Reflection on General Assembly 2022 by Rebecca Mattis

I attended General Assembly as both a delegate from my congregation and as a candidate for UUA Trustee. To prepare for my role as a delegate, I attended two potluck dinner meetings with fellow congregants to hear what they had to say about the business at hand, especially about the Bylaws rewrite, and the work of the Article II Study Commission. The overwhelming message from my small congregation was that freedom of belief and congregational polity must be preserved.

As a candidate, my goals were similar to that charge: reinvigorate the democratic process in the UUA, and promote freedom of expression and diversity of thought. Really, without diversity of thought, the democratic process is just a hollow shell. Many of the dictators of the world have been duly elected with 95 – 100 percent of the vote. Democratic processes are not a guarantee of freedom, but without democracy, freedom is impossible. The two are so closely bound together that I cannot say which idea is more fundamental.

For the past six years, I have been engaged in public conversations, both as a citizen and as an elected public servant. I have learned much about communication – how it can be used to divide and conquer or connect and build. So in the several weeks leading up to General Assembly, I prepared not just what I wanted to communicate, but how I wanted to communicate. My expectation was that I would be heading into a space in which most people would disagree with me, some of them quite vehemently, and so with great intention, I opened myself up to the opportunities that awaited me to learn and share, to connect and grow.

I expected to feel like a new seedling, heading into a rainforest for the first time – a great crowd of unfamiliar beings, some competitive, some cooperative. The challenge before me was to find enough light in which to grow, and I planned to find that light by connecting with others.

Instead, what happened was that I was sprayed with Round-up. At least, that’s what it felt like.

Because the deadline for booths in the assembly hall was far before the deadline for candidates to submit petitions, I was not able to obtain a physical booth. So what I planned to do was campaign person-to-person (as I have done as a candidate in my city, out on the street), to hand out literature and buttons with liberal messages on them as a means of making contact. There had been a recently-published Policy on Literature Distribution that read (in part), “distributed information should be related to the GA program and events.” I was confident that as a candidate for election (a GA event), I would be allowed to distribute campaign information.

However, I was informed by the Election Campaign Practices Committee that no, I was not allowed to distribute literature, despite my literature being related to a GA event as per the policy. I was relegated to the sidewalk in the “free speech zone,” forty or so yards from the entrance. There were only a few times a day when it made sense to stand outside, and so unfortunately, I had few interactions. Overall, I feel disappointed about my experience at General Assembly 2022. The vibe inside the assembly hall was in opposition to and sometimes openly hostile to liberals; overall, the entire event struck me as extremely manipulative. In all ways and at nearly all times, the delegates were primed to think and vote according to the wishes of UUA leadership. More than once I heard the message that the UUA should move away from liberalism and towards “liberation,” should move away from the individualism of our First Principle and towards the collectivism of so-called Covenants. Other keywords were “evolution,” “transformation,” and “radical reimagination.” I lost track of the number of times Susan Frederick-Gray said, “This is a liminal time.” (Liminal means transformational. I looked it up after.) I thought to myself, “Well, it’s only liminal because you are pushing for it to be so.” UUA leadership could just as easily have said, “In these difficult times, it is more important than ever that we stick to our liberal values and promote them in the world.” Sadly, that is the opposite message from the one I heard.

The Bylaws were openly ignored and scoffed at. Business Resolution #2, which suspended the General Assembly Planning Committee, was – I believe – illegal, but that evidently didn’t matter to 95% of delegates who voted in favor. There was a long presentation by the committee overseeing the Actions of Immediate Witness, discussing problems they perceived with the process. More than one committee member spoke at length about the issues, with constant plaintive interjections that they can’t do it any differently, “because Bylaws.” (That’s an actual quote.) It was as if the Bylaws are not something like the constitution of our Association, carefully crafted over 61 years – not perfect, but debatable and changeable – but are instead nothing but a set of chains forged by uncompromising fuddy-duddies. Ninety-five percent of delegates voted in favor of a complete Bylaws rewrite.

Based on the way the candidates by petition were treated at GA, I have no reason to think that the Bylaws rewrite will include a provision for petition candidacy, the only provision that results in elections for most leadership positions. Based on the fact that the Article II Study Commission wants to know what our values “require of our congregations,” I have no reason to think that congregational polity will be preserved. Based on the saturated messaging of what I call Critical Identitarianism, which places power at the center of every human interaction and social structure, and which uses control of speech to preserve that power, I have no reason to believe that freedom of belief or expression will be preserved either. In fact, freedom was not even included as a UU value in the presentation of the A2SC.

In short, I was disappointed both as a candidate and as a congregational delegate, having been exhorted to stand up for freedom, democracy, and congregational polity. But to the best of my ability, and with much help from my friends, I did speak up, and will continue to do so.

