Thursday, July 05, 2007

The most obvious theory about the IA mystery and what it means

One thing that Gini said at the meeting was that the UUA board did not want to have to ride herd on 60+ IA's, and so it would be a good thing if there was a Council of Theologically based Organizations to handle its own membership requirements. In other words, the proposed Council could decide who was in and who was out.

A long time ago, a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons, and I had a good laugh about starting a UU affiliate of Devil Worshippers, complete with our story of exclusion and oppression by mainstream religion, to satirize what we saw as the UU inability to set any sort of boundaries. (We even had a name, "the LUUciferians"). We abandoned the plan because we were afraid that no one would get the joke. (And we hadn't been through the MFC yet.)

Well, apparently, the Council of Theologically Based Organizations will be the body to guard the door against the LUUciferians.

Now, the recurring suspicion is that all of this is the Board's response to the UU's for Polyamory Awareness. (They can disband, they have met their goal in that all of us are aware of Polyamory, even though we are now pretending that it does not enter our thoughts or considerations at all. And that it certainly has nothing to do with whole question.)

Oh, another clue! Gini said at our meeting, to answer the critique that this was a sudden thing, that the board had been working on the new IA policy ever since the Long Beach Convention. The Long Beach convention was the height of our collective Polyamorous Awareness. Much hand wringing.

OK, let's just stipulate, for the sake of argument, what all the cynics say: that the IA mystery is really quite simple. It is the way to set up a structural block to having to say "yes" to an application from UU's for Polyamory Awareness.

There is no evidence which contradicts that theory.

But consider the implications of it being true.

It means that our elected leadership is not being honest with us.

It means that the elected leadership is finessing and not confronting an issue that is right before us -- an issue that is not only significant for Unitarian Universalism institutionally, but is actually right below the surface of our culture. The issue arises out of the cultural redefinition of marriage that our congregations have been closely associated with for years, long before same sex marriage was ever an issue. UU ministers did lots of marriages for people who could not remarry in the Roman Catholic Church after a divorce; our acceptance of divorced people as not "less than" is a longstanding tradition.

We have been in the conversation about marriage for a long time. And we should think about whether the recognition of polyamorous relationships is good ministry. And I think that we have the moral authority to address that question in way that can lead the culture.

But our UUA board apparently prefers to not address the issue. And so a whole tissue of evasions, false flags, misapplied principles, bureaucratic and administrative doublespeak and other forms of timorous gumwaddery is packed into the already ponderous machinery of our internal discourse.

We deserve better than that. Religious movements grow and prosper through the process of continuous self-definition in the rapidly changing cultural environment in which they find themselves. If they can discern properly what is essential and permanent to themselves and what is transitory, they can lead others. That is what the culture is calling for from us: what are the essential purposes of marriage, of covenants between persons, for children and for the stability of the social order? If we don't have something to say, who does? And if we are divided and disunited on what to say in this moment, wouldn't you rather have that discussion than go to interminable meetings of the Council of Hyphenated UU's and their role in the Lowest Common Denomination?

26 comments:

Robin Edgar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lance said...

I'm appalled, but sadly not surprised, at the rumor a "large congregation" will disaffiliate if the UUPA gains IA status.

Where is the courage to stand up and face a problem instead of ducking it?

Steve Caldwell said...

If the restructuring of UUA-recognized affiliates is simply a response to the UUPA's existence, that's very disappointing.

If the rumor that I've read here and on another blog that a large congregation is attempting to be a "bully" in this discussion is also disappointing but not surprising.

Two of the the large congregations in the my district have done this sort of "bullying" tactic with district youth ministry issues. It would be in character for either of these congregations to be a bully here.

fausto said...

Tom, if your aim is to force the UUA to purge itself of "misapplied principles" and "timorous gumwaddery", I'm afraid you've bitten off a much larger challenge than merely bringing transparency to IA decisions.

