Thursday, January 15, 2009

Going Deeper

I love reading Doug Muder, if I knew how to make one of those facebook fan pages, I would make one for him. Funny, whip smart and his writing always just makes me stop dead in my tracks and THINK about things.

His latest blog post and article both deal with UU Lay ministry and "going deeper" as Unitarian Universalists.

Good stuff, it's important that we support our leaders and there seems to have been a lot of focus on ordained clergy in recent years. Or maybe that's just the non-ordained person persepctive. And to lead well I think you have to have a deep faith that guides your life. That depth doesn't just come to you during committee meetings and three hour classes.

Here's my issue. What seems to be the standard path to Unitarian Universalism in the discussion both with Mr. Muder and other bloggers is the understanding that all people come to this faith from someplace else, from another faith or from an unchurched life.

I found Unitarian Universalism when my parents took me to church on Sundays, right there in our rickety old dusty basement RE classroom.

Yes, it was a radically independent Fellowship in every sense of the world fellowship. No minister, political speakers, and radical hospitatlity that wrapped it's arms around all who walked through the door.

I grew up Unitarian Universalist. So did Peacebang. So did many of the younger adults in leadership at the UUA and across the continent.

What do we need to help us go "deeper" in our Unitarian Unversalsit faith?

Well, it's true, many of us grew up in small fellowships in the middle of the fellowship movement. We didn't learn anything about Unitarian or Universalist history. Our education of holy texts was more like a high school class than a theological reflection of sacred writings. Bible references in popular culture fell short on us, because we had no idea what happened in the bible. I remember spending a year learning about Islam just at the time when the first principles must have been in discussion, but we heard nothing about what our faith was doing.

So we do have a need to go deeper, we have great value in lay ministry because we understand our UU identity in a deep, familiial way. Many of the new families who visit my church have one parent who grew up UU. We can laugh about the filmstrips we saw in RE when we were kids, we chat about our lack of bible knowledge. But we understand being UU down to our toes the minute we walk in. I've changed my opening questions to families. I no longer ask "are you searching for a church home?" instead I ask "are you UUs looking for a home or are you seekers looking for a church home?". So often now, I hear "well, I grew-up UU and now I've got a child and I want to raise them as a Unitarian Universalist.

How can we be best served? We lifers? What will help us go deeper? That, I am not at all sure about.


David G. Markham said...

Hi Kari:

My tentative answer to your question is to pick one of the existential questions most currently relevant to you and then look for answers in the sources.

There, of course, is much more to it than this, but that is my short answer that I am coming up with as I reflect on your most excellent question.

I pose some existential questions which I think a winning theology should deal with in a post on UU A Way Of Life today.

All the best,

David Markham

Christine Robinson said...

The larger proportion of UU leaders who grew up UU is not just in younger generations. A high percentage of us older ministers..and I bet...lay leaders are cradle UU's, too.

What I have noticed is that because so many UU's are come-inners, most of our congregational programing focuses on them and leaves out the cradle UU's, which is one reason so few stay with us. That's a problem that has to be resolved at the local level, and perhaps is the first step of solving Doug's issue of Plateaued UU's: programing in the local church of the UU 201 (post-basic) nature.

Lizard Eater said...

Lizard Eater = Cradle UU, too.

I think we very much need to find a way to minister to our cradle UUs.

You know how in online communities, folks who have been in that community for a while (um ... let's say a knitting community) eventually get tired of newbies asking the same questions over and over? That's what led to the "FAQ" -- a place to point the newbies, so the experienced knitters can continue with their experienced conversations.

I heartily DON'T think that we should have a shortcut to point newbies to, but we do need to find a way to feed the more experienced UUs. Generally, they *don't* need to heal from fundamentalist belief, and they don't have the starry-eyed, "I'm so happy you exist!" honeymoon.

I'm afraid we may be losing many who feel that they are seniors in a school of freshman.

Kari said...

***stone silence****

How did I not know that Lizard Eater is a cradle UU?

You said it EXACTLY L.E., we feel like a senior in a school of freshmen, and maybe like Christine and Lizard Eater, some of us go into ministry to get our needs met, and for me, I feel the most fed in with my Religious Educator blood brothers and sisters, but how do we or "them" or someone bring this to people who don't feel called to professional UU leadership?!

I don't know. I'm gonna go make Obama cupcakes and think it over.