Used to Be UU

Used to Be UU

Our book is now available on Amazon.com.

The book contains three sections, History, Theology, and Governance that provide the authors’ analyses of current trends in UUism.

The changes to UUism have not been hidden but have been invisible to most UUs.  That invisibility is due to our natural focus on our own congregations. For most UUs, decisions at the Unitarian Universalist Association level in Boston are distant noise easily tuned out.  In many ways our inattention has contributed to the concerns we wish to raise, the acceptance by UU leadership of ideological theories antithetical to UU liberalism and the atrophy of democracy in denomination governance.

Since we have no way of communicating with UUs across the nation, we wrote this book as a vehicle for UUs to begin, at a minimum, one-on-one conversations.  There is no way to judge the degree of consensus for the changes occurring in UUism unless those changes are widely known and debated. We hope our book will be a first step in bringing UUs together for that discussion.

Excerpt from Chapter 7, New UU Orthodoxy

The impact of this chapter will be directly proportional to your faith in Unitarian Universalism. What that means is, if you are attending a UU congregation because you seek a refuge from the demands of a previous faith tradition or for the choir or for social groups and casual environment, the concerns addressed in this chapter may not be relevant to you. If on the other hand, you are a UU for deeper reasons that even you may not altogether be able to understand, then hopefully you will find this effort rewarding.  I (co-author Frank) say this because I did not really know myself the depth of my UU faith until I started to defend it against the drift of the UU leadership, and defending this liberal faith is to me what this book is all about.

Order Your Copy

The book is available on Amazon.com.  Search for Used to be UU.

The History section of the book provides the background on a number of events that all UUs should know.  There is a chapter on the April 2017 decision that declared UUism harbors white supremacy culture.  Another chapter reviews the report from the  2009 Fifth Principle Task Force that declared General Assembly “dramatically broken” to conduct the business affairs of the Association.  None of its key recommendations were ever implemented. Two chapters provide an analysis of the report from the Commission on Institutional Change, Widening the Circle of Concern.  Chapter 5 reviews the background on the Article II Study Commission, but more importantly, provides the history of our Seven Principles.  All UUs are encouraged to read this chapter.

The Theology section provides an insider look on the influence that postmodernism and critical theories have played in setting the direction and tone of UUism.  Without this insider understanding of these ideologies, none of the actions taken to set a “new” direction for UUism or the recommendations of the Commission on Institutional Change will make any sense.  Another chapter raises alarm over the disturbing trend we have seen to silence free speech . . . arguably the crown jewel of liberal democratic values.

The last section on Governance provides both a recommended way that our Fifth Principle can help us reclaim the spirit of our Seven Principles, but also real examples of ministers who have already faced the consequences of raising their voices in the spirit of a free pulpit only to be shunned, censured or dis-fellowshipped.

Join the Fifth Principle Project

Join the Fifth Principle Project (it’s free) so you can stay connected with others who want to reinvigorate the right of conscience and renew the democratic process in the governing of our denomination.

In ONE YEAR we have grown to over 200 members!

Article II Study Commission Stakeholder

Our request for the Fifth Principle Project to be a Stakeholder in the Article II Study Group has been accepted.  The Article II Study Commission has been given full license by the UUA Board of Trustees  “to revise, replace or restructure” all sections in Article II.  Article II contains our Principles and Sources.

The Article II Study Group will be conducting collaboration sessions this spring and we would like many UUs to make known their support of the Fifth Principle by Joining the Fifth Principle Project.

Booth at 2021 Virtual General Assembly and Board Candidate

The Fifth Principle Project will have a booth at the 2021 Virtual General Assembly AND we are supporting the candidacy of Jay Kiskel, c0-founder of the Fifth Principle Project, to be a UUA Board of Trustee member. We need your congregation’s delegates to vote for Jay at General Assembly to be successful. You can provide financial support by becoming a Supporting Member.

This is the first time in years there has been a competitive race for a board position.  As a result GA delegates will actually be given an opportunity to cast a VOTE for a UUA Board member!  Typically, UUA Board members are simply “acclaimed” without any input from GA delegates.

Every Voice Deserves a Vote.

Subscribe to Comments

Subscribe to comments below to follow dialogue on this discussion.

5 2 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
40 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
4 months ago

Is it fair to say the UUA is trying “silence” Fifth Principle Project when it is giving FPP a seat at the table?