As to the narrower question of polyamory, is there or is there not room at the table for a good-faith argument that polyamory is morally and spiritually dangerous, both to its practitioners and to their children, and that it therefore should not be presumptively entitled to the same societal or religious acceptance and blessing that we freely extend to monogamous unions? I've heard comments that seem to take for granted that room should not be allowed at the table for such a view, but nobody seems willing to come out and actually take a position, either pro or con.

Which would be more "bullying" -- a large congregation taking an honest, forthright moral stand against polyamory, or an institutional environment in which even a large and influential congregation does not feel free to do so openly?

LT said...

Fausto,
you describe my essential position on polyamory accurately, but I am open to be persuaded. After all, I have been wrong before.
But that's the discussion that is being short-circuited and prevented, if my suspicions are accurate.

Robin Edgar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve Caldwell said...

Fausto wrote:
-snip-
"Which would be more "bullying" -- a large congregation taking an honest, forthright moral stand against polyamory, or an institutional environment in which even a large and influential congregation does not feel free to do so openly?"

Fausto,

Well -- when it comes to sexual ethics, I've often observed that it may be useful to look at the topics of sexual ethics and what I call the "personal ick" issues surrounding sexual practices done by others.

We should ask if it's possible to separate ones's morals or values from the "personal ick" and perhaps look at polyamory where we are grounded both in values and reason.

The Unitarian Universalists in partnership with the United Church of Christ have developed the Our Whole Lives program, an excellent sexuality curriculum series for children, youth, and adults.

The curriculum comes with an explicit set of values that allow for it to be used in secular settings and also promote sexual values.

The values promoted in curruculum can be found online here:

http://archive.uua.org/owl/values.html

The four values promoted in the curriculum are the following:

- self-worth

- sexual health

- responsibility

- justice and inclusivity

Within the sexual health value, the program uses the following characteristics to define what is a healthy sexual relationship:

-- consensual (both people consent)

-- nonexploitative (equal in terms of power; neither person pressures or forces the other into activities or behaviors)

-- mutually pleasurable (both receive pleasure)

-- safe (no or low risk of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, or emotional pain)

-- developmentally appropriate (appropriate to the age and maturity of persons involved)

-- based on mutual expectations and caring

-- respectful (including the values of honesty and keeping commitments made to others)

The question I would ask those who disapprove of polyamory on moral grounds is why do they feel it's immoral. In light of the OWL program and the explicit values within it, I would want to know if they think there is a conflict between the OWL values and polyamory in a "unversal" sense that applies to all people.

It's pretty clear to me that it's harder to negotiate relationships when they become more complex and any relationship where the participants are greater than two is going to be more complex. But "more complex" isn't the same as "immoral" in my opinion.

Personally, I feel that it's possible for a poly relationship in today's world to exist within the ethical boundaries set by the OWL values.

That doesn't mean that all poly relationships would fall within the OWL values nor does it mean that some past UU experimentation with non-monogamy would have violated the OWL values.

Finally, my opinion is that most adult Unitarian Universalists are not ready for a discussion on polyamory without the following two prerequisites:

- Participation in Adult OWL

- Attend and listen to a polyamory guest panel

I've been told in the past that this expectation is "elitist" but I don't think it's elitist.

The Adult OWL program doesn't talk about polyamory but it does create a safe space where one can clarify one's sexual values and how they relate to Unitarian Universalism. It's also a lot of fun.

The guest panel suggestion is important to create the human dimension of the poly issue for us. Otherwise, we will find ourselves talking about the lives and families of those in our UU congregations as an abstraction and not as real people.

These two adult religious education opportunities could be offered by most UU congregations and/or UUA districts. The costs would be minimal.

Right now, I'm not sure if we're experiencing "moral principles" or "personal ick" when it comes to polyamory in UUA governance.

Anita Wagner said...

I am a fairly new UU and am disappointed to see how much superstition and fear exists about polyamory within the UUA, at least according to other comments here. I agree that a more forthright and transparent discussion of polyamory should take place within the UUA and really appreciate this blogger's willingness to point out the inappropriate nature of the dodge afoot.

