A humanist response to Joel's post on Humanism vs. Theism played out in the church in Rhode Island having a controversy over the church hosting a pagan festival.
This isn't sneering, but I always dreaded Beltane when I was in a congregation with a critical mass of pagans.
I didn't like the costumes or the chanting or the maypole or the Queen of the May election all out on the church lawn in a big festival. I always thought it made us look sort of silly. And whatever the pagans do is reflected on us. As I sat at the toasting table and tried to play along, I was nervous as I watched people walk by on the sidewalk and stare.
And pagans who invoke the four directions without using a compass make me nuts. "North" is not the front of the church. It's a real direction. Find out which direction it is and point that way for goodness sake.
Id disagree when Joel writes I’ll tell you old-school UU Humanists out there something: you should thank Bertrand Russell that you don’t always get what you wish for... if all the UU Christians and UU Pagans left, the average age of the average congregation would approach triple digits, and the membership list would drop down to double digits- and half of them would be Buddhist. We irrational, superstitious psychotics are keeping your doors open; the least you can do is sneer at us behind our backs instead of right in our faces.
The people who strongly identify as Pagans and the people who strongly identify as Christians and the people who strongly identify as humanists have always seemed to be in roughly equal numbers in the congregations I've attended, and all minorities compared to the larger group of people who are just want to be Unitarians withour adjectives.
All that said, there's no way I would have signed such a letter. (And there's no reason to believe that all that many people did sign. If the letter had a lot of signatures, the reporter would have mentioned it. This whole controversy could be the work of one crank wrote wrote a bunch of letters and called a newspaper editor, who told his reporter to go investigate and come back with a story. This stuff does happen.)
I think it is telling that the local news article Joel cites calls the situation "Unitarians" sparking a controversy and the story never makes it clear which Unitarians are doing the sparking or that the distinction even matters. Though we aren't always the best of friends, we're indistinguishable as far as the rest of the world is concerned, so we should do our best to get along.