Unlike a lot of other bloggers, I don't mind that the UUA, via the General Assembly and the Administration, steps up and makes political statements. I usually agree with the content of these statements, too.
What I mind is that there's energy for these, and a number of other non-core activities, and much less evidence that the core mission -- the Purposes of the Principles and Purposes -- are fulfilled. These are
Oh heck. UUA.org is down. I'll add them later.
Well, I'm talking about church planting and the nuts and bolts of associated religious life. Fausto made a comment at ChaliceChick's blog that sums up another turn the UUA has made instiutionally:
The function of our central organization should be to serve as our staff, not our leadership. We are its clients, not its flock. To the extent that it leads, it should be like the Process Theology God, by offering oppertunities, not by postulating standards.
Lastly, I agree broadly with Clyde's experience that UUA staffers are talented, overtaxed, and earnest. Which leads me to an savory conclusion: at the heart of the current Unitarian Universalist way of doing things is despair.
Consider for a moment the frequent assertion that Unitarian Universalism is unique, valuable, and irreplacable. Add in that there is no alternate version of it in the United States. (The American Unitarian Conference is so small and disfunctional that I refuse to dignify it as an alternative.) All the eggs are in one basket, and the basket looks a little frayed. It must be carefully preserve, and its distinctive features must be played up. It must seem active, relevant, and progressive. It must be convincing and inclusive. It must be healthy. It must be all of these things, but accomplishing them is hard.
A lot of what I think's window-dressing can be explained as an attempt -- not conscious so much as intuitive -- to seem active. But without real growth, with real criticism, and in a social setting that makes its worldview seem all that much more imperilled, the do-able path is the one with flashy results and good -- well, any -- press. Not that good work isn't being done in Boston, but almost all of it is sustaining what we have. It is in the realm of "getting more" that the UUA falls flat programmatically, and frustrates many for its excursions into inessentials. All the while fewer and fewer new congregations enter the UUA. A recipe for a multi-generational death.