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

5 Thoughts on “I’m Beginning to Become Concerned

  1. Yours is an interesting concern. As an African American UU who supports Obama, I would say that the percieved promise is more a sign of a misunderstanding of racism.

    Obama is not MLK. He has not said or done anything to bring about that perception. His election to the Presidency will no more transform our country than did Thurgood Marshall’s ascendancy to the Supreme Court stopped racism within the courts. Humans, as a group, just don’t transform that easily.

    Remember that for every Justice Marshall we see, a Justice Thomas will be dragged from under a rock. For every Marshall who informs our leagal system on the horror of prejudice, a Justice Scalia will work to tear and shriek them down.

    Yes, Obama has put forward the “hope” idea, but it is a hope that is unique to the democratic party, not to him. Yes, in African American circles it is a hope that a black man can become President, but few in that group actually believe that will change anything.

    For all the importance of Jessie Owens, WW II still happened and blacks were still treated with contempt by their fellow Americans. For all the importance of Obama winning the primary there are still white women, even some UU’s, who allowed their racism to run rampant, equating white women with feminism, and totally ignoring women of color.

    For all that he will be a milestone, the road is still too narrow, too uneven, and fraught with danger.

    Obama will fail, not because he is flawed, but because he is human and our approach to political leadership is immature and irrational. He will let some idealists down because idealism is personal and value laden and therefore cannot be universally satified.

    Obama will be brought down, because we have allowed our news organizations to wallow in celebrity journalism over real news so now even our political reporters are unable to focus on what’s important. If he does not actively perform some poor act, our reporters will twist his actions in to percieving him in a poor light because that is scandalous and we as an audiance want that.

    What we can do as UU’s is stand by him when such events occur. We could take the stage and stand as a moral advocate for a return to realistic leaders and practical journalism. We will not.

    We will not beause within our own faith we are blind to racism when it percolates through these blogss. We will not becuase we proclaim our wish for anti-racism and desire for diversity, but ignore the power of our liberal history and overlook those UUs who paid the ultimate sacrifice for diversity.

    We will not because too many UU’s would rather celebrate Jefferson and Thurough rather than Reeb and Liuzzo.

  2. Chuck,

    I agree with you on the large points of your post, and thank you for the well thought out response.

    I believe you are right when you say that the perceptions that are being placed upon Obama and the overt linking of Obama and MLK do indeed spring from a fundamental misunderstanding of racism. I also agree that our political system is designed for the drama, not for leadership or statesmanship.

    I would love to have a conversation with you about the racism you perceive in our faiths, and how you see it reflected in the UU blogosphere. While I know that nothing of the sort was my intent with the post, I would love to here if and where you perceived it.

    I will push back a little bit on two points. First, while I agree with you about the reality of the Obama campaign, and even about how we of liberal faith should best support him, but it is not the reality that concerns me, but the projection. Barrack Obama is not a prophet or messiah, has never claimed to be such… but many are perceiving him that way, they are projecting that upon him.

    The majority of the people that I have seen this projection being manifested in have been white liberals, not Aftrican Americans. I live on the South Side of Chicago, in the neighborhood where Barrack has his home. If anything, the African Americans in our neighborhood have a much more realistic understanding of Barrack than many of the liberals I speak with on the North Side of Chicago.

    It is the projection that is concerning me, not the reality of who Barrack is or what he wishes to accomplish in his campaign.

    The second place I would like to push back a little is on the issue of Barrack not being flawed, but instead being human. I think we actually agree on this, we just have a language difference. I beleive it is the places where we are imperfect, our flaws, and how we live with them that make us human… and that humanity is beautiful. What interests me in a person is the challenges, the foibles, the places where we fall short and yet still survive.

    If you perceived my portraying Barrack as a flawed human being as an insult or a critique, I meant it as nothing of the sort. Because it is in our flaws that we are beautiful.

    Yours in Faith,


  3. Thanks for the response:

    First push back : You are right. No disagreement there at all.

    Second push back: Whoaa! I never meant to imply you saw him as flawed. I am really sorry about you even spending 5 seconds worrying about that. I guess in my speed to write I was not clear enough. Or to be more accurately I stopped writing in response to you and started writing in response to those you have encountered. In any event we are in agreement.

