"PopUUlism" and Processes
I am not concerned with the proper way to get student and faculty input on the choice of a new President of a School for Ministry. It's not that I think it is unimportant, but that sort of checking in with the rank and file is already given too much emphasis in most liberal religious institutions.
What does not receive enough emphasis is fidelity to our tradition and to our mission/purpose. Asking the question: "Given the wisdom that we have gained, what are we called to do and be in the future?" We need to bring these two concerns into balance.
I especially worry about processes that imply a democracy when none really exists. To say that there are three candidates, and then to collect people's opinions of them, implies that people's opinions are going to have a great weight. Even though it may be explicitly stated that this is just input and not votes, it gives an impression of an election. But then, the final decision is made by a Board, or a Search Committee, or some smaller group. As it should be, I believe.
Regarding SKSM, my reading (and I don't really know) is that the documents were leaked because they showed that rank and file evaluations didn't match the final choice. Where did that expectation come from?
I have called the pervasive mistrust of leadership that affects UUland: "PopUUlism" -- the belief that a shadowy insider elite manipulates our processes. PopUULism feeds on itself. It doesn't matter how 'democratic' our processes are made, the mistrust continues. Because the mistrust is not in the processes, but in the people.
Why would we do that? Because Unitarian Universalism is a healthy influence in our culture and in the lives of people, and it should be stronger and more effective, and it should be embodied in strong institutions.
(Extra Bonus Digressive Rant: Another example to prove my point. General Assembly.
I think the business of the Association would best be done by elected delegates from congregations and ministers in fellowship. That would balance the need for accountable democracy and authority held by those invested in and knowledgable of the UU tradition. Given our persistent mistrust of leaders, GA has become more and more open. Anybody can go. But the opening of GA does not really mitigate the mistrust of leaders. Not everybody can actually afford to go. It's still only congregational delegates who can vote, yet we are moving 'beyond congregations.' If you are so inclined, you can still see GA as obscuring an elite run system. My question is 'Is there anything that would end your choice to be so inclined?'