New post GA issue of the UnderWorld

The UU Underworld – A Newsletter for Unitarian Universalist FreeThinkers is a new occasional periodical edited by John Griffin Miller. This 25 page, 2024 Post GA issue of the Underworld, contains  a summary of the activities and results of the recent General Assembly as well as their potential impact on UU Congregations . It includes a checklist of things for a congregation to deal with if they decide to leave the UUA.. These are followed by three longer essays:

  • The 2 Cultures of Unitarian-Universalism by GEORGE Q TYREBYTER
  • How The UUA Manufactures Consent Reverend Gary Kowalski
  • Why Anti-Racism Will Fail By Thandeka,

The newsletter is a useful summary fo the past and a road map for a future for Unitarians that includes the NAUA.

 

 

New NAUA Circle

NAUA is sponsoring another new CIRCLE called Nurturing Your Spiritual Life CIRCLE that will be open to 12 participants and will meet every other Thursday beginning at 4:00 PM PDT (7:00 EDT) for 10 to 12 sessions.

The purpose of the CIRCLE will be to discuss ideas and practices about how to nurture and facilitate one’s interior spiritual life. The meeting will involve participants sharing their internal personal experiences as well their use of external resources. The intent is to provide an opportunity for participants to learn from each other’s experiences. It is hoped that participants will benefit by learning more about practices that nourish their spiritual life and the spiritual life of others.

This CIRCLE will be led by David G. Markham, who is a Licensed Clinical Social Work Psychotherapist in New York State with over 54 years of experience in the mental health and substance abuse field as a clinician and manager. He has had an interest in Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy for several years. He was raised as a Roman Catholic and in his adult life explored all the major religious traditions and for twenty years was affiliated with three different Unitarian Universalist congregations.

If you are interested in participating in this CIRCLE, kindly send an email to circles@naunitarians.org and put “Spiritual CIRCLE”  in the subject line, and we will respond quickly. Please include your phone number. We plan on beginning as soon as we have an adequate amount of participants.

humans around globe

Dr Todd Eklof’s Response to the Monumental UUA Bylaw Changes

In this 13 minute video Rev. Todd Eklof details the many concerns that many of feel after the wholesale revision of the Principles and Values of the Unitarian Universalist Association. He repeats a theme first introduced in the Gadfly Papers that the merge of the Unitarians with the Universalists resulted in a profound and continuing identity crisis for  former members of both denominations. He goes own to note the move away from individualism and the freedom to hold differing opinions and priorities. He also notes the difference between Liberal and Liberation.

UUA Delegates Vote to Eliminate Principles and Sources

The voting delegates to the 2024 UUA General Assembly voted 80.2% to amend Article 2 of their bylaws to remove the 7 Principles and the Sources and to replace them with a set of values with ‘love’ at their centre.  

Amendments to add “Reason” and “Peace” to the list of guiding values were defeated by the delegates. The resulting JET PIG diagram (at left) has become a visual image of these new values and the direction the Unitarian Universalist denomination in now headed. You will note that “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning;” and ” The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregation” are absent from these values.

These results end a multi year battle to retain the liberal Principles that have guided Unitarian Congregations since 1980’s. One long term member expresses his reaction to this vote below:

 

 

Eulogy to Unitarian Universalist Liberalism

By Mark Perloe – June 2024
 

Unitarian Universalism taught us that the sacred tapestry of life is woven from threads of many colors and textures. It showed us the beauty of a pluralistic vision, where each unique strand was integral to the whole. It was a tradition that found strength in its openness, its commitment to democratic principles, and its unyielding belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Yet, there came a time when the winds of change shifted, and with heavy hearts, we witnessed a narrowing of that once-expansive horizon. The celebration of diversity gave way to a singular focus, and the chorus of many voices fell silent before a dominant creed. The garden of free thought, once lush with varied blooms, began to fade, as only certain flowers were tended to.

Today, we honor the legacy of what Unitarian Universalism once was—a sanctuary for free spirits, a school for thought, and a community bound by love and respect. We cherish the memories of its vibrant days and hold close the lessons it imparted upon us. May the spirit of true inclusivity and open-hearted dialogue live on in each of us, as we carry forward the flame of compassion and justice in our own ways.

In its essence, Unitarian Universalism reminded us that we are all part of an interconnected web of existence, and it is in this spirit that we say farewell. May its memory inspire us to build bridges where walls have risen and to light the way for a future where every voice can once again find its song.

Rest in peace, dear friend. Your vision of a world united in diversity will not be forgotten.

You may wish to reflect on these momentous changes as you listen to the “saddest song ever”  from Barber’s Adagio.

The NAUA aspires to support liberal religion despite this set back in our hopes and ideals.

Please share your reaction to this development on our X or Facebook groups.

Bob Simoni’s Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

It’s now been 5 years since Rev. Todd Eklof published his book The Gadfly Papers and distributed it freely at the UUA General Assembly in Spokane in July 2019. Like the ceremonial nailing of the 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg by Martin Luther in 1517, it has led to major changes in the trajectory of Unitarian Universalism. First and foremost was the launching of the independent North American Unitarian Association. And just as Martin Luther was branded a heretic by the Catholic Church four years later, Rev. Todd has been disfellowshipped from the UUA. But unlike the Catholic Church, which later underwent a Counter-Reformation to try to correct some of the abuses that Luther noted, there is no sign of the UUA leadership’s willingness to remedy theirs. 

On the occasion of this memorable anniversary, I thought it would be appropriate to point out some of the most pertinent parts of The Gadfly Papers, especially those that were particularly prescient. 

From the Preface: These are not easy matters to write about, having witnessed the vitriol directed at well meaning individuals who get off script, and knowing that some of it is now sure to come my way … But, in fighting for what we believe in, we cannot allow ourselves to become what we disbelieve in, nor achieve our goals by adopting the cruelties of those we oppose. The end matters, but so do the means. I, for one, cannot continue traveling along a path with those who no longer respect the minds and voices of their fellow sojourners. 

From the Afterword: 

Either we reconnect with our historic roots, dealing, at last, with our theological and class conflicts, so we can return to and fulfill our promise of establishing a universal nonsectarian religion of humanity, or we allow a misguided identitarian philosophy to continue segregating us from each other until all that remains necessary for the dissolution of our denomination is mere formality. I hope it doesn’t come to this, but if it’s the only way to remember and recommit to our once cherished principles of reason, freedom of conscience, and common humanity, we may have no other choice. 

Bob Simoni 

Hayward, CA 

New Issue of the Liberal Beacon

This issue of, #11 of the Liberal Beacon focuses on liberal religion’s connection to the wider world, beginning with Ann Pandya’s article about India’s first woman doctor and her relationship to Unitarianism. This is followed by an article submitted by the International Alliance of Unitarians and Universalists (IAUU) discussing its work with religious liberals across the globe. Additionally, you’ll learn about NAUA’s growing lists of organizational members, hear a song written and performed by NAUA member Michael Johnson, and read some of my own reflections about moving forward together even though we may not all be starting from the same place. Check out these articles, along with our calendar of events, Letters to the Editor, and lots more in this issue. 

(You can access past issues of Liberal Beacon on our website at www.naunitarians.org.) 

Todd F. Eklof