Friday, June 1, 2007
Brown bag landmines, culling the affiliates, and more.
Hoo boy, what a week in UU blogs! Too bad I'm busy preparing for Mrs Philocrites' ordination this weekend — to say nothing of General Assembly preparations and other work excitement — so I'll simply point you to the box office hits of the first week of the Summer of Blog.
PeaceBang rouses the Starr King student body and alumni by questioning the school's decision to stop calling brown bag lunches "brown bag lunches." (Racism, natch.) Before you read her post, though, here's the Quest newsletter article PeaceBang is responding to. Sturm und Drang erupts in PeaceBang's comments thread — the fastest institutional response to a blog post in UU history is here — with additional defenses of Starr King's "countering oppression" curriculum [pdf] from RevSean, Left Coast Unitarian, Berry's Mom, and (new to me) Andy Karlson.
Skeptics of the racist connotations of brown bag lunches and the general tenor of Starr King rhetoric include Fausto, ChaliceChick, Ms Theologian, and Scott Wells. A second day of brown bag commentary brings in Jess and The Lively Tradition (twice!) and further thoughts from ChaliceChick and Ms Theologian before the conversation "goes meta" in a third round. Jamie Goodwin is the first to cry, Enough!
I have one observation to add, gingerly walking through our denominational language sensitivity minefield: When I was enrolled in my MDiv program (at Harvard Div School), it seemed to me that most of us came down with cases of terminal earnestness. I'd go so far as to say that extremism in the cause of sincerity was no vice among us. Perhaps we saw that the general demeanor of seriousness in graduate school helps others understand the gravity of one's intellectual or moral or political or ministerial insights even when they cannot comprehend what one is saying at any given moment. It's the deep thought that counts.
Happily, some of my more afflicted colleagues largely recovered from the worst symptoms of Seminarian Seriousis after a year or two in the ministry. They may be more earnest than the average Unitarian Universalist, but still, give credit!
My point is this: Although I am temperamentally and intellectually predisposed toward the skeptical side, I think it's a tad unfair to take after the earnestness of the seminarians too aggressively. If we did, we'd easily find outbreaks of groupthink at Meadville Lombard, Harvard, Andover Newton, and anywhere else two or three have gathered to dine on their professors' jargon-rich food for thought.
If that weren't enough blog excitement for the week, we also have the fate of the independent affiliates to ponder. The Lively Tradition posts the list of UU organizations that failed to meet the UUA Board's significantly changed requirements for independent affiliate organizations and follows up with several posts trying to make sense of the decision. (UU World's coverage of the Board's decision appeared in its report on the April Board meeting, which went to press before the Board had publicized its full list.) Update! Here is the published version of the Board's letter to the leaders of independent organizations and a schedule of meetings at GA for independent organizations that hints at how the Board may hope the groups will band together.
Finally, I want to introduce a few noteworthy newcomers to the interdependent Web: Scott Gerard Prinster launches Occam's Trowel as part of his exploration of the history of science and the radical Reformation. (How amazingly cool is that?) Sociology grad student Stephen Merino, a new UU with Mormon roots like me, writes at Reason and Reverence. And Jess launches a new version of her Best of Unitarian Universalism project, collecting inspiring and provocative content from around the Web; she welcomes your recommendations.
Those of you in the Boston area, please remember that the Third Annual UU Bloggers Picnic is Saturday, June 16, from noon to 3:00 at First Parish in Milton. Hope to see you there!
Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 1 June 2007 at 7:54 AM