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Monthly Archives: April 2008
Donald O’Bloggin correctly guessed that the UUA has never held a Special General Assembly, although the procedure has been on the books for decades and it would only take 50 congregations to do so. The equivalent of a Special General Assembly has been held further back in denominational history, for example by the Universalist Church of America.
We discussed Special General Assemblies earlier. They are General Assemblies called in addition to the annual General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. Today’s question is very simple:
How many Special General Assemblies have their been?
Most attendees of Unitarian-Universalist churches are converts. And if we take a longer historical perspective, the number of people whose families have been involved in Unitarianism or Universalism for 100-200 years is truly tiny, though not utterly nonexistent. Compare this to people who are Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish: chances are good that their family has been part of their tradition for hundreds, even thousands of years.
In this situation, how much right do all these newer UUs have to claim the mantle of Unitarianism and/or Universalism? Who are their real spiritual ancestors: Channing, Murray, Ballou, Emerson, or are their actual ancestors Christian and Jewish figures of the past? Does conversion to UUism wipe away all the karma of generation after generation of Christianity/Judaism? Do such converts no longer have any responsibility towards their former faiths, or the victims of their former faiths? Do they take on the responsibility of the karma created by Unitarianism and Universalism, and owe debts to the victims of these religions that were racked up before they were born?
Unitarianism was organized congregationally, but almost no one in UUism today is descended from the people who put that system together. Do modern UUs therefore owe it to these foreign fathers to maintain this system? Why? Can that change? If UUs are not beholden to the religious ideas of the past, why are they rigidly responsible to the religious structures of by-gone days, created in earlier times? Is the demand to hold on to structures an attempt to stave off the losses created by not holding on to historic theologies?
Does it matter what the Puritans were like, if only a portion of them ended up as Unitarians and almost none of their descendants are with us today? Did the UUs continue a tradition in 1961, reboot, or start something altogether new?
When does someone gain the right to speak for UUism, especially in a historical sense? Is it when Belief-o-matic suggests they’re 100% UU? Is it when they start attending a UU church? When they sign the book? A year after signing? Ten years? Never?
Various open questions for a Wednesday morning.
“To that throne Love is the only way.”
–Rev. Martin J. Steere, Footprints Heavenward; or, Universalism the More Excellent Way. Boston: James M. Usher, 1862: iv.
A UU College Student correctly guessed that the UU Holdeen India Program is a social justice program that provides funds to a wide range of activities in India, supporting the work of women, outcastes, and other oppressed groups. Hundreds of millions of dollars are delivered annually. The UUA administers the trust, and receives income from this activity. Jonathan Holdeen, the original creator of the fund, was neither a UU not an Indian, but he was concerned for other people’s welfare and was convinced by Rev. Dana Greeley, the first president of the UUA, that the UUA would be a good match for his vision of ongoing commitment to helping the needy and the disenfranchised. More information about the partner activities that are funded by the Holdeen India Program can be found here: http://www.uua.org/aboutus/professionalstaff/advocacywitness/holdeenindia/partners/index.shtml
The UUA is usually thought of as a more-or-less American organization. But of course it has connections around the world. In fact, one of its most important programs is based in India. It’s the subject of today’s quiz:
What is the Holdeen India Program?