Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Resistance and Transformation: An Adult Program on Unitarian Universalist Social Justice History

Activity 3: Counter-Culture and Unitarian Universalism

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Sticky dots, ten for each participant

Preparation for Activity

  • Post two sheets of newsprint. At the top of one write "Dominant Culture." At the top of the other write "Counter-Culture."
  • Optional: Write your own list of counter-culture and dominant culture values and activities.

Description of Activity

Participants examine the extent to which Unitarian Universalism belongs to the dominant culture and the extent to which it is counter-cultural.

Invite participants to brainstorm a list of the values and activities of the dominant culture. Record their responses on newsprint. After about five minutes, or once the list appears complete, direct the group's attention to the second sheet of newsprint and share:

Religious scholar Mark Oppenheimer defines a counter-culture "as offering a self-sustaining alternative model of culture.

Invite participants to name values and activities that counter the dominant culture. Record their responses on the second sheet of newsprint. Encourage discussion when participants disagree about the list on which a value or activity belongs. Add the item to both sheets if the group cannot come to agreement.

When the lists seem complete, invite participants to consider which items on both lists are also part of Unitarian Universalist culture. Give each participant ten sticky dots and ask them to place a dot next to items they believe to be part of Unitarian Universalist culture. Some items will receive multiple dots and others fewer, or none. When all dots have been placed, examine the lists together. Lead a discussion using these questions:

  • What are some values Unitarian Universalism share with the dominant culture?
  • Are there some values that Unitarian Universalists generally hold, or are inherent within Unitarian Universalism, that are counter-cultural?
  • Is it useful for Unitarian Universalists to consider themselves to be counter-cultural? Why? Or, why not?
  • What links do you observe between counter-cultural values and temporary autonomous zones?
  • Does expressing values or engaging in activities counter to the dominant culture strengthen Unitarian Universalist social justice work? Does it deepen Unitarian Universalist spirituality and identity? Why, or why not?

Including All Participants

If any participants have mobility challenges, replace the sticky dot activity by inviting the group to indicate by a show of hands which items on each list they perceive to be consistent with Unitarian Universalist culture; tally the responses on the newsprint.