Saturday, May 10, 2014

Over the Edge

The pre-GA silly season is upon us. First up, is the plan by the Stewardship Office of the UUA to kick off a fundraising campaign that features folks rappelling down the side of the Rhode Island Convention Center. Read about it here. For a first person account of charity rappelling, check this out.

Fund raising gimmicks are by nature, gimmicky.

I call this the pre-GA silly season, because as our thoughts turn toward the UU annual meeting, GA becomes a screen on which UU's can project whatever they don't like about the UUA. The "UUA" is already a screen upon which they have already projected all their anxieties about being a religious liberal in a culture that is indifferent to religion and antsy about prophetic voices. A screen projected onto another screen, like a movie in a movie.
And May is the month you remember it.

If you are uncomfortable about sectarian evangelism, GA will seem like an orgy of self-promotion.

If you are uncomfortable about the prophetic function, GA seems like an orgy of self-righteous hectoring.

If you are uncomfortable about our class position, GA seems like an upper-class junket at luxury hotels and fine restaurants.

For those who worry that we are no longer serious about religion, GA seems like a bunch of pep rallies labelled worship services. For others, it's all too churchy, what with all the ministers parading around in splendid robes like cardinals in the Vatican.

May and June is when we notice that thing the "UUA" is doing at GA, instead of what they should be doing. This year, it looks like the "UUA" is jumping off of buildings, instead of solving the financial crisis of the local church, fighting the fossil fuel industry, resolving once and for all the relationship between UUism and Christianity, or washing the feet of the lepers. No, they are jumping off buildings!

I doubt that I will jump off a building in Providence, even though my screaming like a child stuck
This is not me, but it could be.
in a supermarket shopping cart would be entertaining. I know that I am afraid of heights.

But I also know, and this is more uncomfortable to admit, that I am a chicken when it comes to plunging into unknown and risky situations. When I was younger and more of an activist, things like going door to door, or leafletting on the street, or joining a picket line, or even phone-banking would make me very nervous.

So, when I look at it in a certain way, what the Stewardship Office is doing here is actually a bit of genius. Maybe Unitarian Universalism needs to make a scary leap into the unknown -- a leap into engagement with more, and more different kinds of, people. And a leap into a more passionate commitment. Maybe what we need most now is not people, not knowledge, not resources, not skills, but nerve.

4 comments:

Joanne Giannino said...

nicely said

Diane Miller said...

Bulls eye! You post captures the pre-GA sillies. And explains the point of the stunt.

Carolyn Patierno said...

Thank you, Tom. And may I just add, can we just have some holy fun? Loosen up in the face of whatever it may be that makes us cringe and try to embrace the spirit of it all? It's going to be wonderful and silly and moving and inspiring and ridiculous and sublime. GA as life. Hooray!

jacki rohan said...

I've issued a challenge to anyone at FUSN who will do this IF I can raise $10k before the deadline. I'll keep you posted.....