Two Important Things

 

Join the Fifth Principle Project. It’s free. The Fifth Principle Project is an organic grassroots initiative to gather into community Unitarian Universalists who want to reinvigorate the right of conscience and renew the democratic process in the governing of our denomination.

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Jim
Jim
2 months ago

Out of a denomination of, say, 150,000 (and shrinking) and, say, 900 congregations; there were 1776 delegates voting. And out of the 900 congregations there were about 300 who didn’t bother to send delegates. And of those congregations sending delegates, my sense – from my experience with several congregations in my area – is that those delegates were pretty much an afterthought and consisted of the only volunteers willing to make the sacrifice to travel and spend several days at a UUA sponsored jamboree. Consequently, these “representatives” turned out to be volunteers who were most in alignment with present UUA… Read more »

Sally Davis
Sally Davis
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Attending via zoom was also possible and the way the Fellowship I changed to be a friend of was represented. I imagine that will continue to be the way some congregations will be represented, especially when travel distances are great and COVID infections continue.I wonder how many there were and if vote tallies will reflect that?

Sally G.
Sally G.
2 months ago
Reply to  Sally Davis

There were more off-site/on-line delegates (~1500) than on-site/in-person (~1400). Of the off-site delegates, or maybe part of that count, I’m not sure, 286 (I believe) were second-class “business-only” delegates who could not use the Whova ”app”. I understand that there was a cost differential, but delegates must have full access to discussions. I would have preferred requiring a password for the nonbusiness workshops with the rest of the Whova features being available for all delegates. The marginal cost for those 286 peple on Whova could not have been that great (though the password feature would likely have add cost and… Read more »

Sally G.
Sally G.
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Well, I have been one of those volunteer delegates (though not this year, as my society was ineligible), but do not buy the corporate line a good 99% of the time—which is why I volunteer, I take governance seriously and do my best to get info from my fellow Central Unitarian members, retaining the right to vote my conscience as things change. I am definitely an activist, inside and outside UUism, as well as being a radical elder.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Sally G.

I applaud you for your non-conforming activism. My sense, however, is that you are in the minority – like, let’s say generously 5% of UU’s are engaged in GA and governance and you are in the 5% who don’t go along with the other 95% and vote the One Party line, then you are in the 1/4% of all UU’s (the Polish Cavalry in 1939 comes to mind) who are standing up for a “free and disciplined search for truth as the foundation of our religious fellowship.” I liken the situation to this – from Orwell’s (seeming more and more… Read more »

Mark Perloe
Mark Perloe
2 months ago

It is unlikely that any efforts by those seeking to restore adherence to the 7 Principles will affect change. Only by withholding all financial support to congregations falling inline with the new Woke UU and committing to form something new can we promote our shared values. The New Woke UU strives to be a universal religion open to new voices, but by labeling non sanctioned speech as out of covenant, they will chase away those who value UU traditions.
#DEFUND_UUA

Last edited 2 months ago by Mark Perloe
Greg
Greg
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Perloe

“Restoring adherence to the seven principles” sounds like a rather creedal understanding of and approach to Unitarian Universalism. As does other language around this site regarding UU principles.

Sally G.
Sally G.
2 months ago
Reply to  Greg

I have heard the principles described as “what most UUs believe most of the time”; that works for me!

Miles R Fidelman
Miles R Fidelman
2 months ago
Reply to  Greg

On the other hand, perhaps the original UUA founding document, and 1st Principle, SHOULD be considered as creedal – specifically:

In accordance with these corporate purposes, the members of the Unitarian Universalist Association, dedicated to the principles of a free faith, unite in seeking:
1. To strengthen one another in a free and disciplined search for truth as the foundation of our religious fellowship;

And anything that conflicts with that, perhaps, should be considered in violation of the core rationale for the UUA to exist in the first place.

Greg
Greg
2 months ago
Reply to  Greg

“Restoring adherence” along with other comments still sounds like quite a creedal approach to a non-creed.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Greg

This is not the forum for a discussion of this magnitude, but I respectfully disagree. I think the first principle alone is a statement of faith. It is grounded in one of the greatest ideas we have inherited from the history of Western thought, the eternal value of the human soul. The first principle grounds the fourth, and the fourth is best supported and advanced by the fifth. The rest I will call for the moment supportive and/or aspirational. But the three I mentioned, taken together, are a creed of a sort, but a creed that espouses freedom of thought… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Perloe

Although I wasn’t able to hear the actual sermon, from its description, I think I agree with Craig Moro on this one:

“Using money, power, threats and “lobbying” to get your way at church—does that sound like the UU way of doing things? Sometimes we learn a lot about how to “do religion right” when someone does it wrong”! Sermon by Rev. Craig Moro.