As to whether polyamory is morally and spiritually dangerous, both to its practitioners and to their children, it's a fair question. The accurate answer to it is that a little research will reveal that there is no more scientific basis for concluding that polyamorous families are any less moral or more spiritually dangerous than same-sex relationships and families - or any other form of societally sanctioned relationship or family. Neither is there a scientific basis for concluding that polyamorous families are bad for children, quite the opposite. When children are raised in stable, loving families with more than two adults, there are many more resources from which they benefit - time, attention, love, help with homework, more financial resources with more breadwinners to meet their material needs, and so forth.

The exact same accusations of moral and spiritual bankruptcy have been and are still being made against GLBTs, and though not all UU congregations are welcoming ones, the UUA certainly has put its seal of approval on same-sex relationships. There is absolutely basis whatsoever for treating polyamorists any differently.

Thanks for considering, and for being willing to point out that the emperor is missing a few pieces of wearing apparel!

fausto said...

To the contrary, Steve, I suspect that on a personal level polyamory sounds rather enticing and liberating rather than icky to most folks. It sure does to me, especially if I've been quarreling with my wife.

When I talk about moral objections, I'm thinking instead about the often unappreciated but nevertheless very real potential for deep emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage that can so easily occur in polyamorous situations despite all precautions. Not only to the consenting adults (if indeed they are giving their fully informed and free consent, which is another significant question), but especially also to their children or prospective children, who need to grow up in a stable and secure environment.

LT said...

Commenters,
Who said anything about polyamory being "immoral?" That charge has been imputed to those who oppose it, and it is not what is being said. '

The question I ask is "what is good ministry to the world?" regarding it.

Steve,

Poly panels, which I have seen, are a exercise in propaganda. They are arguments from "best-case anecdotes." The persons who are participated in the panel are currently happy in their relationships and will willingly testify to the joy of their lives.

And, by restricting the 'moral' argument to these best case examples, they discount all negative experiences elsewhere. The stories about 13 year coerced brides in Utah are not relevant in those discussions, because that is bad patriarchy and we are only talking about good polyamory.

Finally, it is condescending in the extreme to characterize those with whom you disagree as being motivated by "ick" factors, or fear, or suspicion as does Anita Wagner. It might be possible that somebody disagrees with you without being a child to your adult.

Regarding OWL: the guidelines you quote refer to specific sexual relationships -- not social policy and the witness of a religious movement in the cultural circumstance in which it finds itself. There are lots of things that go in people's private relationships that I have no problem with, but that I don't lift up from the pulpit, or in counselling, as being good choices.

fausto said...

Tom said:

Poly panels, which I have seen, are a exercise in propaganda. They are arguments from "best-case anecdotes." The persons who are participated in the panel are currently happy in their relationships and will willingly testify to the joy of their lives.

And, by restricting the 'moral' argument to these best case examples, they discount all negative experiences elsewhere.


Just so. F'rinstance, here's a not-such-a-good-idea-after-all anecdote from a former polyamorist who is incidentally also a former pastor in the UCC (our partner in developing the OWL curriculum that Steve cites as if it were the controlling authority).

There are lots of these anecdotes. They're easy to find, but much harder to explain away.

I don't have any problem with ministering to polyamorists or welcoming them in our congregations. I don't have any problem with leaving the door closed when consenting adults are minding their own business behind it. However, I think there are a lot of reasons why polyamorists ought not necessarily expect that polyamorous relationships or polyamory as an institution are just as entitled as monogamous commitments to religious encouragement, endorsement, blessing or consecration.

David said...

Dr Elizabeth Marquardt, at the Center for American Values, has a scholarly discussion of the pitfalls and problems with polyamory / polygamy. (p 28 ff).

She briefly notes UUs for Polyamorous Awareness. The entire essay, "The Revolution in Parenthood - The Emerging Global CLash Between Adult Rights and Children's Needs", is worth reading.

