Quarterfinals! The most UU thing ever, MMXVII edition

Banner parade at GA

From sixteen Really UU Things, readers have narrowed it down to eight Like, Really, Really UU Things. Which deserve to go on to the Final Four?

Kenny Wiley

Image: © Nancy Pierce

© Nancy Pierce/UUA


Skip ahead to vote or meet the contestants.

It’s on to the quarterfinals of our March Madness tournament to crown the Most UU Thing of All Time, 2017 edition! More than 550 voters participated in Round 1.

You narrowed the field from sixteen Really UU Things to eight Truly UU Things. Like last year, Lighting the Chalice and “Spirit of Life” were especially dominant in Round 1. There were two upsets: the UU winter holiday Chalica defeated the Iowa Sisterhood, and the 12-seed, Wayne Arnason’s beautiful “Take Courage” reading, scratched the 9:45 a.m. Forum in the Margaret Fuller Room.

The UU World March Madness Committee is thrilled about some of the upcoming matchups. Of particular interest are Defying the Nazis vs. the Black Empowerment Controversy and Lighting the Chalice vs. the Transcendentalists. How does one even choose? I’d suggest a Sunday morning forum discussion—but after its surprising loss, maybe a committee meeting would be better?

We’d love to garner suggestions for future contestants. (OverUUsing “UU” in the Middle of Words, anyone?) We’ve heard a lot of love for Adventurous Clapping, and it garnered 199 votes, but its matchup with Defying the Nazis proved too tough.

Vote in the quarterfinals before Monday morning, March 13, when the semifinals will begin. And keep an eye on our Facebook page as we highlight some of the matchups and invite your commentary.

The final showdown starts March 16, at which time you, dear souls, get to choose the Most UU Thing of All Time . . . again.

Bracket 1

Lighting the chalice
© Nancy Pierce

(1) Lighting the chalice. Most UU communities do this simple ritual every week. Will this UU staple repeat its 2016 championship as Most UU Thing Ever, or will our anti-institutional streak topple it?

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Public domain

(8) Transcendentalists. Leave your best “So William Ellery ChanningElizabeth Palmer Peabody, and Ralph Waldo Emerson walk into a bar” jokes in the comments.

Bracket 2

young women hugging
© LaraBelova/iStock

(12) That “Take Courage” reading by Wayne Arnason. Approximately 172.63 percent of Unitarian Universalists shared Arnason’s moving benediction on social media during or right after Election Day.

General Assembly banners
© Nancy Pierce

(4) General Assembly. My dream is one day to publish a “UU GA Fashion Guide” highlighting the sock-and-sandal combos, fanny packs, and terrific hats we wear to our annual convention. The worship, preaching, and music are SO good, though!

Bracket 3

Martha and Waitstill Sharp
UUSC Archives

(3) Defying the Nazis. Martha and Waitstill Sharps’ mission to rescue refugees from the Nazis—the subject of Ken Burns’s documentary—was one of our faith’s finest hours. UU children know that our flaming chalice symbol comes from these times as well.

seizing microphones at 1969 General Assembly
© 1969 Steven H. Hansen/UUA

(6) Black empowerment controversy. Many black UUs and other UUs of color argue the late 1960s hold painful and revealing truths about our faith. Black Lives of UU helps us learn from those mistakes in the Black Lives Matter era.

Bracket 4

Chalica candles
© Lisa Romantum Schwartz

(10) Chalica. Our very own seven-day winter holiday honors a different UU Principle each night.

Hymn 123
© Christopher L. Walton

(2) “Spirit of Life.” Kimberly French wrote about the 2016 runner-up: “No other song, no other prayer, no other piece of liturgy is so well known and loved in Unitarian Universalism as ‘Spirit of Life’ by Carolyn McDade.”