Rebecca P (another Rebecca)
Rebecca P (another Rebecca)
2 months ago

Thank you, Rebecca, for attending, persevering, and speaking out. I am proud to be a your friend.

Former UU
Former UU
2 months ago

I want to join Rebecca P in thanking you, Rebecca M, for your courage in standing in this election and for speaking out. You engaged in open, respectful dialogue during the campaign, including on your blog where some attempted to troll you with comments that distorted what you actually said. Thank you for patiently repeating your views and for not taking the bait when the bullies came after you. I’m sure that it was enormously frustrating for you to experience GA as you’ve described it. I’m glad that your home congregation was engaged and supportive.

A Unitarian Universalist
A Unitarian Universalist
2 months ago

There is something very suspect about resolutions consistently passing at 95%. A resolution to suspend a committee mandated by the bylaws? 95%. A full rewrite of the bylaws for no clear reason? 95% say “go ahead”. And when the new bylaws come back, will they be approved at a 95% approval rate regardless of what they say? I will not be surprised. There is something deeply wrong with us. We reject cultural liberalism over and over in our resolutions, pretending to be radicals or leftists, yet we vote with a consistency and certitude mirrored by no known radical organization that… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by A Unitarian Universalist
Bennett Stark
Bennett Stark
2 months ago

Rebecca, I admire your effort. I believe we are experiencing the demise of a once proud tradition. The new UUA orthodoxy may well be unrecognizable.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago

I suspect it’s none of the above. I suspect it’s because as a community we have lost our faith in both our religion and our country. We no longer regard them as institutions constituted of values that are worth holding unto. In this, we mirror the right, who have abandoned their faith in both democracy and in Christianity. The incredible irony is that neither side of this trend would admit to it. If anything, they both believe, or say they believe, that they are following their faith, and both to the end of democracy as we have known it.

Sally G.
Sally G.
2 months ago

“People simply aren’t this compliant and consistent without external force,”

I think part of it is just laziness; we believe we should trust our representatives (and are exhorted to do so), so many do not take enough time to consider deeply. Maybe I am wrong, not sure.
How would anyone know if a representative dissents? I was told, and believe, that no UU person has access to the results until the vote is closed; does the independent company give access to individual votes to the UUA (I see no need for that, and hope not)?

Last edited 2 months ago by Sally G.
Robert South
Robert South
2 months ago

Maybe what’s happening is akin to accelerationism. People concerned about what is happening are voting for it anyway in order to make it go so fast it stumbles. If the effects are spread out over time it will be possible to mistake what’s going on, to attribute the death of the denomination to some other cause. When the changes are sufficiently quick, and immediately followed by profound results, the cause and effect connection will be clear.

Sally G.
Sally G.
2 months ago

Thank you for your candidacy. I appreciate your framing of the issues.

We should take up the issue of being prevented from distributing literature as well as the existence of a “free speech” stockade.

Chuck Schneider
Chuck Schneider
2 months ago
Reply to  Sally G.

It is not just the UUA. The woke premise is that “equity” should be the new social order. That kind of “equity” is impossible and not even desirable. Humanity now stands at seven billion (projected to top out at nine billion). Yet no two people are equal. We all have different talents, desires, and ambition. I imagine ( have faith) these woke ideas will fail at the universities, government institutions in a few years. Perhaps people will simply get tired of every micro-problem being viewed as an immediate catastrophe that must be addressed by abandoning the wisdom of history. If… Read more »

A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago

Thank you, Chuck. I downloaded Stephen Pinker’s “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress,” and reading it is a deep balm. A relief to read such as the following (you can tell I’m only to page 10 or 11). “Problems are soluble, and each particular evil is a problem that can be solved. An optimistic civilization is open and not afraid to innovate, and is based on traditions of criticism. Its institutions keep improving, and the most important knowledge that they embody is knowledge of how to detect and eliminate errors.” (p. 7). or “Foremost is reason.… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago

Is there a free copy of this online somewhere, or do you mean you bought a Kindle version or something? Thanks.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago

There should be a “meet the candidates area” that is open for several hours on many days, placed reasonably close in, and in which candidates are free to put up posters, hand out literature, etc. Alternatively, it should be assumed that candidates want booths, unless they explicitly decline them. Raising the number of eligible voters to a reasonable definition of all UUs and increasing participation among eligible voters are both high priorities. Do we need a bylaws change or what? While we are at it, we want to preserve candidacy by petition. While we are at it, contests with more… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Lee
Stephen Caldwell
2 months ago

Rebecca Mattis wrote: However, I was informed by the Election Campaign Practices Committee that no, I was not allowed to distribute literature, despite my literature being related to a GA event as per the policy. I was relegated to the sidewalk in the “free speech zone,” forty or so yards from the entrance. There were only a few times a day when it made sense to stand outside, and so unfortunately, I had few interactions.  Rebecca — Keep in mind that all candidates were subject to the same restrictions on campaigning and distribution of campaign literature at this year’s General… Read more »

Greg
Greg
2 months ago

Great points.

