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Apr 8, 2023·edited Apr 8, 2023Liked by Katie Herzog, TracingWoodgrains, Jessica the 80s baby

I haven’t started listening yet but as a former board member of a UUA church who resigned in protest over all the bullshit, you’ve already made my dream come true with this episode. I will be a primo forever.

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Do you identify as "basic BARPod listener problematic"? And can we get ecumenical T-shirts in the merch store?

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I do!

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Seconded

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I am disappointed with Katie and Jesse liking this post. The reason has nothing to do with what the post says after: “I haven’t started listening yet”.

Why would you like a post from someone who admits to not having listened? I have heard you two many times call out persons who haven’t read books and then rightfully disparage these persons who then express opinions on them. Granted this is a comment and not a book or a piece of journalism. But the principle is still the same. Admitting up front that you haven’t read something should disqualify you from expressing an opinion on it.

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There is a wide chasm between “I’m excited to listen to this episode and feel validated by its existence”, particularly with a follow up after that comment with having had listened to it, and “THIS IS CRAP AND PROBLEMATIC AND IM NEVER LISTENING TO IT”.

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Also, let's be honest. This person is a BARPod listener. They know what Jesse and Katie will address. They're also very familiar with the UU org. I'm guessing they knew what this would be about, what it would say, etc. Yes, we shouldn't assume, but I would venture a guess that if you asked her before listening what it would say and checked it she would be highly accurate.

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could you email me at tiredofnavy at nym dot hush dot com? I am a cradle UU, or as close to it as you're likely to get, and I haven't heard of this and would like to hear an inside viewpoint. You don't have to tell me your whole life story or anything but I'm always startled to hear about the UUA from outsiders.

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Hi J.C.-- I'm a private person and don't share my contact details. That being said, as a cradle UU, you should know that I and many others were insiders who became outsiders due to the radicals who have taken over the denomination in Boston. I urge you to start by questioning your minister. If he or she is honest, you will learn a lot.

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The antidote to the Unitarian problem

Check out naunitarians.org It is just getting started. It values the old-school liberal enlightenment values - freedom, reason and tolerance (with none of the "woke" bullshit.) It is off to a fast start.

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Fair enough. I'm close friends with my minister, but he's very much on the outside of the minister group. Not one of the cool kids, so to speak. And it's actually not because of any of this stuff, it's because of how we hired him and how he got his education.

I do have another friend I'm not close with any more but still talk to occasionally who is closer to the inside. And I have a relative, also not someone I'm really close with any more but whom I do talk to occasionally, who is a retired UUMA person.. I don't know about coming at either of them out of the blue with my questions, but I'm sure they know some things.

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Apr 8, 2023·edited Apr 8, 2023Liked by Jessica the 80s baby

I just finished listening and all I can say is THANK YOU-- I feel seen and validated! I felt terrible for years over my voluntary exile because I thought it was my fault. The minister of my former church was one of the people who criticized the Gadfly papers without reading it and was an exemplar of the white, "tolerant," woke folx who have taken over the denomination.

Since I was on the board, I was privy to a lot of bullshit. For example, I asked how the Black Unitarian group Katie mentioned in the pod would be spending the money from our congregational dues and was told it was racist to question POC and their needs. Chastened, I shut up even though it felt ....wrong.

Here's the straw that broke my back: At a board retreat, I was called out after saying we didn't need to send a survey to members asking them what they wanted the social justice focus to be since the minister had just TOLD us five minutes previously that the social justice focus for the year would be antiracism.

Looking at me, one of the other board members smugly said that we could still send a survey because EVERY issue is about race and every issue affects POC more (not poor people in general, only POC) and my white privilege meant I just didn't understand. As an educator, I know that sending a survey and then ignoring the results (Congregants could have said "abortion rights," "climate change," "free speech" etc.) is not good policy, but that wasn't the point; calling me out for my "privilege" was a cudgel to shame me. This was the last straw of many; they shut me up and I resigned that night.

And I'll now add the part about the countless "sermons/lectures" about transgender rights, antiracism and Islam while a growing number of congregants expressed anti-semitic views. I asked when the sermon on antisemitism would be, and the minister paused and said, "Yes, I suppose I need to write one."

It's all quite ironic because the majority of people at that church didn't believe in God, but they certainly "believe" in the new woke religion without thinking or questioning. Had I known then what I know now, I would have saved myself a lot of heartache by not walking in the door. I'm still a liberal and I still believe in equal rights for all, but the UUA is beyond saving.

Thanks for reading my rant. It feels good to get this all off my chest after all the heartache I went through. Thank you, Katie!

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Starting in about 2018, when there was an active FB dialog about Gadfly, I began tentatively introducing posts in which I expressed doubts about trans delusions. I gradually got more receptive comments, and now am quite openly skeptical about the entire clusterfack of a disaster of a delusion. Many other UUs have come out with doubts. Many will say that adults can do what they wish, but children should not be allowed to take this path. Unfortunately, OWL (the UU Sexuality course) is openly promoting both gay and trans views, and discouraging normal hetero sexuality.

If I were a parent of a teen (which I was some years ago), there is no way I would let that child anywhere near a UU "education" program.

