By now I’m thoroughly fed up with the back-and-forth on Todd Eklof’s book The Gadfly Papers. Eklof himself has been besmirched by the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association, and without a clear explanation as to why they censured him. His critiques of what he sees as disturbing trends within Unitarian Universalism have not been undercut by his critics in any serious way.
We had a discussion of his book this week in our local UU book club. Our own minister, who I’m sorry to say signed the Open Letter, mentioned a document that she said pointed out inaccuracies in the book. I asked her where I could download that document, and she sent a link. It’s not easy to find this essay using a search engine; it was written by Elissa Lowe, who seems to be a member of Eklof’s UU congregation in Spokane. (I’m guessing; Lowe mentions UUCS without ever spelling out what the acronym stands for.) I did manage to find another critical essay, this one by Dennis McCarty, a UU minister.
I like to keep an open mind. If there’s a case to be made against Eklof’s book, I want to hear it. So I downloaded and read what my minister had recommended. And by golly, Lowe spotted three inaccuracies in Eklof’s book! None of them is significant with respect to his central thesis, but there they are. There’s also one seriously overblown bit of rhetoric, which Lowe points out. Eklof should have hired a good editor.
I’ve spent the past couple of days going through Lowe’s and McCarty’s essays. They’re remarkable, and not in a good way. I have now written a critique of their critiques. Rather than upload my own essay directly into this blog, I’m making it available as a PDF. You can download it, if you dare, using this link. I’ve tried to keep it both readable and non-inflammatory, but I fear I may have failed on both counts. The topics of concern are rather labyrinthine: Who said what, what the context was, what they meant by such-and-such a term, what did or didn’t happen at some point.
And who, outside of the tiny UU denomination, gives a flying fuck? Nobody. It’s a tempest in a teapot.
If you’d care to do some further research into all this (and I can’t say “God help you,” because we Unitarians eschew the use of the G-word), I suggest a short book by Anne Schneider called The Self-Confessed “White Supremacy Culture”: The Emergence of an Illiberal Left in Unitarian Universalism. It’s on Amazon, $5 for the e-book.
I fear this controversy is more than a bit reminiscent of our current state of political paralysis in the United States. It’s no longer possible to have a meaningful dialog with people on the other side of the aisle, because our premises have become too disparate. One group thinks Unitarian Universalism is wallowing in “white supremacy culture.” You can’t talk to them; they don’t even speak the same language. If you try to disagree with them, that only proves you’re a white supremacist.
I’ve had enough of it. I’m going to go put on my bedsheet now and … oh, wait. I wasn’t supposed to mention that.