UNCO 14 West day one

The theory behind an unconference: some of the most interesting conversations take place in the times between the formal sessions. The reality of an unconference: some of the most interesting conversations take place in the times when nothing is scheduled.

At dinner tonight, I wound up talking to Jeff and Amy who have started Sanctuary for the Arts in Oakland. They offer monthly kinesthetic arts-filled worship services, based in part on InterPlay improvisational movement. I wound up talking to Amy about her theological grounding for movement-based worship services. She found theological grounding in process theology (in the sense that creativity is co-creation, that it is with our hands that God creates), in feminist theology (in the sense that worship cannot be in the head alone, it must be fully embodied), and also in post-colonial and queer theologies (in the sense that bodies which have been subjugated and colonized can be decolonized).

And during the social hour after dinner, I talked with J.C., a Disciples of Christ minister. The Disciples of Christ, like the Unitarian Universalists, refuse to have creeds, and last year J.C. and I talked a little about our common non-creedalism. J.C. talked about how the German Confessing Church had to define what it meant to be a Christian, not in the sense of having a creed, but in the sense of being able to stand up against evil in the world. We both agreed that our non-creedal faiths could be so reluctant to adopt anything that sounded like a creed, that we went so far as to not adequately define what our religion stands for (or stands against, for that matter). I can’t comment on the struggles that the Disciples have in this matter, but in our own quest for non-creadalism we Unitarian Universalists have too often equated religion with politics, or with inadequate an inadequate profession of faith.

Some excellent, thought-provoking conversations. This is why we go to unconferences.

Theological disunity

In a previous post, I looked at some areas where Unitarian Universalists have a great deal of theological unity. Now I’d like to turn to four areas where there is far less unity.

(1) Unitarian Universalists are not in agreement regarding a fundamental ontological claim of process theology. To oversimplify, process theology asserts that God is in the process of evolving. Therefore, a Unitarian process theologian like Charles Hartshorne might call the concept of omnipotence a “theological mistake”; God cannot be omnipotent because God is in process. By contrast, many Unitarian Universalists today will argue that if you’re going to talk about God, one attribute that God must have is omnipotence; this is the foundation for many arguments by Unitarian Universalist atheists or humanists showing that God must not exist.

This represents fundamental theological disagreements about the nature of God, and about the nature of reality (ontology).

(2) Unitarian Universalists are not in agreement regarding one key component of most liberation theologies. Continue reading “Theological disunity”