"J" Anonymous of LRY (Liberal Religious Youth) Unspecified Region
What was the youth group to which you belonged and what were the years?
UU from about 1963 to 1968ish.
Was your family UU (or Unitarian or Universalist) and what was their generational history as far as involvement in UU?
No, in fact there wasn't any religious involving until I was early teens.
Had family members been involved in former UU or Unitarian or Universalist youth groups and do you know what their experience might have been?
If you were from outside UU, what was your religious/spiritual/social upbringing?
How did you learn of the youth group, or what attracted you to it?
My father had started going and mentioned I might enjoy going with him, which led to my being with my age group.
What kept you there?
Each time I enjoyed it and chose to go back again. Then, I suppose it was the friends that I subsequently made like one does in the teen years.
Why and when did you leave?
I just became involved in other things after I left home...which was very early and wasn't interested in going back.
Did it provide an environment that was missing elsewhere in your life?
Yes. The little exposure I had had to the more traditional religious community left me feeling odd man out, sort of. I had no religious confirming of what I was seeing at home and it is just didn't really seem dynamic to me.
Were you looking for spiritual experience, social consciousness activities, intellectual stimulation, personal friendships?
Spiritual experiences I don't know if I really thought about at the time, per se. The social consciousness, the intellectual stimulation and personal friendships, Yes! Without a doubt.
How were these things fulfilled or not?
I began to be involved in social action activities which, of course, meant that I was more and more aware of the political consequences. Part of that would be normal maturing process, but more specifically, I think, because I was exposed to "thinking".
What growth/change did you feel?
That it was more than OK to think outside of the "box" both religiously and politically.
What were your experiences local and non-local?
I began to be involved in political action activities (anti Viet Nam war, for instance, and before that).
Did you prefer one over the other or did they complement each other well?
I preferred the social action more than the "religious". At that age and because I had never been indoctrinated in the more traditional religious world while growing up anyway, I connected with the social more, definitely.
Was non-local experience accessible?
Not really, but that is due more to logistics at that time much like most teenagers.
How did your experiences affect your life in the short term and long term?
In the short-term it gave me the feeling I was not "alone" so much. That there were some really interesting people and a world "out there".
Were you UU as an adult--why or why not?
No, once I moved out on my own I just didn't connect with it the same way. I can't say exactly why, but it just didn't speak to me the same. I really think it had a lot to do with how my life was "being" anyway at that time. In other words, I was still living and breathing the social action issues everyday.
What was your awareness of the group and its activities as far as being youth-directed and the history of youth-direction in UU youth groups?
I really didn't know much of the history. I did know that UUs had been around a long time...but that was all.
If you hadn't much awareness of the history of UU youth groups, would you have been interested in learning more?
Well, I think I would have much like any other sort of history of something I was involved in.
If you hadn't awareness of the history of the UU youth groups, would education in that history have further molded your experience and expectations of yourself and others?
Looking back at this question, with years of perspective, I don't believe I can really say yes OR no. At that age I was probably just too centered on my self.
Would it have affected a sense of legacy?
I don't think so, for me personally, as I didn't have a sense of legacy of anything. I just couldn't relate.
If you were interested in legacy, did you feel you were able to contribute beneficially or not?
N/A (see above answer)
What was your sense of youth-adult relations between the youth group and the host congregation? The youth group and advisors?
I remember a few of the advisors, sort of, but I think I just thought of them as the "adults" and who we would have dealt with at that time.
It seems to me it would be useful to not just learn what individuals found beneficial or not about their experience in the youth group, but to contextualize it generationally. What was going on in your area outside the group in other formal and informal groups of individuals of similar ages? What was going on societally that you feel affected your experience of and participation in the youth group?
Without a doubt the Civil Rights movement and the Viet Nam war. UU provided, for me, an opportunity to legitimize, encourage and act on issues that needed to be dealt with a "greater" unity, i.e., UU.
Added 2014 Jan 1.
Return to Voices from the '60s.