Better hope for the Unitarian Universalists

The biggest cultural divide among Unitarian Universalists (it seems to me) is over the question of whether of our religious movement and institutions are inherantly healthy or not. I suppose the yes crowd is larger because the UUA culture is so hard to change, and leaving (or being quiet) is an easier option for the “no” crowd. That, and some quarters are more defensive about criticism than others. (Meadville Lombard and Starr King — the theological schools — have some of the touchier stakeholders, for instance.)

I used to want to change and improve Unitarian Universalist institutions, but you can only run up against bristle-laden defenders and entrenched interests so long. In time, when you find productive and confident institutions or movements, you want to participate with them.What’s left?  An internal focus that begins to look a bit like self-obsession, or worse, self-pity.

Three signs?

  • Anti-racism (as an end, within congregations) is a more important than forming new congregations.
  • Defining basic Unitarian Universalism is a normative rhetorical flouish in our preaching.
  • The dogged adoption of shop-worn models. (Take, for instance, the Carver Model.)

So instead of trying to fix anything, the most I can manage is to identify and praise those who seem to have something better to give. I was thinking about the healthiest, most productive and most interesting systems among Unitarian Universalists.

Working from intuition, I think these would be the Partner Church Council and Project Harvet Hope, and in the informal sector, John Cooley’s immensly valuable

Can anyone else add some high-functioning signs of life?

Other coverage of UUCF Revival?

I see that UUCF Executive Directory Ron Robinson has blogged about the UUCF’s Revival Conference in Tulsa.

But I can’t see that anyone else present has. (I don’t know who’s there.) Nor do I know of any so-called hashtags (for example, #uucfrevival09) used to identify photos, microblog posts (like those found on Twitter or or more conventional blog posts.

Does anyone know of coverage of this event?

The Liberal Christian: update

After hearing from people about what’s affecting them, I’m expanding the subject focus of the next issue (perhaps next two) of the Liberal Christian magazine to include how the economic downturn changes your theological outlook and practice, and particularly how, if applicable, it shapes your view of Lent and Easter.

Also, I’ve ended the experiment of having visitors register before being able to download PDF copies of the magazine. I’m sure this has scared off some would-be readers, and fewer people signed up than I expected. (But I’m grateful to each of you.) Please do still register if you want updates (no more than monthly).

Liberal Christian magazine attracts attention

Well, Hubby and I are back from a weekend in New York. Lots of fun, including a great show tunes sing-a-long at Marie’s Crisis, a retro-gay piano bar. Too much fun. And the building is on the site of the house where Thomas Paine died, thus Crisis.

While I was away, I tried to authorize new readers quickly, as these may download a PDF version of my new magazine The Liberal Christian. (Anyone may read the web pages.) Thanks to those who have expressed their interest this way.

Be sure to take a look here.

The Liberal Christian magazine up

A bit early, as Hubby and I are taking a last-minute trip. Be sure to see it at

Anyone may see articles in HTML, and those who register — it might take a bit of time to approve new registrants because of the trip — and log in may download a PDF. Two versions: North American letter and international A4 for your printing convenience.

Feel free to leave comments here; I’ve disabled them there, at least for the time being.

New online magazine: The Liberal Christian

On February 15, I will release the first issue of my online magazine, The Liberal Christian, at its home

I hope you will download a copy, and share word of it with your friends and associates. My goal is to produce a regular bimonthly publication dedicated to intelligent, independent and international coverage of news vital to Unitarian, Universalist and kindred Christians.

I welcome inquiry about the project.

The Liberal Christian

So, what happened to FUUSE?

Was the once-much-acclaimed youth and young adult site simply a victim of social networking concentration — mainly to Facebook — or is there something more to the story? ‘Cause I went over there to see what was new and it’s a ghost town.

Not that I have much love for anything name with a pronounceable UU in the middle of it — one of the least pleasing Unitarian Universalist habits — but it’s not like I wanted to see it die. (OK, maybe a little because of its “Voice of the RevoUUtion” tag.)

If you know some of the backstory, do tell.

“The Duties of Hard Times”

As a way of testing my PDF scanning workflow, I wanted to publish a document that was plainly in the public domain and potentially interesting to my readership.

I had on hand a sermon by the Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham, the minister of the (Unitarian) First Church of Boston, preached there April 23, 1837, entitled “The Duties of Hard Times”. The United States was in first spasms of a major financial crisis, so it seemed timely and appropriate.

On the whole, it is rather telling of its merchant-to-Brahmin readership — do read it aloud to yourself, as printed sermons ought to be read — in its praise of commercial forces and uncritical handling of the mysteries of economics. And classic Unitarianism in its appeals to the strength of character and the implicit priority given to moral over material joy.

A telling line:

In the instance now before us, the question is to how we shall make the times any better; — that were a hopeless undertaking; — but how we shall make ourselves better by the reasons of the times. (pp. 8-9)

In short: keep a cool head; our situation could be a lot worse (to which I tend to agree) and America is a prosperous and peaceful land. Of interest to my readers from Spain, Frothingham cites as recent example of how bad things could be in the siege of Bilbao, during the First Carlist War.

Colophon: I created this PDF in the same way as the Esperanto hymnal, except that I set format to line art and the threshold to 40. Tried to generated a text using OCR — and while the tesseract modules did a much better job than the GOCR ones — I didn’t find an easy way to automate distinguishing between the two pages per scan. I’ll try OCR again when I have modern typed pages to work on.

Download “The Duties of Hard Times” (2.1 Mb)