Todd’s Thoughts June 2019

In his 2013 book, Regaining Balance, Michael Werner, a Unitarian Universalist and past President of the American Humanist Association, writes, “Unitarian Universalism has been taken over by a narrow ideology of toleration, the historical focus on rational religion has been abandoned, and the lack of purpose and focus is resulting in a sharp decline in membership.” He further points out that in 1989, 73-percent of UUs considered themselves Humanists and atheists. Today it’s only 40 percent. As a Humanist and atheist, this drop doesn’t bother me as much as its associated loss of our commitment to reason does. No matter what we believe, I think it’s important we be thoughtful and treat each other reasonably. We should be able to support our beliefs with sound reason and objective evidence (which isn’t the same as rationalizing them), and object to beliefs that aren’t so supported without being called-out as intolerant. “Soothing words have replaced challenging thought,” Werner says, “Supportive words are prized over critical intelligence.” I have become increasingly troubled during the past few years about this and other trends in the Unitarian Universalist Association and intend to address some my concerns during the UUA General Assembly in Spokane later this month. I suspect these efforts will help others who have been feeling similarly but have been afraid, due to the suppressive technologies of PC, Safetyism, and Identity politics, to say anything. I’m also likely to evoke some hostility my direction from those who employ these same techniques to quiet dissenters. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but the thought of not speaking up when I should have and could have feels even worse. 

6 responses to “Todd’s Thoughts June 2019

  1. Having seen the Spokesman Review coverage of the conflict at the UUAGA I subsequently downloaded your book, read it, and am now following up by looking for reaction in the press, blogs, etc. I can only say that, other than a few typos, I can find little to fault in your essays and found them instructive. The blanket charge of racism from the Minister of the Oakland UU church is a perfect example of the kind of unsupported utterances you have analyzed in your work. I am writing to say I support your campaign for the restoration of reason to the movement and governance of the Association.

  2. Thank you for your very thoughtful book. I regret the reaction to it, which I think violates at least the first five of the UU principles. I was drawn to UU precisely because it promised respect for every individual and respect for each other as we think things through. In contrast, one response to your book signed by over 500 UU ministers explicitly states that reliance on logic and reason is a bad thing. If that’s a valid UU position, then I am not a UU.

  3. GA networking was wonderfully valuable. The eruption of supression and groupthink at the business session was ugly and disappointing. We are better than that….i hope.

  4. Thank you for speaking up Rev. Eklund. You have indeed managed to “evoke some hostility.” I would like to purchase a hard copy of your essays as I do not have a kindle. How would I go about doing that? ( I have also sent you an e-mail regarding this.)

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