I thought of adult Unitarian Universalists and our congregations’ children when I read this passage by the anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson this morning:
In Israel I had repeated conversations with older members of kibbutzim bewailing the fact that their children do not want to “follow in their footsteps,” choosing to leave the kibbutz, even live abroad. “Did you grow up on a kibbutz?” I would ask. “Oh no, my father was a shopkeeper in the city and very religious.” The parents had left home to found the kibbutz, and now the children are following in their footsteps by leaving. (Peripheral Visions, New York: HarperCollins, 1994, 80)
Most adult Unitarian Universalists either grew up in another tradition or none at all. In either case, as much as we may wish our children to remain UUs, some of what we convey to the next generation is bound to be very different than “stay in the tradition of your upbringing.” This entire chapter of Bateson’s book is on continuity and change, and she counsels neither one or the other but a balance—and a recognition that what may look like change is in fact a deep continuity.