We speak of the turn toward "spirituality" in that era as though it was a natural event beyond human control. Like a river shifting its course after an earthquake. But what was the earthquake that happened that caused UUism to move away from the rationality and intellectuality that had been our hallmarks up to then.
|Episcopal Church Foundation|
I would add two other aspects, suggested by this article.
One is that growing economic inequality was sapping the sense of agency in our congregations. Our people no longer felt in control of their destinies. Members of our congregations, as a whole, no longer exercised the same economic power as established UU's of previous generations.
The second factor was the experience of disempowerment that came with the election of Nixon, the frustrations of the 70's, and the election of Reagan. Whatever the objective circumstances of Unitarian Universalist congregants, many UU's crashed into the 80's hungry for some source of power and agency that they felt they lacked.
We turned to a source of spiritual power: the religious community. The purpose of our worship shifted from the stimulation of the mental powers of the powerful people in the pews to the invocation of the spiritual power of the religious community. Without a commonly shared theological language to support it, we invited the Holy Spirit into our gatherings with the hushed moment of the chalice lighting, the testimony of Joys and Sorrows, the spirited singing that skipped around intellectual content, the hand-holding benediction, the new-style communions.
The Holy Spirit was in that sense of community, and UU's sought to be possessed by it. I wouldn't say that we have fully evolved into an ecstatic ritual style, but we keep pushing on toward it.
There are millions upon millions of people in this country (and billions upon billions around the world) who also hunger for a spiritual source of power to strengthen themselves to survive and to challenge the powers and principalities that rule this planet. The spiritual power of our small communities are but stepping stones to connecting with the spiritual power of that world community.