Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

5 Thoughts on “Ware Lecture Day, My Accessioning, and Going to Arizona in 2012: GA 2010 Day 4

  1. Hi David,

    I’m so glad that we choose to vote to have a GA in AZ. I like you would have liked the business to be completely suspended, but I like the compromise that was struck. I just hope that our colleagues and co-religionists of color will feel safe in attending. I kept seeing flashes of the ’60s/70s’ debate of the either/or stance showing up in the posts of discussions that led up to GA. I’m very glad that we did not repeat that mess.

    Good luck with your interim year,

  2. i really enjoyed your perspective on the Arizona resolution. i concur that there is a lot of power wielding by the few in our UUA circles. its deeply embedded in our history as an association, we’ve got room to grow in our democratic and religious values.

  3. Pingback: Social justice at GA, suffering, salvation and more « uuworld.org : The Interdependent Web

  4. Patrick McLaughlin on Friday July 2, 2010 at 20:08 +0000 said:

    Power. Ah, power…

    There’s no making it go away. There’s no giving it away, really–though it can be shared, and sometimes one can abdicate it. But it comes with responsibility, and one can’t abdicate that.

    So. Was it a secret that we had a large, hairy, contentious, potentially explosive and damaging issue to wrestle to some resolution?

    (No, I think that was obvious to all.)

    Part of the lesson I took from my (our–though not literally shared) seminary classes that touched on prior events such as the ‘Black Empowerment Crisis’ was that leadership handled it badly (Mark Morrison-Reed may be right that it was an unavoidable catastrophe… but it need not have been as bad of one).

    One of the roles of leadership–my lesson from congregational life, and being in such a position–is that one is responsible for guiding a community through the rockiest, hardest, most emotional and charged things.

    Was the power wielded abused?

    Ah, there’s the question.

    I’m with you–the framing was superbly done. Masterfully. I observed it from almost the beginning. The focus on us, staying together, being caring and worshipful. It started during Ministry Day, the efforts to set that tone that presumed that throwing brickbats was inappropriate.

    Focused, oh yes.

    But the resolution of what to do was largely (as I understand it–I didn’t participate in the mini-assembly for reasons that aren’t salient here…) worked out by the leadership of the two camps. The outlines of it were, I think, starting to be discernible even before GA, but far from clear or fully detailed. A principled, ethical, engaged compromise….

    What I saw was wielding power in a way that valued the community and the communities–without suggesting that individuals were to be rolled over.



    Perfectly done?

    No. Nothing ever is. But very well done.

    I paused here and went to consult one of my congregation’s delegates. She hadn’t been familiar with the Black Empowerment Crisis history (a very, very vague sense that there was some sort of something around race back in the 60s). She knew that there had been a very… hot and testy conversation online prior to and at the beginning of GA. She says that she felt–and feels–relieved that things were worked out, that they were worked out civilly, and that she’s satisfied with the result.

    Closing comment; I think that leadership acted out of knowledge of our history and the heat and sensitivity of this issue. Knowing the past, they may have leaned a bit farther than necessary in framing…. But given the history, I can understand that. The recriminations and so forth had they not done enough, if GA had erupted in a new walkout and crisis… the leadership would have been pilloried for it by those who know our history.

    Given the realities of the association as it is, of our widespread ignorance of our own history, etc…. I think they acted appropriately.

  5. Shelley Page on Wednesday July 7, 2010 at 9:50 +0000 said:

    I identify with the discomfort you felt about the framing. And, yet, like Patrick, I believe it was a powerful and effective way to guide us through this controversy. Yes, imperfect and perhaps b bit too much. But, given our history as UUs, it was a wonderful and meaningful step forward from the damaging days of the Black Empowerment times.

    I also observe that many current UUs do not know anything at all about this part of UU history. Ignorance is not bliss!! It is simply ignorance. Perhaps we can do a better job of owning our past and looking at its consequences that clearly reverberate today. I must confess that I did not know anything about the Black Empowerment situation until I went to Starr King. Past is indeed prologue and I will be seeking creative ways to lift up this history in the service of promoting good process and the anti-oppressive imperative that our faith demands. Perhaps the upcoming 50th anniversary year is a good place to start.

    Thanks for raising this important observation, David. See you in Michigan soon! I look forward to serving the Flint UUs down the road from Midland.

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