This is less blog post and more notepad, to record on-the-ground observations from attendees of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) General Assembly. They’re meeting in Columbus, Ohio now, and the Unitarian Universalist Association will meet there next June.
Convention Center seating leaves something to be desired.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) General Assembly began today in Columbus, Ohio under the theme “Soar!” I noticed a bunch of my classmates flying cross country, and then I noticed they were going to the city the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly will be next year: Columbus, Ohio.
But what keeps my attention is a playful and cheerful parallel hashtag. If #DisciplesSoar is for the serious business, the #CampbellCon is for the fun stuff, for the relationship building and a knowing recognition that our awkward, wonky church conventions bear more that a passing resemblance to comics and sci-fi fandom. (The hashtag is a reference to Alexander Campbell, a wild-haired founder. It would be as if we had a hashtag #BallouBoatHome. But I’m sure we could do better that that.)
I mean, I wish we could be so playful. There are a few of us, but we’re on the magins. If we Unitarian Universalists, who suffer from debilitating earnestness, could put up with Twitter accounts like
So, it’s the eleven o’clock hour, and I’m at home. Late rising, some work around the house and — dang! after ten o’clock and unshowered, so I decided to stay home from church. And I wanted to go and intended to go. I feel bad because, for a number of reasons including travel, I’ve not been able to attend worship for the last few weeks. But I also don’t want to rush, and I have more work around the house I’d have to put off until two o’clock or so.
Not Attending Worship is high on the classic Bad Church Member list, so perhaps that’s what I’m feeling. But rather than ignoring the feeling, I’d rather own up to the feeling as a (probably) misplaced expectation.
Church life requires a measure of discipine, but using old rules and expectations will stifle those who haven’t committed to the discipline of “just knowing how to behave” in church, including attending, volunteering, giving and all the rest.
I’m thinking through “what is” and “what must be.” And how I’ll make it to church next Sunday.
Still not quite ready to resume blogging, so combing through my “I should post this” pile.
This is the Universalist denominational logo, undated here, but probably from the 1950s. Not used for many years, but I’ve seen it on signs, pamphlets and here on letterhead — always this shade of blue, too.
I rely on two indicators for weather: my sinuses and Forecast.io.
When I’m already congested, a strong weather front will give me a blinding headache. (Like today.) But that’s not helpful for you, or Daisy, our bichon frise, who hates having a potty walk in the rain.
I recommend Forecast.io for amazingly accurate hyper-local, minute-by-minute weather forecasts, which sometimes (alas, not quite, today) gives the dog enough time outside to do what she must.
This is the text of the form — it fits on two sides of half-sized piece of paper — used by applicants for a letter of license in the Universalist Church. I pulled this from a filled-in example from 1920 in Indiana, but variant date back to the 1880s and forward to the 1950s.
Application for License
To the Committee of Fellowship of the [State] Universalist Convention:
I desire to devote my life to the work of the Christian Ministry, in the Fellowship of the Universalist Church. I respectfully apply for a Letter of License to preach under its auspices. The motives are expressed on the other side of this paper. I cordially accept the essential principles of the Universalist Faith as follows:
The Universal Fatherhood of God;
The Spiritual Authority and Leadership of His Son Jesus Christ;
The Trustworthiness of the Bible as Containing a Revelation from God;
The Certainty of Just Retribution for Sin;
The Final Harmony of All Souls with God.
And I freely acknowledge the authority of the General Convention, and assent to its laws, promising to co-operate faithfully in all measures that may be devised by the General Convention, and by the State Convention with which I am connected, for the furtherance of the work and welfare of our Church.
I hereby certify that the above named [Name] is a member, in good standing, in the [Church name] Universalist Church.
Why do you desire to preach?
What led to this desire, and under what circumstances?
Why do you see to preach under the auspices of the Universalist Church?
What preparation have you had, or what experience in public address?
How long have you been a member of the church named on the other side?
What further references as to personal character can you give?
Have you applied for License to any other Committee? If so, to which, with what result?
I didn’t have much to add to the discussion of the vital issues of the day, except that, at some points, I thought that writers were lost in delusional or self-serving arguments. And I decided to keep my own counsel.
Oh, and I think that Unitarian Universalism has a grim future — as bad or worse as the mainline — and that forward progress is likely to look like a salvage and reconstruction exercise.
Even though I didn’t go to General Assembly this year — there was a very nice family wedding the same time — I tried to keep up with the news as best I can.
And saying that, I’m glad I didn’t go. There seemed to be a lot of feeling there — and camaraderie — but (as I’ve suggested elsewhere) I can meet my friends elsewhere (online included) and the amount of forward motion the UUA generates doesn’t seem to justify the effort of GA. (Indeed, a lot of the work of the UUA seems to be solving problems of our own creation.) That and there seemed to be a good bit of grievance cultivating there. Enough.
But if you were there, perhaps you have other experiences. Better ones, worse ones. And perhaps you have a special way of actually participating in General Assembly. (I think the attend-every-possible-session approach is certain death.)
Feel free to share your thoughts.
And as of now, I do plan on attending the General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio next year.
I just got a pseudonymous email, informing me of the publication of a new edition of the satirical magazine, The Beacon. A magazine that proves that just because something’s not factual doesn’t mean it’s not true.