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
4 months ago
Reply to  WebMaster

WebMaster, consider me a “gadfly”! 🙂 Thank you for your kind words. I am strongly in favor of the 8th Principle and strongly believe in the importance of anti-racism efforts in any institution, including the UUA. While I think there are surely some valid criticisms to be made of the UUA’s efforts in anti-racism, I’m concerned about what seems to be wholesale opposition to the 8th principle and any other UUA anti-racism initiative without offering any constructive alternatives. How would FPP create a more racially inclusive faith? What plans would FPP suggest for countering racism in UU institutions? What actions… Read more »

Robert South
Robert South
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

Constructive Suggestion:NewArticle 2 ————– Our truth has seven sources.    Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;    Words and deeds of prophetic people which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;    Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;    Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;    Humanist teachings… Read more »

Vernon Chandler (Ansbach, Germany)
Vernon Chandler (Ansbach, Germany)
4 months ago

Sounds like a very timely book. I am looking forward to reading my copy. I know of several UU laity who have expressed the desire for just such a book and I will recommend Used to Be UU to those individuals. My thanks to the authors!

Richard Trudeau
Richard Trudeau
4 months ago

Congratulations, Jay and Frank! I ordered my copy five minutes ago.

Paul Alan Thompson
Paul Alan Thompson
4 months ago

I just ordered a copy.

Dr Teresa Goodell
Dr Teresa Goodell
4 months ago

I find the charge confusing. The UUA says “The Article II Study Commission is hereby charged to review Article II of the UUA Bylaws, and propose any revisions…” – and later that it is “to revise, replace or restructure” all sections in Article II. I think the language is weak, allowing for misinterpretation of what should be a collaborative and democratic process.

The charge is here: https://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/committees/article-ii-study-commission/charge

Last edited 4 months ago by Dr Teresa Goodell
Matt Johnson
Matt Johnson
4 months ago

Will you come out with a Kindle edition?

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt Johnson

Yes. Soon.

Sally G
Sally G
4 months ago

Is there any way to get the book other than through Amazon? I have been boycotting for a decade.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
4 months ago
Reply to  Sally G

Would you accept a PDF version?

Floyd Vernon Chandler
Floyd Vernon Chandler
3 months ago
Reply to  Sally G

The book is now available via Book Depository. Book Depository ships from UK and Australia. UK to the USA takes about 7 – 10 days. However, Book Depository does not charge a shipping/postal fee.

Floyd Vernon Chandler
Floyd Vernon Chandler
3 months ago

I apologize! The book is not yet available via Book Depository.

Catherine Trestrail
Catherine Trestrail
3 months ago

Dear Frank and Jay, Your book clarified for me my central argument – the reason behind why the treatment of my minister, Todd Eklof, by the UUA was so deeply upsetting to me. As a baby within UU (I’ve only bee a member for 2 years) I’ve had to learn all about UU history and the politics within the UUA. The current politics within our congregation and within the wider UU community has been confusing and covered with a lot of secrecy about specifics. Ultimately I found that I see the central problem we are trying to solve as so… Read more »

Catherine Trestrail
Catherine Trestrail
3 months ago
Reply to  WebMaster

Yes, I will post it to Amazon & I’m also committed to furthering the work of the Fifth Principle Project in my congregation. I’m including some of what I just wrote to my minister, Todd Eklof concerning my appreciation of your book: Once we are all meeting in person again, I’d love to lead some discussions within our congregation for anyone who is interested in The Fifth Principle Project and/or about the wider societal problem our country is having because many social justice efforts are acting in illiberal ways. Many current social justice efforts are de-enlightening us all by refusing… Read more »

Catherine Trestrail
Catherine Trestrail
3 months ago

Wonderful David! What congregation are you part of?

Catherine Trestrail
Catherine Trestrail
3 months ago

That’s been my home town all my adult life. I miss it. Moved to Spokane for economic reasons and have found community – am in the midst of continuing to find meaning and work for justice.

Catherine Trestrail
Catherine Trestrail
3 months ago

Any congregation existing in a building built by Frank Lloyd Wright would almost necessarily be inspired, even upon entering, to experience awe.

I’d love to talk with you more.

Maybe talk to the web hosts about sharing email info? I give my consent to share mine with David.

John Fahey
3 months ago

comment image

David Griffin points out that Post Modern Philosophy has many streams, some of which are only deconstructive and not all that helpful. Griffin and John Cobb Advocate for a “postmodern modernism” and an “ecological civilization” that combines the best of postmodern and modern/enlightenment thinking. There is more information at the Cobb.institute

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
3 months ago
Reply to  John Fahey

Sounds interesting. Read a good deal of Whitehead in graduate school, but not much of Cobb and others who sought to reconcile Whitehead with Christian theology. But on post-modernism they would have to follow Whitehead on the nature of language and our capacity as human beings to grasp reality. It would be interesting to see how they grapple with that in their approach to postmodernism.

