Online responses to 'UU World.'
Many reactions to UU World and uuworld.org’s articles never arrive as letters. Instead, they show up on the Internet on blogs written by Unitarian Universalists and others. (The largest guide to UU blogs is UUpdates.net.)
Doug Muder’s review essay in the Fall issue, “Secularism and Tolerance after 9/11,” discussed books by Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett, and Reza Aslan. On his own blog, “Free and Responsible Search,” Muder expanded on themes from his review. See “Can We ‘Just Say No’ to Irrationality?” (August 24), “Reviewing Harris, Dennett, and Aslan” (August 22), and “Heroes and Martyrs” (August 23).
Muder’s essay—and Warren Ross’s uuworld.org interview with Harris, “Does Tolerance Disarm Religious Liberals?”—generated buzz by exploring the value and limits of liberal religious beliefs in the face of fundamentalism. Here’s a sampling of those reactions:
The anonymous Massachusetts UU minister who writes “The Lively Tradition” posted the following response: “The issue is not the nuances and paradoxes of tolerance; the issue is power. The religiously tolerant and the religiously intolerant can co-exist, but only when the religiously tolerant have the power” (thelivelytradition.blogspot.com, September 4).
At “Making Chutney,” an Atlanta UU wrote that Dennett and Harris are offering too narrow a definition of religion. “The pop secularists . . . selectively winnow out of religion everything that does not fit their polemical purposes.” (makingchutney.com, September 5).
In his uuworld.org article about Harris, Ross quoted UUA President William G. Sinkford: “To do anything other than respect the beliefs of others, even those who challenge ours . . . would violate our religious principles so deeply that it’s simply not an option.”
UU seminarian Shawn Anthony praised Sinkford at “Lo-Fi Tribe”: “A Unitarian Universalism dedicated to the above liberal ideal will have a bright—and difficult—future. . . . The first sacrifice to be left at the religious liberal altar will undoubtedly be the familiar and comfortable need to always be right.” In response, one commenter asked: “Should our reaction to religious doctrines of inequality or disrespect be to respect those doctrines? Shouldn’t our reaction instead be to respectfully disagree with those doctrines and to offer our own principles as an alternative?” (lofitribe.com, September 5; this blog has subsequently gone off the air).
Sinkford’s “Our Calling” column, which called for UUs to promote comprehensive sexuality education in the schools, angered the author of “ChaliceBlog.” “[W]hy is it that we are totally in favor of keeping religion out of schools when evolution is the question, but when the subject is sex ed, our church is supposed to behave as a political force to get what we want taught in the schools?” (chalicechick.blogspot.com, September 19). On the other hand, Shelby Meyerhoff at “Promise the Children Blog” cheered Sinkford’s announcement (promisemasschildren.org/act/blog, September 19).
see below for links to UU World stories mentioned in this article.
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Jane Greer is a former senior editor of UU World magazine.