't call Unitarian*Universalism "The Church Of The Revolving Door" for nothing and the reason that the door revolves is because all too often the religious "product" of Unitarian*Universalism is simply not good enough to convince many people to "buy" it.

  4. Robin:

    I am appalled that some people would start such a web site to attack you. I am very sorry. I know that I have been boycotted and shunned because of my willingness to allow your comments on this blog. I have had several requests to disallow it but as you know, I admire you, and support your efforts to bring about the changes which you desire in the UUA and the denominational ostracism which you have been subjected to.

    I personally and professionally have learned a lot from you and wish you only the best.

    Unitarian Universalism is a challenging faith one of which many people don't understand and cannot engage with because of its high demands. I think your turn of the phase of Jesus that many are called but few are chosen into many are called but few choose is very insightful and accurate. I appreciate your keen insight and reframe.

    I worry that the shunning and ostracism which you have been subjected to will destroy your spirit, but you seem to be strong and you certainly are not a quitter. You remind me a bit of John the Baptist who is calling the people to repent but instead they arrest you and cut off you head.

    Your prohpetic voice is much needed in the Unitarian Universalist world and is vastly misunderstood and rejected when it is really worthy of understanding and acceptance.

    All the best and thanks for your comments which are always welcome here. I have tried to create a blog space which is safe and respectful to all. Unfortunately, what is said sometimes is scarey for people and they would prefer to silence the voices they disagree with rather than attempt to understand what is behind the harsh and critical words.

    David Markham


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