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Apr 9, 2023·edited Apr 9, 2023

2nd Edition OWL material is way more nuanced than you describe here. It promotes the ideas that no one's sexuality or gender is immoral or wrong, and as a curriculum I think it's a good one. But it's almost 10 years old at this point, and there will probably be a 3rd Edition sooner rather than later. Plus, teachers do bring their own biases into the classroom, and because of that I would also be very careful about any UU children's programing.

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My children went thru OWL in 2000 and 2004. Just recently, my daughter, now 33, told me that she was not happy with the program. The OWL program made normal (non-gay, non-trans) kids feel as if they were the abnormal ones. The program pushed trans and gay.

In our society as a whole, we have gone too far in the "promotion" side. Acceptance is fine, but not so that gay/trans are equivalent. They are not equivalent. They are abnormal.

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Apr 9, 2023Liked by Jessica the 80s baby

I've taught these classes (I'm cis and straight btw), and they don't push "gay and trans", and they're not designed to make straight and non-trans kids feel abnormal. It's not anywhere in the text. And the ideology early 2000's was very different, so the odds of finding a ideologue teacher who would push something like that in that era is diminishingly small. So I call bullshit.

And from your language, calling gay people "abnormal", unequal to straight people, that's just plain homophobic and un-Unitarian. Like the Katie mentioned in the podcast, we've been doing gay weddings since the 80's (70's actually I think). Sorry UU didn't work out for you.

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You seem to imply a moral quality to normal vs abnormal behaviors or traits.

I find that very odd and, I wager, one that you do not actually hold. For example, being of a high intelligence is by definition very abnormal. Likewise, world caliber athletic talent, exceptional artistic or literary talent, having a graduate degree in STEMS, and so on are all very abnormal qualities.

Yet, they are also considering of high value. Something to aspire to.

So I must conclude, despite the implication, that you probably find these behaviors inherently immoral not withstanding their status as rare or abnormal.

Why do you see these behaviors as immoral? What do you mean by "equivalent" if other than morally equivalent?

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Well, there are far more gay people than Unitarians in the US, let alone the rest of the world. I’d be totally justified in calling you abnormal, following your own line of reasoning but I see no point in doing so.

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The antidote to the Unitarian problem

Check out naunitarians.org It is just getting started. It values the old-school liberal enlightenment values - freedom, reason and tolerance (with none of the "woke" bullshit.) It is off to a fast start.

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My daughter went through the OWL predecessor, About Your Sexuality. I don't remember much about the course; I don't recall any trans content. She's now a middle-aged enby, but I don't think I can blame the UUs for that.

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The antidote to the Unitarian problem

Check out naunitarians.org It is just getting started. It values the old-school liberal enlightenment values - freedom, reason and tolerance (with none of the "woke" bullshit.) It is off to a fast start.

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As the parent of teens, I guess I am glad I sort of forgot to do this. Using some of the older curricula may be a better choice.

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Why do they join a church if they don’t believe in God? Just wondering what the point is.

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It's supposed to be a community/support for people who aren't into faith stuff. It's mostly middle/upper class white people (or at least it was where I grew up) and a lot of young families and older people.

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There are a lot of ways to engage in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning while growing and learning together. Not all of them involve God.

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The antidote to the Unitarian problem

Check out naunitarians.org It is just getting started. It values the old-school liberal enlightenment values - freedom, reason and tolerance (with none of the "woke" bullshit.) It is off to a fast start.

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I think the point of UU is that it provides all the positives of religious community whilst being somewhat agnostic.

Though I think it's reasonable to assume that some of these people joined churches because they saw them as a good target to infiltrate and co-opt for their political project.

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A significant number of people want the community benefits of church without adhering to a set theology. When I was a lapsed Catholic who considered myself an atheist, I seriously considered the UU church.

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The antidote to the Unitarian problem

Check out naunitarians.org It is just getting started. It values the old-school liberal enlightenment values - freedom, reason and tolerance (with none of the "woke" bullshit.) It is off to a fast start.

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Apr 8, 2023·edited Apr 8, 2023

I had a creeping sense of dread listening to Katie list out the progressive bona fides of Kate Rohde, knowing it had to be leading to an inevitable meltdown of some kind. Like watching someone go into the creepy basement in a horror movie, "watch out, the cancellation is coming from inside the house!"

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Just once I want these institutional capture stories to go differently. So far from what i can tell the only liberal institution covered on the show that has avoid getting completely sucked into this vortex of woke bullshit is.... the New York Times and that too took a while to become obvious.

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Apr 8, 2023Liked by Jessica the 80s baby

We joined a UU church in Southern California in 2011. We started leaving before the pandemic and now we are fully out. Nationally, the church has always had about 160,000 members. It hasn’t changed much since the merger of Unitarians and Universalists in the early 60s. So much for bringing in that group of “Spiritual, Not Religious”

The church is supposed to be guided by 7 principles and 6 sources. The sources draw from all spiritual teachings including eastern and western religions and secular humanism. The 7 principles were created by survey. “Hey Unitarians and Universalists, what do you want to emphasize?” It was basically SurveyMonkey on paper 60 years ago.

Our congregation always reminded me of a party where the host complains to the people that are there that none of the cool people came. You could see the thrill on people’s faces when someone of color walked in the door. However, I remember having a conversation with a Latino guy who said he found the church difficult because he was raised Catholic and the Unitarians in our congregation hd a hard time hiding their disdain for anyone who was a Christian.

