As a final wrap up to my General Assembly experience I want to return once more to what’s NEXT? What’s next for Unitarian Universalism? I don’t know, but I do know that if our liberal religious tradition doesn’t change, doesn’t fall over the tipping point into a new era, we will be left behind as a footnote on the American religious landscape. Our theology is open, accepting and in many ways both an exciting and challenging place to be spiritually and intellectually, yet our church culture is stuck in a different century. While other religious communities with far less accepting and engaging theologies separate the sheep from the goats, the saved from the damned theologically, they do a good job at presenting their theology in the language of the post-modern, global media culture.
A third way is arising. A religious and theological exploration that understands the global media culture with all its possibilities and all its possible fault lines, and yet engages deep theological exploration, understanding that limiting theology to rigid creeds and exclusion is not soul deepening, but soul deadening. If you haven’t already, explore online spiritual communities such as Solomon’s Porch, Ikon, and Micah’s Porch. I’ve mentioned some of these before, including the Unitarian Micah’s Porch.
I dig Ikon’s “Last Supper” :
The Last Supper is an informal gathering of 12 people who meet together over food and wine to discuss a pertinent issue. At each meeting we invite a guest of public standing to join with us and get the conversation going with a 10-15 minute presentation. Then, over the meal, we ask questions of our guest, discuss the issue in more depth and see where the conversation takes us. The evening is called ‘The Last Supper’ because, if our guest does not prove persuasive it may turn out to be their last supper.
Now that’s wild!
As I left the closing worship of General Assembly, I found myself at the rear of the convention hall talking with Rosemary Bray McNatt, Jennifer Innis and Patrick Price discussing a lot of the topics raised by the pastor who preceded me at Pathways, Anthony David, on his blog Thousand Voices, in a post titled On Repelling Fewer People. By the time the UUA got around to trying its hand at mega church start ups, mega churches were on their way out as the energy center of the American religious landscape and the Emergent Church movement (see also Emergent Village for a taste of this movement) was a decade old. In order to really revitalize the UUA, we need to be looking ahead to what’s NEXT, not trying what already happened.
To that end Revs. McNatt, Innis and Price and yours truly will be looking to work with others to bring a NEXT summit together, hopefully down here in Texas in the near future.
If you’re also thinking about who and what’s NEXT? – stay in touch.