Sunday, July 23, 2006

Another Word for Disciple

I've been skimming Tom Schade's blog "The Lively Tradition" tonight with one bleary eye with the promise to read every stinkin' word soon.

Just one thought. I believe that the purpose of a worship service is to make a community of disciples out of a disparate gathering of seekers.

What's a good UU-friendly word for those who don't resonate with"disciples?"

One word, now.


Blogger Jess said...

Ummm... community?

Blogger reverendmother said...

How 'bout pilgrims?

As in pilgrimage, not the shoes with the big buckles.

Blogger Caroline Divine said...


Blogger boyinthebands said...

I disagree with (you) Jess. The "motley crew" leaving Egypt were a community, if only one of necessity. And a community of habituation can be even worse for cultivating bad and sloppy habits. What's the basis of this community?

"Disciple" means student. But a student of what? Answer that meaningfully and you get your term, and the character of the community you want to organize.

Blogger ogre said...

P'raps if you'd tell us what you mean when you say "disciple," I could try to help.

I have no real connection to the word, no real sense of it that makes me want to embrace it. So...

Being hot, cranky, and trapped in a too-damned stuffy house while my wife galivants from A/C'd house to A/C'd car to A/C'd wedding reception (admittedly on that absurdly hot and humid East Coast, but she's in A/C... and we're not...), I'll take a poke at it.

One online defintion (the first offered): One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another.

Um. No sale. Not with me, and I suspect not with most of us.

Given the linked words offered to elucidate the meaning--adherent, cohort, follower, henchman, minion, partisan, satellite, supporter--I really think you're barking up the wrong tree.

community of henchmen?
community of followers?


Blogger Clyde Grubbs said...

a community of committed participants

Blogger powderblue said...


Blogger PeaceBang said...

I was thinking of the word "disciple" within the context of Tom's emphasis on using worship as an opportunity to create commitment. I have always thought of worship in that way, and I have always thought in terms of "discipleship." Not discipleship of one teacher, but of one vision of "the earth made fair, with all her people one."

I like "pilgrims," especially given our location. I think my congregation would dig that new usage of the word.

I think Community, while lovely, is overused and connotes the pastoral relationships within the church. I was looking for a word or phrase (I like Clyde's a lot but wanted something more poetic in the mouth) that would draw us into that passionate place of mutual commitment. Maybe "covenanted community," which we do use a lot, is a good bet.
Friends is nice but it reminds me of Quakers and it's too soft a word for what I mean.

Blogger WFW said...

how about
... Witness - like Jehovah's self named band. They're Unitarian too (literally), and love Servetus. Sort of a cargo cult moment for us when you thiunk about it.

... or Martyr, for which see the hymn "...martyrs tesified..." But can we really expect people to give their lives for a question mark?

... Try prophet - as in "prophetic church the future waits..." JLA loved the passage from Numbers "Would that all God's people were prophets." And given how many of us already stand on soapboxes...

... boddhisattvas? We're all on the way, right? It's only a matter of time, but spelling can be a bitch.

... or how about minister? A former baptist congregant reminded me of their notion that all are ministers, some are clergy. And didn't Parker Palmer describe Quakerism as ther church that did not abolish the clergy but the laity? Cool.

... the problem with Disciple is you have to be one to call yourself that. It means one is accountable to something not just oneself. And so far as I can tell, the very model of a model Unitarian is that of every two year old - "I can do it myself."

And we wonder why we don't grow.

Fred Wooden

BTW - I am have to the conclusion that Communoity is way overrated. In fact, it is downright dangerous. Since when was "community" a purpose or a principle? And what would it mean if it were? There are only two things we are about, along with other religious liberals. But I ain't telling until I get the sermo n preached and put it on my own blog.

Blogger Caroline Divine said...

Friends ain't so soft -- see Mary Hunt's _Fierce Tenderness: A Feminist Theology of Friendship_. Not the last word on friendship, but a very good one. But yes, of course, "friends" smells Quaker, and it's really funny I didn't even think of that since, good Anglican that I am, I teach at a Quaker-related institution!! I was thinking more of how friendship is the most egalitarian of relationships but also (as Mary Hunt mentions) is deeply related to solidarity and justice. One of my favorite Gospel passages is the part where Jesus says "I no longer call you servants but friends" (approx. -- pick your translation) about which I have preached at weddings and at Eucharist and on other occasions. Imagine how subversive a statement that could be (I know, assuming he really said it, but if he didn't, it was something pretty close) in the context of the Roman Empire! It's power turned upside down.

Radically yours,


Blogger Tricycle Blog said...





P.S. for Fred: You're right, it is difficult to spell. The correct spelling is bodhisattva. Only one "d". Two "t"s, though.

Jeff W.

Blogger Chelle said...

Going against the grain yet again (as is my wont) about keeping the word "disciple".
It's a great word and not changing it would help us confront some of the issues we have with anything that smacks of being too "Christian".
Besides....everybody is a disciple of something....some of us are just more willing to admit it.

Blogger fausto said...


Blogger PeaceBang said...

Many more terrific comments. I love Fred's daring to suggest the words "martyr" and "prophet," and I appreciate Chelle's against the grain vote for disciples. Carolyn, I dig what you say about Jesus' lifting up of friendship but I still think to most ears it's not strong enough.

So Fred, let me know as soon as you get that sermon written!


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