Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Working Class

There is a great article by Doug Muder in The World magazine about why Unitarian Universalism doesn't appeal to the working class.

My first reaction to the article was he got it just right. I was pretty excited because it pulled together ideas I had had over the years into a coherent argument.

I have wondered why we don't attract more working class people or people of color to Unitarian Universalist congregations. I had put it down to culture rather than religion, but Muder makes the case that there is a difference between classes in what they need from religion. For example, in a consumer culture,successful people need help making good choices. He writes "The primary spiritual challenge of the professional class is discernment."

For the working class, its more about sucking up and doing what needs to be done, without being consumed by rage and going off the deep end. In short, the spiritual message that resonates with the working class is "Resist temptation."

Muder does a good job of drawing distinctions between the working class and the professional class without judging either. But he draws a picture of very different worlds -- so different that when he calls for unity in the end, its hard to think it could happen.

Muder says we don't have to give up anything, we need 'both subtle discernment and doing the obvious hard thing. Inspiration and self-control'. Without the unity of those ideas we aren't anything but a boutique religion. Its at this point that I need to get stop thinking of models of behavior and hear just how this is new robust religion is done. What would it look like? What would a sermon sound like and would I want to hear it?


LaReinaCobre said...

Good questions.

Jamie Goodwin said...

My reaction was different you are welcome to read it here.