Rebecca Mattis
Rebecca Mattis
1 month ago

I wrote what you quoted above not to make a point about fairness or unfairness, but about democracy. To me, one of the most important purposes of General Assembly is to hold elections. This year, the planners for GA both failed to plan for elections (because it wasn’t expecting any) and actively prohibited campaigning during GA. It is nice for you that you felt you had the information you needed to vote. I don’t believe the same is necessarily true for every other delegate. I was, more than anything else, desiring to have conversations with people about the issues around… Read more »

Stephen Caldwell
2 months ago

Rebecca Mattis wrote:

Based on the way the candidates by petition were treated at GA, I have no reason to think that the Bylaws rewrite will include a provision for petition candidacy, the only provision that results in elections for most leadership positions. 

I doubt that petition candidacy would be eliminated from the bylaws.

Remember that our current UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray ran as a petition candidate in 2017.

WebMaster
Admin
2 months ago

Your observation about Frederick-Gray is misleading for the information omitted. For the 2017, the Presidential Search Committee identified Rev. Phillips and Rev. Miller. Phillips later withdrew. Since the Presidential Search Committee no longer had the authority to identify another candidate, Frederick-Gray offered to run by petition. The Search Committee and the UUA moderator urged congregations to support her petition drive. The Search Committee said, “We unanimously endorse her candidacy equally to that of the Rev. Alison Miller.” Having the endorsement of UU leadership to gather petition signatures was a significant boost to her petition drive and, maybe, later to her election.… Read more »

Stephen Caldwell
2 months ago
Reply to  WebMaster

In 2017, all three UUA Presidential candidates were strong candidates. The Presidential Search Committee informed congregational GA delegates that all three candidates were strong candidates. That information is useful for GA delegates making decisions about who to vote for in a ranked-choice election. Regarding the number of member congregations needed to run by petition, 25 congregations is about 2.5% of our congregations and 50 congregations is about 5% of our congregations. The UUA Presidency isn’t a beginner-level job. If a person cannot get 2.5% to 5% of our congregations to support a petition candidacy, maybe they should serve the UUA… Read more »

WebMaster
Admin
2 months ago

Stephen, in 2017 we had two presidential candidates who placed their names on the ballot via the bylaws petition provision. It can not be denied that the UUA Board gave a boost in Frederick-Gray’s collection of congregational petitions. It is quite unlikely, however, that we will ever see another presidential candidate by petition. Not only did the UUA Board sponsor a bylaws amendment that doubled the number of congregational presidential petitions from 25 to 50, it also reduced the timelines for presidential campaigns.  Some dates per the bylaws: Start of “active campaigning,” November 15 (Rule G-9.13.7). The timeline for submission of presidential… Read more »

Stephen Caldwell
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

The UUA is an association of congregations. GA Delegates from UU congregations across the country vote for UUA Board candidates and also vote on resolutions that shape the work of the UUA.

The UUA Board acts on behalf of GA delegates.

I’m puzzled that you don’t think that the UUA Board should have the same free speech rights that you claim to value.

I read the UUA Board’s statement before and I re-read it tonight. Their statement is very reasonable.

WebMaster
Admin
2 months ago

Stephen, “GA Delegates from UU congregations across the country vote for UUA Board candidates” is only true if a everyday UU solicits by petition to be placed on the ballot (thank you Rebecaa). Otherwise, the Nominating Committee selected individuals, per the bylaws, are declared elected and no voting is required.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago

Let me ditto what Webmaster said and add that I am equally puzzled that you’d make an appeal to free speech rights. Particularly when the oft-stated position of those supporting the agenda of leadership is that such an appeal is little more than a right-wing trope. This would certainly help explain why they’re seeking to 86 the 4rth principle.

Greg
Greg
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Aren’t you Webmaster?

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Sometimes.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

Well said! I couldn’t agree more. It is deeply insulting to be lied to like that. Unitarian Universalism used to have a reputation for free thought and intellectual integrity; now it has become an absurd embarrassment. I realized several years ago that I couldn’t be associated with this nonsense any longer and be true to myself.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

David says> Even Lee has pointed out here Pro-Democracy methods the UUA should be doing but does not. Yes, I have and continue to agree, but it may be relevant that I have what seems to be a different approach. I find that even when there is serious disagreement, often it is the case that both sides believe that they are respecting ideals that all agree are shared. In this case, both sides believe they are respecting democracy and our religious values, so I’d put forward strong arguments about how our resolution will advance democracy and our religious values. Another… Read more »

