Opinion | Kids, Would You Please Start Fighting?

What Adam Grant says in this New York Times article about technological advances is what Rev. Kate Braestrup and I are hoping to say in this blog about liberal religion. It’s a great read. — MHP


  1. Of course, I keep bringing this back to the UUA and the UU World, and the strange closure of the comment function on the latter’s website. I, at least, never saw anything I’d call trolling in those comments, but I did see plenty of disagreement, with folks making passionate, good arguments for and against this or that proposal or position. Without comments, we have the illusion of unanimity.

    This might not matter (as much?) in a Christian church or a Muslim mosque where there remains, presumably, a core of shared belief but in a church and denomination that deliberately claims a capacity for allowing different voices to have their say, it’s troubling. To put it mildly.

    Whenever counter-arguments are actively suppressed, the strong suspicion must be that those in power can’t allow their positions to be challenged because those positions are not actually defensible.

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    1. I’m going to use a loaded word and let my co-editor censor me if she sees fit, but UUism is taking on the characteristics of a cult. We don’t see it — yet — in every congregation. But cult-hood seems to be what the UUA leaders want.

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    1. Just off the top of my head — without checking a reference book — what I’m talking about is a religion with a small number of devotees who speak a limited uniform language (“valance” in Scientology, “white fragility” in UUism) and answer all disagreement with a set of standard comebacks. When a white ally of BLUU, for example, said that maybe on second thought Leslie Mac was too harsh to be effective in her criticism of me, BLUU members and other white allies told him that he had disappointed them by becoming a member of the “speech police,” and he quickly apologized. They also explained that it’s not any black person’s job to educate a white person (like me). You see these knee-jerk replies to any criticism time and again. I’m sure I could find parallels to Scientology if I spent some time on it.

      The end result, in a cult and in UUism, is the shutting down of any difference of opinion, and reinforcing a siege mentality for the cult members.

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  2. Ah. Yes. I wonder how easy it might be to convert one sort of group into another? That is, the UU church is, at the moment, filled with people who didn’t sign on to be Anti-Racist White Supremacists and may be reluctant (or unable) to convert.

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    1. As long as they remain fearful and silent (as some cult members do), the result is to strengthen the inner core. Many cult members, after leaving, report long periods of doubt about the cult’s message but fear of losing their connection to the other cult members and being alone in the outside world. That description might be extreme for UUism, but UUs, at least those who are uncomfortable with Trinitarian (UCC) language, there is nowhere else to go. I’m hoping that via this blog we can give those people a way to know they’re not alone and maybe some will to speak out within UUism. On the other hand, if UUism never moves from quasi-culthood, the will to spin their churches off and become independent.

      In my own situation, I love my local church community and have not felt the pressure to conform, but now we have a new minister who I believe is tilting toward the Orthodoxy. I’m reluctant to leave, because of my friendships and because I don’t have a close, local Buddhist community. And there are some other things I’d have to give up. So for now, I’m trying reason from within. Not as extreme as struggling within a full-out cult, but the same sort of situation.

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