I have yet to receive any bios of modern-day Unitarian Universalism (UUism) from my fellow UUs but, if you look in the latest issue, the summer 2010 issue of the Canadian Unitarian Council’s (CUC’s) magazine The Canadian Unitarian (CanU) you will notes several articles which may inspirer you to write one. These articles in the CanU mostly deal with this: “is the CUC and it’s members really UU or rather are they just simply Unitarian?”. I would say unequivocally they um we are UU but, the fact that these articles wore even written in the first place would indicate to me that some of my fellow as I would call them “Canadian UU’s” would disagree with me.
Well I have not yet received any bios of modern-day Unitarian Universalism (UU) from my fellow UUs so I will repeat me request for some:
Bast on your experiences and observations with Unitarian Universalism (UU) and its institutions, groups, people and places of communal gathering, well however flowed those experiences and observations might be, do try and put together a somewhat, brief bio of modern-day UUism. The bio can be don as a visual art or even a video piece or if you prefer it can be don as a written piece. Just as long as it can be uploaded and posted right here. Well either in the form of a comment from you or as a contribution sent to me by e-mail (email@example.com), with the phrase “UU Bio” in the subject line. And as you put together your bio of modern-day UUism do keep in mind those profiles that you are asked to fill out by sites like Facebook and Flicker wen you join.
Why am I seeking bios on modern-day UUism from varying UUs? Well to hopefully find out what we all as UUs see as the identity of this religion to which we are a part of. And to hopefully draw some observations and recommendations from the findings, what ever they may end up being.
I have also put together a bio of modern-day UUism of my own so you can have an example to fallow or not if you wish (my bio of modern-day UUism part 1, part 2 and part 3). Just keep in mind that mine might be a little long so you may want to be a little more on the shorter side or maybe like me you will have to much to say and have to have a long bio. Well all I can say is just send me whatever you end up coming up with and I will post it here. So I look forward to seeing them all flow in, hopefully soon.
You may want to read if you have not yet Part 1 and Part 2 of this my bio of modern-day Unitarian Universalism (UU) before reading this which is part 3.
What is the result of the two major styles of UU having different core elements? Well the one I have called “intellectual UU” it has intellectual reasoning as its core element and the one I have heard and am calling “UU ecstatic traditions” it has ecstatic experience as its core element. I would say this difference it could explain why so many who are raised in UU community continue to not stay with UU in droves. Maybe I should back up a bit and say again that UU ecstatic traditions it came out of the UU youth culture and that it has not really progressed much beyond that even though it is now practised by many UU young adult groups in addition too within the UU youth community. I should also say that it continues to come under attack, more so though in the United States then in Canada. I would say one of the reasons UU ecstatic traditions has continued to come under attack is pure ageism. Another is power. I mean more particularly the fear of losing power and control. I should also mention that intellectual UU it continues to dominate the landscape within UU’s places of communal gathering. It even dominates the writing that is don about UUism, that includes in books and on blogs. It is also the only style of UU you find described as UU on UU congregational web sites. Its form of group worship “UU pew-and-pulpit worship” is don 99.999…% of the time at UU congregations, churches, fellowships and societies during their Sunday morning worship services. So as one who was raised in UU community, in particular as one who got to experience and help build and foster strong UU ecstatic traditions centred UU community in my local Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) youth group as well as through it within my then district’s YRUU program I struggled and contuse to struggle to see how I can apply and have these skills valued as useful as I continue to move ever closer to being a full participant in adult UU. Yes I continue to be involved in UU community voicing this struggle rather then leaving UU as I could of like so many of UU’s former youth have done. I don’t leave because I think by attempting to give voice to the wonderful and vibrant practices and traditions of UU ecstatic traditions in a way UU adult joiners including those in p0wer locally, and nationally in the US at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and nationally in Canada within the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) will move the view of it from something that is only good for young UU’s (i.e. youth and young adults), but too something that can enliven and strengthen UU as a whole. I don’t think the problem caused by this UU split is only as a result of not allowing UU ecstatic traditions to mature but also the result of adults in power within UU congregations, and nationally in the US in the UUA and nationally in Canada within the CUC not giving the youth within UU a chance to play with intellectual UU in ways that wont hinder the continued flourishing and growth of UU ecstatic transmissions. Yes I think it would be a good step towards the flourishing of UU to have UU ecstatic traditions taken seriously as something that is valuable as as more then a good way to do youth ministry and programs. Another step forward would be to make the learning about UU ecstatic traditions form of group worship “UU circle worship” a prerequisite of one becoming a UU minister. I don’t think it is currently a requirement but correct me if I’m wrong.
Go to Part 1
In part 1 of this my bio of modern-day Unitarian Universalism (UU) I said that what I love most about UUism was not don at UU congregations on Sunday mornings during their weekly service and its accompanying fellowship hour. I also stated that it can be fond in Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU), which is the current youth organization within UUism. I ended with saying this “So what are the key features of this brand of UU? How dos it differ from other forms of UU?” which is exactly what I will be delving into here in part 2.
The brand of UU I like the one practised by most of the youth and many of the young adults within UU, the one with its roots in the culture and ways of YRUU, I have heard it called “UU ecstatic traditions”. Ecstatic traditions because it is a set of linked traditions that leave the folks involved in them feeling highly exhilarated and UU because they arose out of UUism itself. On the other hand the one you find described on UU web sites and practised by most of the adult population within UU, the one that is most dominant within UU is what could accurately be called “intellectual UU” because it has intellectual reasoning at its core and UU because it is native to UU. I would say these are the two main forms of UU and the best way to understand them, including understanding how they differ would be to take a look at how they do group worship.
