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Prepared for UUA.org by Doug Muder
General Assembly actually starts the day your program arrives in the mail.
Mine arrived weeks ago, and I've been paging through it ever since, circling
everything that looks interesting, and not worrying a whole lot about the
limitations of the space/time continuum. There's some kind of psychological law
at work here, and if no one else has named it yet I may try to claim it myself:
Any day sufficiently far in the future seems to contain infinite time.
In reality, GA is five days long and has ten program sessions, some of which
run concurrently. In addition, there are five plenary sessions that transact the
business of the denomination, including the social and political issues we're
going to take a collective stand on. (I'm not a delegate from my congregation,
but that doesn't prevent me from getting in the door if I care to.) There are a
number of big events, like the Ware Lecture (given by Mary Oliver this year),
the Service of the Living Tradition, and the evening entertainment. And it's
always fascinating to wander around the Exhibit Hall.
And that's just the official stuff. UU's from all over the country are
converging, which means it's a rare opportunity for people of common interests
to get together. I want to go to the reception for UU bloggers on Wednesday, and
my checkered past has me on the lookout for both UU-Pagan and UU-Humanist
events. Some of my friends from other parts of the country will be at GA, and
I'll want to get together with them. They may want to introduce me to some other
people, and I'll want to find time to get acquainted. I know a lot of UU's from
the internet, by name and not by face, so I'll be scanning name tags hoping to
find some old friend that I've never met.
And that's just UU stuff. There's also St. Louis. It may not be Paris, but
it's a fine old city with a lot to see. I should know; I grew up about 120 miles
upriver in Quincy, Illinois—a Mississippi River port that sits between Mark
Twain's Hannibal and Joseph Smith's Nauvoo. (Returning to St. Louis is actually
making me feel old. It's the 40th anniversary year of the Gateway Arch; I saw
it the first year, when I was nine. This is also the first season of the
Cardinals' new baseball park; I remember when the previous park was new.) I'm
spending the weekend before GA visiting my parents, and I plan to escape from GA
for an evening to have dinner with a high school buddy who lives in a St. Louis
And everybody else is going to be just as overbooked as I am, so I want to be
a calming influence. UUism shouldn't be about racing around madly, like movie
characters on fast-forward. I want to savor the day. I want to taste my coffee.
I want to be the kind of person who says, "No, I mean it. How are you
So that's my plan. I'm going to be calm and well-rested, grounded and
centered. I'm going to see everything, talk to everybody, and write about most
Why not? I don't arrive in St. Louis until Tuesday. Five days seems like an
infinite amount of time
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Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.
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