Branding hurts a little; Ask Any Cow.
Maybe we should start at the other end? Instead of re-entering that very old, very tired debate that starts with the question: Who Are We?, we should try something different.
You know the debate which starts over what we actually believe and then goes into two separate paths, each so tedious that even the figures of speech about how tedious they are themselves tedious. Yes, hearing another discussion about how to make sense of the statement that "There is No God, and She is Female" does want to make you stick the proverbial fork in your proverbial eye.
Good thing that this a fancy dinner party because you will have another proverbial fork to stick in your other proverbial eye when we get onto the discussion of whether it is violation of everything right and holy about our tradition to even attempt to draw a boundary around what someone might think as a UU. No center, no boundary. Blobatarianism.
But before we start feeling around for the leashes of our seeing eye dogs, why don't we start from what we think that the world needs from us?
The lines are getting pretty clear, aren't they? The nation, the culture, is heading for a big rumble. On the one side, the fossil fuel industry, the financial industry, the gun nuts, the white nationalists, the patriarchs, the homophobes, the misogynists. They all think that they are going to lose something, and they all want to keep it forever, and they are willing to fight. Hell, it seems that they have no shortage of mentally unstable young men who are willing to start the final battle on their own.
On the other side, well, there are the people who want "the earth made fair and all her people one" or some such thing. Insert your own poetry here.
And there are bunches of people in the middle, screaming because they wanted a quiet life without any real conflict, and this is all so upsetting.
Forget "who are we?" What does the world need from us?
It need us to be there, to be crystal clear about what is going on, to be a way in which ordinary people can be a part of what is the best and the most hopeful, not just once in a while, but on a personal and sustainable basis, whether they are 10, 20, 30, 50 or 90 years old. Even if all they can do is sing along. People need to know that they are cared for and they need people to care for.
I don't think that the world needs us to be the last best hope for liberal Protestantism. I don't think that the world needs us to be the moderators at all the Interfaith forums in the world. I don't think that the world needs us to be a small mendicant order of itinerant social workers. I don't think that the world needs us to be happiest, clappiest, friendliest, megachurch it has ever seen. I don't think that world needs us to be a chain of small friendly churches where everybody knows each other's name. Some of us can be any of those things, but we need to be known as the people who are, and are working to be, the change that the world needs.
A brand is not just a label on a can of soup. A brand is a mark made upon you, which identifies you, whose you are. We're not sheep and we're not cattle, but in some way, we need to identify ourselves by our basic purpose, that we are here to live, laugh and love and be a part of the realization of humanity's highest hopes, as they have been known to us.