"GAdding About" Day 6

Sunday, June 24, 2006

Prepared for UUA.org by Doug Muder


I just got back from the morning worship service, which proved once again that Unitarian Universalist worship can be raucous. I'm still trying to figure out how to bring that message home to Bedford.

It's Sunday, the last day of General Assembly, time to think about how to wrap up.

Other UU blogs. No GA blog would be complete without a review of the other GA blogs. I've been following them by watching the UUpdates aggregator.

Over at uuworld.org, Chris Walton is doing a GA blog that covers exactly what I've been ignoring: the business side of GA. GA is, after all, the UUA's annual meeting. You could have a very full GA focused entirely on the plenaries, which I've skipped.

Occasionally I've been hearing gossip about the difficulties delegates have been having with the global warming resolution, (ChaliceChick describes it as "a huge freaking mess") but I've avoided passing that gossip on because I didn't know what I was talking about. Chris knows. You can read his blog for yourself.

Trivium isn't in St. Louis, but is following GA through the GA web site. One issue Trivium raises comes from the opening ceremony. The organizing committee tried to get a local Native American tribe to give a blessing, but the Osage refused. Trivium found their message to be rude. Actually, as I listened to the build-up to reading the Osage message, I was thinking "I'd tell those UUs to go get stuffed." The Osage did.

On her "Beauty Tips for Ministers" site, which I'm told is catching on with clergy of all denominations, PeaceBang threatens to put together a ponytail-snipping posse for next year's GA. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Philocrites responds to my fantasy of the UUA building some community blogging infrastructure on his blog.

The blog "A People So Bold" does what I promised to do—collects bloggers' reactions to the UU bloggers get-together Wednesday night.

On "Yet Another Unitarian Universalist," Dan Harper (in his "General Assembly, First Day" post) raises an issue I was planning to talk about myself: The problem of being an introvert at GA. "In another two days, I'll just stop recognizing people," he says. "You extroverts won't understand this, but at a certain point we introverts just stop processing information like that."

No kidding, Dan. The next time I'm tempted to think I'm not really an introvert, I'll remember GA. It's not that I don't like people or can't deal with them, but they wear me down. I'm exhausted at the end of every day here, and I'm looking forward to a few days of hermitage when I get home.

GA actually makes a good introvert/extrovert test. If at the end of the conference you're pumped to go back to your congregation and start a raft of new programs, you're an extrovert. If you're fantasizing about a nice dark room, you're an introvert.

Wrapping Up. Other than the closing ceremony tonight, GA is over for me. Like everybody else, I missed a whole lot more neat stuff than I saw, and I'm trying not to feel bad about that. On the other hand, I saw at least one truly wonderful thing each day, and sometimes more than one. Not bad at all.

This was my third GA, if you count the one day I attended in Boston two years ago. I got into it this time, and I think I may become a regular now. I've never been to Portland . I hear it's nice.

I have a bunch of thoughts to take back with me, which I intend to mull over during my upcoming days of hermitage. Maybe then I'll get to the place the extroverts are now, and be ready to make stuff happen back at my home congregation.

In particular I'm going to be thinking about what I blogged on Saturday morning: the formation of a religious left and where UUs can fit into that. I think I get now what Bill Sinkford has been saying about language, but I'm not sure where to go with it. Basically, it's the same issue we all face when we join a congregation: How do you remain true to yourself while banding together with enough people to get something done?

At any good conference you should become a big fan of somebody you'd never heard of before. For me this time it's Jason Shelton. The two pieces from his cantata that the Church of the Larger Fellowship choir performed Thursday were just amazing, and I also liked his hymn from the same service. When I got to the Sunday worship a few minutes late and realized I'd missed singing another Shelton hymn, I was very disappointed.

Finally, I recognize that for many of you this hasn't really been a blog, because you couldn't leave comments. Believe me, I missed hearing from you as much as you missed the chance to respond. I discussed this issue with the powers-that-be prior to GA, and the conclusion was that the official GA website couldn't be open to unscreened comments. The risk was too great that some off-the-wall comment could be taken out of context and made to look like an official statement of the UUA. Maybe in the future, as the culture comes to understand blogs better, things could change.

In the meantime, I have this compromise. When I get home I plan to repost most of my GA observations on my personal blog, Free and Responsible Search. I'll be happy to read your comments there.

Finally, thanks to the GA web staff for making the technical details invisible to me, and thanks to Deb Weiner at the UUA for asking me to do this. It's been fun, and I'm glad to have had this opportunity.

See you in Portland.