But it's an interesting tear.
I differ with her on several points. I gave the UCC a shot at one point and to put it mildly, her experience of them was not mine.
And if some of the things UUs say seem less shocking to us than the UUs saying them may imagine, then we can take a little comfort in knowing they are shocking to somebody. The movie Dogma's basic contention that as long as you have a faith that is helping you behave, God really doesn't care which faith it is completely shocked my father. I talked religion with an Orthodox Catholic ex-boyfriend of mine one time and he was appalled that I wouldn't go to church to be told what to believe.
"Of course you go to church to be told what to believe," he exclaimed, the "why else would you go" implied in his tone.
"Dude, that's crazy. If I told you that the moon was made of green cheese, could you just make yourself believe it? You can't just go and make yourself believe something, at least I can't. It doesn't work."
I really shocked him that day. So yeah, some of our ideas are shocking. Especially to new members who have that enthusiasm of the recently converted thing going on.
Mind you, PB is right that this focus on ourselves and our fascinating opinions isn't a particularly attractive quality. I more bitch about it in relation to politics, but I know what she's talking about in religion, too.
I mean, if one day the government flat out cancelled the food stamp program, I know we would write nasty letters, Sinkford would do his best to get on the news, I'm pretty sure we'd organize a protest. We're good on anything that is about having an opinion. But would we actually feed hungry people? Judging by the way our churches behave, I don't know.*
(Not trying to turn PB's issue into mine. Just pointing out that they are essentially the same issue playing itself out in two different arenas.)
I like being a UU. I do have a somewhat clumsily-worded personal theology that I thought of myself and I am frequently reading books to try to support or refute it. (I've made some changes since I wrote that. I should really put up a revised version. The bones are still correct, though.) I think God is the force within us who makes us want to create and like gravity, is quietly pulling us all the time. We just don't percieve it because God is interwoven into "the way things are" for us the way gravity is. That said, gravity is easy enough to notice when we know what to look for. Likewise, I notice God in other people all the time. I don't believe that Jesus Christ was on a special mission from God. God as I percieve God doesn't do that kind of thing. Jesus might have been a really good guy who had to exaggerate some things to get anybody to listen. Or maybe he was a good guy who was also nuts. He does seem to predict that armegeddon is coming soon after his own lifetime.
I haven't fit in at any other church. I don't fit in too terrribly well at my current UU church, actually, though I've fit in better at some other ones. But it's what I have. And while what I hear from the pulpit doesn't rock my world every Sunday, I see God in the people around me there all the time. Sunday morning is a great time to focus on that which is greater than myself.
I don't particularly want to sell other people on my theology, which theCSO calls "Gravitarianism." But I am geniuinely interested in figuring out the best way to serve that which is Good and the folks in the pews beside me want the same thing, no matter what they call themselves.
As someone who is a great believer in institutions, yet is a great believer in people taking their own spiritual paths, UUism is about the best I can do.
*My UU church supplies food for a homeless shelter for one week every year. Neither of my previous UU churches fed the homeless at all that I can remember. The Presbyterian church I went to growing up fed the homeless every Sunday afternoon and every Wednesday night. (That I donated the leftovers from my Saturday night wedding to the Sunday afternoon lunch for the homeless did much to convince my parents' church that despite having converted to UUism, I was still OK.)
Our rather stodgy and conservative UU church is part of a rotating shelter for homeless families: we house them for a week every six weeks (including food). We also support a local charitable organization called Samaritan House with a regular line item in our budget. There are other such support items in our budget. (a battered women's shelter comes to mind.) One collection per month goes to a worthy group outside ourselves. (it's the biggest collection of the month usually -- people give extra). Last year our Rochester project was working with encarcerated youth, and we did a number of things. (This year our Rochester project is Sustainability and we're not quite so active because everybody thinks they already know it....) Some of the youth stuff from last year continues.
We have adopted families left homeless by Katrina and have been sending stuff to them.
We periodically show up as a group at Second Harvest Food Bank to work -- and one of their most active trainers is one of our members who got started because of one of these evening events.
Homework Central is in our church weekday afternoons -- it helps students (local, which happen to be mostly Hispanic) with their homework. We have arranged for local high school kids to help with Homework Central for Community Service credit -- and we pay them some too.
I'm sure there's other stuff I've forgotten to list. Plus, most of our members are active in other organizations that do "good works".
I don't think we are constantly being nothing but intropective. Our congregation isn't perfect -- far from it. But we are doing stuff.
I forgot the stints with Habitat for Humanity.
Kim, your church kicks butt.
Were any of the churches I've attended doing mo much, I'd feel a lot better about the future of UUism.
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