Group worship is the central element within must if not all religious and spiritual traditions and UUism is no exception. At the heart of what I have called intellectual UU is the group worship style that has been described as “UU pew-and-pulpit worship” It’s the one don in all UU communities (churches, fellowships and societies) most every Sunday, usually all year round. UU pew-and-pulpit worship also happens to be the predominant form of group worship within UUim. But amongst the practitioners of UU ecstatic traditions is the group worship style that has been referred to as “UU circle worship” and it’s common at UU youth and young adult conferences and summer camps usually taking place late at night. UU pew-and-pulpit worship resemble a worship service in a liberal Christian church except instead of a sermon that is always devoted to teachings or passage from the bible it has one that delves into the thoughts of the presenter (minister, lay presenter or invited guest) on for example such subjects as the United Nations, peace, neopaganism, the environment, and politics. On the other hand UU circle worship is a form of worship that isn’t based around a delivered talk by a presenter that the gathered audience reflects on during and after the preceding, but rather on a set of activities that are designed to invite those present, including those who have planed and are leading the service to engage with and be moved by the service. So one can say that UU pew-and-pulpit worship is intellectually centred whereas UU circle worship is experientially driven. UU circle worship is usually the form of worship learnt by those UUs that grew up in UU community, especially those that have gone through YRUU, whereas UU pew-and-pulpit worship is the form of worship that is most comfortable to the majority of the adult UU population. It should be noted that most of the adults in UU grew up in a different religious community, usually one of the varying Christian denominations so this could and I would say dos explain their preference for UU pew-and-pulpit worship.
As you can see UU ecstatic traditions has experience as a key element and aim of their group worship practice. Whereas intellectual UU’s group worship practice UU pew-and-pulpit worship has the aim of getting those in attendance to reflect and analyze on what they are hearing using intellectual reasoning. I know I am generalizing a bit but I would say that this is generally the case. So how has this affected UU today? Well that is to come in part 3.
Go to Part 3
This goes out to those that are trying to define what Unitarian Universalism (UU) is in this the 21st century. That includes those who define themselves as a UU or a friend of UU including those that were brought up in UU community and may now be thinking do I still have a place within UU now that I am entering adulthood. It should be noted that this is just based on my observations and experiences as well as what I have red. You see I was raised in UU community at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and my time in elementary and high school has been with only those who themselves were not UU so this will flavour my definition. So will my time as a member of Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) the current organization for youth within UUism. I have also struggled with how best to articulate this. Should this be a straight up dictionary definition or is their even one single suitable definition. Maybe like in many dictionary entries there may be definition 1, definition 2 and so on till all the definitions are listed. Or maybe trying to define UU in a manner suitable for a dictionary is not quit the wright way to go about it. But despite the fact that what follows seems way too incomplete for me and not to fully capture all that I believe is encapsulated within UU I still believe it’s a good start. Yes I wonted it to be brief but as you can see it is not to be, but anyway here is part 1 of my bio of UU.
I have come now to realize what I love most, or more accurately have loved most about UU. It’s not don at UU Congregations on Sunday mornings during their weekly service and its accompanying fellowship hour. In fact it’s also not present on the more than 20 UU congregational web sites I looked at in my search to find out what I should put into this here bio of modern-day UUism that I have been trying to write. Nor is it something that can be described easily. It’s something that arose out of people who tackled religion, their own spirituality and religious/spiritual community not with a set of predetermined notions of what religion, ones spirituality and religious/spiritual community should be and look like, but rather with an open-mind and a readiness to accept what worked for them. These folks wore UU identifying youth and their adult allies. The path toward this side of UUism began to be lade out in 1954 with the merger of American Unitarian Youth, the youth organization of the American Unitarian Association (AUA) with the Universalist Youth Fellowship, the youth organization of the Universalist Church of America (UCA). This merger formed between these two youth organizations created Liberal Religious Youth (LRY). LRY would become the first youth organization within the newly formed Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in 1961. The UUA was the result of the merger of LRY’s two parent denominations the AUA and the UCA. The UUA is also what brought about the formation of what we now today as Unitarian Universalism or simply UU. But it was not as I can tell from what I’ve read until the 1970’s that the traditions and cultural practises of this form of UU started to get solidified within the LRY community. Also based on what I have read as well as on my experiences I would also say this kind of UU has never really been given the opportunity too mature. In fact it was in the late 1980’s that it almost died along with LRY. Yes I have heard that LRY was shutdown by the UUA do to the fact that LRY became too much of a haven for illegal drugs and sex or was it only do to rumours of LRY becoming too much of a haven for illegal drugs and sex. Either way it was shutdown. But it was replaced be a new youth organization Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) in 1982. Which thankfully managed to carry on some of the traditions and practices begun in LRY during its last decade the seventies.
So what are the key features of this brand of UU? How dos it differ from other forms of UU? Well that’s to come in part 2.
Go to Part 2
For all those Unitarian Universalists out there I have this request of you:
Bast on your experiences and observations with Unitarian Universalism (UU) and its institutions, groups, people and places of communal gathering, well however flowed those experiences and observations might be, do try and put together a somewhat, brief bio of UUism. And the bio can be don as a visual art or even a video piece or if you prefer it can be don as a written piece. Just as long as it can be uploaded and posted right here. Well either in the form of a comment from you or as a contribution sent to me by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), with the phrase “UU Bio” in the subject line. And as you put together your UU bio do keep in mind those profiles that you are asked to fill out by sites like Facebook and Flicker wen you join.
And why am I seeking bios on UUism from varying UUs? Well to hopefully find out what we all as UUs see as the identity of this religion to which we are a part of. And to hopefully draw some observations and recommendations from the findings, what ever they may end up being.
Yes I will too be putting together a UU bio of my own so you can have an example to fallow or not if you wish. And I will try to have it up as soon as possible.