I could go on and on, but the biggest issue I found with the church is that they don’t know who they are. They seem to define themselves as what they aren’t, not what they have to offer. It’s not surprising that they would embrace anti-racism as a religion because it’s what they’re missing. Something to be dogmatic about while insisting that, in this case, that trumps their survey principles.

That being said, we met a lot of wonderful people in our church who were also dumbfounded at the new direction the church had taken. Slowly those members died or left to be replaced by even more militant people who hollowed out the church.

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Apr 9, 2023Liked by Jessica the 80s baby

Lol, I remember hearing from some friends who are still involved that the UU congregation where we grew up was having trouble being "inclusive" of POC (aka attracting them). I remember thinking "Well, yeah. Most of the POC where we grew up are pretty religious...probably not a good fit.

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Yes. UU is also far more politically left than most racial and ethnic minorities. https://davidcycleback.substack.com/p/why-the-unitarian-universalist-association

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founding

One of the interesting common threads between many of these institutional capture stories is how market proof the philosophy is. Usually, when an organization makes a decision that causes many people to leave, the exiting is seen as a problem that needs to be fixed. Since this movement considers people who don’t “do the work” as having no point and being just bad, the exit or dwindling audience is seen either as proof that America (or wherever) is irredeemably racist/phobic and the exodus is good because the evil is leaving.

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I've also seen this happen with conservatives taking over liberal churches (not UU but another denomination), so, it can go either way. It's disturbing.

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"You could see the thrill on people’s faces when someone of color walked in the door." This is exactly how I remember my mother reacting when a black family joined her UU congregation. I don't think another one ever did, but I think the congregation is still milking that family for brownie points (to mix a metaphor).

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Our Catholic church is by far the most diverse place in a very white suburb. We have members from all over Africa, Asia and Latin America plus a smattering of more traditional Black Americans. But the vibe is distinctly child-of-God colorblind, "neither slave or free" not anti-racist at all.

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Every UU is different. Some have a clear idea why they are there, some are there for the coffee.

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I wonder, if my UU church could make a decent cup of coffee, would that make up for the ridiculous land acknowledgements, executive dysfunction, and accusations of racism?

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I am a former Catholic who attended an Episcopal church for a few yrs & liked their coffee hour after service tradition. But they have a Pride (the prettier old school) & a BLM sign permanently affixed to the exterior. At some point during COVID I realized they don’t have an American flag & it started to bother me bc the two other flags may be interpreted as political.

I like the rainbow flag but I read they were having a special pride themed Sunday service once about trans ppl... & I knew it wouldn’t be long before the Sunday school would start asking my children for their pronouns.

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Yes, churches are the road to trans perdition. It's a very serious issue in UUism and with other liberal religions. I used to be pretty tolerant, but realize that the churches have gone from being tolerant and accepting to full-out promotion and proselytizing of gay, lesbian, and trans approaches. We need normal sex roles.

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I was raised a catholic, went through a phase of being a militant atheist, then settled into agnosticism. I married an Episcopal priest(we're both men)so even though I'm still an agnostic I attend services and i really enjoy them. I've gotten to love the Episcopal church.

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Most of the mainline Protestant denominations traditionally preferred by liberal-ish peeps seem to be drinking the koolaid on DEI, trans activism etc.

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Back when I was going there would be two sets of cups for coffee. The blue cups were for newcomers so that others can identify them. The going joke among the adults was it was like putting your keys in a bowl and see who you pared up with.

Needless to say the whole process made the newcomers very uncomfortable.

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I remember that effort. Wasn't blue cups at every congregation, but something similar was done at a lot of them. Funny how ideas spread.

We were always trying to be welcoming to newcomers. What do you think would be a better way?

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The idea was good, the implementation was the problem. When a person with a blue cup entered the hall, they were immediately, for lack of a better term, pounced upon and surrounded.

I would tell friends who were visiting not to grab the blue cup because they were not yet sure they wanted to join, introverted in general, and valued personal space.

As for a better way, not sure, but I am more of the mind that if you have a great message, people will come. But then again I am not trying to advance a religion.

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We use red cups. Still do this in theory except I think between the pandemic and some building problems, we've forgotten to keep it up.

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The antidote to the Unitarian problem

Check out naunitarians.org It is just getting started. It values the old-school liberal enlightenment values - freedom, reason and tolerance (with none of the "woke" bullshit.) It is off to a fast start.

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John McWhorter has really hit hard on how this phenomenon is a religion. And it's funny now this quasi-religious group that did an amazing job of keeping religion out of it and being human-based has finally succumbed. Rejoice, they finally found religion!

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I know lots of religious people who buy into antiracism. It is hard to be an atheist even among Democrats. Everyone believes that some supernatural force will make everything better. Antiracism doesn’t replace religion, it just supplements their love of Jesus.

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I'm not religious. I've found it to be a literal non-issue for at least a couple of decades.

Only when I visit home in the Deep South do I run into some subset of people that want to talk about "spirituality" with me and act "concerned" when they find out I don't believe in magic things.

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Ah, it must be regional. I live in Texas. Almost everyone I know both Democrat or Republican believes in an afterlife and asks some kind of divine power they believe in for help pretty regularly. I am closeted.

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It's totally regional for me. Though it may also be just that people back home have known me long enough to know I don't have religion (or ever have).

