Thursday, May 29, 2014

Onion reports nation is down to last 100 grown-ups and Markham says 80 of them are probably UUs

One of the last 100

The Onion headline reads "Nation Down To Last Hundred Grown-ups: Mature Adults Could Be Gone Within 50 Years, Experts Say"

As I thought further about who these last 100 Grown-Ups are, it dawned on me that 80% or 80 out of the last 100 probably are Unitarian Universalists.

Grown-ups can be distinguished from other contemporary homo sapiens by their rationality, foresight, personal responsibility, self discipline, tolerance of frustration especially in pursuit of longer term goals, compassion, empathic understanding of others, kindness, lack of impulse buying, and use of mood altering chemicals and activities in moderation and balance.

Grown-ups also tend to not just be tolerant but actually appreciate people who are different from themselves, interested in seeking the truth even outside their own comfort zone and if it means disturbing their status quo, and an appreciation of the interconnectedness of all things. Grown-ups suffer fools patiently and they are wise as serpents and innocent as doves to cop the words of J.C.

"It is no wonder that Unitarian Universalism is losing members," said Calvin Johnson, a life long UU. "There aren't that many mature grown-ups left. People are looking for answers and for someone to reassure them that if they do what they are told they will be rewarded. Most people are like children, they want immediate rewards for pleasing the dispenser of the goodies, and to know what the rules are so they can avoid doing the wrong thing and getting punished. It seems that people who can question, tolerate ambiguity, and listen to their own inner wisdom are rapidly vanishing. They are all looking at their smart phones, tablets, and laptops for the answers. God forbid they lost access to these gadgets, they'd actually have to think for themselves and rely on their own self sufficiency."


  1. I enjoyed this article and did smile, but I don't agree with the premise. In my experience, UUs tend to be better educated and middle class. They certainly aren't working people or people from the lower classes or less well educated.

    I do agree that it takes some amount of maturity and emotional intelligence to feel attracted to and comfortable with the UU free thinking view of life. Unitarian Universalism will never be the religion of the masses because it does not attract or motivate the lowest common denominator of the hoi polloi. Of course, there is no reason why UU should try to appeal to the masses. Perhaps Unitarian Universalism should be focused on quality not quantity. A religion like Unitarian Universalism is not for everyone, or should it be?

  2. A priest, minister, and rabbi walk into a saloon and sit down at the bar. The bartender walks up to them and says, "What is this, some kind of joke?"

    In Georgia a red neck, Klu Klux Klanner, and born again Christian walk into a UU church carrying their guns and sit in the front row. The UU minister says to them, "You are most welcome. We're so desperate for members, we'll take anybody.Since you're here, you want to sign the book?"

  3. What did the UU say to the Born Again?

    Give me ambiguity or give me something else.

  4. I would guess that most UUs are at what Lawrence Kohlberg called the post conventional stage of moral development. They have moved past what is considered conventional morality and appeal to a higher, transcendent cosmic consciousness. In other words, UUs appreciate more than most thing that just because things are legal doesn't make them moral and things that might be moral can be illegal. It takes a level of maturity before a person can function at the level of Love apart from the merely legal, regulatory, restraints of society.

    1. Dear Chris:

      Fowler wrote about the stages of faith development. I think Unitarian Universalism is probably more attractive to people at the higher stages of faith development? What do you think?


    2. Dear Aaron:

      I think you are right. I would say that most UUs are at the 4th and 5th stage of Fowler's model:

      Stage 4 – "Individuative-Reflective" faith (usually mid-twenties to late thirties) a stage of angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for his or her beliefs and feelings. As one is able to reflect on one's own beliefs, there is an openness to a new complexity of faith, but this also increases the awareness of conflicts in one's belief.
      Stage 5 – "Conjunctive" faith (mid-life crisis) acknowledges paradox and transcendence relating reality behind the symbols of inherited systems. The individual resolves conflicts from previous stages by a complex understanding of a multidimensional, interdependent "truth" that cannot be explained by any particular statement.

      Most people are probably at the second and third stage:

      Stage 2 – "Mythic-Literal" faith (mostly in school children), stage two persons have a strong belief in the justice and reciprocity of the universe, and their deities are almost always anthropomorphic. During this time metaphors and symbolic language are often misunderstood and are taken literally.

      Stage 3 – "Synthetic-Conventional" faith (arising in adolescence; aged 12 to adulthood) characterized by conformity to religious authority and the development of a personal identity. Any conflicts with one's beliefs are ignored at this stage due to the fear of threat from inconsistencies.

      All UUs in my experience have moved beyond stage 2 and 3 to stages 4 and 5.

      It this model is helpful in any way, what are it's implications for the way that Unitarian Universalists markets itself to prospective members?

      It is no wonder considering Kohlberg's and Fowler's models why Unitarian Universalism does not appeal to mainstream Americans. Most adults are not mature enough or to use the Onion label "grown-up" enough to find UU attractive and meaningful.

    3. I don't think that "common sense" and emotional maturity require an academic education. I know plenty of working class folks who are very wise and "grown-up" but you probably won't find them in UU churches. They might be at AA meetings, or the union hall, or in a volunteer fire department in a small town. These folks feel out of place in most UU churches because of the social status of our society. However, they are out there. How UUs can engage them is another question. They sure don't show up much at our churches unless invited and made to feel welcome.


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