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Yes, it may be “broad” but it is accurate and well-supported by evidence and actions. These are not mere labels, they are sound critiques based upon engaged research and serious investigation of both sides of the issue by many who have spent a lot of time within the organization, like numerous dissenting UU ministers, and those who have engaged with the primary documents produced by the UUA itself. Those appellations are well-deserved. Since you have not bothered to read dissenting works like the Gadfly Papers or Used to Be UU or many others – like, say, anything by McWhorter (Woke… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Yes, we could add willful ignorance, unctuous, arrogant, shallow, and uninformed to the list of negative adjectives. I don’t know you and it could be the case that this approach works well for you in achieving your priorities. For me, I don’t use this approach much for two main reasons. (1) I find them to be relatively ineffective and unconvincing. Finding common ground to expand from works better for me. (2) I hate being wrong. I have not tracked down 100% of the items that have been recommended to me. But I have tracked down many and 100% of the… Read more »

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Here is one example of why I find your “approach” less than convincing: As has been pointed out to you many times it would be useful to read the Gadfly Papers to put the whole controversy around it in proper perspective. Solely reading the UU aligned responses does not give you the necessary perspective. This would provide you with, as you say, slam dunk evidence of malice and gross incompetence. Yet you have refused to do this simple research. Why is that? It is hard to take your claims about your “approach” seriously given your refusal to do this. This,… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I have read many posts and responses in these discussion forums and many of the sources recommended / linked from here, and have thought deeply about them. It is time consuming. More is better, and I hope to do more as we move forward. I have acquired Gadfly, but haven’t had a chance to open it. I want to make sure that candidates in contested races have a General Assembly booth (or similar) to campaign from. I would like to expand the voting base to be all UUs and to increase voting participation. I am still looking for feedback for… Read more »

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee, I agree with you that there should be booths for all candidates and that the voting base should be expanded to include all UU’s. I am happy to be on the same page with you on these issues. I would support any such request/letter to the UU leadership. I am also pleased to hear that you have acquired the Gadfly Papers. Having it, I might suggest a little experiment, if you dare: try carrying it with you openly to your congregation’s next Sunday service and see what happens… you may learn something about the concept of “taboos”… Also, too,… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

While I don’t think our congregation’s library (if any?) has anything like an up to date collection of hard-copy resources, the Eklof- and Kiskel/Casper-authored titles you mention above, as well as this website and the UUMUAC one, were included along with other contrasting resources in our congregation’s 8th Principle discernment learning space, as has been mentioned elsewhere on this site. I also included those titles along with other contrasting resources on my own 8th-P-related public post, so anyone in my congregation who is interested may know that I read those titles, as well as titles with contrasting viewpoints, as I… Read more »

A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

K. L. Thank you. You are fortunate that your church included all those opposing resources. Zero of those resources are named or discussed by our church. And the process of discernment (that led to a “no” vote) was ENTIRELY one sided. Pro pro pro pro with shaming and dismissal of any and all questions. The minister (whom generally I love and deeply admire) even said not to buy Gadfly Papers. I immediately contested that saying that I had read it and would not consider making any judgment on a book I had not personally read. I do recall your list… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago

Hi, Southern, Yes, our 8th Principle team and our minister put a lot of effort into designing the process, and I feel like this paid off. Thanks for your interest. I’ve put a question in to the 8th Principle team as to what may be shared outside our congregation and will get back to you. In the meantime, here is a copy of my own comment on a post I made letting other congregants know I would be willing to discuss these ideas further (in a mutually respectful mode). This lists some of the resources I had reviewed, was reviewing,… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by K. Lusignan
A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

K. Lusignan, thank you, thank you!
Truly!
Southern

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago

You are most welcome!

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago

Hi, Southern, sorry it took a while, but I got the OK from our 8th Principle Discernment team to share our 8th Principle Learning Space here. Click on each link to see the FAQ, Resources, and Reflections. The Resources page includes many links from “both” sides (from Paula Cole Jones to Craig Moro), which I think might be helpful to many congregations studying these issues. The FAQ answers some common questions and gives sources. The Reflections page, which went up after there had been plenty of time for congregants to sample the other resources, has some good guidelines and rules… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan
Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

The Gadfly Books and Used to Be UU are looking a little lonely there on that list of yours. It seems to me it would be more balanced if you added: The Coddling of the American Mind (Jonathan Haidt) Cynical Theories (Pluckrose and Lindsay) A Self-confessed White Supremacy Culture (Anne Schneider) Don’t Label Me (Irshad Manji) I’m sure others on this list would have more suggestions. And I would really recommend reading Woke Racism even though you feel it is “one-sided” because you seem to think a few quotations from it can establish that I must say your reading list… Read more »