Could also be that I rarely find a reason to declare myself an atheist. I even find the idea of "atheist" as a label a bit odd. I mean...every Christian, Hindu, Muslim, etc. does not believe in all other religions but their own. I just happen to not believe in one additional system to each of them. So why the special name?

We don't have special names for "people who don't believe in any magical holiday creatures" or "people who do not believe in any system of astrology". What do we call "people who don't believe in luck or superstition" or "people who don't believe we can control weather with dance and song"?

All of those have words for people who _do_ believe them. Religion seems to be the only category of belief where there's a word to describe those who do _not_ believe.

Ok, my little rant is done. I just never felt the lack of belief had anything to do with my identity. I think I've mentioned it in conversation maybe once or twice in 5 years or more. So maybe I'm on the non-believer down low by accident.

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Apr 8, 2023Liked by Katie Herzog

OMG. The air horn. Just no.

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My wife, in listening distance, yelled at me STOP IT when the air horn came on. But I secretly like it....?

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I usually hate loud noises but Jesse’s joy while using the sound effects was so pure that I, too, started to enjoy the air horn.

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Jesse's love of it is both dorky and adorable at the same time. I say bring it back, but not every show.

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I’m also on Team Occasional Airhorn.

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Maybe it's like the horses in "Young Frankenstein." Everytime they say D'Angelo or Kendi, it blows.

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Me too. I usually find airhorn kind of hilarious. It's good for deflating over-seriousness.

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We should create Jesse an Airhorn Jar. He can use it, but every time costs him like $5. So he has to pick the moments wisely.

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El Dude Brothers (pull down on chain).

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Yes! After the shit he's been through, I just loved his gleeful, little boy attachment to that annoying sound! :)

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I spat my coffee on the laptop keyboard after the third horn blast I was laughing so hard. Then I started to hate it.

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In the beginning, I was annoyed by the air horn. But by the end of the podcast I was so angry and frustrated, especially about what happened to Rohde — but the whole thing really, and so much more — I didn’t realize how involved and tense I felt.

The last air horn was great. Just what I needed, lol, etc., etc.

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Exactly. It was a much-needed blast of silliness after a very depressing story.

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About the fourth time I was ready to yell “GOOOOOOOOOOAALLLLLLL” but I was in a public place.

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Apr 9, 2023Liked by Jessica the 80s baby

Would really love to send this episode to my almost-70yo formerly UU parents, but unfortunately they don't really get "skip to x timestamp to avoid a really weird intro about adult diaper fetishists" so I guess they'll never hear it

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I would send it to family members who are still true-blue UUs, except that I think they are OK with all of this and would say that BARpod has poisoned my mind.

Some people have written about the UU meltdown. Not as eloquently or entertainingly, of course, but here are a couple of possibilities:

https://davidcycleback.com/2022/07/05/intolerance-and-illiberalism-in-unitarian-universalism/

https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2023/01/06/an-article-on-the-descent-of-the-unitarian-universalists-into-terminal-wokeness/

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I grew up UU and worked for the UUA in the early 2000's for about 6 years. After seeing how the sauce is made, I walked away and never looked back on the religion. The UUA leadership, including the UUMA, and staff are the most self-aggrandizing, white savor complex, power hungry, narcissists you can possibly imagine.

Most of the cancellation mentioned in the article was happening to dissenting voices even back then, but it was behind closed doors without wide spread recognition. Additionally they suffered from the same issues as any religious organization, e.g. financial misuse, moving problematic ministers to different congregations and covering up the allegations.

Wanted to add the UUA has always been a close minded organization, regardless of what they profess. From the first day there I was exposed to extreme anti Catholic bigotry. These people hated Catholics with the fire of a thousand suns.

They feel that they personally can save the world, but in reality it is a closed minded social club that is not tolerant to outsiders or new members (thus the historic declining membership), or dissenting voices.

I could go on for hours about the issues with that place.

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A friend of my briefly went to a UU congregation on the East Coast back in the mid to late 2000's. She left it because the pastor married an Indian-American woman and every sermon he went on about how he worried about how America would treat his mixed-race son. My friend was of the opinion that someone who reduced their own son to his racial identity and constantly talked about it to his congregation was not a very good parent and certainly not a good pastor. And let's face it, that kid probably grew up fine: if one of your parents is a UU pastor, the other is probably a doctor, lawyer, scientist or engineer and you're going to do fine.

One thing I wonder about is how much of this has to do with so much of the clergy being female. I'm a woman and we are much more likely to give into social pressure, especially if it's framed in certain ways. For instance, if going against society is framed as selfish or hurting others, women seem more likely to go along with the social pressure. (I'm one of those women who does not give into that kind of pressure and people remark on it all the time, so I understand how tough it can be for women.) Women are also much more sensitive to being labeled racist.

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I think that cancel culture originates in feminist call-out culture.

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Call-out culture occurs in various progressive movements, not just feminism. Women tend to dominate in a field when its prestige and power lessens. You can see this with teachers, secretaries, nurses, etc. Being a minister does not carry the same clout in communities as it once did. That may explain why some of the newer ministers try to shore up their power.

