The Eclectic Cleric has a wonderful post "Theodore Parker's destructive legacy . . ." It provides an explanation for his comment on my post "Glory Days."
To read about this exchange in detail, please follow the links above. The short version was my concern that our love of our past--both our shared historical past and the pasts and cultures of our individual congregations--might discourage us from making the changes necessary for a vital future. The Eclectic Cleric wrote the following: "The influence of people like Theodore Parker (in particular) on subsequent generations of Unitarian clergy has in many ways been more harmful than good."
With the best of intentions, I meant to ask him to clarify his remark, but didn't get around to it. Now in his "Theodore Parker's destructive legacy . . .", he's provided that clarity. While I encourage you to read The Eclectic Cleric's complete post, a critical observation he's made is that Parker suicided through overwork, setting a bad example for subsequent UU clergy.
While I'm new to UU ministry, I'm not new to UUism or to overwork. I believe that we set UU ministers on the path of self-destruction by expecting that they will be competent in 15 different areas. We put an "S" on their chests, give them a robe (not a cape), and tell them to make a leap of faith over tall, if not impossible, demands.
Success is often attributable to being specialized and focused. Those who try to be all things to all people may end up disappointing everyone.
It may come as a surprise after the above, but I have some ambivalence around this issue. Ministerial formation caused me to stretch in painful yet growthful ways. The line between a healthy stretch and an injury isn't always clear. The line between appropriately addressing multiple responsibilities and wasting one's energies by spreading them too thin is similarly cloudy.
The mind wants to simplify and is particularly fond of bifurcation. Focus on the congregation or on the community? Hallman or Morales? But the issues we're raising are too complex to neatly fit into dichotomies. Let's continue to bring attention to these questions and encourage others to do so as well.
1 week ago