John Fahey
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Cobb and Griffin are both pretty critical of some of the “concrete fallacies” that UUA seems to be running away with. I graduated from Starr-King in 2002 and there was a not so subtle anti-christian sentiment, appropriately rejecting certain ideas associated with Christianity but throwing the baby out with the bathwater all too often. Spending lots of time with John Cobb has been very enlightening! https://cobb.institute

Floyd Vernon Chandler
Floyd Vernon Chandler
3 months ago

One of the Amazon reviewers recommended David Reich’s The Antiracism Trainings as a wonderful prelude for understanding current UUA events. David is the past editor-in-chief of The World. The book is thinly disguised fiction of David’s experiences working at UUA. The book was published in 2010 and I had to hunt to find a copy. It is insightful and funny reading and somewhat explains how the UUA began the movement toward mandating ideological conformity and replacing liberal values with illiberal ones. Good news! Amazon once again has The Antiracism Trainings available via their USA website. See below. Any Unitarian Universalist… Read more »

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
3 months ago

If you support an open democratic process, why do you have a closed Facebook group and why can’t I join it?

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

That FB group was created for supporters of our goals and purposes. Having such a group is not inconsistent with the democratic process.

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Why is it closed then? Why insulate it from public comment and debate?

Catherine Trestrail
Catherine Trestrail
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

I would think Tom Clowes, that you would be aware of the right to free assembly and to free association. Just because your neighbor Suzy has a party focused on brainstorming how to clean up the park together and invites most of the neighborhood but not you – it wouldn’t say anything about how committed she is to an open Democratic Party. Same here. This is a private “party” for those that want to get a mutually agreed goal achieved. There’s nothing stopping you from having a different group that is an open discussion forum for both people who support… Read more »

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
3 months ago

Catherine, I’m not convinced. If you host a party with too many people, the food will run out and there won’t be enough bathrooms. When you run a group on Facebook, if you believe in your message, you want that message to reach as many people as possible. It seems inconsistent to say that you value open debate so that all parties can influence discussions of policy in a democratic manner – and then have a Facebook group that only select chosen people can view.

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
3 months ago
Reply to  WebMaster

When did I impugn anyone’s motives?
“What about all the FB groups that aren’t closed?” doesn’t seem like an explanation for why yours is closed. Are you saying that other UU FB groups do a better job of transparency and open debate than a group that is supposed to be devoted to transparency and open debate?

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

David, the groups you mention are typically open to those who want to join. But this one is not.

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

“If they had weekly private Zoom meetings or group email exchanges, would you object?”
Yes. Indeed, congregational board meetings also should be open to the public. To your point, there are indeed times when the board may enter a closed session, but only when necessary. For example, if there was a dispute between staff members involving one’s medical condition, or a discussion about a congregant’s incontinence, that would be a good time for a closed session. But in general board meetings should be, and are, open to anyone.

Tom Couch
Tom Couch
3 months ago

Thanks Frank and Jay for the excellent book! As a UU for only the last 6 years I was shocked at the GA reaction to “The Gadfly Papers “ but now see it as an expected response from many who are intolerant of a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. It is now the responsibility of UU’s to determine the future of the Unitarian Universalist movement.

Thomas Bauld
Thomas Bauld
2 months ago

Thanks for the background info. I’m reading Used to be UU now and will join The Fifth Principle group.

Deborah C Donovan
Deborah C Donovan
2 months ago

I am in full alignment as a 50 year UU attorney/academic. I will be sending a letter to my Board within the next week- which is also the Board for the primary author of Widening the Circle– feel free to give me arguments

Betty-Jeanne Rueters-Ward
Betty-Jeanne Rueters-Ward
1 month ago

Mr. Kiskel and Mr. Casper, I’ve read your book, and noticed falsehoods right away, and throughout. This is quite disconcerting. For example, you falsely state the origins of the White Supremacy Teach-In. On page 44 you claim it was “originally launched by the UUA Board of Trustees”. This is false. The White Supremacy Teach-In was created independently of the UUA, by three religious educators (all laypeople, and all BIPOC identified) working as volunteers on this effort. Congregants then independently decided whether to participate, and over six hundred congregations – about two thirds of those in our Association – chose to… Read more »

40
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x