Desmond Ravenstone said...

>>The question I ask is "what is good ministry to the world?" regarding it.

Allow me to rephrase the question along those lines...

A woman comes into your congregation. She is intelligent, charming, and enthusiastic about UUism. Occasionally she will bring someone in with her.

One day, she comes in with a man whom she introduces as her husband. They both seem distraught, and during the service they light a candle of concern for "someone very close to us" who has fallen very ill. After the service, you approach the couple and inquire about the person for whom they lit the candle. A family member? A close friend?

"No," she says nervously, "our partner."

"I hope you understand," the husband adds, "saying that in front of everyone seemed really awkward -- not knowing how they'd react."

You later learn from the woman that, while she certainly wants to join your church and be more active, the uncertainty of how people would respond to her being polyamorous has caused her to hesitate. Yes, yours is a welcoming congregation, but she still wonders just how welcoming.

OK, ... What would be good UU ministry?

And do you see how a group like UUPA is helpful in answering that question?

LT said...

Desmond,
Let's up the ante and say that they are fabulously wealthy and plan a significant bequest to the church's endowment as well as being concert level musicians, great children's storytellers and possessing a deep and abiding call to the ministry of cleaning toilets.

My ministry to them certainly includes companioning them as they deal with the illness of someone they love.

Regarding membership etc.

They are afraid that the lifestyle that they have chosen will be viewed negatively by some other members of the congregation. What am I, as their pastor, supposed to do about that?

What I hear in the discussion is that I am supposed to do some of their downfield blocking for them -- calling in some always available UU "trainer" to "train" the members of the congregation. Along the way, I am to vouch for their relationship in some way.

And when another woman comes to me and says that after catching her husband in an affair, he would like to invite the 3rd party into the relationship, and that if she cannot overcome her prejudice, fear and suspicion and Ick factor and be a good UU about all of this, he will have to leave her. And yes, he is terribly sorry that he broke the vows in the first place, but given the prevailing prejudices against poly's like himself, surely she can understand his behavior.

And since, I stood up for polyamorous relationships, she doesn't expect my support in leaving, but she would like my support in learning how to adjust to this new situation.

Good ministry? Good ministry is never about confusing pastoral support to hurting people and saying anything to keep attractive potential members.

Alan7388 said...

And when another woman comes to me and says that after catching her husband in an affair, he would like to invite the 3rd party into the relationship, and that if she cannot overcome her prejudice, fear and suspicion and Ick factor and be a good UU about all of this...

Excuse me, but here's some prejudice and ignorance showing. "Polys don't cheat and cheaters aren't poly" is a bedrock principle of what we're supposed to be about. Managing your relationships ethically, honesty and with respect is certainly bedrock to UUPA.

Dealing with the rat of a husband in your example is hardly compromised by the minister recognizing that polyamory can work when done "ethically, honorably, and with the full knowledge and consent of all involved".

In fact, if polyamory HAD been discussed in church, the wife in your example would be prepared to call bullsh*t when her husband handed her such a line! Your knowledge, as a minister, to also call bullsh*t would be strengthened too.

And if I were in your church and out as poly, I'd be happy for you to call me in as an expert witness and offer him this opinion a third time!

LT said...

alan,
"cheaters aren't polys and polys don't cheat."

this doesn't match my experience as a minister. Please stop assuming that people who disagree are ignorant, childish or prejudiced.

People cheat. The overwhelming problem with marriage is that people make vows and then betray them. Straight people do, gay people do, and unless some weird genetic mutation has occurred that makes polys a breed apart, polys do too.

You can say that ethical handling of vows is a bedrock principle of the polys. Baptists make the same claim. So what?

Increasing the number of people to whom one makes vows does not make it any easier to keep those vows. But normalizing vows to multiple partners in a culture full of divorce, broken vows, and infidelity increases the opportunities of self-serving self-justifying bullsh*t about breaking vows.

