I realize that I am not the first, but only the most recent person to make this connection: Unitarian Universalists are Nerdfighters. If you do not know what Nerdfighers are, please see this explanation in The New Yorker or the introductory video below by Nerdfighter originators John and Hank Green:
“People who instead of being made up of cells and organs and stuff are actually made out of awesome. They fight decepticons on behalf of Nerds everywhere!”
Nerdfighers are champions of reason and intellectualism which they use in the humanistic pursuit of making the world a better place. We Unitarian Universalists are proud to use intellectualism to increase the awesome in the world and decrease the suck. In fact, the Nerdfighters mission to increase the awesome in the world and decrease the suck is but another way of saying Love the Hell Out of the World. Loving the Hell out of the World and Not Forgetting to Be Awesome are excellent examples of world transforming ideas as mission, especially for a religion such as Unitarian Universalism that is trying to institutionally move “beyond Congregations” and weave “Free Range” Unitarian Universalists into the broader movement. Unitarian Universalists tend to be Nerdfighters by nature any way, we are to a great extent nerds and geeks who love to get involved in just about any social or political or religious activity that makes the world more awesome (more just, loving, equitable, sustainable and compassionate) while removing as much suck from the world as possible ( you know the hate, violence, oppression, war, disease, injustice, inequality, sexism, racism, homophobia, etc). There are many of us. We are legion. And we don’t all belong to traditional congregations. Yet, we all share in a big reason “WHY?” which I think can be described as Loving the Hell out of the World or Being Awesome and Decreasing Worldsuck.
Mission is more important than a mission statement, a creed or even a set of religious principles. Mission is a reason why you do everything! Mission helps an individual or a group or community make decisions about the best of use of time, money, resources and talents. For example does idea “X” or project “Y” increase the awesome in the world? If yes, then it is in line with the mission and worth your time, money, and effort. Does idea “Y” or project “X” decrease worldsuck? If so, it is worth your time, investment, and energy. Replace increase awesome and decrease world suck with your mission such as Loving the Hell out of the World. Does X or Y help you Love the Hell out of the World? If so, you are on mission. If not, do something else.
Another lesson about mission we learn from Nerdfighters is the importance of having a mission that is something which can unite a community by inviting them on a journey together but which can also be localized to each member’s or sup-group’s particular life, location, and situation. For example, a side project for the Vlog Brothers, The Project for Awesome, raises money for various good causes and organizations. What being awesome and decreasing worldsuck looks like in any individual context still contributes to the overall mission. It’s like Loving the Hell out of the World because the type of love, care, and attention your particular part of the world needs to remove the hell, might look different than someone else’s.
Mission doesn’t need branding or advertising. It needs living and acting and community. John Green told the New Yorker
“…We don’t really want nerdfighters to be a mainstream cultural phenomenon,” Green wrote me. “I worry that mainstream cultural phenomena need, like, Message Singularity and A Brand and an Institutional Voice and stuff. That kind of thing does not interest us at all. We just want to make cool stuff with people we like.”
While the institutions of religion (denominations and such) struggle with branding themselves and finding a unified message, millions of people are living out their humanistic faith (be it humanism or atheism or a humanistic approach to a tradition as Judaism, Christianity or Islam) without a pressing need for those institutions. What people are looking for is community on a similar journey putting their values into practice by, say, decreasing worldsuck. The great mission to do this takes many forms.
The Red Pill Brethren are one manifestation of Unitarian Universalism finding and living out a mission we describe as “Loving the Hell out of the World.” The Red Pill Brethren and our un-conference project, Life on Fire, has an outpost in Indianapolis with the Free Range UU’s of Indianpolis. John Green lives in Indianapolis. I wonder if he might be persuaded to come to a Life on Fire event in his home town and talk about this idea of mission, how DFTBA is an example and other cool things?
Just as Unitarian Universalists like to say, many people are UU’s, they just don’t know it yet, so too can this claim be made by Nerdfighters. There are a lot of Nerdfighters out there, some of them just don’t know it yet, such as many Unitarian Universalists.
So, UU Nerdfighters, don’t forget to be awesome and Love the Hell out of the World.
Personal note: I was introduced to John Green, The Vlog Brothers, and Nerdfighters by my son, Zack, two years ago. I like to think this fact alone is testament to the undeniable reality that I am indeed a Nerdfigher and raising Zack is pretty much alone at the top of the list of things I have personally done to decrease worldsuck. Continue being AWESOME, my son.