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 of the 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
26 days 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
25 days 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.
25 days 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.
25 days 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
25 days 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
26 days 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 26 days ago by Mark Perloe
Greg
Greg
25 days 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.

David
David
25 days ago
Reply to  Greg

The UUA itself says the 7 Principles are non-creed and an expression of the lack of creed. From the UUA: “Our beliefs are diverse and inclusive. We have no shared creed. Our shared covenant (our seven Principles) supports ‘the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.'”

It’s also never been a requirement that a UU follow the Principles. Again from the UUA: “The Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide.”

Sally G.
Sally G.
25 days ago
Reply to  David

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

Greg
Greg
23 days ago
Reply to  David

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

David
David
23 days ago
Reply to  Greg

If you believe saying “We are a non-creed religion” is a statement of creed, so be it. Maybe it is: An anti-creed creed or a creed of anti-creedness. Semantics.

For the record, it wasn’t I who said “restoring adherence” or anything to that effect. In fact, it was I who pointed out that there is no requirement that a UU believe in the 7 Principles.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
23 days ago
Reply to  David

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 »

Miles R Fidelman
Miles R Fidelman
25 days 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.

David
David
25 days ago

The creed is “We have no creed.”

An example of UU having a creed would be “UUs believe in Jesus as Our Savior.”

Rebecca P (another Rebecca)
Rebecca P (another Rebecca)
26 days ago

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

Former UU
Former UU
22 days 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
25 days 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 25 days ago by A Unitarian Universalist
Bennett Stark
Bennett Stark
25 days 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
25 days 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.
25 days 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 25 days ago by Sally G.
Robert South
Robert South
25 days 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.
25 days 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
24 days 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 »

David
David
24 days ago

A UU minister said to me last week, “The headquarters in Boston is pretty much of a cult now.”

My mother, a longtime progressive civil rights activist and Title IX pioneer, quit UU three years ago saying that, due to the goings in the UUA, she was embarrassed to tell people she had been a UU.

Last edited 24 days ago by David
A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
24 days 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 »

Lee
Lee
25 days 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 25 days ago by Lee
David
David
24 days ago
Reply to  Lee

Of course. Only people and organizations that are against democracy would be against your proposals.

David
David
24 days ago
Reply to  David

P.s. You should write a letter to the UUA President and BOT. What they do to suppress democracy and control elections is CLEARLY wrong. As I said, the only people who support their anti-democratic methods do not believe in democracy and believe in authoritarian governance.

As it is, the UUA currently is an illiberal, corrupt democracy, employing anti-democratic processes used by countries such as Hungary and Belarus.

Stephen Caldwell
24 days 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
24 days ago

Great points.

Stephen Caldwell
24 days 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
24 days 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
22 days 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
22 days 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
22 days 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
22 days 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
22 days 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
21 days ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Aren’t you Webmaster?

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
21 days ago
Reply to  Greg

Sometimes.

David
David
24 days ago

If the UUA is not UU-wide honestly platforming the diversity of views of UUs and the issues that are talked about on sites such as her, such as through UU Word and the UUA Facebook page, it is suppressing democracy. Control of information and press, punishment of dissenters, and stifling of open debate and dissent, and standard procedures of illiberal and authoritarian governments. One can cherry-pick details of democracy– For example, Belarus has voting, and campaigns were allowed in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela–, but cherry-picked details do not a liberal democracy make. Even Lee has pointed out here Pro-Democracy methods the… Read more »

David
David
24 days ago
Reply to  David

PS. Unless they lie, the UUA, BOT and national leadership would admit, “Yes, we are trying to control elections and who gets elected. Yes, we do try to suppress dissent, control information and the UU press, only want ideologically vetted people to run, and limit information on UU beliefs to congregations and national laity. Yes, we are an illiberal democracy because we are trying to be one.” That’s if they are honest about it. However, my experience is that the UUA and national leadership aren’t honest with UU laity either. Of course, honesty and honest disclosure are not qualities of… Read more »

Last edited 24 days ago by David
Jim
Jim
24 days ago
Reply to  David

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
22 days 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
22 days 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
21 days 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
21 days 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
21 days 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
21 days 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
19 days 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)
19 days 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
18 days 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 18 days ago by K. Lusignan
A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
18 days ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

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

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
18 days ago

You are most welcome!

Jim
Jim
18 days 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
18 days 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 18 days ago by K Lusignan
Jim
Jim
17 days 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
17 days 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
17 days 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
17 days 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.

David Willkomm
David Willkomm
15 days 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.

Laura Gilliom
Laura Gilliom
15 days 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 15 days ago by Laura Gilliom
David
David
15 days ago
Reply to  Laura Gilliom

Exactly. No model or theory is perfect and all-encompassing. You can’t view the world and society through a single lens, or treat the lens as dogma. It’s not that the UUA uses a particular lens, but that it uses it as dogma and the only lens to view UU and UUs through, and labels anyone who wishes to use another lens or questions as “racist,” “oppressors,” “alt-right,” etc. The latter puts the current UUA and UUMA on par with fanatical fundamentalist religions and authoritarian political movements. I support liberalism but understand that, as with all theories or ideologies, it is… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by David
David
David
15 days ago
Reply to  David

Another, common sense response is: This is UU not the Catholic Church. When a UU says “We’re going to get all UUs to think and act alike,” an informed response would be “Do you know anything about UUs?” or “Good luck with that.”

A problem I have with the zealous national UU leaders is that they seem to lack basic common sense and a lack of a grasp of reality.

Anyone with half a brain and a modicum of common sense would have known that this wouldn’t work.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
19 days 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.

David
David
21 days ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee, if one refuses to read the books, that is the very dictionary definition of “willful ignorance” and “uninformed.”

Stephen
Stephen
22 days 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 »

David
David
22 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

A lot of congregations are tied to the UUA for various reasons, and like and use some of their services. So an alternative to cutting ties is for a congregation to say, “We still believe in congregations being independent and self-determining, and that’s how we conduct our congregation. We use some of your services, but UU has no Vatican.”

Lee
Lee
21 days ago
Reply to  David

“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.

Adrienne
Adrienne
21 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

Agree 100%.

David
David
21 days ago
Reply to  Adrienne

I’ve heard three UUs say that the UUA is destroying itself.

One commented that it wants to kick out the liberals and radically transform UU into something completely different, but what it wants to change UU into isn’t sustainable.

Stephen
Stephen
20 days ago
Reply to  David

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 »

David
David
20 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

The UUA recently reported the largest drop in membership and number of congregations in Church history, and 2020 (Pre-Covid numbers) reported the largest drop in membership 23 years. The UUA now has the fewest number of congregations in its history. I expect this drop to continue and am almost certain 2023 will report another huge drop. As the three I mentioned said, the UUA is destroying itself. What is happening in your congregation is happening in congregations across the country. This was perfectly foreseeable, as trying to force illiberalism on a liberal religion and a creed on a non-creed religion… Read more »

Adrienne
Adrienne
19 days ago
Reply to  David

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.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
19 days 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
19 days 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
19 days ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

A screenshot from GA:

Proposed Shared UU values, from GA.JPG
Jack Donovan
Jack Donovan
8 days 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 hour 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

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