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Blog roundup, Fall 2010

Online responses to UU World.
By Kenneth Sutton
Fall 2010 9.1.10

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Many people discuss Unitarian Universalism and UU World stories on blogs. Keep up with the online conversation: Read UU World’s blog, “The Interdependent Web,” which highlights the best blog commentary each week.

Bloggers responded to Donald Skinner’s uuworld.org news report, “UUA Membership Declines for Second Year” (April 12; see page 54). “Ogre” at “Sparks in the Dark” thinks that the UUA’s Fair Share system hurts most congregations. “Want more members? Use one single system for congregational dues that doesn’t rest on a poll tax. It’s discouraging potential members.” (April 12)

“PolityWonk” draws some lessons from history. “I have noticed a couple of predictors of membership crises: One is the obvious—public demographics. . . . A second has to do with denominational culture. There seem to be more grumblings and worries about worship right before a new hymnbook appears. And sure enough, I notice there is now a supplement to SLT [Singing the Living Tradition].” (April 13)

David G. Markham at “UU a Way of Life” doesn’t think UUA President Peter Morales’s recommendations to the UUA Board will lead to growth; commenters offer alternate suggestions. In another post he wonders “if part of the problem of declining membership in the UUA is that the denomination tries to be too many things to too many people.” (April 14 and 15)

The Rev. Dan Harper is not as concerned by the second year of a small decline in membership as he is in the seven-year decline in religious education enrollment. At “Yet Another Unitarian Universalist,” he gives several reasons, including “an assumption that declining programs can be fixed by instituting a new curriculum” and “that there is little meaningful theological component to most of our religious education materials.” (April 15)

At “Rev. Cyn,” the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum writes: “If you want to know the truth about the health of our congregations, look to our religious education. If we’re dropping off there, which this report is saying we are, then I think we really are dropping off over all.” (April 24)

Landrum also responds to the UU World feature articles on UU culture (Spring and Summer 2010). After remarking on some of the complexities of expanding diversity within the UU community, she concludes that, “We need to make sure we examine and broaden our UU culture without making people who fit this dominant culture ashamed of who they are or feel like they’re being told they’re either irrelevant, unwelcome, or, at best, highly problematic in their being.” (May 26)

“UUMomma” argues that the most important thing is “to create worship services that feed all our senses and help more people in on the good news that is our faith.” (May 31)

Sarah MacLeod at “Finding My Ground” says Morales’s definition of religion in his Spring 2010 column as “what we truly care about, what we want to preserve, embrace, and create” also describes her friendship with a neighbor. (April 9)

On his blog on the website of the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos, N.Mex., the Rev. John Cullinan uses Morales’s definition to show how Unitarian Universalism is a religion: “I’ve told newcomers for years that Unitarian Universalism is a religion, but not a religion that stresses what to believe. Rather, we focus on how we should be together.” (June 1*)

UUA Trustee Linda Laskowski responds to our mention of Glenn Beck talking about Barack Obama’s Unitarian roots (“Interdependent Web,” April 9). At “UUA View from Berkeley,” she urges UUs to pay attention to a greater variety of media. “As Unitarian Universalists, we are fairly good at not taking our freedoms for granted. And we are not so good at seeing/reading/talking with those we really disagree with, without dismissing what they believe in—and why.” (April 10)

After reading Jane Greer’s uuworld.org news story “UUA Pulls Pension Fund from Fidelity” (May 24; see page 45), the Rev. Colin Bossen at “The Latest Form of Infidelity” is relieved “that the UUA has come to a place where the Board is willing to make a stand of some sort over issues of responsible investing. What we do with our money is an expression of our moral values.” (May 28)

“JohnFranc” at “Under the Ancient Oaks” responds to Meg Barnhouse’s fictional Easter service planning meeting (“The Honey Springs Worship Committee Plans its Easter Service,” uuworld.org, March 29). “There is meaning and value in the Easter story, just as there’s meaning and value in the Christmas story and the Passover story and the story of the Buddha’s birth. . . . I can find that meaning a lot better in a rational but straightforward service/sermon on Easter than I can in any ‘mash-up,’ nice or otherwise.” (April 2)

The UUA Board’s decision in April to recommend withdrawing the 2012 General Assembly from Phoenix, Arizona, to protest the anti-illegal immigration law SB 1070 created lively debate on blogs and on Facebook, which is clearly becoming the new forum for UUs to discuss ideas. For a taste of the conversation, check out the comments on UU World’s Facebook posts on June 7, 11, 15, and 28. The General Assembly voted June 28 to keep GA in Phoenix in 2012, but to transform it into a “Justice General Assembly.”

Correction 8.30.10: The print version of this article provided an incorrect date for John Cullinan's blog post. Click here to return to the corrected paragraph.

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