K Lusignan
K Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Which of “mine” have you actually read, if I may ask, Jim? Given the descriptors with which you usually reference that side of things, I would be a little surprised if you have read many of them cover to cover. Don’t Label Me is now on my list, which has not been updated recently. I actually watched the service with her that was co-sponsored by both the UUCS congregations quite a while ago. I am familiar with Anne Schneider’s book, which I’ve considered adding as it specifically treats UU, and in fact I’m familiar with the other titles. I have… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by K Lusignan
Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  K Lusignan

OK. Since you asked and since I did accuse your reading list of being…um… unbalanced. Here’s a partial list of my careful reading of “UU approved” authors – which doesn’t include extensive reading of essays and UU materials: Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity and Power in Ministry White Fragility How to Be An Antiracist Between the World and Me (Ta Nehisi Coats – as well as “The Case for Reparations” – I was surprised to find nothing from him on your list) Those are cover to cover. But you’ll have to take my word for it since I didn’t come away… Read more »

K Lusignan
K Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Ta Nhesi Coates is generally on my list but as an author, haven’t picked a title yet. What titles re environmentalism do you like? My summer reading list is more “science for the layperson” focused, in the nonfiction area. My comment re which SJ issues are most important to us at our congregation is that they’re all urgent. In my view environmental issues are likely to destroy all of us the fastest, but racial and other marginalization issues are urgent not only for their individual impacts but because they divide UUs and keep us from focusing effectively both on those… Read more »

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  K Lusignan

I don’t think it would be appropriate to divert the discussion here to environmental issues and I somewhat regret downplaying the UU “kerfuffle” – it is a grievous tragedy to have one’s spiritual home be hijacked by a faction of CRT ideologues. I am grieving this myself. It would be nice to be able to focus upon what is really important without being drawn into Neo-racist and Neo-segragationist pathologies. I’ll give a couple of recent enviro reads – Power by Richard Heinberg and (more anthropological than strictly enviro) The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow – who… Read more »

K Lusignan
K Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Fair enough. Though I’m not sure how far astray it is going, given the emphasis hereabouts on science as one of the pillars of enlightenment thought (I actually agree with this but think we grossly overstate how objective we manage to be in these endeavors). There is another sense in which I think this is a key point, but it’s a bit much to try to elaborate on from my phone.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

The environmental books sound interesting, and my library has all of them, thanks.

K Lusignan
K Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

I now have Don’t Label Me checked out and queued up to read this summer.

I’ve also read or rather listened to the audiobook version of Between the World and Me and find it somewhat astonishing and sad that you include this book as part of the current “anti-racist ideology.”

Maybe it was enhanced by hearing the author read his own story, but it truly puzzles me that anyone who finds racism ugly and wrong (which we have been saying here is all of us) would take issue with this book.

Last edited 1 month ago by K Lusignan
Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  K Lusignan

Ah, what a fine example of moralistic shaming!

You have no idea what my reaction to Between the World and Me was (it was a lot more nuanced that you seem to want to project on me), but you jumped at the chance to get “sad” and “astonished” that I listed it in my reading list of “UU approved” authors. You can continue to be “puzzled” and cast aspersions but that says far more about you than it does about me.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

It’s not shaming at all. Maybe it’s sort of projection, but directly in response to your comment about those titles you specifically listed, including his: “I didn’t come away with a positive impression of the prevailing anti-racist ideology after reading them.” But I’m happy to hear you describe a more nuanced response. That also describes my own response to most of the titles I listed.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

It absolutely was moralistic shaming. The fact that you can’t see that, or admit it, speaks volumes.

I emphasize this because this is the sort of attitude that permeates the UUA “side” – you know the self-righteous “side with love” – and any questioning or disagreement with that “side” is met with exactly the kind of moralistic shaming you have exhibited.

I listed those books in the hope that it might indicate that I was being open minded and studying both sides of the issue but… heh… a lot of good that did me.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

The fact that you are casting disagreement as “shaming” could also be said to speak volumes. You use plenty of negative adjectives when speaking to those who disagree with you here, including “Lee,” who to my observation seemed to be trying to find areas of agreement, common ground, and understanding (but whom I haven’t seen post here lately). I described my own reaction to you, from your own words, appearing to include THAT particular book in the descriptor “prevailing antiracist ideology.” I didn’t find it ideological at all but someone’s very personal and disturbing story of dealing with racism. I… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by K. Lusignan
Tom C
Tom C
1 month ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

I don’t know what your intention is, but your impact is “shaming” for Jim. For me, your impact is condescending. What makes you an expert on any of this to conclude that Jim’s recommendations are bad and your recommendations are good. And isn’t that the UUA stance… that some ideas should not be evaluated because the UUA has decided they are bad. You think this is about racism but it’s more about being told which ideas are valid and being shamed/canceled for having a different opinion. The UUA would have been better off discussing the flaws of the Gadfly Papers… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom C

