Saturday, July 04, 2009
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
OK - I was going to go all the way and label this "Fear and Loathing," as a true tribute to the late Hunter S. Thompson, but there didn't seem to be any fear and loathing present. Befuddlement and confusion and some real joy - yes.
My friend and fellow blogger, Ogre, has a wonderful post up about the failure of the Article II revision in plenary. I'm as disappointed and mystified as Ogre as to why this proposal failed. The Commission on Appraisal spent two or three years soliciting feedback from congregations, including widely distributing two previous drafts for comments before submitting the final proposal to the Board of Trustees to put on the GA Agenda.
Current language for Article II of the UUA Bylaws can be found here.
The proposed language for revising Article II can be found here.
Here's what I liked about the revision (and would have said on the plenary floor, had I ever reached the "pro" microphone):
"I want to thank the Commission on Appraisal for all its hard work and word-wrestling over the past three years. As one who was unhappy in the extreme with the original draft published last fall, I'm equally pleased with the final proposal, for three main reasons:
First, this proposal grounds us in our historical and present ecclesiology of covenant, and in the covenantal relationship between our congregations.* It repeatedly reminds us that, as a bylaw, it applies to the member congregations, therefore this is not a creed which we expect individuals to adopt. In this way, it actually works against the creeping creedalism to which the current principles have been party.
Second, the Sources section of this proposal grounds us in the Unitarian and Universalist traditions. To use a tree metaphor: Unitarianism and Universalism are our roots. They are strong and deep, and serve as a pipeline through which we receive sustenance. Any tree needs strong roots to be healthy. The other sources are grafts to the main trunk, some larger (more influential), and/or older (with a longer history), than others. Every tree needs roots, to maintain a healthy tree with strong, outreaching branches.
Finally, the language changes to the third, fifth, and seventh principles serve to broaden our statement of values beyond just our individual members - and beyond just our congregations. I've heard some objections to substituting the word "reverence" for the word "respect" in the seventh principle, as if this were introducing god-language into the principles. I beg to point out that, according to the Commission on Appraisal's study on theological diversity, the interdependent web has already become the core of many Unitarian Universalists' theology. As such, I believe the word "reverence" is appropriate, as an acknowledgment of what is already fact for many of us."
At this point, I tend to agree with a former polity professor, who confided that he thought the revision would have been passed had it been amendable. In fact, 5 of the 7 responsive resolutions brought forward in the final plenary session concerned this proposed bylaw revision. In any case, I hope that this will stimulate deeper conversation in our congregations - and fuller understanding of what the principles are, and what they are not. Perhaps then we will also have a deeper understanding of what Unitarian Universalism is, and what it is not.
*Shout out to the Rev. Alice Blair Wesley, for her ongoing work in helping all of us to understand our historical covenants, and how they continue in the present day.