BTW, many of the poly panels at which I have been supposedly trained, include the testimony of someone who argued that they had numerous problems with adultery until they "came out" as a poly, realizing that they were just incapable of being faithful to one person.

I am not persuaded by best case scenarios and such statements of good intentions and high principle. I know myself too well for that.

Steve Caldwell said...

My very long response to this poly-related thread can be found online on my blog:

http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-really-dont-understand-aversion-to.html

Alan7388 said...

"cheaters aren't polys and polys don't cheat."

That's meant to be a guiding principle, not an observation from nature. Yes, polys sometimes cheat.

Think of: "A Boy Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful...." I could tell you about some Boy Scouts. But the point is, high standards are endorsed by the community generally, so when someone falls short of those standards they're likely to get called out on it.

Quite a few of the self-identified polys I know are almost prudish in their vigor about condemning dishonesty and inconsiderate behavior toward a partner. Many would be willing to help you in making the distinction clear to a person who doesn't get it and claims "I'm polyamorous" as an excuse.

I'm sorry if I came off as a bit high-handed before. I see that my introductory post before that one never made it onto the board; it might have provided moderating context. I'll try again.

Mark said...

LT, you write:

"Who said anything about polyamory being 'immoral?' That charge has been imputed to those who oppose it, and it is not what is being said."

It would be helpful, then, if you could clarify the difference between "morally and spiritually dangerous, both to its practitioners and to their children" (fausto's words, which you declared to be essentially in agreement with your own position) and "immoral." In my world, endangering children is not at all a moral thing to do.

More broadly, the question I would have is whether polyamorous unions are held to the same standard as monogamous or non-marital unions, or to a stricter standard. Not accepting "best-case scenarios" as relevant to judging polyamory as a whole is an example of promoting well-being by building a fence to keep people away from bad things that could (and do) happen. If that is the methodology one is going to use, fair enough, but it is only intellectually honest to apply the same kind of fences to other kinds of relationships. Which, in my personal experience and my interpretation of the reputable statistics, makes all forms of relationships besides heterosexual lifelong marriage iffy at best.

Given that other family structures are going to (and do) occur, it seems to me that the most caring and responsible response is not "just don't talk to us about that," but rather, "we as a community expect you to behave ethically within that structure." Personally, I would be perfectly happy to see faith communities speak honestly about the exponential chances for f-ing up that you rightly see in polyamorous relationships--if they also spoke honestly about the f-ed up things that happen whenever people put their personal priorities ahead of their family obligations, however many people are in the family.

Full disclosure: I'm not UU, but Metropolitan Community Church. And I am pro-polyamory (being polyamorous myself) and at the same time profoundly disappointed at the pass mainline denominations have given their congregants on questions of sex and relationships, so long as they "keep up appearances."

Desmond Ravenstone said...

LT:

Your responses to myself and Alan, if I may be frank, leave something to be desired. You seem overly defensive and easily angered -- not a good sign.

That said, you are correct in ascertaining two distinct issues: dealing with the illness of someone close to them, and trepidation over how they would be received in the congregation. Yet when the two issues intersect, as in the example I've given, trying to separate them sounds like you're trying to compartmentalize rather than deal with the whole person as they are at that point in time.

As to their material wealth, their musical ability, their willingness to do just about any task required yet neglected (ie cleaning toilets) ... I'm sorry, but what is the relevance of that?? If we as UUs believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, then shouldn't we be able to accept a member regardless of whether they are wealthy, talented, and/or willing to do this or that task?

Further, you seem to be offering only two options: Either the church is fully accepting and completely open about welcoming poly people, or any poly people who do join should stay in the closet. When I joined my UU congregation, and addressed this issue with the minister and others, we discussed a range of options and their practicality. What we worked out is that I neither "lead with" being poly or involved in BDSM, but that I would not hide the fact either, and that they (minister, staff and lay leaders) would help work out a gradual process of education on these matters.

