GA Notes: Berry Street Essay

Rev. Sean Dennison delivered the 2015 Berry Street Essay. His title: "Mission Impossible: Why Failure is Not an Option"

When he says failure is "not an option," he means that it isn't an option because it is inevitable. Some notes:

As long as we fear failure, burn energy trying to be perfect, we won't have the energy to be the relevant and growing UU that we want to be. Fear of failure keeps us stuck thinking small. You might as well go ahead and plan to fail -- because you will fail.

Preaching today needs to be something rather different from what preaching used to be. I vital -- often central -- function of preaching used to be to explain big truths. Listeners no longer care about having big truths explained to them. They have Google for that. Listeners don't need more information any more -- rather, people need help sorting through the overload of info they already have.

"Authentic." All sorts of peo (event planners, culinary artists) are looking for better ways to appear authentic. Peo don't trust "slick." They like flaws. They detest insincerity and seek out the authentic.

How We Are Failing: Serving the overserved. Once there was a well-known preacher. He started RealLivePreacher.com -- one of the early big successes of using the internet. Then he left ministry. When asked in private, he explained, "I could no longer serve the over-served." This sums up our failure.

The Failure of Privilege. We say that everyone is worthy, but the system is insidious at getting us to judge and rank everyone -- against a standard of perfection that is young, thin, white, male, straight, etc.

"One mistake we often make is trying to lead with our strengths rather than our heartbreak." (Rev Marlin Lavanhar) Counter the culture of perfectionism and lead with our heartbreak and our failure. "We can use devastation as a seedbed for new life" (Parker Palmer)

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