Our Thoughts Are Free

by John Eichrodt, UU Basel

Gevene, our editor of the Unifier, recently asked for contributions to the Unifier.

I tried to think of what would be best to write about. I thought of so many subjects and events that I decided simply to share them with you.

The most tragic event of the year, for me, has been the dissolution of the ICUU. I felt it was the biggest tragedy in the history of our movement. I wondered why the UUA had allowed it to drift into extinction, with terrible consequences for future generations of UUs around the world. We make terrible mistakes, and we lose our sacred symbols.

Here, in Riedisheim, a small village near Mulhouse, France, I sometimes sit and wonder what is happening to our faith, why we need to move towards compassionate covenant and beloved community while moving away from our focus on individual spiritual growth. I brood over their compatibilities, and the way this major shift is affecting who we are, and the way we come together.

Some months ago, I became aware that we were saying UUs in Europe instead of European UUs. For the last 40 years, I have considered myself privileged to be French and European, and a European Unitarian Universalist. I’m vexed to have lost my European Identity in our UU movement. I don’t remember anyone asking for my consent.

I was aghast when I heard just recently about the row over the distribution of Rev. Dr. Todd Eklofs book, The Gadfly Papers, at the general assembly 2 years ago, and his subsequent excommunication from the ministerial commission. I asked myself what was happening to our UU community. Why did it handle the issue so badly, instead of taking the opportunity to improve our democracy, and preserve our space for free expression? How  can we restore the trust and faith in our democratic process?

And finally, after several mails and some replies, I have angst about the sticky flow of information up and down in our EUU. Despite some vague information that comes from time to time , I have often not known when there would be a coordinating committee, what the issues and agenda are for us, and why there seems to be such a cleavage between the top and the membership in engaging in the decisions, activities and life of our EUU.

Or maybe, all of this brooding is just me as I grow old. I was recently labelled an old timer by a fellow UU. Implicitly, did that mean that times have changed, and we old timers have aged out of the picture?


At 80, I find things are just beginning, even if I still get some things right and some wrong.

In faith,

John Eichrodt, UU Basel