Monday, January 9, 2006
Theology II: What do you want to read?
On the heels of our discussion of the doldrums into which Unitarian Universalist theology has sunk, I'm going to try offering a followup question or two. Here's the first:
What do you want to read?
I assume that part of the problem with contemporary UU theology is a simple lack of material. There's not much supply: Beacon Press rarely publishes theology, and their books are always directed at a non-UU audience. Skinner House has been expanding, and now publishes books of UU history, theology, and religious commentary. Meadville Lombard has published a handful of titles. In a few cases, a self-published book by a UU minister or scholar has attracted an audience. But taken together, we're talking here about four or five books a year. And, truth be told, these books rarely sell well. Not only is there little supply, there's little demand for Unitarian Universalist theology books.
The periodical well is not very deep, either: UU World goes in the mail only four times a year, and given the range of needs it is expected to meet for its 126,000 subscribers and the institutions it serves, one magazine can only do so much. UUWorld.org is starting to publish online-only essays, but doesn't yet have a track record for initiating theological conversations. (Of course, if you would read it and respond or improve on it on your blogs . . .)
Meanwhile, the circle of Unitarian Universalist periodicals keeps getting smaller. Several affiliate organizations publish annual (or biennial) journals. (There's good material in the Unitarian Universalist Christian and religious humanism, but unless you're a devoted partisan of the UU Christian Fellowship or hUUmanists — or you're spending your days in a theological library — I'll bet you're not reading either one.) Both the Journal of Liberal Religion and UU Voice are attempting to survive by publishing on the Internet, but the conversations generated by either one are quite small and generally restricted to small circles of clergy.
A few blogs occasionally take up theological themes or issues, but let's all admit that few of us read blogs strictly because they feature "theology." But blogs do open up inexpensive new publishing opportunities, and as we've all seen, the growing community of UU blog readers and writers is opening up space for some great conversations. I don't think blogs are enough, though.
So I'd break down my question like this: If the bunch of us feels dissatisfied with the current state of UU theology, would we read a new crop of publications — specialized blogs, online magazines, new periodicals, books? Would we contribute essays or feedback to group blogs, online magazines, periodicals, or books? And if it's not "theology" so much that we want to read and think about and write ourselves, what is it?
Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 9 January 2006 at 9:13 PM