A Tip of the Hat to UU Enforcer for bringing this You Tube advertisement by and for Starr King School of Ministry. *sigh* It “encapsulates” (to quote the ad) nearly all that’s wrong with our denomination.
The raise the least issue first, it’s just plain bad on its own level as an advertisement; I doubt it’d get a “C” from a high school AV teacher. In fact, if you didn’t speak English, you wouldn’t recognize it as an ad at all- the format and feel is that of a memorial for someone or thing deceased. It opens with still red credit panels, followed by one person very stiffly speaking a short paragraph, followed by a still photo slide show of people you don’t know, followed by still panel credits, with the soundtrack being a single piano playing some slow, doleful tune. As a college-level effort, it’s pretty sad.
The sole speaker is a student, Neal Anderson. Here is what he says: “I chose Starr King School for the Ministry because it best encapsulated the values that I have and the values that I wanted to expand upon. The explicit dedication to educating to counter oppression was very important to my call to ministry. I wanted to grow in my understanding of how Unitarian Universalism can live the countering of oppression in the world, and also how we as Unitarian Universalists can build sustainable and justice centered communities.”
Good God. I’m sure Neal is a perfectly nice fellow, but is there something about UUism makes one incapable of speaking English? I haven’t heard language like that since those humorless, dedicated students in the 70’s who actually carried the “little red book” and spoke of “dialectics”. And look what he calls a “call to ministry”; no mention whatsoever of actually ministering to anyone. A minister is counselor of first choice for many people, someone to help you make sense of the tragedies and absurdities of life, someone who may not help you find the answers, but at least helps you find the right questions. His statement of purpose makes him sound like one of those who will continuously harangue from the pulpit... the kind who answers “How could God allow my child to get cancer” with “Now you know the kind of heartbreak Palestinians living in Israel live with daily; won’t you write your Congressman?” (Yes, this is an exaggeration of an actual exchange)
What does it say about Starr King that they would consider that statement as the best one to put forward to entice people into the seminary? Personally, were I running a seminary, that statement wouldn’t have even earned him admission. Where is “The explicit dedication to educating to” help his neighbors find their spiritual path, to use our principles and purposes in our daily lives? I constantly get the feeling that many UUs, not to mention ministers, cannot bear such mundane duties, that it is beneath them, that the purpose of Unitarian Universalism is to deal with the BIG IMPORTANT ISSUES... we’re far too smart to deal with hunger by doling out meals, we know that we must lobby Washington to deal with the root causes!
*Sigh* It still hasn’t reached tipping point for me yet... but it’s not too far away, either.