Wednesday, July 27, 2005

CC clarifies "watered-down UCC"

BITB was talking about the term "watered down UCC" as is was used on the Coffee Hour discussion as a potential future self for UUism. I wanted to clarify what I meant by it, so this is a copy of my post to BITB on the topic.

I was the one who came up with the term.

What I meant by is was that my perception, right or wrong, of the church that a lot of people are looking for is UCC, but with less of that ickypoo Christianity. Still theistic, still Christian-looking and Christian-sounding, but not explicitly Christian in the sense that the UCC is. We still worship some sort of free-form God and pray and all, and since we can agree on some loose conception of a God, we must have unity, right?

As a native liberal christian, I am most comfortable in "Christian-like" services that follow a Christianish structure and have Christiany hymns. I like stained glass and organ music and even take communion if my mother is watching. What I grew up with is what I'm comfortable with and used to. When the pagans put up the maypole, I freak out a bit. This isn't church! It makes me uncomfortable. But while I'm still not crazy about the maypole and the stares it gets from passersby, I do know what's comfortable for me isn't necessarily what's best. And when I see former evangelicals reaching out for the charismatic leadership of a UU minister I consider misguided (a real example from several years back IRL, but nobody I post with,) I can see how slipping back into comfortable patterns can undermine the new directions we may be trying to take our lives in.

I don't think aping Christianity more and more closely will give us the depth that people are looking for and I think that it speaks to the problem that the very people who are asking for more depth and asking what special gift UUism has to give to the world are the same people who want this. Freedom and Reason and following the holy even if it takes me someplace weird are enough for me.

And while I don't mind if they use whatever they consider reverent language themselves, I don't think they will find that getting everyone else to speak a "language of reverence" or more other trappings will really be enough for them. If they want to seek depth and think they can find it in Christianity, they have my blessing in their search. But I'm kind of working on my own search. And I'd like to use the words that reasonate with me to describe it, even if those words don't excite their imaginations. I don't fear Christian language. I use it when I think it is appropriate. But I resent the impliction that if I don't use the most obviously Christian terminology every time, what I really want is a social club.

I don't want a social club. But I don't want to be a watered-down UCC either. I think as UUism is now, there are good churches and bad churches, people who get it and people who don't. I want more good churches and more people who get it. I want to spread our good news.

But I don't think the path to spreading our good news lies in trying to come off as something we're not. Even if that something is a romanticized version of what we used to be or a romanticized version of a church we respect, but, you know, without the icky parts.


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