Because I try (not always successfully) to keep one idea per post, my excursus on TofUUism is going to spun out over a span.
Previously, I addressed those Unitarian Universalists who understand themselves as “non-hypenated”. For the unfamiliar, this is in contrast with those Unitarian Universalists who identify with a particular theology, like Christianity, Humanism, Buddhism, Paganism and so forth.
A couple of observations. The “I’m not hypenated” claim seems very haughty and a bit self-deluding, whatever its intent. Why? Because it presumes that we know and agree to a common basis of Unitarian Universalism, which (1) is not in evidence and (2) goes counter to the general drift of the movement for decades. Everyone starts from somewhere. The claim of “non-hypenation” is tantamount to saying “We are the core of Unitarian Universalism — the definitive — and the hypenates are derivative.” And that seems like self-exhaltation.
Let me be clear: I think quite a number — perhaps and probably most — of the non-hypenates have sincere faiths. But what unifies them besides a name? At least for the UU Christians or Jews or what have you, one can guess with some certainty what the bond is.
Y’all might be shocked to hear that I’m not opposed to definitive Unitarian Universalism provided there is a clearly articulated proclamation of what Unitarian Universalism is and isn’t. After all, I’ve had my bags packed for years, and could easily end up on either side of the door. I think a lot of us intuit that a common proclamation would divide Unitarian Universalism and so it has been overtly avoided to save us the pain of divorce. Avoided overtly, but not altogether. What makes a “real Unitarian Universalist” has been hinted at. Sometimes history is brought in — suggesting that the congregations that have already “made it in” are really Unitarian Universalist, and anything new is suspect. Rather clannish, but looking at our attempts to grow churches, not unrealistic. Sometimes the hidden bond is politics, and this has been well rehearsed. Class, too.
In any case, the more we don’t really talk about what Unitarian Universalism is — and resort to cliches and slogans — the fewer people are going to find us at all interesting. Pop culture knows we’re a mess: how many of us pretend the jokes are funny because we can’t resolve the truth that undergirds it?