Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Little Rock Study Guide for "Religious Community Is Not Enough"

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Little Rock, Arkansas conducted an adult education class based on my article in the UU World, "Religious Community is not Enough".  It was a part of discussion group called Unitarian Universalism 102. They discuss contemporary articles and blog posts. Here are the discussion questions for the article.

Here are a few statements from Tom Schade's article and questions inspired by them:
"If your congregation defines its purpose as being a religious or spiritual community, it is time to think bigger." Is that how UUCLR defines itself? If it's time to think bigger, are we able to do so?
 
"If the main work of a church is just to survive, “to uphold the tradition,” or to keep alive a beautiful old landmark building, there’s not enough reason to join." What reasons do people have to join UUCLR? What reasons do we provide them? What reasons do we not provide? 
"Unitarian Universalists, like members of every other religion, are trying to change the world by encouraging people to live a different way. By word and by deed, Unitarian Universalists are trying to change people." Are we trying to change the world? To change people? 
"What I am talking about is related to the “missional” trend in Unitarian Universalism, in which people are committing themselves to living out our values in real, embodied, particular ways in specific communities, “to love the hell out of the world.”" Is this something UUCLR can do? If not, is it something in which we can support some of our members who do wish to do it? Can we support non-members and members alike who are working together in this manner? 
"Unitarian Universalism was transformed by the presence, energy, gifts, and concerns of LGBTQ members. I believe they saved us from the decline and decay that affected the rest of the mainline churches." Do you think this is true? 
"These can all be parts of a larger cause: to build a culture of liberality, by encouraging individuals to live by the liberal virtues, such as openness and solidarity, respect for the truth, humility, reverence and awe, gratitude and generosity, and self-awareness and self-possession." Here and elsewhere, Schade argues for de-emphasis of principles and a renewed emphasis on virtues, what is sometimes described as "salvation by character". Is that a good idea? 
"Do this little experiment: every week, when you get home from Sunday service, notice and write down what you think about doing differently in the days ahead...What kind of person did the experience of UU worship inspire you to be? In these aspirations are clues to our good news, the content of our UU evangelism." Does this experiment interest you? Do worship services (ours or others) inspire you to change? How do you feel about the term "UU evangelism"? What is the difference, in practice, between evangelism and proselytizing? 
"Why don’t we turn ourselves inside out and try to offer OWL [Our Whole Lives] to the community at large?" What would it take within ourselves to seriously try that? Would it be worth doing even if we didn't fully succeed? How much success would be enough? 
"What if our social media presence was not just advertising for ourselves, but a constantly flowing fountain of inspiration and cultural innovation?" Is that just a different, better form of advertising? Or is that a different way to approach the world?

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