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While I agree with some that you say, the UUA does not "move problematic ministers". That's because each minister is hired by a congregation without the "denominational fiat". Methodists, Catholics, and many other religions have the top-down hierarchy which has control over ministers. Not that way in UUism. Like the Baptists, each church is in charge of hiring its own clergy. We listen to the UUA in this process, and stuff may be concealed, true.

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Apr 8, 2023·edited Apr 8, 2023

I am going to softly push back. What I mean when I said move ministers around is that the UUA investigated allegations of abuse and swept it under the rug, allowing the minister to move to other congregations, keeping them within the community. So yes, the UUA does not tell congregations who to hire, they do facilitate the hiring process, matching potential ministers with congregations through their office; and turn a blind eye (or did at the time) to issues that might arise.

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Notorious for not disciplining sexual misconduct --- especially if the minister was well connected.

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OK, that's pretty close to the process. Yes, they do protect their own. And ministers sometimes have bad fits with congregations. In our previous church, a small cadre of influential members did not like a minister recently hired because they felt her pastoral manner was not friendly enough. She was a good minister, and left due to a lack of fit with the congregation. She is now dead, of a terrible cancer.

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At the time, the way it worked was that the UUA had a pool of ministers looking for a congregation and congregations that need a new minister. The UUA provided the congregation with a curated list of ministers that might be interested and helped with the interviewing and hiring process. If the UUA has a problem with a minister or think that that the minister would not be a good fit for the congregation the minister would not be included in the list.

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We are, in point of fact, NOT hostile to outsiders or new members. MOST people do not want a church that has no God, which is the case with UUs. We don't have a cross, or a dead Jesus, or anything like that up front. If we sold our "atheist non-belief", we would do better, I've always thought. But UUs are too chicken to do that.

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Apr 8, 2023·edited Apr 8, 2023

True, but at what point does this whole thing become a social club rather than a "church"? And as you said most congregations are self contained so yours may have been open to new members but that does not mean all are. I have visited many congregations where the average age of the member was in the 60s. There was no representation or programs for young people and the members did not see any reason why they should bring in or cater to a younger generation. That is what I mean as not welcoming.

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This is the issue with many of the mainline, officially Trinitarian churches I'm familiar with, too. What struck me about the sermon clip on today's episode was how much it sounded like both Twitter and the sermons you hear in the more social-clubby mainline churches.

My spouse and I visited many such churches of the mainline sort and gave up on them all, largely because there were no children present for our kids to hang out with, and partly because we worked in lefty professions and had plenty of liberals to hang out with at times other than Sunday morning. I in particular got crabby about hearing hot-take sermons that were like less nuanced versions of what I could read in the op-ed pages.

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This is complicated. 1) Most churches are social clubs. How many "Christians" REALLY believe that Jesus died roughly 2000 years ago to save their souls? How many REALLY believe that Mary was a virgin, or any of the other nonsense that is part of religious beliefs?

2) Age of members - this is a problem we are having. Right now, we have a cadre of younger families, but this is new (for the last 4 months). Will it last? I have no idea. We try to offer programs that appeal to all, but let's face it - the UU appeal is narrow and selective.

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I think that is why evangelical Christianity is thriving - members really believe. Denominations in which belief is not strong - that is shrinking

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Evangelical Christianity is not growing, it's just shrinking more slowly than "Mainline denominations" and Catholicism.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/christianity-declines-but-not-spirituality/

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/christianity-collapsing-in-america/

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Yep. Saying this as an ex-evangelical: That's exactly why the evangelical churches are mostly growing while their mainline counterparts are shrinking. Lyman Stone and Ryan Burge are really good on the demographic research.

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The still-practicing Catholics in my family *absolutely* believe that stuff. All of it.

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Then, how, why, is it a "church"? Or have a "minister"? Who, I assume, graduated from a "seminary"? I'm so confused.

I hail from the Jewish Reformed/Reconstructionist/Renewal world, so I am not unfamiliar with congregants who are atheist or agnostic, but there's a few thousand years of cultural tradition which motivates their involvement. But I can't imagine a whole congregation of this mindset being sustainable.

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It's a church because of its history, which others have covered somewhat down thread. The unitarian part is from Christians who rejected belief in the Trinity. The universalist part is from Christians who believe that, in the end, all will be saved.

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Yeah, I got to one of those comments, so it evolved into what it is. That makes more sense.

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Gosh, you are going to be completely confused when you learn about Buddhism.

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I've got enough to grapple with for today, I think. ;)

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And among the people who do fit ... without a society in which church-going is normative --almost mandatory in the workplace, in business -- it made a convenient camo. No awkward moments answering the “Where do you worship?” icebreaker at the new job’s cafeteria, plus the real benefits of having a 3rd-space cohort, without having to lie about your metaphysic to fit in. NOW, there’s no reason not to say, I can go experience the majesty of the Universe in the middle of a redwood forest, or floating down a river or counting birds. Heck it’s just cutting out the middleman.

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I know a lot of people who are even iffy Christians/“spiritual” who believe in Jesus dying/suffering to help people out in a sort of nebulous way, let alone more religious folks. I do think there’s a lot of pressure in certain circles to not admit it/people of belief to leave those circles, so it seems a lot rarer from a certain perspective (I have strong polytheistic religious beliefs and the amount of people who know that and still make fun of believers in front of me/ say “oh but I don’t mean you” is pretty gross).

