Saturday, March 22, 2008


The above is not a typo. It's an acronym, a new one created (as far as I know) by Meghan McHenry. It stands for "Born Unitarian Universalist Young Adults", and I think it is brilliant. UUism is currently rife with young adults, terminology and speculation abounds at what would cater to the recently converted, the discoverers, and that whole group of people who discover Unitarian Universalism. These are people who fall in love with the faith for principle number 4, "A free and responsible search for truth and meaning". These are people seasoned by other religion, and perhaps burnt out on outside traditions. These people are essential to the faith, of course; this is a religion of converts, and one that doesn't really proselytize. But "young adults", as a term to describe such individuals, is fundamentally flawed. It excludes the very simple reality of those who find the church before they are 18, or those who are simply brought up as the native children in a religion of converts.

BUUYA as a literal term ignores the former of those groupings, so I don't expect it to become a huge deal in the intensely politically correct and subtext-centric terminology of UUs. It does address a need, however, and until I find a better term, I'll be using BUUYA as the catch-all for the post-YRUU Unitarian diaspora. This is a group that isn't really addressed by current Young Adult structures, groups, or culture, and this is an already existing gap.

I should clarify something - this isn't supposed to be nativist sentiment or backlash. This isn't railing against the inclusion of others into a system I was born into. And this isn't an attack on the structures that exist that are serving a need of N(new)UUYAs. It's also not an attempt to polarize the discussion. This is, however, an attempt at labeling. I think the discussion could use the term, and I think that if the problems of YRUU, Young Adults, and the diaspora are to be addressed, it'd be really good to have a vocabulary that allows for the full debate.

There are problems that "being Young Adult friendly" doesn't address, and there are problems with conceptions of "retaining youth". The issue is complex, and for all the categorization and labeling that can be done to look at this big picture, the issue of those raised UU staying with the church goes back to that 4th principal - it's an individual search, and we as a faith need to be just as happy and grateful and catering to those who choose to stay as for those who discover UUism.

No comments: