Friday, July 19, 2013

Blah Blah Blah Derp Amen

For a while there, the internets were ablaze with the white hot anger of religious professionals upset with other religious professionals about who didn't say what where about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.  Too many church services about the "spirituality of gardening" and "finding the holy at the beach" and the "theology of baseball" on Sunday, July 14th.  Even Gini Courter got in her licks, criticizing Peter Morales for being late to the party with his statement condemning the verdict.

Oh, I agree with the criticism: I think liberal religious leaders have an absolute requirement to be ready to speak prophetically and pastorally in moments like this.

I learned this the hard way, on September 11, 2001, my colleague called me and we watched the coverage of the attack in New York City.  Somewhere along the line, she said that we should start to plan for a different worship service on Sunday.  I said that we should wait "to see if this was going to be big thing, or not."  Which is one of my 10 most stupid things ever I said as a minister.  So forgive me if I seem little excitable now.

But so much of what gets said could wait anyway.

What is it about religious speech that is so dull? Why are statements from denominational leaders so predictable?  Why are sermons about hot issues often so tedious, full of balance and long-views and dispassionate analysis of shades of gray?

But Twitter and Facebook were alive with anguish, anger and passion on Sunday.

Does the way that we structure authority in the liberal church mute us or dull us down?

If you want to know what a UU minister really thinks and feels about an important event, would it make more sense to follow them on Twitter, or come to church on Sunday morning?  

Shouldn't we communicate more directly?  I myself would have loved to see a tweet from Peter Morales on Saturday night "Stuck in airport. Angry/Sad about Z-man verdict. Hope UU's speak out, raise hell!"

There is a world of derp out there -- the endless repetition of unreflective assumptions, or bland platitudes, of high-minding honking and 32 bar solos -- let's not add to it.

2 comments:

Kathleen said...

but is one's first white hot reaction always worth repeating? - were I a minister I would lift up the event in prayer but would save my reflections for a later sermon - unless that is that I wanted my congregation to run out and throw rocks

Steve Cook said...

I have long suspected that, at least since the dawn of computerized word processing, 25 Beacon St. routinely uses an application that takes clear, concise (even white-hot) English prose and turns it into UU Speak. The app automatically inserts the requisite numbers of left-liberal buzzwords and obscure UU acronyms; detects and removes any vivid or original language, while the StyleChecker feature assures the ponderous, bureaucratic tone required in all denominational statements. (Other denominations appear to use a similar application tailored to their needs, i.e., Episcopal Speak.)

As to timing, certainly the summer hiatus/slowdown found a lot of ministers out of their pulpits and denominational opinionators away from their keyboards. I remember tediously picking out a pastoral letter in response to the Marathon bombing on my iPad while at a conference in Texas; had I not happened to bring it, my response would have been delayed by a week.