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I think this is super dependent on the congregation, just like any faith or org. Some are more cliquey than others. My mother in particular had a really hard time fitting into the UU we attended for roughly ten years when I was growing up.

Our congregation was very into a sort of agnostic, all-religions-have-a-kernel-of-truth thing, but I was surprised to make a friend in college who grew up UU and said that her congregation talked a lot about Jesus (which, bar a yearly nativity play, ours really didn't).

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Not to put too fine a point upon it, but the whole point of Christianity is that Jesus is not in fact "dead" but risen and alive. It's the Easter thing, empty tomb and that.

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My mom and dad used to work in community action, non-profits, etc. They used to tell me that you will find petty little people everywhere, intent on lording the small amount of power they've gained over whomever they can. It doesn't matter how just the cause.

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A lot of UU members are ex-Catholics who left the church for a myriad of good reasons but want to still have a church community.

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The antidote to the Unitarian problem

Check out naunitarians.org It is just getting started. It values the old-school liberal enlightenment values - freedom, reason and tolerance (with none of the "woke" bullshit.) It is off to a fast start.

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Apr 8, 2023Liked by Jessica the 80s baby

Sometimes my dad and I would go roof a church for no money and when I asked him why he would say “it feels like I’m going to do something fucked up soon.”

Why can people not understand that this is the one true religion?

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I'm going to guess you have more stories about your dad. :)

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I have always pegged him as a Unitarian. He doesn’t practice or anything but when challenged about God or Angels or whatever he says “yeah, yeah, I believe in all that horseshit.”

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I wish I could like this comment fifty times. Get that good karma, dad. Also, I want to know some of the fucked-up things he did.

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He’s been married five times. That’s most of it. The original Captain Save a Ho. Also he met my mom when he married my mom’s cousin.

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I think there's a strong case to be made that roofing is the the one true religion.

I mean, not literally roofing. But voluntary work.

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That feels the most right to me. I still don’t really trust priests.

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UUism comes out of christianity. there is still a unitarian christian association. but today most UUs are not christian so they are not allowed in the national council of churches (it's xtian)

finally, there used to be republican UUs. bob packwood of oregon (senator) and nancy johnson of conn. (congress) were UU

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I can confirm this. One branch of my family is New England Unitarian and has been since the 1700's. They were typical New England Republicans, pro-civil rights, anti-communist. Definitely celebrated Easter and Christmas and were familiar with the Bible, though they tended to view it as a book of really good stories. They were also kinda snooty in exactly the way you would expect New Englanders who were relatively well-educated for their time.

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That was probably before the big Republican-Democrat switcheroo, which I think started around the time of FDR.

I remember the day that a kid from a Republican family showed up to UU Sunday School, in about 1966. We all looked at him as if he had two heads, and this was in the very conservative South. I don't think that family stuck around very long.

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In point of fact, of all Justices of the Supreme Court, the 3rd highest count of those with a Protestant religion is Unitarian.

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The most qualified and most accomplished President of the US as well as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Howard Taft, was both a Unitarian and a Republican.

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tho he was a unitarian christian tbf. not UU

the current church has a historical connection...but it's deviated pretty far in the last century (taft's son was raised episcoaplian and his grandson was a methodist)

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Very true, that. The Unitarians of 1910 were very very far from the UUs of today. They were UNITARIANS in that they believed that Jesus was not a god.

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Packwood never went to church. He just wanted to put something down.

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How did I not know Bob Packwood was Unitarian? I wonder if he went to the church I grew up in. I grew up Unitarian in Oregon, lol.

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Wow. I've never been so glad to have abandoned the UU church. The reason I lost my faith, so to speak, was that the church was no longer secular enough for me. The sermons had too much talk of "spirituality" instead of the cerebral lectures I remembered from my youth. Some ministers would even pray!

This was in the 1990s, when the whole anti-racism stuff was starting. I don't think it's a coincidence that people who see themselves as "spiritual but not religious" are caught up in the religions of the day: anti-racism, gender ideology, etc. I'm glad that some of the un-fellowshipped ministers are fighting back.

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“Guy who leaves church for being too spiritual” is peak UU content.

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The antidote to the Unitarian problem

Check out naunitarians.org It is just getting started. It values the old-school liberal enlightenment values - freedom, reason and tolerance (with none of the "woke" bullshit.) It is off to a fast start.

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Thanks!

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The UUA began to encourage more spiritual talk in hopes of attracting POC. The leaders were pretty clear about this.

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Really!? I was totally unaware of this. By the mid-90s I was no longer immersed in UU politics, but the rest of my family was, and I don't remember anyone mentioning this (maybe because they knew it would annoy the heck out of me!).

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I think it came after the mid-90s. But those of us who are atheists have long had a problem with phrases such as "worship services."

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When you read “The Crucible” as an instruction manual.

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Incredible

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Apr 11, 2023·edited Apr 11, 2023Liked by Jessica the 80s baby

It will never not piss me off to the highest heavens when white people say that ideas of logic and reason are a part of white supremacy. So Black people are naturally illogical and unreasonable? Is it too hard for them to understand? It reminds me of people saying that we should remove gifted and talented school programs because there aren't a lot of black students. Well, it's just a thought, but maybe we should expand education such that we can get those black students up to par with G&T programs instead of killing it entirely.

