Tuesday, October 17, 2006

UUs vs. Trekkies: Who's a religion?


Joel has a post up at CUUMBAYA asking for a definition of "religion" that includes us and doesn't include a socially active star trek fen club.

At the same time, Philo has pointed out in the comments that it sounds like what Kos really wants to start isn't so much a megachurch as a megacivicorganization if you will.

Interesting convergence of ideas here, kids.

Ok about that definition, how about "a system of beliefs and practices that a person or community regards as giving meaning to life?"

For me, fundamentally religion is about human relation to the holy, whether you believe that: "In a child’s power to master the multiplication table there is more sanctity than in all your shouted 'Amens!', 'Holy, Holies!' and 'Hosannahs!" Or not.
But I don't think that language can be understood as I understand it without more explanation than I can give this morning.

And I will note that some Star Trek fans are probably so heavily into Star Trek that is does give meaning to their lives. They use Trek as a source of authority and really do find a sort of spiritual guidance there. I recall that a former foster kid once changed his named to "James T. Kirk, jr," explaining that as he was shuffled from foster home to foster home, the Captain of the Enterprise was his most consistent and useful male role model. That guy probably counts.

I think one can get to the point where Star Trek is one's religion, but I don't know that Star Trek fan clubs are composed mostly of people who are there or see that getting people there is a goal. I think the point of UU churches is that UUism is already our religon.


CC

14 comments:

Philocrites said...

Not to mention the trend a decade ago for UU ministers to offer four-week sermon series on "Star Trek Theology." I loved "Next Generation" as much as the next non-Trekkie, but those are Sundays I would have stayed home.

Joel Monka said...

"a system of beliefs and practices that a person or community regards as giving meaning to life?" is a good definition of a religion... but do we- as a denomination- have a shared system of beliefs and practices? I submit that we do not- at least I was never given a list of such when I joined. (unless we wish to elevate the PPs to creed status) If we say "as a condition of membership, you must have some such system, we don't care which", that might separate us from many Star Trek clubs, but it still leaves us in the same status as the Boy Scouts, Masons, Elks, and Eagles, does it not? And I'm not aware that we even have that as a condition of membership; again I don't remember that being mentioned (although of course it is assumed).

Come to think of it, even a sociopath has something that gives meaning to his life, else he would have committed suicide... is there a sane human being who doesn't have his/her own system of beliefs and practices?

fausto said...

Star Trek may not be a religion, but there are a lot of folks who think Jedi is.

Chalicechick said...

(((Star Trek may not be a religion, but there are a lot of folks who think Jedi is.))

True, but Star Wars fan clubs do not exist so people can practice Jedi.

Philo: I have to say "The Theology of (Insert Trendy pop culture thing here)" is not my favorite kind of sermon either, though I'll admit some ministers do a really good job with it.

CC

Chalicechick said...

(((but do we- as a denomination- have a shared system of beliefs and practices))

Yes, we believe in integrity of the mind and spirit as evidenced through religious freedom, and we believe in the practice of refining belief through reason.

I don't think we absolutely require it of people, but if you were required to behave like a Christian to be a Christian, like a Muslim to be a Muslim, like a Jew to be a Jew, etc, etc, and soforth, the world's major religions would be a lot smaller as well.

Going through the equivilent of coming-of-age, I was told that Presbyterians didn't always believe. They do doubt sometimes, and they don't always behave like good Christians, but that they view being better at the faith as something to work toward.

I view being a better UU, more focussed on working for truth, beauty and justice, refining belief through reason and seeking the highest and best as something to work for.

When it comes right down to it, don't you?

CC

Joel Monka said...

Yes- and you say it better than anything written by the UUA. (is there something about church leadership that renders language inaccessable?)This is exactly the kind of answer I was hoping someone would give, and I should have expected it would be you that could write it.

Chalicechick said...

I have an unfair advantage.

I learned my UUism from Katy-the-Wise.

CC

kim said...

Does Katy-the-Wise have a website or blog or anything?

The Emerson Avenger said...

Good point CC. As a teenager teh pithy wisdom contained in Frank Herbert's 'Dune' pretty much served the role of a Bible for me. . . I particularly liked the "quotes" from various characters that headed each new chapter and the 'Litany Against Fear' sat very well with my philosophy then and now.

The Emerson Avenger said...

Oh dear. . . I see that CC has decided to censor her blog. How unfortunate.

Chalicechick said...

Oh quit complaining. It's just for a day or so.

CC

The Emerson Avenger said...

Well it *did* look like you were adding yourself to that sad list of U*Us who censor and suppress comments made to their blogs inspite of all those U*U claims to be great champions of freedom of expression and opposed to censorship yadda yadda yadda. . .

bs said...

i can't believe it! you are saying the same thing i have. i felt this when i saw the film "trekkies 2" though not so much with "trekkies". i'd be very curious to read your thoughts on that if you ever see the film. in response to your definition of "religion", i think you have philosophy nailed, though not religion quite. they are almost identical, but i would say the distinction is the way the person integrates the ideas into their life. "religion" always seems more fierce in its commitments to shared, community ideology to me. i cannot help but feel that this is part of what makes it different from philosophy. philosophy seeks, religion has found, by necessity, because religious behavior is only meaningful when there is a society around to observe it. i think if a religious person were sucked into a vacuum, they would either continue to adhere to their tenets, and be religious, or begin to personally tailor them in the absence of a social continuity that gives them weight. that becomes philosophy to me. religion has (i think) necessarily a component of "identification" and "belonging". a personal relationship with a higher power or faith are naming slightly different things. so uus may all identify as uus in order to demonstrate something about their beliefs (a feeling of resonance with the rest of the congregants perhaps?) , but all have unique relationships to god because uuism doesn't really have any required rituals. it is exactly the same thing with the trekkies; they are trekkies because the series has encapsulated a version of reality that they like, and publicly identifying with that is just like walking around with a wwjd bracelet. just speaking linguistically. i never tried to articulate that before, and i hope it doesn't offend. i think it's been kicking around in my head for a while! thanks for such a thought-provoking post!

bs said...

wow, guess i should have previewed that! i am part of a small cult opposed to capital letters and paragraphs, please do not judge me!