How is this great theological endeavor going to happen?

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The hubbub at Philocrites is getting rather impassioned, and Philo (among others) is trying to get some product out of the desire and frustration. I'm trying not to be jaded, but I've heard murmurs like this before, something kinda happened but not really, and then the desire perished in more frustration. Then you notice formerly committed Unitarian Universalist drift off to other churches, or vanish altogether. Makes you not even want to try. Is it better to be unformed and united?

If some or all of the participants in the thread at Philocrites (plus silent readers) are serious about accomplishing something -- note I haven't hinted at what that might be -- then let me suggest these unsorted ideas and warnings:

  • A megalithic project will get mired in a desire to be something to all Unitarian Universalists and will prove pallid. I won't be offended if there's a popular project that has nothing for me (because I'll be involved in some project.)
  • It has to have a real goal. Neither "Awareness" nor "capacity development" count to me. Nor "dialog."
  • If the projects have costs, they need to be funded internally and fairly, or from easy to find "deep pockets."
  • It needs to have good boundaries with a fair and transparent way to remove disruptive persons. How many times in the Internet age -- mailing list, bulletin board, blog -- has someone ruined an experience for everyone?
  • There needs to "awareness," "dialog," and "capacity development" -- as a means to an end -- with a govermance system appropriate to the medium. Since this discussion has run over blogs, it isn't a stretch to think any project would be Internet based. Face-to-face governance models just don't seem to work across the Internet, but models do exist, particularly in Free/Open Source software development teams.

Just random thoughts -- feel free to comment.

7 Replies to “How is this great theological endeavor going to happen?”

  1. The more I think about it the more I think I would like to see the people who are pushing for a common theology discussion in UU to share their personal truths.

    Perhaps that is what people are wanting more of? Perhaps it’s time to start talking! It seems to me a rational place to start is with our own personal theologies.

  2. There is already a UU-Theology mailing list. I left it some time ago because, with all those personal theologies being explained, the conversation did not seem to go anywhere. I think that a favorite passtime of us UUs is to explain our own theology and not care much about others. What we need IMO is more non-personal theologies.

    I think that we need that more people write their own proposal of a common UU theology, which may partly coincide with their own personal theology. I am not particularly interested in the personal spirituality of that individual from a scholarly point of view. What I want to know is what she has to say about UU, not about herself. And we don’t need to agree or even accept that any of our “common UU theologies” are “the” UU theology for everybody. Of course there will be reactions, some of them quite radical, either in favor or against. Indifference would be a bad symptom, excitement and passion (especially if spoken against the proposal) is more interesting and promising. But at least a core list of consistent proposals need to be published and discussed in order to generate a language, a set or sets of theoretical concepts to work with, and start a serious conversation.

  3. As initial goals, I’d suggest the topics of Authority and Eschatology. Authority, because of the postmodern problem (however you take it), and Eschatology because of the problem of fundamentalism. Both topics seem “relevant,” though I hate that word incredibly.

    For the more goalish part of the goal, assign folks (or let them assign themselves) one of the topics and ask them to relate it to a particular theologian, movement, etc., with an eye toward evaluating for its use in practical theology.

  4. I’m with Jaume and chutney, understanding that a common UU theology might well write me out. Or perhaps not, we might — Deo volens and the if we’re very care-full — find ourselves in a highly decentralized theology. One where every nugget of theology touches other nuggets (for want of a better term right now) but needn’t touch all others. I say this in contradistinction to some of the current Humanist thought that wants to make every shade of Unitarian Universalism a province of its own. This is a failing gambit I think, making Humanism nothing in its hope to make it everything. Indeed, this has been the ill-fated curriculum of Unitarian Universalism in general until very lately.

    Every day I understand better why so many Christians — notably the ministers — leave for greener pastures, but it needn’t be that way for any of us.

  5. What are you saying here? Is this the whole hyphenated thing? Is that what you’re talking about? Why is it a humanist endeavor in your opinion?

    I say this in contradistinction to some of the current Humanist thought that wants to make every shade of Unitarian Universalism a province of its own. This is a failing gambit I think, making Humanism nothing in its hope to make it everything. Indeed, this has been the ill-fated curriculum of Unitarian Universalism in general until very lately.

  6. No, Roger, not “the hyphenated thing” but what I’ve heard from some Humanists — a definition of humanism so broad (which itself puts the three Humanist Manifestos in a dubious light) as to include all Unitarian Universalists, and by default make it the sine non qua of Unitarian Universalism. A sort of offering-itself-up as the center. I’ve seen the claims recently, but I don’t recall particular names. When I find them, I’mm blog about them.

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