Mom to the Left

I'm a mom who tends to live just to the "left" of most of the people around me here in Indiana.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A popular culture UU??

The recent announcement of the UU Blog awards and the resulting nominees has caused me to spend some time ruminating on what I've been reading. One of the blog entries that really struck me was called Am I Too Stupid to be a UU?. I was struck to my very core with this post because it sounded so much like something I could have posted myself. Sometimes I feel like UU's are intellectual snobs. I don't think it is intentional. Some of my dearest friends are UU's who I love to death and I don't think they mean to be intelluctually prejudiced. But we are. Do I really belong here? Am I smart enough to keep up?

I struggle with this myself. I go between being proud of the intellectual achievements of UU's (over 98% of our church has at least a bachelor's degree) and being revolted at the isolation caused by being brainiacs. I relate more to people who have a modicum of education and awareness of the world at large. But at the same time I am revolted (almost physically) at that very thing. How dare I place value on something so trivial. Yuck!

I think this particular issue resonates with my own issues of belonging in my spiritual (UU) community and in my residential (rural America) community. The thing that comes first to mind is popular culture. With UU's (primarily my own church and secondarily the online UU world) popular culture is taboo. Here are some specific examples of my feeling marginalized because of my interest in popular culture: at a UU book discussion (don't remember the book we were talking about) several comments were made about the low level standards of people who watch such "banal" TV as Survivor (lots of eye rolls) as if this is beneath them. Note: I am a huge Survivor fan and my family and I watch every new season with loyal attention. I felt marginalized. Another instance: I went to a youth group parent "meeting" where the topic of discussion was youth and media. Again, people who watch TV were characterized (in my opinion, at least) as inferior. The UU's at this gathering bragged that they only own one TV per household and it is permanenty fixed to PBS. Again, being someone who (gasp) keeps up with popular culture, I felt marginalized. Why does my enjoyment of watching these (albeit trashy) TV shows make me somehow less?

I admit it. I watch TV. I listen to radio. I keep up with popular culture. We watch the local sports teams and cheer them on. We watch Survivor and American Idol. We watch the Office and My Name is Earl. One of my favorite shows is Seinfeld. I wear blue on "Blue Fridays" to support my Colts football team. This feels so anti-UU. Sigh.

It also happens on the blog world. I am a new blogger and I feel like a kid hanging out with the grown ups. We have all these seminarians and ministers posting these "Deep Thoughts" and I feel, frankly, silly. My blog will never be on the nominations list for the UU Blog awards. I'm just not up to snuff. I read some mainstream novels and watch TV and listen to regular radio music. Does that mean I have to revoke my UU membership? I don't know. God still speaks to me to love my fellow humans, whomever they may be.

You know, I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. In my real world existence as a mom and substitute elementary teacher, I feel much more educated than most and very worldly in comparison. (My son, a freshman in high school, was the ONLY kid in class who was able to successfully say who Nancy Pelosi is and how she is noteworthy...most kids have no idea). But in the UU world I feel like a fraud.

I think the nominations for the annual UU Blog awards has caused me to really think about who I am as a blogger (among other things). I will never be a theologian or someone with "deep thoughts". But I am a real American mom with three boys, a husband, a house, a dog, too many bills and not enough money, a job I love but pays squat, a love for TV, books, and music, and for God and its presence in my life. I won't post high-falutin' theses on religious concepts. That isn't me. But I can post about how God is moving in my life, how UUism speaks to me, how I love my kids and Seinfeld at the same time and have something to offer the world.

I have a feeling I'll have more to say on this issue in future posts. Stay with me and see what happens.

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  • At 2:28 AM, Blogger UU Soul said…

    Gilmore Girls fan here. CSI, Monk, and SciFi channel as well. I could qualify as Christian using your description, but I don't limit myself to that path. I claim "mystic" when the question arises. I know the feeling of being on the fringes. Administrators are very reluctantly beginning to be included in our denomination's "religious professionals." Also as a woman who hasn't been able to have kids, the mom culture is something I can only look into from outside the window. As for the UU blog world, I like a variety of styles. All deep, intellectual thoughts is just too much. BTW, you should submit your blog to UUpdates!

  • At 9:53 AM, Blogger UUpdater said…

    Sounds like you have something worthwhile to say to me. I love My Name is Earl, and how could a tv show about a guy trying to be a better person not be UU? Ok, I know karma isn't UU, but how could it be considered "not UU"? UU philosophy should have a much more universal appeal and that doesn't mean shunning popular society.

    p.s. I have added the blog to UUpdates since 2 other bloggers (in addition to the commenter) recommended it.

