Sunday, February 13, 2005

Lenten snark vigil

This blogging thing is new to me. Far too often I decide that what sounds like a good post to me does not have a tone that I want to communicate.

I have been really enjoying the posts on Lent and Ash Wednesday on Boy in the Bands and Peacebang.

I also particularly enjoyed the last two entries on The ChaliceBlog concerning liberal christianity and fundraising.

All these posts make some good points that I agree with. I consider these three blogs the most entertaining UU blogs I read. I am especially drawn to the snarkishness of these three writers. For the time being however, I think I am trying to give up snark for Lent. I came to this a few days late, after I posed the lyrics to Phil Ochs' Love Me, I'm a LIberal on DailyKos

I love reading Scott, CC and Peacebang. But sometimes I ask myself (particularly when I start composing a snarkish post or comment), I bet Reverend Phil could raise the same point without anyone feeling attacked. I know I am not that good. Chris from Philocrites, Sean from Ministrare, and Major Greg seem to do a better job of this than I do. On Coffeehour, Chalice Chick says she "goes back and forth on Rebecca Parker" but I find her another person who is good at this.

I aspire to be more like Rebecca and more like Reverend Phil. They seem to have the ability to address the divisions and problems in UU history, culture and theology wihtout going out of their way to rub anyone's noses in it. Maybe this is just my junior seminarian attempt to behave "more ministerial" but I think this is important. If we are to be more than the Lowest Common Denomination (In a more snarkish moment I gave serious thought to renaming this blog Lowest Common Denomination) we need to move beyonnd muttering tolerance and towards the power of inclusion and affirmation.

I'm an atheist from an unchurched background. I am comfortable exloring Christianity the way some other UUs approach Buddhism. I read Paul Tilich's Systematic Theology last year. The structuralist part of me thinks that UUs need a systematic theology that can tie us all together (and build a land where we bind up the broken). I think Tillich's latent and manifest church, and some of his doctrine of the spirit might provide a starting point for a "legitimate" Christian theology that makes sense of contemporary Unitarian Universalism. I understand why the Christian heritage (some would say baggage) of this idea is troublesome to some of us. I also fully understand why most of us would really question the need for anything this formal as well as the implications of any kind of "legitimacy" (Ooh air quotes or what I call "virtuation marks" twice in one paragraph).

More than any quick elevator speech that we can pitch to outsiders, I think we need a complicated story that expalins how we all belong together. And we need our RE and our sermons (or messages if you like) to develop and strengthen this story until it is internalized.

(If this post is unbearable sanctimonious I apologize. Perhaps it is a side effect of studying the Puritans for UU History this week.)


At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Scott Wells said...

Scott Wells/bitb here --

I've always been snarky and demanding, I suppose. An ENTJ, if you give much truck to that mode of human understanding. (I do.)

But when I was a second year div student was rather deferential (25 years old then, ten years ago) and eager to please. Tried like hell to cultivate that doe-eyed care-giver affect and never got it.

In seminary, you wore the affect like a club tie, but when you're young-n-fakin' it, church people will (rightly) chew you a new one. Plus there were (and are) enough elder colleagues who carried that affect like years of burden, and were badly abused for it.

So I've let my snarky ENTJ loose -- and began standing up for myself and who and what I value -- and have never regretted it.

The lesson: be true to yourself whatever your condition or whatever the liturgical season.

At 6:24 AM, Blogger jfield said...

Scott: Where I am at right now would definitely be overkill for you.

Recently I was reading Murray's criticism of Winchester. So I could say you are in a long tradition of U and U scolds.

On the other hand, I am reminded of the stereotypical UU belligerent (stereotypically an atheist or the social justice committee chair) who snipes at everyone from the pews and emotionally bullies people to the lowest common denomination.

I'm a critical and negative person by nature. I can be a real ass when I hold people to my sense of rationality and to my sense of committment.

I'm the same age as you. I work in a job with shark tank politics and represent coworkers for our union local. I see the worst in my employer on a regular basis.I'm also a left wing activist in a right wing country practicing rape, murder and torture to create a new empire.

I try my best to be positive about my children and my faith. As a teacher I learned to see the potential of my students and to separate them from their dysfunctional, isolated urban and rural contexts.

Personally, I need a corrective practice to prevent me from thinking there is something prophetic about berating people who disagree with me.

I agree with you that we need to keep the heat on and be true to ourselves. But sometimes I think we can turn it down a notch. In my original post, I tried to emphasize tone. Criticism, yes. Strong personality, yes. But can we communicate in a way that might actually reach people? Is it possible to maintain an authentic voice without full-bore double barrel blasts?

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Chalicechick said...


I'm about to post a response in my blog.

a snarkalicious INTP

At 6:50 PM, Blogger PeaceBang said...

How lovely to be lifted up in your Lenten snark vigil! Peacebang is delighted! She refers to herself in third person, of course, because she isn't a real person but an alter ego. She is also an ENTJ, for the record.

I have always been a highly critical beeyutch and make no apologies for it. Because I'm also a devoted, compassionate, hard-working, sincere and loving minister who gives her very best, most obedient and disciplined self to her church work most hours of most days. In other hours I slide deliciously into my natural reptilian mode and catch flies with my long, pointy tongue.

(If you were thinking that my "most obedient and disciplined self" involved leather, get your mind out of the gutter)


Post a Comment

<< Home