[Gayle Scroggs, UUFE Inner Circles]
“I trust that there is not a young man living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian.” Thomas Jefferson, 1822
Jefferson was certainly proven wrong, and there’s no sign that his prophecy will come true in our lifetime. Despite our usual conversations, what if the major deterrent to growth in UUism is not really about marketing and branding but about adult cognitive development?
Individuals progress through increasingly complex (but not necessarily better) stages of meaning-making, asserts Harvard’s Robert Kegan in his cognitive constructive-developmental model, described in his classic In Over Our Heads. One writer simplified it in a short blog post: http://developmentalobserver.blog.com/2010/06/09/an-overview-of-constructive-developmental-theory-cdt/)
Does Kegan’s model help explain why so few choose UUism? Kegan says that most adults are at stage three, looking at the world through a lens of tradition. Fewer reach the fourth stage, called “self authoring,” which describes those who are able to take off the traditional lens to inspect it, while creating their own system of meaning. Doesn’t that sound like most UUs? That’s what this UU minister claims: http://www.meadville.edu/uploads/files/104.pdf
But what happens to a UU as s/he moves from “self-authoring” to “self-transforming”? I think that’s where we see a lot of interest in the Eastern religions, especially Buddhism.