Finally, you say that you are "not persuaded by best case scenarios" that polyamory can work for some people. By that argument, one could say the same for monogamous marriage (given the current divorce rate), same-sex relationships, May-December romances, etc. You seem to be demanding a higher standard for poly folk than you would for others -- dare I say a counsel of perfection? We are no more perfect than monogamous people, but we certainly find it harder to maintain loving and fulfilling relationships of any kind when we are denied the support network of community which so many monogamous folk take for granted.

Anonymous said...

Desmond, what you term "gradual process of education" sounds to me like a euphemism for expecting your minister to deal with the church's inevitable, multiple complaints about the guy who apparently needs everyone to know about his sexual proclivities. You're not asking your minister to educate, your asking your minister to be an apologist for you.

Are mainstream, missionary-position people all expected to come to your way of seeing the world? According to your "education" model, those who have their own opinions about what constitutes kinky or irresponsible sexual behavior would necessarily need to be "re-educated" to achieve acceptability in your eyes. This is where our politics of inclusion have gotten us.

Neither UUs nor any other human group is without judgment, and even UUs will be creeped out by your failure to keep your BDSM preferences a private matter. Why in the world would anyone in a congregation need to know about that? Why must UUs constantly equate discretion and privacy with the dreaded "closet?"

You call LT defensive and angry. I hear none of that. What I hear from you is the self-absorbed justifications of someone with a very narcissistic approach to being in community. Not a good sign.

Desmond Ravenstone said...

Dear Anonymous:

You call LT defensive and angry. I hear none of that. What I hear from you is the self-absorbed justifications of someone with a very narcissistic approach to being in community. Not a good sign.

Please tell us all what you think "being in community" ought to mean. Should it mean lying about who you are, either blatantly or by omission? Let's say someone had joined your church without telling anyone about their "sexual proclivities" as you call them, only to have someone else find out and spread the word, causing many people to feel uncomfortable. Would you now ask
that person to leave, solely for being kinky or polyamorous, "for the good of the community"?

[W]hat you term "gradual process of education" sounds to me like a euphemism for expecting your minister to deal with the church's inevitable, multiple complaints about the guy who apparently needs everyone to know about his sexual proclivities. You're not asking your minister to educate, your asking your minister to be an apologist for you.

First: I do not need to trumpet my sexuality, and if you read what I wrote more carefully, you would see that. Second: Neither my minister nor anyone else at the church needs to justify my being there, nor was I looking for them to do so. What I was asking them was how they thought people would respond; their answer was that they thought people would be respectful, but may have questions if and when the issue came up.

No, I am not looking to explain every little detail about BDSM or polyamory to you, to my congregation, or to anyone else. Is there something from these communities which UUs and others could learn from? Yes, and it is the gift of which I am most grateful to the BDSM community -- the awareness that relating means communicating and negotiating clearly, and avoiding presumptions.

Jasmine said...

And, by restricting the 'moral' argument to these best case examples, they discount all negative experiences elsewhere. The stories about 13 year coerced brides in Utah are not relevant in those discussions....

On the contrary, the negative experiences are highly relevant. The limited time available in polyamory panel discussions makes it impossible to cover everything, and of course the panelists want to talk about positive experiences first. When and where are we supposed to follow up those panel discussions with all the important issues that couldn't be squeezed into the allotted time? Is this blog an appropriate place? Is another place more appropriate?

The stories about 13 year coerced brides...

Forcing polygamists into secrecy by outlawing the practice has invited far worse abuses than would have been otherwise possible. The ethical polygamist, whose family consists solely of informed, consenting adults, is not safe to turn in his or her abusive neighbor who coerces a 13 year old girl and beats her for attempts to escape, because the ethical polygamist is every bit as guilty of breaking the anti-polygamy law as the abuser is. I recently read a news article in which authorities in Utah admitted this very dynamic, that they had unwittingly encouraged the abuses of Warren Jeffs by driving the entire community underground, stripping them of the safety net of public visibility and exposure to alternative ideas.

