Steve Caldwell responds

Table of Content

Faithworks's Steve Caldwell responded to my last posting, and since it spoke so well to the point I was making, I pulled it to the top.

Scott … if this discussion is a game with “winners” and “losers,” then perhaps we are left the realm of religious discussion for something different.

I can't agree. We each have a duty to be compelling to the "hearts and minds" -- cliche or not -- of the people we encounter. Unitarian Universalism has settled into a nice quietism. What passes for activism in our ranks only convinces those already convinced of our correctness.

Evangelicals have it half-right when it comes to "soul winning." (I'd say something about Quaker "convincement" but as a group, they haven't had anything to say to other institutions for a long time. Except perhaps the west coast Evangelical Friends. Go figure.) I detest that term because it commodifies persons, but at least they don't dwell under the genteel delusion that people are interested in becoming like them because they're so dang interesting. Evangelical Christianity is hard work, and successful ones continually work at it, and work at finding and keeping new adherents.

I used to believe that Unitarian Universalists could be actively convincing across party lines, but we have so little to say to one another that an outsider would appreciate that we underplay our differences and dilute our effort.

So it is a matter of winning and losing. But as I see it, Unitarian Universalists are all in the losing category. Little wonder that for the better part of living memory, the Christians found it easier to keep company with other Christians than try to change the Unitarians or Universalists. And those days are ending. We're staying now.

And gloating about the progress UU Christianity is making doesn’t sound very “Christian” to me.

Perish the thought of enjoying a moment in the sun after years in the shade! I've seen this line of logic, and reject it.

You (or any number of people) define Christianity on social terms, rather than theological or ecclesiological ones, and then expect the Christians to abide by it. No thanks.

This is an example of what not apologizing for a non-injury. Pretty rare in Unitarian Universalist circles. And an example of tall poppy syndrome, besides.

3 Replies to “Steve Caldwell responds”

  1. Scott – I would agree. Any religion (Christian, Humanist, Hindu, etc.) needs to speak to the hearts and minds of the people it encounters. For the most part we UU’s have ceased doing this in our efforts to be all things to all people. By trying to be the one size fits all religion, we’ve set a goal of being acceptable to everybody in general. But this means that we cease being meaningful in any particular way that might make us “too” Humanistic, or “too” Christian, or “too” Pagan.

    And this is where I believe some of our internal combativeness comes from. Each group feels it sacrifices too many of its own Christian, Humanist, Pagan, etc. convictions; so as to accomodate another mutually exclusive group. And that is the elephant in the room. The UUA has incorporated into itself groups that have mutually exclusive foundational convictions. Atheists, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. all have distinct beliefs that REQUIRE certain dis-beliefs that others find antagonistic. An atheist insists that there is no God, while at the heart of my religious experience is the existence of God. How can really have any meaningfull religious community together, aside from deep repression of our foundational convictions. We can no longer pretend that we believe all things, and that we are a meaningfull religious community at the same time.

  2. On 24 Jan 2005, Scott Wells wrote in response to my comments on “winners” and “losers” in UU Church demograpics:
    -snip-
    ((I can’t agree. We each have a duty to be compelling to the “hearts and minds” – cliche or not – of the people we encounter. Unitarian Universalism has settled into a nice quietism. What passes for activism in our ranks only convinces those already convinced of our correctness.))

    Scott,

    I’m strongly in favor of letting folks know that we offer a religious home with salvation … that being a key element in our type of salation.

    I like to use Dr. Rebecca Parker’s words to describe UU salvation … we offer salvation from those things that deny life or make it less whole.

    Two concrete examples of how we offer savalvation can be seen in the UU approach to BGLT issues and the UU approach to sexuality education in our congregations.

    This concept of UU salvation is open to everyone in a UU congregation … Atheist, Universalist Christian, Buddhist, Wiccan, Agnostic, etc.

    The reason I reject the “winner/loser” language is that I feel it’s incompatible with our UU ethics because it really doesn’t promote the worth and dignity of every person.

    Maybe what we are seeing here with the resurgence of UU Christianity is similar to the what happens with abused children growing up to be abusive themselves as adults?

    For years, UU Christians have been marginalized within modern-day Unitarian Universalism. Now that this demographic is changing, I’m observing a troubling possibility.

    The “abused child” may grow up to become a “bully.”

    Then Scott wrote:
    -snip-
    ((Perish the thought of enjoying a moment in the sun after years in the shade! I’ve seen this line of logic, and reject it.

    You (or any number of people) define Christianity on social terms, rather than theological or ecclesiological ones, and then expect the Christians to abide by it. No thanks.))

    Actually, I wasn’t speaking in ecclesiological terms but in ethical terms that relate back to our theological foundations as Unitarian Universalist best expressed in our first UU principle.

    However, I think this can be explored using more traditional Christian theology. Under the category of “What Would Jesus Do,” I don’t think we would hear him saying the words “loser,” “in your face,” and other comments that a gloating thuggish, bullying, self-proclaimed “winner” would say to those he has “defeated.”

    The reason I’m putting “winners” and “losers” in quotes is because I’m not really sure how they would fit into a religious discussion.

    “Winning” and “losing” here have more to do with market share and this to me is a decidedly non-religious concern.

    Apparently, UU Christianity is making a resurgence and UU Humanism is shrinking in numbers. Does that mean the relative value and truth contained in UU Christianity and UU Humanism have changed over time?

    Or do we find religious truths through other means besides demographics? All demographics tell us is numerical superiority and not ethical superiority. And numerical superiority is a decidedly secular non-religious thing to measure against.

  3. Steve: logic gets quite a workout in your last comment. But the backhanded slap — ooh, the Christians are probably abused abusers — is contemptable. Why? You’ve decided that there was a harm, what the source of it was, and what the effects of it are. A circle of conclusions unto yourself.

    What industry!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.