DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> What is an Emergent Unitarian Universalist Church!?!

What is an Emergent Unitarian Universalist Church!?!

This is the sort of thing that makes it very hard for me not to be very particular about the friends I keep: An Emergent Liberal Church. I deeply appreciate the open conversation to which the Emergent wing of the Emerging Church is dedicated, but seriously … a Unitarian Universalist Emergent Church?!? I journeyed pretty far behind that particular curtain, and what I discovered was and still is not pretty. Honestly, it is not. The flirtation between Unitarian Universalism and the Emergent wing of the Emerging Conversation is nearly enough for me to join the growing multitude and discount Emergent validity completely. Emergent isn’t Emerging, after all; said differently, the Emergent Village is only one expression of the larger Emerging Conversation.

I am presently a friend of the Village (which means I donate), but only carefully so because of this sort of association and/or potential association. Cautious is the word. Discernment is a very useful spiritual gift. Yes, you can be absolutely dedicated to authentically open conversation without spiraling downward into a ridiculous, cheap, and designer brand pluralism.

Besides, isn’t Unitarian Universalism’s proverbial quiver already chock-full of pointy appropriations and endless hyphenations? Do they really need one more? Do they really? Is this as creative as North American “liberal religion” gets? Thanks, but no thanks.

7 Responses to “What is an Emergent Unitarian Universalist Church!?!”

  1. You know, early Unitarians and Universalists may have been heretical, but at least they were respectable. I can respect, while not embracing, early Unitarianism and Universalism (I’m talking pre-1961 merger). The UUA is neither today, obviously. I don’t know what it is today, and neither do those who identify with it!

    Google Unitarian Universalist Polyamory for a good example of the circus.

    Is polyamory something that the majority of people living in the proverbial village are looking for in church? LOL. Nope. Silly and weird. It also has the potential to put an abrupt end to any serious and heartfelt conversation re: homosexuality fidelity.

    There is a lot of other stuff shoved in the UU big tent that the majority of people living in the village won’t touch, much less associate with. Dig around, you’ll find it all, I’m sure. This is why I get a bit jittery when I see a potentially great conversation (Emergent) being embraced by and associated with the circus that is contemporary Unitarian Universalism. It’s a subtle association that I think Emergent leaders should be very wary of and actually guard against as they can.

    The classical Unitarians and Universalists still toughing it out in the UUA would do well to take their respective movements back. Seriously. I say this with a strong realization that both groups would still be considered heretical, but I can at least respect heretics. It’s the rest of that circus that gets no sympathy from me … not that they ever asked for it, mind you.

    Also, forcing every known religious expression (and some non-religious expressions, thank you) into one big tent is not a prerequisite for deep inter-faith conversation. In fact, it reduces deep inter-faith conversation to zero. Identities need to be established and celebrated authentically before edifying conversation can occur. So, don’t attempt to tell me that the UUA big tent is real inter-faith conversation; it is not.

  2. I am not sure that it is such a good idea to associate the word “emergent” with U*U. Then again it was not the most brilliant decision of CUC Executive Director Mary Bennett to insert Kurt Vonnegut’s asterisk/asshole between the twin cheeks of UUism in order to symbolize the “inclusiveness” of what is now known world-wide as the U*U community. ;-)

  3. [...] Christianity) and I’m not a Unitarian Universalist scholar. Yet I spotted some comments on Lo-Fi Tribe and Sunflower Chalice that made me want to read this [...]

  4. “Didn’t really ask for the rest of the tirade …”

    Didn’t really ask if you asked … it was free. :)

    It was no tirade either. I’m simply being very clear about my personal convictions concerning potential correlations between UUism and the Emergent Village. I also simply stated a few foundational whys. I think my response is a bit of clear, articulate expression of a subject with a catalyst rooted in your response to an article you didn’t even read. So, I can understand why you would initially characterize my response to the article you didn’t even read as a tirade, even if it was/is not so.

    Have a great holiday too, ck.

  5. ck says:

    Um, okay. Thanks for the response. Didn’t really ask for the rest of the tirade, but I’ll keep my eyes open for other connections (I skimmed the article and searched for “Unitarian” or “Universalist” but admit I didn’t read it). Have a good Fourth, Shawn.

  6. “I still think UUism is ripe for the Emergent Church movement …”

    The UU blogger did more than merely point to the Wheaton rejection. There is plenty of connection making, congruence pointing, and obvious fusion occurring between Emergent and Unitarian Universalism in the linked article. That’s fine, too! It just personally makes me more than slightly wary of the direction Emergent is leaning. After all, if Unitarian Universalists approve, then something surely must be awry.

    You ask if you are you missing further flirtation? I have seen no flirtation with UUism from the Emergent side (save a case of near Universalism here and there), but I have seen a bit from the Unitarian Universalist side (mostly from nominal Christians who align themselves with UUism and also dig Emergent). Dig around, you’ll find it too. Is there a lot? Eh, depends on your definition of “a lot.” Personally, any congruence between the two gives me the shivers.

    Unitarian Universalism is a straight up mess. It’s a mess theologically, spiritually, and denominationally. It is filed with every designer brand “religion,” appropriation, and wacky new age expression one can think of or dream up after a late night slice of pepperoni pizza. It has no center, no identity, and no hope for average people. It is a class bound, psudeo-intellectual, socio-political, issue driven, reactionary, spiritual club. I checked it out and did not join it for a million good reasons, so I’ll not join or support any movement that does. I need not say anything at all about movements that actually look just like it.

    I don’t say the above to criticize individuals who are members of the thing, but to criticize the thing itself.

    Unitarian Universalism is not a house in which one can authentically share the sort of deep conversation that the Emerging (without the “T”) Church seems to be dedicated. There’s just too much confusion in that house. It’s like the Corinthian Church gone mad.

    A real conversation has a point, right? A point is usually accompanied by a goal of some sort. Reaching a goal actually requires some sort of progression. I’m not into conversations that go nowhere at all. I think that a conversation with Unitarian Universalism is a totally fruitless venture. I think the Emergent wing needs to clearly identify dead-end conversations and skip those for conversations that mean something.

  7. ck says:

    Shawn, it looks like a UU blogger pointed to a paper rejected by Wheaton, saying they wouldn’t otherwise have noticed it, and then said they thought UU and the Emergent Church could fit together. Am I missing further flirtation among the church leaders on either side?

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