uutopia and the real world
Sometimes I get behind in blogging because I have very little to say. Most of the time, I end up not posting because I have too much to say.
I have a torrent of feelings about my trip to GA and back. I came to General Assembly expecting to be a jaded ironic hipster with lots of jokes about the love of process for its own sake, theological vagueness, and general liberal cluelessness.
But rather like Dan Harper I came back more hopeful about Unitarian Universalism than I ever expected to be. Sometimes the whole enterprise seems to be coming apart at the seams and I wonder what I am doing borrowing money to become a UU minister.
If nothing else, this year's UUA General Assembly showed me that there is a there there.
I felt much the same way as Dan Harper and Philocrites did in this exchange:
After the lecture, I ran across Chris Walton, who's on the staff of UU World magazine. Chris was sitting in the Raddisson lobby, typing away on his cute little 12" Mac Powerbook, and he had just come back from Pagels's lecture. "We are seeing a real change in Unitarian Universalists," he said.
I wasn't sure I agreed with him, but he went on.
"Ten years ago, I could not imagine over 2,000 Unitarian Universalists sitting and listening to a lecture about Jesus the way people did tonight," he said. "No one got up and walked out in a huff."
He's right. there does seem to be a new openness to all things religious amongst Unitarian Universalists -- a distinct movement away from the hardline ideologies that many Unitarian Universalists used to adhere to -- there's a new sense of intellectual openness, a new willingness to listen.
And Chris and I agreed that this openness does have a generational aspect. The generation of younger Unitarian Universalists now coming up is far more open to exploring the Christian tradition, and not immediately rejecting it out of hand.
I'm not convinced that this is a function of younger UUs. I'm 35 (the Church of the Younger Fellowship offered to do a bridging cermony for me :)) and did not see many folks any younger than me. If a change is happening, I think it is happening in a broader demographic. I would like to think that one engine for this change is youth and young adults who have had a broader and deeper worship style that are insisting on staying in the church and adapting it to their needs rather than the other way around. But perhaps, many boomers, aging themselves and burying their parents, are looking for something else, much as their own parent's generation came to Unitarian Universalism during the growth years of the fifties and sixties looking for a different way of being religious as they raised their children.
This is just speculation on my part. I think this is actually better news than just the idea that new young UUs are different. There just aren't that many new young UUs. As cool as the Church of the Younger Fellowship is, I wouldn't anticipate it getting too many members from outside of the UU fold. This is in no way intended as a criticism of CYF or UU youth either. At General Assembly and even at my local District Assembly it became abundantly clear to me that UU Youth are among the coolest folks ever. If I hadn't just been gone for four days and had my my own kids to look after, I would have loved to have been able to help out at WUUKY IV 2005 (Western Unitarian Universalist Karmic Youth) that is happening just down the road a ways from me.