This is a story of my journey through the UUA. It summarizes events of the eight years from June 1981 to June of 1989 through the eyes of the elected Financial Advisor of the UUA (that would be me) and the action didn’t stop there. Subsequent responsibilities involved the Beacon Press Review Committees, and finally, the Ministerial Compensation Committee. There are a few odds and ends, too.
Final Board Meeting
A few of The Gods were sitting around the Olympus Lounge having cocktails, or to be more explicit, they were lifting a few glasses of Chateau Haut Brion 1827. Hepatitis, the God of good livers, was holding forth on the theology of religions, or to be more explicit, the extent to which religious movements lived out their theology. Now this was an easy exposition when the theology was thick and palpable, full of human-like imagery; a bit more difficult when it was highly literate, but evanescent, lightly flavored with a subtle balance of rationality and spirituality. Well, we’re not so slow, are we, WE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS; we all rather guess the Gods are talking about Unitarian Universalism. A religion, they went on to suggest, which somehow seemed on the surface to lack the personal challenges of Bhuddism, say, or Christianity; not lacked them exactly, but didn’t impose them on their adherents, made them easy to confront or not to. The others had easily identified standards of day-to-day performance required - do this and the benefits are that; generally these involve future considerations, like a lot of player trades in professional sports. From the Gods’ perspectives, religions like Unitarian Universalism were in themselves challenges. Impetigo, Goddess of clear beauty, pouring a second glass of the Haut Brion, remarked, “I can’t resist tinkering with the lives of such religions - to augment the challenges in their equations - partly to test them, partly to see whether they will define themselves, perhaps in new ways. “Well, is this all talk,” inquired Hyperbole, God of truth in advertising, “or do you have a tale to tell of how you have tinkered with truth in the minds of the human and mortal adherents of the Unitarian Universalist God. Hyperbole was feeling rather smug. He was drinking freshly squeezed juice of limes from the valley of the Euphrates; he didn’t need the alcohol to stimulate his conversation. “I’ll tell you a story,” cried Impetigo. She hesitated, then went on. “I felt a great conflict about any involvement with those UUA folks,” she said. “Just got a strange feeling, a feeling that I had to let them work it all out for themselves.” “You know there are a lot of problems with this God business - I mean you can’t just engage in selective interference and then walk away from the consequences. Zeus has very strict rules about that. Anyway, once you start on an involvement project, it takes a lot of time and a lot of follow-through. “I figured, the way the UUs operate, that could be a long involvement. And one requiring a lot of very special and subtle applications of our powers. Frankly, I didn’t want to be involved with trying to make that crowd play out my script. Hyperbole winced a bit as he drank the last of the straight lime. He didn’t really want any of the wine, but virtue apparently wasn’t always its own reward. “So how is it all going to work out, Impetigo,” he asked. “What’s to become of the Unitarian Universalists?” “Look,” she said. “I can’t spend the rest of eternity, or however long your basic average God is likely to last, worrying about some little religious denomination. They really have to be on their own. I mean, I’ve had some fun with them, but, you guys know, we have the reputation of watching out for every sparrow that falls, or however that goes, but being an intervening God would be more than a full time job. I mean, omniscience is one thing, omnipotence is certainly overrated, and, besides, who has the time, or even the inclination, to exercise that omnipotence all the time. Let them eat cake, but I’m not doing the baking for them. Hyperbole sat silently; he was thinking abut his dinner engagement with Zeus, Athena, Poseidon and the others; he was thinking about the Unitarian Universalists. He didn’t think Impetigo was sentencing them to the struggles of Sisyphus. They certainly were going to have to do a lot of shoving of that rock up the hill, but the high ground was up there and reachable, and perhaps it would even level out. But it wasn’t ever going to be an easy downgrade run. After all even the Gods didn’t have it as easy as everyone assumed. “So what did you do?” Hyperbole asked. “I just backed off is what I did, and left them to their own advices. “You mean devices?” “No, I mean advices; they’re always telling other people how to do things - although in all fairness, they tell each other as well.” So that’s the story from Mt. Olympus. Maybe a panoply of Gods fully equipped with all the human vices and virtues is closest to a theistic version of the truth. Perhaps the Greeks were better at creating Gods in their own image than the Jews or the Christians were. The Gods we seek are truly in ourselves. We have to be possessed of the vision from the lounge at the top of Olympus - and from the Haut Brion. We have to avoid the petty, and personalized concerns of those ever too human gods of the pantheon; we have to lift our eyes above our process and run toward our God level objectives - learn from our mistakes, not struggle to make new ones to replace them in overreaction; love each other in deed as well as in word; try to take a little less from the common weal then we give to enhance it; be sure we are building our beloved institution not our beloved egos; and remember we have few problems which the Gods could solve for us, and almost none we cannot solve for ourselves. Thanks for the memories of serving on this Board. If I told you that everything had gone just the way I wanted it to, you wouldn’t believe me and neither would I, but we don’t get to live life over again, and what we have is what we’ve had. We seek truth and beauty and love (or faith, hope and love) on many levels; what we find are the rewards of life; what we miss or fail at is counterpoint which helps to define the rewards.