Sunday, November 09, 2008

That Was The Week that Was

Any other old-timers remember that TV program? News and variety and, best of all (actually, the only thing I remember) was a Tom Lehrer singing songs like the "Vatican Rag" and "Whatever Became of Hubert (Humphrey)" and "Garbage."

Last week certainly lives up to that title. My ultra-blue church last week was anxious, this week was practically giddy.

It's not ideal, to my mind, for churches which profess to value diversity of opinion to be politically monolithic, but that is what happened to my church over the past 8 years. I was mostly aware of conservatives or Republicans leaving after being subjected to less-than-perfect tolerance on the part of their fellow UU's, or just weary of being a minority, but my co-preacher of the morning, Stefan Jonasson, pointed out that another thing that had happened over the 8 years is that moderate Republicans had become Democrats, or at least voted that way.

The end result is the same, however, which is that there's political talk but no real political discussion, and that's too bad. I hope we have entered a more moderate era.


Robin Edgar said...

"I was mostly aware of conservatives or Republicans leaving after being subjected to less-than-perfect tolerance on the part of their fellow UU's, or just weary of being a minority,"

So just what counts as "less-than-perfect tolerance" on the part of your fellow Unitarian*Universalists Rev. Robinson? Something like this considerably "less-than-tolerant" blog post by your fellow U*U and professional colleague Rev. Cynthia P. Cain? "Less-than-perfect tolerance" that I saw fit to reproduce verbatim in my TEA blog as a fine example of U*U anti-Republican intolerance, if not outright anti-Republican bigotry?

Enough of U*USPEAK. How about ditching the PC euphemisms and engaging in the kind of "straight talk" that Senator John McCain is reputed to engage in from time to time?

Robin Edgar said...

It should be obvious, but perhaps it needs to be specifically pointed out here, that when you say that "conservatives or Republicans" have left your congregation "after being subjected to *less-than-perfect* tolerance on the part of their fellow UU's" you are effectively suggesting that they are what former UUA President Rev. Dr. John Buehrens would call "overly sensitive souls" who just can't deal with relatively minor, if not absolutely minimal, intolerance of their political orientation as it were. By clearly playing down the level of intolerance that these people have been subjected to in your church you come across as being somewhat condescending and patronizing, and even effectively condoning that intolerance. That impression is reinforced by your rationalizing the loss of your Republican and conservative members by asserting that "moderate Republicans had become Democrats, or at least voted that way."

There is no question that you are minimizing the amount and/or degree of anti-Republican or broader anti-conservative intolerance that exists within your congregation, to say nothing of other U*U congregations that are rather less than welcoming to Republicans and other political conservatives. You are also suggesting that the members who left your congregation were not "moderate Republicans". If Republicans and conservative members felt compelled to leave your congregation as a result of anti-conservative intolerance you could at least give them credit for putting up with, and even forgiving, a fair bit of such intolerance before deciding that enough was enough. . . I might add that the same principle applies to those many people who have been subjected to what you might call "less than perfect" welcoming of their Christian or otherwise theistic religious orientation in U*U "Welcoming Congregations" and have felt compelled to seek more tolerant, accepting and welcoming religious community elsewhere, or have simply given up hope of finding a genuinely liberal* religious community as a result of their experience with the denomination that pretends to be the most liberal religion of them all.

* see definition 7

Christine Robinson said...

For somebody who knows nothing about the congregation, Robin, you are certainly sure of your prescriptions and your attributions. How liberal are you being, in the classic sense of the word?

Robin Edgar said...

I don't think I need to know more about your congregation than you have already written here to be able to reasonably make the comments that I have made here Rev. Robinson. Perhaps you can clarify things by letting people know what exactly constitutes "less than perfect tolerance" in your congregation though. I think that I am being quite liberal in the classic sense of the word in firmly and forthrightly speaking out against anti-Republican, and more broadly anti-conservative, as well as anti-Christian and more broadly anti-religious, intolerance in the U*U World much of which cannot be reasonably described as only "less than perfect tolerance" as my own situation and Rev. Cynthia P. Cain's vitriolic blog post handily proves.