As previously explained, I didn’t have the Coates title on my (old) list that I provided in this space to someone who was asking about 8th Principle study resources because I hadn’t decided on a title from that author, though I was aware of him. As noted, I did have the two Gadfly titles and Used to Be UU on that list. My list was simply copied and pasted, without updating it, here, in response to a request. I later (once I had permission) provided a link to our congregation’s 8th Principle Learning Space, which has many more resources on… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

Oh, and I have also, since the earlier discussion on book titles, ordered both Anne Schneider’s and David Cycleback’s UU-specific books on these issue.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

Arriving to my to-read shelf today:

Cycleback book.JPG
Tom C
Tom C
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom C

Fo me it’s really the hypocrisy of the whole anti-racist debate. Here we are arguing over what’s the best way to deal with racism and with the UUA side promoting impact over intention. Does it really matter what her intention is?

I mention that my lived experience of her comments as condescension, I get a comment about the book list.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom C

In describing what you found “condescending,” you misrepresented almost everything I said.

David Willkomm
David Willkomm
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

After viewing a You tube video author Irshad Manji had with Rev. Todd Ekloff & Rev. Rick Davis, I bought her book,”Don’t Label Me – How to do diversity without inflaming the culture wars ” I’m about 1/3 way into it & find it maybe helpful in giving measured responses to those in my fellowship that have been oppressed in the USA. You might want to consider adding this book to your list.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  David Willkomm

Thanks, David, I watched that video session sponsored by the two UU churches some time ago and actually have that book checked out from the library right now to read. One potential problem that springs to mind from the description is that “social justice activists” is also a label, but I’ll read it with an open mind. One of the more frustrating things to me about the polarizing of the issues within UU is what I see as an escalating “groupthink” of sort of trying to push those seen as opponents all into one corral. I found something of value… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  David Willkomm

P.S. I am not sure which online video you are describing. I had seen the service featuring her sponsored by both the UUCS congregations some time ago. I recently watched her 90-minute workshop, which again had the involvement of both ministers.

Laura Gilliom
Laura Gilliom
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

K, I appreciate your thoughtful comments here and your heterodox reading and thinking. I wonder if you have any familiarity with Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory, which traces the evolution of culture and consciousness and sees the culture wars as an inevitable part of that evolution. According to this theory, each worldview (e.g., traditional, modern, and postmodern or progressive) has important strengths which should be preserved, and also its own downsides. For instance, modernism brought us classical liberal values (science, freedom of speech, democracy, etc.) but also income inequality and environmental devastation; and progressivism brought us greater sensitivity, civil rights, and… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Laura Gilliom
K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Laura Gilliom

Hi Laura, thanks for your interesting and constructive reply, and apologies for delayed response. I am not familiar with Ken Wilber’s work, though I know the name, but I see my library has a number of his books (unfortunately, the most interesting-looking one is the longest so will have to wait!). The framing you describe does sound roughly similar to my own approach, and it is refreshing to hear from someone else who may be attempting similar analyses of our current conflicts. It is a little hard to describe my perceptions, and my observation is that UU seems to be… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

^ *Should say “headlong” towards divorce, not “headline.”

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

It is definitely possible to read the two Gadfly titles without coming away with anything like a “slam dunk” agreement with Eklof’s points,

Of more importance, I would be interested in seeing such a separate discussion topic here trying to assemble feedback for a letter/article about contested races and other GA issues. I would also like the voting process to be more representative, the elections to be more like actual elections, with a variety of choices, candidate debates, and candidate booths.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Merely to present evidence does not make an argument factually correct. The bread and butter of civil litigation and criminal law processes, for example, is both sides presenting evidence and their opposing version of facts for the same scenario. For example, when I worked in legal support in medical malpractice, such cases could not even be brought to trial without expert medical testimony. That means that health care professionals bound by their own professional standards as well as the legal imperative not to commit perjury factually supported two different versions of the events to explain how a patient sustained damages.… Read more »

Stephen
Stephen
2 months ago

I thank Rebecca Mattis for her valiant efforts at the GA. The results were as I would have expected, but it was important to make the attempt to give delegates at the GA some alternative to the UUA “party line”. I have been a member of the Fifth Principle Project for about a year now and I have followed every discussion and contributed to a number of them. Regrettably I feel that this “Project” is going nowhere and is having no impact whatsoever on the UUA. The reason for that, in my opinion, is that the UUA is now both… Read more »

Adrienne
Adrienne
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

Agree 100%.

