Continuing Conversations: UUCLV April 2022
The Rev. Gordon Clay Bailey
Theme for April 2022 - Awakening
“A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.” - Antoine de Saint-Exuper
The first Great Awakening - (The Great Awakening was a religious revival that impacted the English colonies in America during the 1730s and 1740s. The movement came at a time when the idea of secular rationalism was being emphasized, and passion for religion had grown stale.) - was a reaction against the Enlightenment, it was also a long term cause of the Revolution and beyond. The groundbreaking that started so long ago I believe has reverberations that continue to this day. New faiths continue to emerge. For many the overall message is of greater equality, greater inclusion. The Great Awakening in its first incarnation was also a "national" occurrence. It was the first major event that all the original 13 colonies could share, helping to break down differences between them.
It is my hope that Unitarian Universalism is on the cutting edge of where we as a nation and world are heading. A truly Interfaith spiritual awakening that gives support to its followers. Seeking the light, the love, the compassion that is required to heal a hurting nation and world. A faith community that excels in teaching, activism and is filled with compassion
There have been 3 or 4 awakening tides that have shifted the spiritual landscape of the United States. Theological debates go on and on. Historians parse the subject as if the internal theological nature of humanity can be completely understood across race, class, gender, creed, or any other way we subdivide.
I for one believe that each age, every generation recreates, adds to and constructs a new world before them. So where are we now UU’s and like minded souls? What’s burning in your hearts, minds and bodies?
Dear UU’s, where are we at UUCLV? Our vision and mission are only calling a few of us/you into action. Our commitment to the congregation at times seems to lack the zeal to make us thrive. Some might say the minister is a bore? Others might say we aren’t centered. Still more might say that their spirituality is not defined within the context of denominational activities nor service.
If I were being totally honest with you and in truth I have no other task or job to do. Speak the truth, my truth to you with love, compassion and authenticity. So if I am to be honest with you and that I will be. The reality is in my mind we have been on an Awakening since the second WW2. The newest incarnation of awakening is happening right now.
Everything about the way this nation is has been changing since WW2. We can look at things by decades, we can look at society through the prism of religious life and if that be my lens, my frame of reference then I am 100 percent sure that things they've been a changing and that means almost everything we do now needs to be reassessed.
Moving far beyond the realm of traditional "church history," Patrick Allitt - (Patrick Allitt is Professor of U.S. History at Emory University, where he holds the Arthur Blank Chair for Teaching Excellence. He supervises workshops for Emory faculty interested in improving effective teaching skills. His previous books include Religion in America Since 1945: A History and Catholic Converts: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome) - offers a vigorous and deep survey of the broad landscape of American religion since World War II. He identifies the major trends and telling moments within major denominations and also in less formal religious movements, he asks how these religious groups have shaped, and been shaped by, some of the most important and divisive issues and events of the last half century: the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, feminism and the sexual revolution, abortion rights, the antinuclear and environmentalist movements, Ableism rights, Queer power, Black Lives Matter and so many others.
Allitt argues that the boundaries between religious and political discourse have become increasingly blurred in the last fifty years. OMG, you'd have to have been sleeping not to know this but - He goes on to say having been divided along denominational lines in the early postwar period, religious Americans had come by the 1980s to be divided along political lines instead, (well, well, well) as they grappled with the challenges of modernity and secularism.
Partly because of this politicization, and partly because of the growing influence of African Americans, Asian, Latino, and other ethnic groups, the United States is unique among the Western industrialized nations, as church membership and religious affiliation generally increased during this period. Religion in America since 1945 is a masterful analysis of this dynamism and diversity and an ideal starting point for any exploration of the contemporary religious scene.
More to my interest here and now is whether or not we are on the verge of The 5th Awakening. Is something in the air now? I say yes! The longing for belonging is real. The need for connection is palatable. The Me generation of the baby boomers turned into the me, me, me generation of millennials is both striking and telling. We now have successive groups of people in our midst that view life, the paradigm of living through their own prism. I guess it couldn't be otherwise.
Hence my conclusion that we are on the precipice of a change once again. The confluence of politics, social change, multiculturalism, environmental concerns, legal challenges, technology and so much more make this the day, the time, the season for our faith and all faiths that are open to the wisdom of the ages to assist us as we strive to find ourselves again. You see, dear UUs and friends of all faith, realities we as a family, the human family must do things differently if we are to survive. Our vehicle may be science, it may be the UN, it may be the breakup of corporations and even the break up of nation states that must happen if the planet, its inhabitants and the future are really going to happen our way of being needs radical change?
I think we are poised to be one of the strongest voices for reason, for community, for forwarding the human family towards the Beloved Community of seekers, sojourners, pilgrims, and the rest as we strive into the tomorrow together.
Join me, join UUCLV, join the movement towards inclusion, introspection, inter everything as bravely step into the future together.
In faith, hope and love,
Reverend Gordon Clay Bailey