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.