But on the way down here on the plane, I jotted down four kinds of issues where our present understanding of public ministries make it hard for us to "go there." The core of the problem for us in all of these is the way that the partisan alignments in the US have become so closely matched to the class systems.
1. The social unionism movement: On Black Friday last, Walmart workers around the country were joined by community groups in picketing Walmart and other demonstrating for union rights. Recently, fast food workers in New York City conducted a similar one-day campaign drawing attention to the poor working conditions for fast food workers.
2. The Occupy movements.
3. In Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio, the GOP dominated state-legislature passed laws restricting the powers of organized labor. To some degree, these moves are partisan warfare, designed to cripple powerful institutions that back the Democratic party. Educational reform and "Tort Reform" are also public policy initiatives that have a partisan purpose.
4. The GOP continues down a path of institutionalizing anti-democratic practices in key chokepoints of governance: gerrymandering (redistricting whenever they get the power to do it.), the filibuster, the Hastert rule, racialmandering, and now their scheme to create a path to winning the Presidency even while losing the popular vote by a significant margin.
What is going on in the United States politics is a dramatically politicized class conflict. The GOP is the party of the economically powerful and they want to use the government to protect and advance their interests. Insurgent forces find themselves fighting back in the workplaces, in the streets, in the state legislatures and county boards, and at the ballot box.
For most Unitarian Universalist ministers, the obstacles are two. One is that our churches and congregations are not sure which side they are on, in struggles like this. That's OK, most middle class people have not yet made the discernment that this 1% vs 99% thing is real, and how small 1% really is. Our individual and collective class position is one the ways that we are all interconnected and UU theology is more clear that we are connected to the ocean, stars and whales than we are to the fast food workers and the firefighters in our communities.
But we could get a lot more clear on those connections, but the class and partisan alignment makes it really hard to talk concretely about class issues in a "non-partisan" or "B-partisan" way.
By the way, the same constraints exist around climate change issues. To talk about the real decisions made today about climate change (the Keystone pipeline etc.) is enter into discussions that have a partisan character. Even to talk about the premise of climate change is sending a partisan signal.