Why Worry About Somebody Stealing A “Brand” You Can’t Give Away? (Congregational Polity 101 pt. 4)
Over at Material Sojourn comes this little gem:
What I am talking about, in the bigger sense, is abuse of the Polity system by rogue congregations as much as rogue ministers. We do need covenant. We need it in congregations, between congregations, and between individuals; between every minister and every Unitarian Universalist; between every UU and the entire UUA.
What the what?!?!? “Rogue” congregations? “Rogue” ministers? Granted…it’s been a year since I worked in a UU congregation, but I have my ear pretty close to the ground. And there hasn’t been a breakout of “rogue” UU ministers or congregations to my knowledge.
Anyway…the definition of rogue is (pay special attention to the adjective definition):
[rohg] Show noun, verb, adjective
1. (of an animal) having an abnormally savage or unpredictable disposition, as a rogue elephant.
2. no longer obedient, belonging, or accepted and hence not controllable or answerable; deviating, renegade.
3. a dishonest, knavish person; scoundrel.
4. a playfully mischievous person; scamp.
5. a tramp or vagabond.
6. a rogue elephant or other animal of similar disposition.
7. a usually inferior organism, especially a plant, varying markedly from the normal. (used in biology)
verb(used without object)
8. to live or act as a rogue.
verb(used with object)
9. to cheat.
10. to uproot or destroy (plants, etc., that do not conform to a desired standard).
11. to perform this operation upon.
Going by that definition, St. Sabina Catholic Parish can be rogue. Asbury United Methodist Church can be rogue. Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church can be rogue. Trinity-Wall St. Episcopal Church can be rogue. And the reason they can be rogue is that they can be deviating or renegade, disobedient or not controllable.
So, using that same definition, how, by any stretch of the imagination, can a congregation in a NON-CREEDAL congregational polity tradition ever be rogue? By their very nature non-creedal, congregational churches are beholden to nobody except the members of that congregation. And unless something has changed recently, they can’t deviate or be renegade or disobedient.
So what’s a rogue congregation in the UUA? One that practices animal sacrifice? One that’s run by a commune? One that meets in the middle of the road with the dead armadilloes? Really…I want to know. And more than that, I want to know who gets to decide what is a “rogue” congregation and what is not. What’s the standard
And what makes a “rogue” minister? I’m not talking about somebody who does something illegal or unethical. But if a minister is not doing something illegal or unethical, what makes them “rogue”?
There seems to be a lot of strum-und-drang about the UU “brand” that I don’t understand. If we were Coke or Nike or Apple, I could understand. Religiously, if we were Episcopalians or Methodists or Presbyterians, I could understand. But friends…let’s try to stay on the temporal plane. And on the temporal plane, ain’t nobody BUYING our brand, much less stealing it. If UUism were a book, it would have long been out-of-print. If UUism were some other type of consumer product, we would have long been discontinued. Hell, there would be a hard time GIVING it away.
Instead of worrying about somebody trying to steal a brand that nobody’s buying and you can’t give away, why not try to encourage interest in the brand. And you don’t encourage interest in the brand by trying to stifle or limit those who can spread the gospel.