I would argue that almost all of the internal developments within UUism, both in local congregations and as a larger institution are the expression of differing strategies for surviving the political and cultural wilderness.
I am writing this on the day of Barack Obama’s second Inauguration. His election confirms my suspicion that 2008 marked the end of the cultural hegemony of conservatism in the politics and culture of the US. Our wilderness days may be coming to an end.
It is time to consider new possibilities.”
Tom Schade in “The Lively Tradition.”
At The Lively Tradition, Tom Schade has been rocking the question of what lies ahead for Unitarian Universalism, if we have, in many ways, won some significant victories in making our vision more widespread and even incarnate in the world we inhabit and our offspring will inherit.
On his particular points, I have posted several comments, along with other valuable thinkers. My function here is to raise the question to which this blog is dedicated: “What is the best polity for us to achieve our fullest potential?” For if Tom is right, and our fullest potential has expanded so very much — a suspicion born out by all the talk about Free Range UUs and lapsed UUs, etc — then the question is not 9to use my old language as a military analyst) ”what are we here to deliver?” but “what is the best system or structure to deliver the payload we have chosen?”
I have come to believe that antiquated polity is the greatest danger to ourselves and to what we care about. Nor am I alone: the denomination is regionalizing, the Society for Community Ministers and UU Ministers Association have held talks about how to expand our vision and missions for ministry, and ministers with parishes are displaying websites that offer independent consulting or other services. Some folks conduct their ministries completely on line, and others are still making do with old-fashioned word-of-mouth connections and anchoring services such as books, classes, chaplaincies.
I believe we have a fundamental stumbling block, with an history of deliberate origins and therefore, an option for us to choose differently. I’ve been doing lots of scribbling at home to figure out how to talk about it. There’s a role for history, there’s a role for debate. But Tom has achieved the fundamental first step: he has pointed out we stand at a moment of existential crisis, and asked us where we want to go from here.