Recent ex-UU Sean Anthony has a thoughtful if angry post up called
So I can't really build my own theology in the UUA? As evidenced by a recent post of mine, I don't take the opinions of ex-UUs, especially recent ones, very seriously in regards to questions about my faith anymore than I trust recent ex-Fundamentalists to offer the most objective and reasonable criticisms of THEIR old faith. Those who have left their churches slowly and have the more "High School Sweetheart" view of their old religions are a good deal more trustworthy, but on the whole I'd say one has to be gone for awhile to get the perspective that brings with it truly useful insights.
Anthony makes some rather strange assertions in his post. Essentially his issue is that in the year before he left UUism, he declared himself a religious humanist, then said he was a UU christian, talked about how at home he felt in the AUC, then ended up at the church of the breathren. He left UUism and a bunch of people made fun of him for his rapid changes of faith. Were he not a seminarian, I would say that the sheer speed of the changes suggested that he wasn't really exploring each option fully before taking up the next, as he was a seminarian, I have more faith that he knew what he was doing and takes faith more seriously than that, but I'm still not sure what was up and maybe it's not my business to know.
In some senses his problem is more a blogger's problem than a Unitarian problem. I often think out loud on this blog and I do sometimes change my mind. I write passionately when I'm feeling passionate and sometimes regret this passion the next day. Usually, though, I'm pretty careful to not use language that suggests I'm committed to something until I really am. I have for years said that I consider myself a Unitarian Universalist first and don't feel I need additional labels, but if you press me on it, I'm a humanist. I have a conception of the holy and am sometimes willing to call it "God" for the sake of argument, but see it more as a force than a personality.
I've believed roughly this for the entire time I've been a UU. I've messed around with various rituals and ways of expressing my relationship to the holy, but my sense of the holy has remained pretty consistent.
Anyway, here's the response I wrote to his post, slightly edited.
To me beliefs are like significant others.
Nobody objects when someone, especially someone youngish, dates around. But when you go through three or four significant others in a year, declaring each in turn a true love*, and then claim you have to treat your friends badly because your latest true love said to and love is more important than friendship, the people who don’t know you well will make fun of you and the people who care about you will feel jerked around.
However, if the marriage between you and the Brethren is meant to be and you stick with her for a long time, everybody will have forgotten about your sowing-your-religious-oats period in time.
*My guess is part of the confusion may come from your willingness to try on labels publically. Often it’s good to fully make, say Buddhism a part of you before you start calling yourself a Buddhist to everyone. You don’t tell all your friends that you and Peggy Jean are in love until you know her pretty well and are sure it’s true. Same principle.
Ps. On another post on his blog, Shawn is now expressing his amazement that when he insults a religion people show up to say "Actually, that religion works fine for me."
Wow. When you insult something, people who like that thing decide you're wrong and sometimes defend it! Will wonders never cease? Shawn totally didn't see that one coming!
The world must be such an amazing and unpredicatable place for Shawn.