The Future is Now…or Why Children Are Not Special

Kelly says, “And children ARE Special, because they are our future. If we don’t engage our youth, they will not stay, or come back, or be invested in our faith as adults.”

This is where I fundamentally disagree with current UU thinking.  I believe the future is now and that as long as you don’t engage the ADULTS, there is no real chance to really engage the children.  UUs do religious education of children fairly well (of course things can always be/get better), it’s the adults that are not fully engaged in the ongoing spiritual development that is required to be a mature person. And let’s face it…..if the parents are not fully engaged in spiritual development, then it’s going to be really hard to keep their children engaged because most spiritual development happens OUTSIDE of church. If the church is not helping the parents (and other adults who are around) figure out what they believe, how are they going to be able to help their children figure out what they believe?

This is why I believe children are not special. At least not in or of themselves.  Adults are special too. And until UUs figure that out, we’ll have more children in RE than adults in the pew. And that’s a recipe for disaster.

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16 thoughts on “The Future is Now…or Why Children Are Not Special

  1. UUWorld cited Elizabeth Barrett (ExUUberance) earlier this year:
    “The UUs I know who grew up in homes with strong links to our religious movement demonstrate a high level of commitment to our faith…”

    The key isn’t either/or. It’s quite literally both/and. Adults can be connected without their kids feeling like they’re included. Kids can be, too.

    It’s a combination of *being* UUs and actively *raising* UUs (which is NOT to be mistaken for a program of brainwashing) that’s needed. Kim’s right; there’s a desperate lack of adult religious education. Back when Us and Us were distinctly Christian denominations, there were study programs and bible studies. We lack an analog–and the lack shows… in connection, in education and understanding, and in people having a sense of what it means to them to be, on a day-to-day basis, a UU.

    William Doherty’s program for developing a family awareness and celebration of critical events that ought to be holidays for UUs is, I think, one of the best things I’ve seen. This one, here:
    http://www.uuworld.org/life/articles/90610.shtml

  2. Hi again. I would just say at the outset, that my thoughts are not necessarily UU thinking. They come from my heart of hearts as a parent, and as a congregant, and as a spiritual person.

    I know I am lucky, because my church offers about a zillion opportunities for adult spiritual growth, and if you don’t take responsibility for joining one, then it’s pretty much on you. But I do agree with you that the UU faith as a whole can do more to set up adults for success, and to offer more structured ways to engage with the church. I know a lot of newcomers just feel like they are flailing around, and we need to start helping them to articulate a UU identity (I think that might be heretical thinking against the heretics, I’m not sure what that would be called ).

    But I stand by my statement that children are special. They are in their formative years in a way that adults are not, and we have opportunities to engage with them that we will never have again.

  3. ((( it’s the adults that are not fully engaged in the ongoing spiritual development that is required to be a mature person)))

    Umm… Ouch.

    Why do you say that?

    (Yes, Robin, I can imagine why YOU might say that, but I’m interested in why Kim does.)

  4. Robin, has there ever been a criticism of the UUA or Unitarian Universalists that you didn’t immediately believe and assume to be correct? Do you ever approach other people’s complaints with any critical thinking at all?

  5. GKW I posted a response to your question but it was automatically held in moderation because it contained some embedded links. Kim has not yet posted it although I have reasonable grounds to believe that she will not suppress it. If you want to read my response sooner rather than later just wander over to The Emerson Avenger blog where I have cross-posted it.

  6. You don’t answer my question at all. You just talk about how some Unitarian Universalist organizations have problems with their critical thinking skills without addressing what I actually asked at all. A part of good critical thinking is being able to understand what someone is asking and answer a straightforward question about your ideas.

  7. Actually Gina if you used some critical thinking in reading and interpreting what I said you would see that I had answered your questions in good measure.

    You asked – Robin, has there ever been a criticism of the UUA or Unitarian Universalists that you didn’t immediately believe and assume to be correct?

    In other words has there ever been one single criticism of the UUA, or Unitarian*Universalists aka U*Us, that I immediately and uncritically believed aka assumed to be correct aka TRUE*. Right?

    The Radical Hapa blog post provided one single example of me not immediately and uncritically believing aka assuming criticism of Unitarian*Universalists to be correct aka TRUE. There are plenty of other examples that I can point to but pointing to one single example adequately answers your question, “has there *ever* been *a* criticism of the UUA or Unitarian Universalists that you didn’t immediately believe and assume to be correct?” N’est-ce pas “Gina W.” aka GKW?

    Your second question condescendingly and snarkily asked – Do you ever approach other people’s complaints with any critical thinking at all?

    If you had bothered to engage in even a cursory aka minimal search for the truth and meaning of how I approach other people’s complaints you would not have even asked that sincerely ignorant and conscientiously stupid question.

    * to “plagiarize” the Rev. Dr. Tim Jensen aka The Rather *Too* Eclectic Cleric

  8. Hi Kim,

    The second comment corrected some typos. If it is a bit *too* hot to handle let me know and I will tone it down a bit but AFAIAC “Gina”‘s questions are little more than sincerely ignorant and conscientiously stupid “snark”. May I “assume” that Chalicechick aka CC submitted them? 😉

  9. Hello all.

    I’m going to ask that no more comments be made on this post. We are drifting to off-topic areas and I don’t want that to happen.

    If there are any other comments on the topic of Adult RE, please use one of the other post that I have written to comment on it.

    Thank you.

  10. Just a correction to what I said in my penultimate comment –

    “In other words has there ever been one single criticism of the UUA, or Unitarian*Universalists aka U*Us, that I immediately and uncritically believed aka assumed to be correct aka TRUE*.”

    Should have said – “In other words has there ever been one single criticism of the UUA, or Unitarian*Universalists aka U*Us, that I *did not* immediately and uncritically believe aka assume to be correct aka TRUE*.”

  11. Pingback: Some Critical Thinking About *Religiously* Ignorant And Stagnant Unitarian*Universalists « Beauty Tips For A U*U Minister|Beauty Tips

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