Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You Read It; It Reads You;



They say that systems will reassert homeostasis to preserve themselves. 

On Thursday last, only five days ago, the VUU, the CLF talk show, had a two part program. Block A (which is how the pros on MSNBC talk) was about the Moral Movement in North Carolina. Based on strong statewide UU participation in a growing NC movement for a moral redirection of their state, UU's from around the country joined in the largest march for justice in the South in 50 years. There was a strong feeling there that this had been a significant step for us in many ways. That we had such strong participation said something about where our congregations were. That movements for justice had started developing a morally based language which countered the dominant rightwing moralism opened up opportunities to change how we spoke. That movement like the NC Moral Movement were taking off around the South, where UUism has been experiencing its greatest rate of growth, could mean we were moving in a new direction.  So much to discuss, consider and go deeper on. 

Block B was Terasa Cooley who talked about re-branding the UUA -- moving toward a more contemporary style of communication to keep up with the times. And in the last three minutes, she flashed a printed copy of the new logo. 

Our system reasserted itself with a vengeance. More discussion in the last five days has gone into delving into the process of the creation of a new logo than in learning how our NC colleagues became a trusted part of the Forward Together Coalition. More discussion about whether we needed a new logo than whether the Moral Movement represented a new future for us. More discussion about the possible resemblance of the logo to sexual intercourse than about how we deploy the Standing on the Side Love campaign in a mass coalition effort. More inward focus on our internal process, our internal politics, our internal suspicion that everyone is shallow, insincere and doesn't really get it. More blaming and faux outrage over something that EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS IS A DONE DEAL.  

The new logo takes us back to the kind of UU thinking we are good at, because we have been doing it for decades. 

The new logo is fine. It will look just fine up in the corner of UUA.Org's home page. It will look good on the letterhead. 

Some other questions: 

1. Should we make a concerted effort to get our yellow tee-shirts onto the picket lines of every fast food worker strike?  How would we connect that work to standing on the side of love?

2. The biggest question of our public presence is should we try to build new congregations and liberal religious communities under the name "Unitarian Universalism" or under more post-denominational language?

3. How do we approach a turn toward moral language as the basis of progressive policy advocacy? How do we take up a common language of morality in relationship to describing who we are in the culture? Are we content to say that we are the "religion beyond beliefs"? The religion of many paths? The no-guilt religion? Or do we stand for a particular kind of moral presence in the community? What is that? What does Standing on the Side of Love mean at the deepest levels? 

4. How do we describe the transformation that happens to a person when they become a UU? How do connect that transformation with the felt needs of the people in our larger communities -- how do we invite them into that transformation? 

Lots of stuff to discuss. But I fear that we have to first have another round of gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over the sale of 25 Beacon Street. Just announced. More second guessing over whether the UUA administration got the best price. And God knows, we should all clear our calendars for extended controversy over every architectural and design detail of the build-out of 24 Farnsworth. 

Let's all make an effort, shall we,  to try to move forward. 

5 comments:

Clyde Grubbs said...

I think I remember something about the non-anxious presence. After pointing out that the staff is charged with the details, and that logo is most certainly a detail, that is about all you can do.

There will always be somebody who won't like the music, the invocation, the sermon, or the color of one's stole.

Anonymous said...

This is good commentary and I agree.

Susan Leslie, UUA Congregational Advocacy & Witness Director said...

These are just the right questions of the moment for us. Since Justice GA we rallied as Standing on the Side of Love in Louisville to protest mountain top removal and coal pollution and poisoning. SSL sent out a message from Kim Bobo Director of Interfaith Worker Justice to 'show WalMart workers some love' and support their strikes and highlighted UUs who are part of that movement. And now we supporting and helping spread the Forward Together movement. In all these instances our message included recognizing that those with the least power and privilege in our society are the hardest hurt by environmental degradation, climate change, and economic injustice. Right in line with a moral movement, message, and strategy for harnessing the power of love to stop oppression. We need more UU leaders to call for this! Thanks for this post Tom.

Steve Cook said...

There! Now you got that, kids! Stop all of your damn whining and complaining over petty details! (See Peacebang on what symbol is carved on the headstones of fallen UU service members.) Headquarters will handle the important stuff--and if you don’t know what the important stuff is, Headquarters will tell you.

Anonymous said...

Tom, thank you for this post and for your presence on the VUU.
The question that concerns me most is what is "postdenominational Unitarian Universalism"? And where would people like me who make a theological (not political or sociological) statement when we say "I am a Unitarian" be? Where are those of us who believe that God is One to go practice our faith, our rituals, our prayers? Will it be impossible to have prayer AND action in the postdenominational UU?
Blessings, Elisabeth