Young pleasant Humanists

Shawn, in the middle of one of his comments at Philocrites, commented (in so many words) that the he’s not an angry Humanist, and I realized I never thought he was. But I know of what he refers.

The old angry Humanists. I know the type, you know the type. To use a UU-ism, “they have influence out of proportion to their numbers.” I knew one older Humanist — an atomic physicist; I was in high school at the time — who was obviously interested in my welfare and that I not make mistakes (what would he think now?) but the stereotype of the haunch-standing, combative, and rude Humanist persists. Granted, it took me a long while to realize a lot of these Humanists were just being Yankee transplants in the South, so there might be a social or regional componant that we’re talking past each other. (Native Southern Unitarian Universalists — not from the old Universalist churches — don’t set me off the same way. But that’s my deal.) For the sake of arguement, consider the angry old Humanist a meme, and we can discuss the demographic validity of the concept later.

(For the sake of balance, I’ve known plenty of Unitarian and Universalist Christians were are socially inept, prone to esoterica — Esperanto? –, bitter, or a combination of these. The difference being there’s not enough of a social pattern there to develop a stereotype. I suppose that’s a good thing.)

But the thing is that among people my own age — broadly 25 to 45, with a few exeptions either way — I get along quite well, whatever their theology.

And then I thought: I knew there were bitter fights in the past, but there is enough ancedotal evidence to suggest ministers — since we have denomination-wide anecdotes about ministers — two and three generations ago must have felt something similiar across their peer group.

Hypothesis: we can make friends with unlike Unitarian Universalists of our own era, but this friendship doesn’t tranfer to other like Unitarian Universalists.

Comment please, and then I’ll write later about the non-Christian thing again.

About Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 45, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

9 thoughts on “Young pleasant Humanists

  1. Scott: “Hypothesis: we can make friends with unlike Unitarian Universalists of our own era, but this friendship doesn’t transfer to other like Unitarian Universalists.”

    Scott, in spite of our never having actually met face to face, I would – without hesitation – consider you a friend. Just because one may happen to disagree (Wow, what a surprise!) on various points of theology doesn’t – and shouldn’t – affect his or her ability to be friendly towards the other. Now, is that what you meant by the above hypothesis? Are you saying that If I agreed with you (like) we probably couldn’t be friends? Or, are you implying we don’t agree (unlike) and are consequently capable of being friends?

    I also understand the grumpy humanist charge. It is true. I think, however, there is change occurring within the humanist camp, albeit slow. Humanism isn’t the property of Kurtz or Dawkins. When one decides to remove the metaphor, poetry, mystery, and faith from an ideological movement, what else is it going to be if not grumpy. One deserves to be perpetually angry if he/she willingly reduces humanizing universals such as love, joy, happiness, sorrow, fear, shame, etc., to the mere exercise of chemical processes alone. I personally would have hated living in Plato’s Republic, and I would hate Dawkin’s Utopia as well (No X-Files? C’mon!). So, I understand the humanist stereotype, but I dislike stereotypes and hesitate to even use the word.

    And you are right – grumpiness is not limited to any specific movement. I’ve known Christians who were so utterly bitter that they would make even the starchiest of humanists look like Charles Ingalls.

    I though you’d catch that line in my comment at Philocrites. I was simultaneously smiling – from ear to ear – while I typed it. ;-P

  2. To clarify, I think persons of a younger generation can admire elders in their theological silo (for lack of a better term) and see and forbear their faults. For Christians, this is includes the maintainance of a cozy cultural Christianity, and a certain want of zeal. But they’re your elders and they shape your formation, so there.

    Peers — lay and ordained — understand one another in certain ways because of what we share culturally. So my Christianity — which has pronounced “third way” and narrative/paleo-orthodox tinges — isn’t like elder Unitarian Universalist Christian theology (for the most part) and I’ve noticed younger Humanists are doing something different, too. But I don’t think this admiration transfers easily between generations and silos.

    That said, I think the light went on and I finally figured out who CC’s Katy-the-Wise is. Duh. And if we’re talking about the same person, she’s one of my favorites. And decidedly cross-generation-and-silo.

    Which make me wonder if some of the elder Humanist agita is about the younger Humanists being incorrect. That’s all I’ll say on that matter.

  3. Gee, is this age discrimination or what? I mean, really!! you kids these days! I just dont know!

    You young folks just dont know! I mean you just dont know!
    The scarfices we had to make, and for what??
    for you of course!
    “how sharper than a serphants tooth!”

    worked our fingers to the bone, and what do we get??

    Doing my best to keep the generation gap alive,
    Steven (geezerguy) R.

  4. Lol. Scott, I’m not sure why you are the ethnic magnet you are, it’s quite a phenomenon. I sense a reversed peppered moth correlation, of sorts (Oh poor, poor Philocrites!). Was the 6’4″ question directed to me? If so, I’m not even close. The Mexican Indian and Chamorro in me seems to have overpowered my Italian and German strains, thus rendering me a whopping 5’7.5″.

  5. Yes, Shawn, the 6’4″ comment was directed to you, but your reply gave me shudders. The Mexican Indians in my family — mother’s side — certainly run small. (I’m six inches taller than any living relative; both Mom and Dad are 5’8″.) I have dozens of second cousins in the hills of eastern Tennessee with “the look” — one of whom just gave up explaining and now passes for Cherokee, and even goes to powwows in North Carolina.

    No Italians or Chamorros here, but as I’ve commented elsewhere some of the Germans in my father’s family (Alsatian and Swiss names) run very, very dark. Heck — who are we kidding? — somebody went passing for white. I’d love to know that story. But it makes tanning easy, if I wanted.

  6. My mother is responsible for the Mexican Indian in me as well. My grandfather, Pedro Guerrero, who’s roots go back to the Incas, married a Chamorro woman and they gave birth to my mother, Maria, who married my Italian/German father, thanks to the U.S. Navy. So my heritage is a complicated one. I, of course, complicated it even further for my children by marrying an Irish/Dutch woman. So my son, for example, is Mexican Indian, Chamorran, Italian, German, Irish and Dutch. What a mixture.

    So Scott, what we don’t share theologically speaking, is more than compensated for by our shared humanity. That’s more than enough for me …

  7. Well there are some of us old folks reading this blog — (which was sorta the point of my above comment – that and wondering if Scott or someone knew the correct response was indeed: boney Fingers. Hey it was either that or do the chorus of “whats the problem with kids today” from Bye Bye Birdie)

    Now that I know that I am the token AARP member reading this blog, I will make sure than I make more dumb comments as befitting my age.
    Since I never travel without my nurse, driver, and chief cat-feeder who is the acceptable age range — If I ever meet the posters who post here, I should at least have a translator available. That way I can go and sit and sulk while yall discuss theology —

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