Thursday, November 12, 2015

Humanism in Context -- Questions Arise

So many interesting questions are arising from the essay Humanism in Context -- it's on the "pages list" on the right hand side. Read the comments, please.


  • One question is about whether there is a difference between the overbearing Christian nationalism of the Cold War era and the overbearing evangelical culture in much of non-urban America. Especially since, it is noted, that this is where Unitarian Universalism is growing. While I think that it is a different sort of push for conformity, it probably feels the same to the people who find themselves on the outside of it. So, I suspect that it makes joining a UU congregation an easy fit. Like attracting like.
  • A couple of comments about what a different world the new fellowships were -- how even the ministers they called came from a different educational and cultural background as the prevailing New England norms. It makes me wonder how much the Unitarian denominational leaders knew they were going to grow by diversifying when they authorized the Fellowship movement. Or did they assume that the liberal Christians were going to evolve in same direction. 
  • I am now becoming curious about A. Powell Davies and James Luther Adams, two of our leading theologians and ministers during this time of Cold War Christian Nationalism. And then there is the case of the Los Angeles congregation, which lost its tax exempt status for refusing to sign a state required loyalty oath. And also Rev. Stephen Fritchman's controversial career. 
  • But mostly, I wonder about the effect of this formative experience for many of our congregants and congregations, of being culturally resistant, affects us now. It raises the following question to me: if we understand ourselves as being resisters and rebels, why has it been so difficult for us to make alliances and enter into coalitions and expand our reach into other groups who also are outsiders in American culture. One possibility is that as much as we see ourselves as outsiders, no one else sees us that way. They see our privilege and power. And a lot of people don't see atheists and humanists as an oppressed group. So our presumption that everybody would see us allies in  whatever struggle can seem presumptuous and overbearing.
Other thoughts and questions?




2 comments:

Steve LaBonne said...

I do think we overdo the outsider / rebel mentality, as well as exaggerating the role of UUs in the civil rights movement. Done right our relative privilege can be an asset to potential allies, but we need to approach that with perhaps more humility than we sometimes are able to muster and with the full understanding that the people whose lives are really at stake get to call the shots.

nelliemcclung said...

Have you looked at Charles Eddis" book on Fritchman? He researched it thoroughly and relied on documents thereby debunking many of the myths around Fritchman who is one of those figures who are interpreted loosely to support various biases.