Also - this episode has peaked my boyfriend on white liberalism and he fully gets why I prefer to be around white conservatives instead of white liberals as a black woman. Thank you so much for this episode, it was fantastic.

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Alternate intro to the diaper segment:

Jesse: Do you wanna talk about diapers?

Katie: Depends.

Also, I reeeaaallly wish I hadn’t been eating during that discussion.

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As a member of a UU church who plans to try having lunch with the two super-woke ministers of our congregation soon to talk about gender issues, this episode hits close to home. I'm nervous about this upcoming attempt at communication; I'm not sure either of them will even agree to meet with me once they know what I want to talk about.

I love the "be nice to each other and sort of pray together but we don't really care what you believe about creation n stuff; just, again, be nice to each other" vibe of UU. I feel like the general sentiment is what any left-of-center person really wants out of a community; we want inclusiveness and respect and dignity for all people. I think the way our Albuquerque congregation has become an intellectually and politically homogenous group of wokesters is pretty emblematic of what's unfortunately happened in left of center spaces generally in recent years.

I'm actually cautiously optimistic I'll be able to have a positive influence. I've been doing some thinking and reading lately on how people change their minds, and I think the fact that I know and have rapport with a bunch of people in our local congregation puts me in the best position possible to have a decent chance of helping people see reason about gender issues in particular, perhaps what we might call woke social justice/cancel culture more broadly. Going to try doing it one conversation at a time. My biggest concern is being immediately cancelled and not allowed to state my case at all. I'm currently strategizing on that before I try approaching our ministers. Open to any suggestions y'all might have in that regard.

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I wish you well! I have no real advice, but whatever happens, you're doing the right thing. Most women see the sexism in gender stuff, so that's always a place to start, but many are frighteningly indoctrinated.

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The trans delusion is starting to be clear - it's another way for misogynistic bullying men to get their own way, and also to get access to women for exploitation.

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I want to believe you're right, but I am skeptical that society has reached "peak trans". IPU, I hope you're right.

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Not sure, but best of luck and please let us know how it goes. And remember, from Servetus to Channing, we come from a long line of people sharing their beliefs only to face vicious rhetorical attacks.

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Good luck! The UU church really is worth saving from this nonsense.

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Good article in the recent Economist outlining European backtracking on transing children. I would bring that with me -- it is short enough they can read it and as non-threatening in its style as it can be -- reportorial.

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Was that the one with the headline about how the evidence for gender medicine is worryingly weak?

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The Dangers of Gender Medicine

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"talk about gender issues" - from what perspective? UUs are pretty open about gender nonsense. They push trans delusion to the point of proselytizing. UUs are very open to all the alphabet stuff.

If you are going to be a little on the "less gender stuff" side, send me a note or leave a reply here.

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My objections to gender essentialism are based in my own feminism, so I find I’m sometimes able to change SJW minds by pointing out how genderism is anti-female.

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oh wow, I’m an NM UU also! I’ve never gone to the ABQ services but we occasionally have had guest sermons from one of the ministers. I’d be really interested to hear how the convo goes--I’ve pretty much given up on talking to our minister about it (lost cause, I think) but would be good to know what others in the sphere are trying :/

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Just want to encourage you in your meeting. That's really courageous of you to speak up, knowing how your words *may* be received.

I have a dear friend who is heavily invovled in our local UU and we have had great convos about the gender stuff--she is extremely woke on gender ideology publicly but when we've talked privately we tend to agree on more than we disagree. I can see a real intellectual struggle there for her to maintain her life-long feminist beliefs while incorporating all these misogynistic ideas of womanhood. You're right though: you being part of the community will make a huge difference in keeping the conversation open. I've found that sort of therapized way of talking helps in convos with my friend b/c it reminds her that I am making an effort to understand and find connection. Ie, "I hear you saying that ______. It sounds like you disagree about _____." etc etc

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Best of luck. I'm not sure how brave I'd be in your situation.

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I applaud your courage and hope you will check back in with us and tell us how it went.

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Thanks! I will. Probably won’t be until the summer though, as I’ve been thinking about it and realized I should probably show my face a few times before requesting a meeting. I sing in a choir at a different church and consequently don’t get to my main Unitarian church often. Plus I like sleeping on Sunday mornings when I have the chance, and I like the fact that Unitarians don’t judge you for not coming to church that often. Lol. Anyway, the choir thing goes through the end of May, so I’m planning to show up to my Unitarian church again a few times in June before approaching the ministers. 🤞🏽

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Best of luck to you!

My agency has been going through similar convulsions since 2020. Our mission is basically the same as UUA's although we are a nonprofit CBO that serves various communities, not a church. During these convulsions, our anti-woke CEO didn't renew the contract of our uber-woke Dir. of Research, after firing her key ally, our Deputy Director. And then the CEO was in turn removed (due to accusations of bullying) by the former DD's key ally, our CFO, who is now retiring. The nearly 70 line staff across multiple programs have mainly just watched as bystanders, agog. Although there have certainly been anonymous email campaigns and survey results that have targeted both the former CEO and the soon-to-leave CFO, so I know there's division in the ranks.

I wonder what our new incoming CEO's perspective will be. I wish her the best of luck too. She is not coming into an easy workplace.

I'm glad you are still optimistic about being a positive influence and being able to change minds. I left that behind about a year ago. I tried though!

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The antidote to the Unitarian problem

Check out naunitarians.org It is just getting started. It values the old-school liberal enlightenment values - freedom, reason and tolerance (with none of the "woke" bullshit.) It is off to a fast start.

Expand full comment

Please let us know how it goes! I can't think of any good strategies, but I would love to know what you've been reading about mind changing.

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Most recently, though this wasn’t its main focus, I thought the Witch Trials of JK Rowling spoke eloquently about persuasion, since Megan Phelps-Roper used to be a member of the Westboro Baptist Church. But the book that has most informed my understanding of the issue is How Minds Change by David McRaney.

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Thanks! Any book that has the words "surprising science" in the subtitle seems like a good candidate for debunking by Jesse. But it has so many glowing reviews that I've requested the ebook from the library.

Funny, I read MPR's book and listened to the Witch Trials, and I don't recall learning what specifically persuaded her to leave the church. I remember that it was a very gradual process (the book seemed way longer than necessary!) during which she kept asking herself and others many questions. But this is probably due more to my poor memory than to any lack of elucidation on her part.

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She mentioned a few times in Witch Trials - but never really dwelt on - how there were people on Twitter who listened to her, didn't demonize her or her family or her viewpoints, were very patient and kind... who also applied gentle push-back. My impression of her point was that since she was treated humanely and since her viewpoints weren't ridiculed, she was able to be open and to truly listen to the points being made to her by people who had treated her with empathy.

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Apr 9, 2023·edited Apr 9, 2023

Thanks for refreshing my memory!

ETA: Hard to imagine this happening on Twitter now.

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I know right? I thought the same thing.

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I think it still happens all the time, but usually silently and invisibly. Most people don’t want to publicly renounce their past beliefs.

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No suggestion, but good for you!

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Success!

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I think the adult baby diaper weirdos are a close 2nd to the stories on pedophiles (excuse me, “MAPs”) in Topics I Have No Interest In.

Maybe it’s from having a parent in a nursing home. It’s a source of shame for many people when they have problems with incontinence. Or because I used cloth diapers most of the time for my children because disposable diapers are hugely wasteful, & I’m supposed to respect some freaks who willingly add to solid waste in this country because they get off on it? (I don’t believe anyone who says it’s not a fetish.) The environment isn’t a concern for a lot of what we’re not supposed to question from Progressives these days. (Other one being the way the water will be affected by all of the trans people taking exogenous hormones, when just a decade ago there were national news pieces on the environmental effects of women using hormonal birth control pills & HRT for menopause symptoms.)

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It also made me think of Augesten Burroughs writing about how his best friend had end stage AIDS and he changed his diapers because it broke his mother's heart to do so. Or my aunt changing my grandmother's diapers when her dementia got really bad. This shit is creepy

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Those are really moving stories, and every person has had family members that needed that care at the end of the lives. I agree, it is creepy.

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Yeah I rarely forward through any B&R podcast topic, but I got halfway through the adult diaper discussion and was like "I think my life will not suffer if I skip this one"

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I sacrificed my search history and you can buy cloth diapers for ABDLs. I doubt that they’re popular, but at least they exist?

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You are far braver with your search engine than I am. Having washed a ton of diapers, I doubt the people using them are willing to put in the work!

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Kink can be dangerous. I once cared for a patient who had to have a q-tip and a straw surgically removed from his urethra (the straw was the patient’s attempt to remove the q-tip).

I am networked with all kinds of progressive ministers and privy to various kinds of intradenominational conflict, but the UUs have really taken it to the next level. The Methodists just split over gay marriage, Episcopalians did that a while ago, but when everyone is already ultra-progressive I guess you have to dive deep to find a reason for controversy.

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Oh, the shudder that ran through me when they mentioned the urethra thing. I have been emotionally harmed!!!!

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Do not watch the first episode of season 3 of The Boys if "urethra play" makes you uncomfortable

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What is the argument against kink shaming? Just that shaming is bad because people should mind their own business? I can see that but it doesn’t mean I need to celebrate diapers and people wearing animal costumes and leather obsessions. Not all impulses should be indulged--just because people like something and their brain lights up when they do it, doesn’t mean they SHOULD. I shouldn’t eat candy everyday and try not to (but it is so hard) but I don’t join an online community of proud consumers of candy. What am I missing?

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I think the original meaning was more like 'don't be rude about people having kinks in general, being into some weird shit in private doesn't make you a disgusting degenerate', which I'm fully on board with. Unfortunately, like everything else in social justice politics, it's been co-opted by raging narcissists to mean something completely different - in this case, 'if you object to me flaunting my kink in public regardless of whether it's appropriate or the people around me consent then you're a prude and a bigot'.

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Yes, it is not really the “kink” part, I get the desire for novelty or playfulness within a relationship, it is the implication that it can’t be something that is harmful for some people and that it should be publicly validated.

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It grows right out of the "it's forbidden to forbid" bullshit (that I once bought) of the soixante-huitards & their American ilk.

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Sam Kris’s just put up an essay about nerd culture that sort of explains this phenomena

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Thanks, sounds interesting!

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If a kink is not dangerous, the liberal or libertarian response should be "each to their own". Though "keep it to yourself" is also a perfectly reasonable attitude.

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The narcissism of small differences.

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While small, the difference between a straw and a q-tip can be more critical than one might think.

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