Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ministerial Examining & Climate Change

When I came up w/ the above topic, I thought of the folowing:
  • the old Reese's commercials about accidentally getting chocolate in peanut butter and vice versa;
  • a poetry workshop in which we were given the task of creating poems using randomly selected words to start each line (a great exercise that produces amazing results);
  • a desire to let you know that I do not spend all my time thinking about ministerial examining; and
  • my interest in discovering links between ministerial examining and climate change, two of my current passions.
I went from a mild interest in climate change straight to despair (do not pass GO; do not collect $200) after attending Dan Miller's "A Really Inconvenient Truth" presentation (summary here) at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland. Miller claimed that we must reduce dramatically the release of of carbon into the atmosphere within the next 2 or 3 years if we are to avoid environmental disaster within the next 20 years. With my knowledge of the glacial speed of cultural change, I interpreted him as saying that we would face the inevitable if we didn't do the impossible. (And, considering how quickly the glaciers are melting, I may need to come up w/ another metaphor, like "bowling in the sand," to describe the slowness of cultural change.)

I'm grateful to report that my trip to despair was quite brief. (Not a nice place; don't recommend it.) It occurred to me that UU communities, littered as they are with scientists and engineers, might be a good place to start tackling climate change. Naturally, at least for all of you who have been paying more attention than I have, I found that many UUs and others such as Bill McKibbon of (YouTube video here) had preceded me in this thought.

So what does all this have to do with ministerial examining? Before I answer that question, one more aside.

I just finished listening to the book Change or Die, which I highly recommend. In it, the author tells the story of Madison Avenue advertising account reps who made quite a good living placing ads on broadcast television. As the audience for that medium shrank, the cost of the ads increased. This could not go on forever, and in time, many account reps saw their commission income drop significantly as more and more advertising dollars moved to the Internet.

There are many types of "climate change." The "climate" in which UU ministry is practiced is changing, as the new UUA President frequently reminds us. Like the advertising account representatives, UU ministers may need new knowledge and competencies to thrive in the midst of change. If that's the case, then ministerial formation, examining, and development will be enhanced by changing too.


  1. Robin Nelson1/07/2010 9:00 AM

    It would be great to see more ministers interested and willing to talk about the environment from the pulpit. I've heard from multiple congregations (and in my opinion one is already too many) that their ministers are resistant to talking about the environment and not willing to help their congregation with the Green Sanctuary Program.

  2. I would offer that it's the minister's job to reflect theologically on the ideas that are at the foundation of environmentalism, and not about environmentalism itself. When people complain that our congregations are too focused on "activism" or "politics," my interpretation of this is that they're not hearing enough about the more fundamental issues that help us reach an activist or political perspective.