  • At 12:25 PM, Blogger Mystical Seeker said…

    Thanks for dropping a note in my blog.

    I'd say that what you just wrote in this entry proves that you are smart enough to be a UU, or anything you choose to be. It was well written, heartfelt, and sincere.

    A person can have both highbrow and lowbrow tastes. I never liked that idea of calling something a "guilty pleasure". That always struck me as absurdly snobbish. If it is a pleasure, don't feel guilty about it--revel in it! I have all sorts of tastes myself, some "highbrow" and some "lowbrow". I don't think anyone should ever apologize for what they like.

  • At 2:03 PM, Blogger Jess said…

    I'm much more interested in Unitarian Universalists living their faith than those who just pontificate. So, sweetie, don't be so down on yourself. You have a lot to offer the world, and the blogosphere, too. ;-)

  • At 5:58 PM, Blogger LaReinaCobre said…

    There's no reason for you to feel inferior among the pool of UU blogs. Everyone has their own style, interests, and strong suits. Like you, they will write about what they know.

    I hope you won't be intimidated by the fact that a person has a degree or writes about difficult theological concepts. Being intimidated or ashamed by someone else's accomplishments is not much different from being arrogant because of one's accomplishments. In both cases, a value is attached to what they've done and to what we've done; and comparisons are drawn to reinforce negative feelings that are already there.

    Most of my friends are college educated. I don't feel less than them because of it (I used to vex about it, but what a waste of time). I used to feel intimidated about a lot of things. It's easy to feel marginalized; we've all been there. If you're happy with the life you've created for yourself, then be proud! Even if everyone at church had a doctorate or was worth a million bucks - you might feel out of place, or not ministered to very well, but you don't have to feel badly about yourself or the choices you've made.

    And when people are being snobby, then you might have to pipe up. You might be surprised to find out you're not the only sports fan who watches reality tv and eats non organic donuts. This would describe many of my UU friends!

  • At 7:56 PM, Blogger AmyWW said…

    Yeah, don't sweat it. Next time everybody is getting on their "I only watch PBS and eat organic granola in my hand-twilled sweater" (try living in the Boulder/Ft Collins area!) tell them proudly that you love Survivor and you don't care.

    More people are with you that admits. I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Go figure!


  • At 11:34 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Heya! Thanks for the comment and link to my post!

    We're two peas in a pod on this one. It might be the hoosier in me - I was born in Indianapolis and lived there till I was 10 - moved down to Georgia in the summer of 93 - Ill let you do the math on my age :-D All of my extended family is in Indianapolis metro are but my immediate nuclear family.

    The friend who got me started with Unitarian blogging reminded me that a lot of these blogs are the seminarians needed a place to vent while studying.

    I like to think of it as us real people are too busy to have deep thoughts on blogs :-D


    I went to a UU Pals house to watch the game and went nuts.

  • At 6:45 PM, Blogger PeaceBang said…

    I write about fashion and celebrities. How much more shallow can you get? But people love it.

    Don't kid yourself. We all have a junk food junkie inside. Have fun with it.

    As far as all the "high falutin' thoughts," much of that comes through conversation within the blogging community. If you hang out in the UU blog community, you will likely be provoked, inspired, goaded and drawn against your will (at times) into very deep places of reflection. And before you know it -- watch out!-- you'll be high falutin' yourself!

    Glad to have you back. I've been a fan since the beginning.

  • At 12:17 AM, Blogger Kim said…

    In the last forty years or so there has been a lot of prejudice against intellectuals. Perhaps what you are feeling is some backlash?
    Don't worry about it -- you like what you like -- and so do they. Find what you have in common, and go from there.
    I'd say more, but I'm scared to.

  • At 2:38 AM, Blogger Charlie said…


    My suggestion is to borrow David Robinson's history book "The Unitarians and Universalists" from the library. Read up on some obscure aspect of U-Uism; Transcendentalism, the first Humanist Manifesto, NeoPaganism, whatever. Consider how you feel about that topic and then develop three reasons to support your feelings. You'll sound like an intellectual in no time.

    However, your intellectual capacity may continued to be questioned until you accept the New England Patriots as The One True U-U Team. May the Pats be with you.


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