This past Sunday, Rev. Dr. Collin Bossen, interim senior minister at First UU Houston, delivered one of a series of sermons on the topic of hope. He began his talk with reminiscences of his participation in the massive "Teamsters & Turtles" protests against the World Trade Organization's meeting in Seattle 20 years ago last week. I loved reliving the Battle of Seattle with him, although in 1999 I was watching it all via IndyMedia from 2,000 miles away.
After all the warm-fuzzy nostalgia, I became a little perturbed and more than a little perplexed.
A towering majority of my congregation identify as Democrats. It's practically assumed that UU's are Democrats by default, a great many of them on the progressive wing. Voting for Democrats and cheering on favored candidates in primaries are practically autonomic reflexes in this crowd. I noticed a few fellow-congregants in the sanctuary yesterday getting the same nostalgic feels from Rev. Bossen's recounting of anti-corporate demonstrations and the movements they sparked.
So why the perplexity and perturbation? It boils quickly and neatly down to this:
How the Olympic-size fuck does anyone who agrees with the sentiments of the WTO protesters—not to mention the Occupy Wall Street activists of 2011-12—justify continuing to vote for Democrats in our national elections? or even our state and local elections?
Do what you know you ought to do. Why should we ever go abroad, even across the way, to ask a neighbor's advice? There is a nearer neighbor within us incessantly telling us how we should behave. But we wait for the neighbor without to tell us of some false, easier way.
Please excuse the lengthy exposition below, with its scant source material.
Unitarian Universalists are proud boat-rockers. Speaking truth to power is encoded in UU theology. UU's trace their religious ancestry back to theologians and activists who were considered heretics in their time. More recently, the movement has been identified first with "liberal Christianity," which changed over time to "liberal religion" because a large percentage of UU's self-identify as humanist, agnostic, atheist, or pagan.
At various times in US history, Unitarians and Universalists have vocally opposed war and slavery. UU churches in the South opened their doors to black worshipers and visitors when segregation was the law. UU churches across the US were among the first to welcome LGBT congregants and ministers.
UU's also tend to be knowledge-workers: academics and teachers, doctors and lawyers, artists and architects. Although they represent about 0.1% of the US population, UU's make up a huge chunk of America's intellectual 1%.
A huge majority of UU's in the US are active Democrats. Conversation at coffee hour sometimes turns to politics, and everyone can safely assume that everyone else is at least liberal, if not a practicing Democrat. Quite a few of us UU's consider ourselves progressive, economically and socially to the left of the Democratic mainstream.
Now that we have established that we are taking about very smart, open-minded people, let's get to the substance of this post.
Within the UU movement, there is a rather unsettling degree of unwritten orthodoxy. My impression, from 20 years as a practicing UU, is that it's easier for a typical UU Democrat to understand that some UU's are Republicans than that some of us are Green or Libertarian. Some have trouble wrapping their formidable minds around the concept of "third parties." This binary "either/or" thinking is a baseline human trait, but it is also a form of intellectual laziness, especially for people who recognize the falsity of the gender binary.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.