Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Quo vadis, affiliates?

In all the discussions about Polyamory, I have seen nothing about the rest of the UUA Affiliates. I am deeply troubled about the new guidelines for affiliate status- I believe they totally miss the raison d’etre for these groups in the first place. Here are a few quotes from the official UUA websites that may explain the situation: “The new criteria mandate that to gain affiliation, groups must have a broad focus, a mission that relates directly to the UUA’s Purposes, and functional connections with UU congregations, and that they work in coalition or collaboration with other groups.” “If UUs are to make a difference in a world that desperately needs to hear our message, it will be because our congregations are empowered to make that message manifest in the world...That said, we wonder how our longstanding structure of Independent Affiliates has served the UUA, as an association of congregations. To us, it appears that we have developed a growing number of separate groups, each of which may be doing excellent work, but with little or no connection (that we can discern) to other Independent Affiliates or the congregations that make up the UUA.”

Can you spot what’s missing in those new requirements, or the questions asked? The individual. A church does not exist to change the world- that should be the result of the church’s existence, not it’s purpose. A church does not exist to provide fellowship and camaraderie; as I noted in a previous post, that can be had in a Star Trek club. A church does not exist to provide a moral framework for the faxes you fire off to your congressman; that is implied in any position statement- have you ever heard anyone say, “Do this because it’s the immoral thing to do?” Churches exist to minister to the individual.

The UUA needs plenty of help in this type of ministry; there are few if any UU texts on theological matters. Oh, there are plenty of pre-merger Unitarian texts, and there are plenty of pre-merger Universalist texts- but if there are any such UU texts, they are well hidden. If a UU member feels in the need of soul-work, it’s rarely helpful to look at some generic RE paper that has the approved “broad focus”- s/he needs something specific enough to provide personal answers to specific problems. This is where the affiliated groups come in- to provide specifically Christian, or Pagan, or whatever type of help. The members of these groups are not demanding the entire UUA become Christian or Pagan, they just want their sub groups within the UUA to minister to their specific needs.

The answer suggested by the UUA, that these groups merge into broad focus categories, would render them too generic to be of use. As
Peacebang says, “I can tell you this: from what I’ve heard, and what I feel myself, UU Buddhists, Jews, Pagans, Humanists and Christians — all of whom have beloved, thriving Independent Affiliate groups, are hardly at all interested in becoming one big organization of UUs Who Still Care About Theology. Not even if they get a cute name like the BuddhiHumiChristiJewPas.” I can see where such an omnibus group would help the GA organizers; they would no longer need to find time and space for the inconvenient believers, they could just cram them all into a God Talk Ghetto- but it certainly wouldn’t help the needs of the individuals. I know that politically many UUs believe that the individual exists to serve the State, but that now seems to be unconsciously affecting their theology- they seem to be saying that the individual exists to serve the church.

4 comments:

Adam Becker Sr said...

Joel,

Could you post the URLs for the official UUA websites where you got those quotes? Google doesn't seem to have spidered them yet.

Joel Monka said...

Sorry- they are http://www.uuworld.org/news/articles/31344.shtml and http://www.uua.org/aboutus/governance/boardtrustees/letters/26969.shtml

LT said...

Love that "God-Talk-Ghetto" line.

LT

Jamie Goodwin said...

The thing I keep wondering about and fearing is that the respective groups CUUPS, UUCF, UUBF, UUJA, HUUmanists, are actually going to drift apart by this move.

I have no doubt that the Christian Fellowship will remain but I feel now that it no longer holds UUA Independant Affiliate statuse it may just go off its own way.