Yesterday in the UU Growth Lab we started discussing metaphors for Unitarian Universalism and our congregations. My favorite so far is “a base camp for life’s expedition” shared by Rev. Andrew Pakula.
Why do metaphors matter? I never thought much about Unitarian Universalist metaphors until hearing a story on NPR’s On the Media.
Earlier this month they aired a story called “Does Metaphorical Framing Really Work?” In it a study was shared where two groups of sociologists were given the same data on a hypothetical town facing the problem of a rising crime rate. Everything presented to the groups was the same except for the metaphor used for crime. For one crime was described as a “beast” for the other a “virus.” The results? The beast group skewed solutions toward more prisons and incarceration. The virus group skewed toward addressing root causes.
I can see the metaphors we use for Unitarian Universalism having a huge impact on how people conceive of our congregations. My home congregation use to have a mission statement which used a “safe harbor” metaphor. Me? I’m tired of playing it safe. I want to go on a trek — an amazing journey with others, shelter at night, amazing discussion and planning and mutual support, and unlimited coffee / hot chocolate.
What metaphor would you use to describe our congregations?
Update: Read Rev. Andrew Pakula’s post “Metaphors Matter” (3/17/11)