Sunday, June 26, 2005
Don't leave G.A. without your CDs.
One of the peculiarities of my General Assembly-going is that many of the lectures I'm most eager to hear are the ones I can't actually attend. This year, for example, I especially wanted to hear Kim Beach, Robin Lovin, and John Buehrens discuss Beach's new book about James Luther Adams, which I highly recommend. (Here's my review of the book.) But that session conflicted with another, sponsored by the Church of the Larger Fellowship, on Unitarian Universalist evangelism on the Web — a topic central to my day job as well as to this blog. Happily, I discovered last year just how valuable it is to pick up recordings of the key lectures I can't actually hear in person.
Last year, recorded highlights were Laurel Hallman's Berry Street Lecture on religious language and David Bumbaugh and Kendyl Gibbons's lectures on reverence. This year, I already know I'll be picking up Burton Carley's Berry Street Lecture (about which I've heard very grateful comments from clergy who attended); Patrick O'Neill's rhetorically powerful call to prophetic ministry in the Service of the Living Tradition, which I'm grateful to have seen and heard in person; and Paul Rasor's lecture introducing his new book, Faith Without Certainty: Liberal Theology in the 21st Century.
Theology is in the air.
Although a real sense of dismay characterizes a lot of the conversation here — concentrated especially around the abuse and torture of detainees in U.S. military and intelligence prisons and the increasingly punitive and counterproductive incarceration policies of the American criminal justice system — the issue that interests me more is the continuing discussion of theological and religious diversity within the UUA. There's a good amount of theology in the air — including what appears to be some productive humanist and naturalist theology.
The Commission on Appraisal's presentation in this evening's plenary raised a series of provocative questions about a pervasive Unitarian Universalist hesitancy to identify a shared religious core or even to imagine articulating one. Tom Owen-Towle, one of the commissioners, urged the Association to begin a denomination-wide effort to identify and articulate who UUs are as a religious people and to make theology and theological conversation central to the purpose of the General Assembly. Of course I endorse such a call — and will be soliciting your help in thinking of ways to focus and deepen such a conversation through the UU blogs. (More about this soon.)
I also appreciated Earl Holt's emphasis on the "discipline of conversation" — a liberal art that, when it comes to theology and religious commitments, has been allowed to atrophy in many of our churches. Earl referred to the "disagreements that unite us," but observed that this liberal approach doesn't characterize our movement right now because we don't even productively disagree with each other. A parable for our time.
Bill Sinkford's annual report also touched on theology, but my notes are fragmentary and I'll have to wait until the tireless reporters for the UUA website post his address to quote from it directly.
Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 26 June 2005 at 12:14 AM