Spend money. Help people.

Doug Muder, who is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Lay Theological Education Task Force (UULTE) wants to ask you a question about how to spend a big chunk of money. Doug writes:

I’m a member of the Unitarian Universalist Lay Theological Education Task Force (UULTE). We’re supposed to figure out what to do with half the money that was collected for Association Sunday — the half earmarked for “lay theological education.” I’m asking for your blog’s help in starting a discussion about what needs “lay theological education” ought to satisfy. The UULTE task force is soliciting proposals from various organizations, and I’m sure we’ll get plans for a lot of good stuff. (Curricula, new resources, online infrastructure, and so on.) But will we get the stuff that Unitarian Universalists need? If we get it, will we recognize it?

What I’m hoping to see is a lot of testimony by and discussion about individual Unitarian Universalists who find themselves at a plateau. They’re happy with Unitarian Universalism as far as it goes and as far as they understand it, but they feel a call to go deeper and they don’t know how to answer it. Maybe they’ve been trying to answer by doing more: joining committees, starting projects, and so on. But outer work at some point needs to be balanced with some inner work. And how do you do Unitarian Universalist inner work? Or how do you make the leap from being a Unitarian Universalist fellow traveler to feeling like you are really part of the UU tradition?

There are bunch of ideas to disentangle here. Some people talk about “education.” Some talk about “faith development” or “spiritual maturity” or “finding a Unitarian Universalist identity.” I encourage you not to get hung up on words and labels. Think about that person at a plateau: What does s/he need that the community could offer?

In the discussions the task force has had among ourselves, we talk a lot about the gap between the kinds of adult education you’d find at a typical Unitarian Universalist church, and the far more arduous program of a divinity school. What could we offer the person who wants to go deeper, but can’t take years out of his/her life and spend tens of thousands of dollars? That’s the “lay” part of “lay theological education.” You shouldn’t have to become a minister to find yourself as a Unitarian Universalist.

Anyway, you’d be doing me a favor — and helping the Unitarian Universalist Association get insight — if you’d raise these issues on your blog.

Thank you, Doug, for raising these issues, and asking for our responses. A fair number of my readers are not Unitarian Universalists, but I think they should feel free to comment, too.

5 thoughts on “Spend money. Help people.

  1. will shetterly

    Could there be a UU equivalent of the TED talks? I believe some colleges and universities are now putting course material online. Audio and video is especially important in this age of commuters and portable media players.

  2. Vance Bass

    > Think about that person at a plateau: What does s/he need that the community could offer?

    Man, I wish I knew. Sometimes, I feel like I have hit that plateau and would love to be able to move to the next level. Right now, music is coming the closest to doing it for me, but you can’t package music that will push everyone’s ecstasy button.

    Good luck. This is an eminently worthwhile project!

  3. Dan

    will @ 1 — What a great idea!

    Vance @ 2 — Funny, music is what is doing it for me right now too. I’ve been doing some shape note singing which is pretty good, but what is really getting me going right now is some of the a capella singing our little folk ensemble at church has been doing. And yeah, you can’t package music that will move everyone….

  4. Harlan Limpert (Taskforce Member)

    Will, I’m a huge fan of Ted Talks (www.TED.com), and using that model would enable the UUA to share the wisdom of others with the broader community. We don’t necessarily have to create new content – just new ways of making already existing content available to lay leaders (and others) around the world. (Rev. Harlan Limpert, Chair, Lay Theological Education Taskforce. hlimpert@uua.org.

  5. Dan

    Harlan @ 4 — Have you seen what Peter Bowden was doing with his UU TV Web site? He’s aggregating UU video content from wherever he could find it. That may be one way of (as you suggest) making already existing content available to others.

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