    Oh and just because I mention racism in the blogosphere does not mean it is directed at your blog. Or as they say around the way “homie…you’re cool aright?”

    I do disagree with the term “push back” for your answer: more like an “intelligent considered response” on your part, but hey we will just have to disagree on that one.

    Racism in the UU blogosphere: wow…that’s a big discussion. I won’t get into it all here, but I will make some provocative statements:

    1) Unintentional racist insensitivity is a problem in any group that lacks minority members. Many times the racism is made by people who either want to be provocative or believe that being a conservative UU gives them the right to say things about black people that they would never say about gays or jews.

    I can think of one particular UU blogger who even though they support Obama cannot go one week without going out of their way making some racially insensitive remark about blacks, but NEVER makes such remarks about Jews, or members of the LBGT community. They would be the extreme.

    2) The problem is also that I am willing to bet that most of the African Americans that remained in the faith after the exodus, or have since joined, tend to interact with the faith at arms length because they have to deal with such casual ignorance.

    3) For all the discussions of increasing diversity, many of blogs at one time or another questions or critiques that idea, arguing that diversity for diversity’s sake is wrong. What they do not understand, or ignore understanding, is that such talk is the language of targeted exclusion. Thanks to the fact that they are white in a majority white country that also happens to be the world’s super power their view of the world is alien to those not like them. However, a diverse community, overtime, can bring about influences and understandings that will allow people with disparate ideologies to come together. Now that might not happen in the first generation by their kids can come together.

    4 Finally, there’s a whole constellation of issues around the need for more diversity in our Living Faith. That is particularly true if we intend to support justice and equality for those who live in cultures different than european descended middle class.

    How’s that to begin?

  4. What a great post… thank you Chuck…

    I should clarify that the term “push-back” or “I’m gonna push you on this” is a common turn of phrase at my seminary. We use it to enter into a discussion in which we are trying to “push” one another to go deeper into the issue. It has nothing to do with physically or spiritually pushing one another (as in fighting). It is an invitation to take a deeper look at something with someone else.

    I sometimes drop into seminary language without thinking about it.

    I think you make some excellent points on the relationship our faith has with the issue of diversity. It is certainly a challenging edge for us to look deeply at why, for our public committments to diversity, there is often little diversity in many of our congregations. I believe there is some work for us to do there, both in the message and tone of our congregations, as to the geographical locations, and as to some of the underlying assumptions about “just who is a typical UU”. It is the same issue I have had when the UUA “Targets” marketing inititives based upon our “common demographic”.

    I know that I have had my right to be a UU questioned because there is an aspect of who I am (Veteran) that is considered outside of our “demographic”. Looking for diversity while focusing on a demographic is contrary to reason, and more is contrary to our faith.

    For a faith that places a high emphasis on human experience, we need access and engagement with the broad spectrum of human experience if we are to truely live our faith. That means not just theological diversity, not just cultural diversity, not just gender and sexual orientation diversity, but it also means racial and ethnic diversity. And, dare I say it… I think it also means political diversity.

    Gasp, cough, choke…

    Thank you for engaging with me…. We should do this more often! 🙂

    Yours in faith,


  5. Just a quick note:

    It’s late but I had to say this

    Your being a veteran makes you in many ways more qualified to be a UU in my mind. While I do not subscribe to view that military service outranks the public in patriotism; I do believe that our faith desparately needs more vets.

    The voices of those who have fought and seen the horror of war and realize that we cannot live in a “Pax Americana” while still fundamentally understanding that freedom is not free, must be heard.

    I am no war hawk, but my father fought in Korea. He was a demolitions expert in some of the worst fighting. He was a civil rights leader in Philly, a peace activist, and proud of his service to his country. He never glorified war, but he took pains to make me and my sisters understand that in our current human state there will be times when conflict will occur, when diplomacy will breakdown. He gave us stories of what that would mean to those on the front lines.

    There is so much that veterans of war can bring to our Faith, racial tolerance within this country comes to mind. How often I have heard stories of vets losing their prejudices when in a foxhole with with their darker or lighter green
    brothers. How important that message is. How few times we hear it today.

    Excuse the rant.

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: