“A Pandora’s box” is the way Terri Dennehy Pahucki (at “UU Intersections”) described Doug Muder’s article “Not My Father’s Religion: Unitarian Universalism and the Working Class.” Not only did this article provoke a record number of letters for the print magazine, it also generated intense discussion in the blogosphere.
Bloggers agreed that Muder’s article raised complex issues. For one, how does one define working class?
“Are we really all either working class, professional, or impoverished?” asked Pahucki. “My husband and I make so little money that we qualified for Medicaid this past year, yet we both have master’s degrees.” (uuintersections.blogspot.com, August 31)
“I’m not so sure what defines class anymore,” wrote Earthbound Spirit. “Is it education? At one time I would have said yes. However, if one still believes that an undergraduate degree is a ticket to middle class success these days, one should take off one’s rose-colored glasses.”
Earthbound Spirit continued in the same post, “I wonder if these dividing lines are both more fluid and more rigid than once believed. More fluid, because yesterday’s highly sought-after master’s-level computer professional scrambles today for decent jobs in an industry that has fully embraced the practices of hiring local contract workers and off-shore outsourcing. More rigid, because the standards to become professionals are higher than ever—and the education required to get there more expensive.” (earthbound-spirit.blogspot.com, August 31)
Others argued that working-class people did indeed experience job satisfaction.
“Gallup Poll after Gallup Poll shows that job satisfaction has less to do with money and much more to do [with] being respected and cared for, being creative and acknowledged for the work they do,” wrote Jamie Goodwin at “Trivium.” “Work for working people is not an unending cycle of monotony.” (wherewemeet.blogspot.com, August 21)
Pahucki, who entitled her post, “A response to Muder from the mailman’s daughter,” described the satisfaction her father got from his job. “Rather than become a robotic worker, he transcended his role by living it to the fullest, and finding meaning within it—by serving his customers, and—as a union steward—his coworkers.”
But professionalism is no guarantor of happiness wrote Joel Monka at “CUUMBAYA.” “My father was a professional, lived and breathed his job, wrote articles for trade journals about it . . . and was bitterly unhappy for most of the time I knew him.” (cuumbaya.blogspot.com, August 22).
The Rev. Kit Ketcham (at “Ms. Kitty’s Saloon and Road Show”) wondered if Unitarian Universalism’s problem was less about class, than about a perceived lack of definition. “The people I know who choose other religions than UUism are smart people, educated people, fine people. They are not interested in UUism because to them, we’re not really a religion.” (mskittyssaloonandroadshow.blogspot.com, August 26)
Don Berg (at the “Attitutor Blog”) had problems with Muder’s metaphor of life as a maze that can be looked down upon: “I suspect that this portrait condemns us to failure before we even start by emphasizing the false idea that we have an inherently superior perspective over people of ‘lower’ classes and conservative theology,” he wrote. (blog.attitutor.com, August 30)