Stephen
Stephen
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrienne

Dear Friends, my concern is that people who are Unitarians or Unitarian Universalist are leaving the denomination because of the policies that have been adopted by the current UUA leadership. In my own congregation, friends who have been Unitarian or UU most of their adult lives are leaving in large part because the possibility to look at an issue in a different way or failure to use “prescribed” terms of speech have resulted in their “cancellation”. Our minister has “drunk the Kool-Aid” of the UUA and provides it as part of a “Progressive Communion”. We are Unitarians or Unitarian Universalists.… Read more »

Adrienne
Adrienne
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

I hope the religion splits into two groups, “progressives” and classical liberals, and that we go our separate ways.

The drop in membership is very well-deserved. From ashes, new things are born.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

“UU has no Vaitican”: That’s what our congregation already believes. We gladly use the resources that the UUA provides (which for us includes Widening the Circle of Concern) but if ever the UUA tried to enforce something on us, I think it is safe to say that we’d adopt it only if we too thought it was a good idea. Since the UUA has never tried to force us to do anything, this is untested.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago

A note re “Freedom was not even included as a UU value” in the Article II Commission presentation. I believe, unless I misunderstood, that this grouping/word cloud of values was derived from feedback that the Commission did receive from various groups and “stakeholders” already. The feedback form also solicited reactions to the values, including the question, which values are missing. (Note: For those who have not yet filled out the feedback form, I believe tonight is the deadline for the GA-related collection of responses.) Here was my response: “I am not sure equity and justice should be separate. I love… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

A side note: I started hearing that we UUs are in a “liminal time” about four years ago and quickly got tired of it.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

A screenshot from GA:

Proposed Shared UU values, from GA.JPG
Rebecca M
Rebecca M
1 month ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

K., I believe that this group of words was created by the Article II Study Commission, and does not reflect feedback that the commission had received previously. The big giveaway is the word “Evolution.” If you look at the word cloud that *was* created after input from one particular A2SC workshop, the word “evolution” does not appear. “Evolution,” in my experience as a human being, has never even been described as a *value* and has never, in my experience as a UU, been brought up as a UU value or even a UU concept. It was placed there by the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Rebecca M
K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca M

That is strange; I distinctly recall getting the impression that the words were drawn from feedback from different groups. I’ll have to revisit the session that mentions this to be sure. I know that the Commission met with various different groups of “stakeholders,” but I don’t know how many, so it still seems plausible to me that evolution could appear in such a word cloud, depending on what different groups were represented (i.e., were there more groups of people to whom change and progress are important). I like “evolution” as a value but admittedly I include with that scientific associations… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by K. Lusignan
Jack Donovan
Jack Donovan
1 month ago

I see the principles as a set of values, to grow in which we join as a community in congregational polity to help one another. I presume also that as a community, at least, we presume that every person has potential to grow in these values. I see the principles as essentially following the stages of human spiritual and personality development as described in many wisdom traditions, religious, philosophic, and scientific. I see the purposes of the proposed 8th Principle as not constituting a principle, but as a valuable action or task to which our principles call us. I see… Read more »

Eric Limbach
Eric Limbach
1 month ago

Rebecca – is there any way that I can share this with my local fellowship’s FB page? I have a hard time discussing my frustrations with the tide of wokeism currently popular in the UUA. The story of your experience would help to illustrate how this plays out at GA & seems to veer into unfairness. Those from my fellowship who attended Portland GA pretty much went along with the majority tide. thanks

Rebecca Mattis
Rebecca Mattis
1 month ago
Reply to  Eric Limbach

By all means, Eric, please share! (I do want to let you know that there is a mistake in it that I am trying to get corrected. I quoted a person in the committee that oversees the Actions of Immediate Witness as saying they can’t make desired changes “because Bylaws.” Somehow this was changed to “because of the Bylaws” in the post here. But the actual quote “because Bylaws” is important because of the dismissive tone inherent in that phrasing.) I would prefer to get the mistake corrected before you share the link, which is why it has taken me… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago

I am posting my and David Cycleblack’s congregation’s 8th Principle Learning space as a separate comment here, as the reply to A Southern UU is somewhat buried below. I think this could be a really helpful resource for congregations seeking a way to study and discuss the 8th Principle and related issues constructively. Our process was not perfect, but it was very thoughtfully designed, and I felt served its main purposes pretty well. I’ll put the link separately right below this comment.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

*My reply to A Southern UU might also be “above,” depending on whether you have oldest or most recent comments at the top. 🙂

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
30 days ago

Just a note to readers and/or Webmasters that some of the conversations have become a little confusing because when someone uses the “delete all comments” function (apparently the only way any comment can be deleted by the author), this changes whom the comment is supposedly addressed to (for example, a reply that was addressed to an “anti-CRT” person now says it is addressed to a “pro CRT” person).

For threads where it seems commenting has been closed and this can’t be clarified by participants, adding an explanatory note might make it less hard to follow.

Last edited 30 days ago by K. Lusignan
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