Saturday, July 10, 2021

UU offers the hope for a spiritual journey but provides no map.


 Spiritual journey with no map

This jumbled, if not relativistic, understanding of what Unitarian Universalism means to UUs themselves becomes apparent in a 2005 Commission on Appraisal report entitled, Engaging our Theological Diversity, asking UU members, “What holds us together?” One participant said, “It’s the support network.”[118] Another saw “the UU movement as an interreligious dialogue.”[119] Another said UU congregations are comprised of “people who didn’t fit in”[120] anywhere else. Still others actually complained about us not having a common belief. “This is where the UUA falls down,” they said, “and why you have CUUPS and the Buddhists and the Christians and all these little subgroups—because we offer the hope of a spiritual journey, and we offer no tools to do it with.”[121]


Eklof, Todd. The Gadfly Papers: Three Inconvenient Essays by One Pesky Minister . Kindle Edition.  


In his Gadfly Papers: Three Inconvenient Essays, in the second essay, “I want a divorce,” Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof points out that after the merging of Unitarianism and Universalism in 1961 into Unitarian Universalism, the denomination was set off on theological drift. Since then It has wandered aimlessly. And while it talks a good game, and says some attractive things, it doesn’t deliver the goods.


Eklof cites the 2005 Commission on Appraisal Report which writes that while UU offers a hope for a spiritual journey it offers no tools. The sermons of UU ministers and lay leaders are a composite of social justice themes and self-help psychobabble. Instead of a lectionary, some congregations have monthly themes like “hope,” “kindness,” “mercy”, etc. Most of these sermons amount to a motivational speech based on pop psychology rather than an informative explication of theological concepts based on the perennial philosophy. There is no common core of understanding, values, and/or ethical vision tied to any meta narrative and overarching theological understanding.


It seems that UU stands for nothing and anything will do to fill up worship time and pulpit sermons. 


To solve the problem of amorphous ambiguity some congregations try to create a center of gravity by using one of the six sources and so they tend to be focused on Christian concepts or Buddhist concepts or humanistic concepts or Earth Centered philosophies. This can be somewhat helpful to local congregations but does not help with a broader affinity at the Association level. What is it that all UU congregations believe and hold in common? Herein lies the Tower of Babel that is the source of trouble for the dysfunctional  organization that is the UUA.


Eklof suggests that a divorce may be indicated but  another option is a transformation to a higher level of cultural maturity which would embrace and teach the perennial wisdom that all religious traditions have in common. This requires investment in training and funding interreligious teachers and scholars and improved training for UU ministers and lay leaders. The people are hungry for it and need it in order to continue to grow and develop spiritually. It is what we are committed to here at UU A Way Of Life.


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