I recall a story from the editors of "Loving More Magazine" about a woman who was unhappily involved in a three person relationship without benefit of a support community or independent information of any kind. She was dependent on the information given to her by her male partner. But after she learned from "Loving More" about polyamory, poly ethics, informed consent, and the poly community, she realized that she was in an abusive situation, and she removed herself from that situation.

Poly relationships aren't all perfect. But they do happen. And they are better dealt with when information, support, and ministry are available to all involved. Poly people ARE coming out in UU congregations. We need to have conversations about how to respond with compassion and respect, how to listen to understand, and how we can all be in right relationship with each other.

And one last note. If Jesus were walking along the road past two people -- one a respected leader pronouncing that "polyamory is morally and spiritually dangerous, both to its practitioners and to their children," and the other a poly person hiding behind a tree wondering whether they could safely reach out and touch the hem of his garment, which person would Jesus call to him and join for supper?

Jasmine

Moonstorm Erosong said...

To say the "Block UUPA" thesis is the "most obvious theory about the IA mystery" strikes me as stretching the facts rather out of shape.

UUPA has yet to even apply for IA status, and may very well never do so. Carrying on with its mission in no way requires that UUPA be an IA, so stopping UUPA from being an IA would not accomplish much. That being the case, redesigning the entire IA system in order to exclude UUPA would seem to be an extremely clumsy and poorly aimed strategem.

Beyond that, communications between UUPA and offices of the UUA have so far been low-key, open, cordial, and colaborative. If anyone at the center of UUA feels the need for draconian measures to squelch UUPA, there's no evidence of it so far.

The "Block UUPA" hypothesis is, as far as I can tell, pure speculation, with a touch of sensationalism, which needlessly impugns the motives of both UUPA and the UUA Board and is in fact rather implausible. The more obvious theory, I would say, is that the UUA Board's reasons for redesigning the IA system are just what they have said--that juggling relationships with 60+ IA's has just plain become too unmanageable.

As for the rumor that a large congregation has threatened to disaffiliate if UUPA is given IA status, it's a sad thought, but hardly of major significance. It's interesting to speculate as to what congregation this might be and how this "threat" might have been expressed. Was it a vote of the congregation? A vote of the Board of Trustees? An angry comment from the minister to someone at the UUA or the UUMA?

Interesting, but hardly momentous. By the time, if ever, that UUPA applies for IA status, that congregation and the UUA Board will have had ample time to engage in serious, rational, and informed consideration of their response.

Anyone who reads the UUPA mission statement (available at http://uupa.org/Literature/MissionStatement.htm ) can see that all UUPA is asking of the UUA or of UUs in general is to open their minds to awareness, information, and dialog concerning polyamory in the context of Unitarian Universalism. This hardly seems a reason for anyone to feel threatened.

Blessings,

'Storm

Anonymous said...

Well, it seems to me, no matter what the motive of the sectarian issue, polyamory strikes a nerve. It seems to me that extensive and open discussion would align with the spirit of a religion such as UU.

It also seems to me that none of the information about polyamory and it's effects on children is conclusive, at best. For every anecdote one side can bring in about families ruined by polyamory, the other can counter with story about a poly family with well-adjusted children.

Doesn't that seem to indicate that there is to this issue than black and white, and that it deserves more attention?

Yes, those who are poly and are happy about it will provide best-case scenarios. What do you expect from people who are happy and healthy in their situation? Do the pitfalls of polyamory need to be discussed? Certainly. But the existence of best-case scenarios would imply that there can be, in fact, best-case scenarios. I think that would indicate that there may be something there to explore.

David Pollard said...

Given that sexual non-conformity has dogged the fringes of the Unitarianism and Universalism at least going back as far as the Transcendentalists and the Utopian Community movement of the early 1800's - I don't think this adminsitrative hand-waving by the UUA board is likely to solve anything.
--
It WILL be interesting to see what the unintended consequences of this are, though.