Wednesday, June 21, 2006

GA06 "Cradle UU's"

President Bill Sinkford spoke to the ministers yesterday, as he does each year. He talked about some of his pet projects and mostly answered questions. Most of the questions were fairly predictable and he had good and candid answers for them. One question that stumped him: What is our strategy to keep "birthright" UU's?

Ouch. Can it be that no one has thought much about that important question?

The first strategy might be to ditch that terrible phrase, "birthright." In a denomination which prides itself on helping people grow into and choose their faith, a phrase that suggests that it has not passed on this value to its children (who are UU's by right, not their own choice) is unfortunate.

Call us Cradle UU's, perhaps. Here's the way to keep us. Offer us something beyond the "walk away skepticism" which so often passes for legitimate faith questioning in our congregational life. We don't have the hurt, or as much of it, that our elders have. We are ready to explore in our depths, to claim words and ideas that work for us and use them with confidence. This denomination has very little to offer us (although our individual churches often do) by way of resources for this deeper faith journey. Providing these tools would not only keep cradle UU's, it would keep those who come to us in a period of faith transition after they are finished with their pain and their anger and are, themselves, ready to move on.


LaReinaCobre said...

Is this not a new blog look? I like it!

fausto said...

I'm one of those cradle UUs. However, my UU parents pulled me out of UU RE after first grade because they thought I would learn enough about evolution and dinosaurs elsewhere, but not enough about religion, and not enough support in framing my own values within the context of a religious tradition, in UU RE. So my religious upbringing was Congregational and Episcopalian, with my parents teaching me at home to be skeptical about the divinity of Jesus, to be open to the truths perceived in non-Christian traditions and scripture, and to value the authority and divinity of what Quakers call the "inner Light" -- not only as I find it in myself, but as it appears in others.

I always considered myself Unitarian, but it wasn't until a religious history course in college that I discovered our authentic Unitarian religious tradition in the writings of John Winthrop, Charles Chauncy, Jonathan Mayhew, W. E. Channing, R. W. Emerson, Theodore Parker, and O. B. Frothingham. I felt like a dried-up sponge newly plunged into clean water. This was what I had always believed! These voices were the authentic prophets of my church! And their religious foundation was the same one that my parents had made sure to expose me to -- the liberal Protestant tradition. The difference was, my parents had had to take me outside the denomination to find that foundation.

As a cradle UU, I was lucky to be able to find the religious substance I craved, and to place it within an authentic Unitarian context. But why didn't I discover this until I happened to take a secular history course in college? And what can we as a denomination do to change that, Mr. Sinkford?

Turtle Mountain said...

A "cradle UU" would be someone born in 1962 or later and raised as a UU. A "transmuted UU", I suppose, would have to be someone who was born before 1962, raised as a Unitarian, and willingly or unwillingly transmuted to a UU by the merger. An "immigrant UU", I suppose, would be someone like myself, attracted to UU because of its radical departure from Unitarianism. Those terms clarify, but I would be unhappy to see UU adopt a caste system. I can't see that "cradle UUs" were promised any special privileges.

Kim said...

turtle mountain -- It's not special priveleges, it's special circumstances. so many who come to UUism as adults are reactive to whtever they left behind, that we are focused on that circumstance. For those of us who never had to leave anything behind, what do we offer? Or do we jsut tell them to leave us behind?
I think this post is important. I am a Cradle U --later UU. I feel a deep faith, and an intense love of UU -- but am completely unable to articulate what UUism is. Even my elevator speech is awful, limp, unenticing, and minimal. I try, but nothing comes out. I feel like the Democratic Party! (that's a joke) I learned a couple of important lessons in Sunday School, but they didn't describe what UU is about. The most important one wasn't even part of the lesson, it was a pigeon that came down the chimney and I had to rescue it from the bully who wanted to capture it and take it home. I was scared to death of him, but I had to save that poor bird! the teacher (who was his Mother) just stood there and let the drama unfold, while I found my courage. While that incident is an example of our liberal values in action, it did nothing to help me say what UUism is.
I've read and heard some great descriptions of what we are about, but none of them seem to stick in my head. Oh, except someone said, "We are the church where you can change your mind without changing your church." and that we are covenantal rather than creedal.

Christine Robinson said...

Thanks for reminding me, Kim, to move my "elevator speech" over to this blog! I'm only moderately happy with it, but it was a good exercise to write it!

Our progress of the last two decades in being an alternative religion rather than an alternative TO religion has mostly been made in the adult program. Our programs for children are stuck in the 70's, in my opinion, and do not serve our children well.

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