Kelsey Atherton said...

It's very much a purple nation, Christine. As much as the youth (who I can only sort-of speak for) identify with Obama, they are more likely to identify as "political demarcation + qualifier". The discourse in places is of a higher quality. The bluing of FUCA has benefits (again, twofold). For one who came of age in the age of Bush, it was a great source of strength that enabled me to establish and ground me early political leanings, and in some ways the commonality of opinion was vital. On the other hand, I know we (we being La Amikoj) alienated more than a few, and we certainly shied away from moderation.

The trick now is to get discourse back - the stakes are still high, but if my memory of the Clinton Years are to be trusted (and, really, they shouldn't be - I was 12 when they ended), having democrats in power means that the left will not need to define itself as the opposition. Instead, we'll have a diversifying of opinion and hopefully a widening of discourse.

The political parties in the US are informal coalitions - once in power, coalitions everywhere make their internal differences quite well known. Power here can, paradoxically, lead to diversity.

Busyhands said...

I used to know moderate Republicans, but I don't think I do, anymore. The ones who still identify themselves as such would probably be unrecognizable to and considered lunatic by Republicans like Eisenhower or even Goldwater. I'll be delighted to see them return. This will happen, I predict, only when the likes of Newt Gingrich and James Dobson croak.

BTW: please do not feed the trolls.

Robin Edgar said...

Rev. Christine Robinson hasn't fed any "trolls" here "V" (for vendetta perhaps?). She has simply had the personal integrity to allow me to post my critical comments about her "less than perfect" acknowledgment of the marginalization and exclusion of Republicans in her own and other Unitarian*Universalist "Welcoming Congregations". I was quite gratified, indeed very pleasantly surprised, to learn today that Rev. Meg Riley, of the UUA's Advocacy & Witness Staff Group, was significantly more forthcoming and forthright in her post election sermon titled 'Invisible Fences' delivered to the Unitarian*Universalist Society of River Falls Wisconsin on Sunday, November 9, 2008. She posted a pertinent segment of her sermon on the UUAWO's 'Inspired Faith, Effective Action' weblog in an inspiring, and hopefully effective. . . blog post simply titled 'UU Republicans' earlier today.

Here is what she had to say -

I want to take a moment to welcome a specific group who, if this congregation resembles every other UU congregation I have visited, are always present but usually silent about their existence. They feel that if they share who they are, they will be judged as immoral, or stupid, or perhaps—though we don’t use the word much—evil. I am talking, of course, of UU Republicans.

We laugh. And yet I am completely serious. Within this congregation, within every one of our congregations, are Republicans, who weekly brave the sight of bumper stickers such as the ones I saw in the parking lot today, “Save the world. Vote democrat.”

I want to say two things to those of you who are here. First of all, thank you. Thanks for being here. Especially this week, you embody courage by showing up, and I hope that this service holds healing for you. Second, I want to tell you that we need you here, now more than ever. Your faith needs you. Unitarian Universalism needs you. Our congregations need to include smart, kind, thoughtful, respectful people from both political parties, who are willing to engage in civil discourse with one another about how to move our country forward. We can’t buy into the media traps that have been laid out to cause us to stop thinking and questioning and learning from everyone around us. We need both parties in order to have hope.

end quote

This is exactly the kind of "straight talk" that I was calling for when I justifiably called Rev. Robinson to account for minimizing and effectively playing down the kind of marginalization and exclusion of Republicans and other political conservatives that exists in too many U*U congregations. For the record I was glad to see Rev. Robinson at least publicly acknowledging this regrettable failure of Unitarian*Universalists to practice what they preach about tolerance and acceptance but simply felt that she had not been as forthright as she should have been about it.

Thanks anyway "V" for providing a fine example of the kind of anti-Republican comments that Republicans can expect to hear during 'Coffee Hour' in any number of U*U "Welcoming Congregations" where Log Cabin Republicans will feel far from genuinely welcome. . . Come to think of it. If anyone has posted a genuinely trollish comment here it is you.