Friday, September 22, 2006

One more on Rhode Island UUs

From the beliefnet thread about the Rhode Island UUs:

Normally, I wouldn't bite on a thread like this, but since this media tempest in a teapot involves my congregation, I feel obligated. The article was the result of one individual who felt it necessary to forward something critical of paganism to the media that they didn't even write. I agreed with some of the criticism and found it humorous, and that was supposed to be the end of it. I still feel a real dialogue is long overdue in UU about what our "theology" really is. After all, our forebears created this religion by rejecting "bad theology". We can't seem to say no ... anything goes. For the record, the original author is no "atheist fundamentalist" but more of a non-realist Christian.

So one Christian wrote a letter more or less making fun of the Pagan festival.

Someone else forwarded it to the media.

There was never an organized resistance to the festival or any real controversy. There was never any danger of the festival getting cancelled. And while some Humanists might have recieved the letter, there's nobody saying even that is the case.

IMHO, if you've ever written anything anywhere that is snarky about Christians or Huamnists, you are no less guilty of intolerance than these Rhode Island UUs. (FWIW, I have written things that were supposed to be funny and saw my work get passed around more widely than I meant it to. It's actually a really uncomfortable feeling.)

I'm sure the guy who wrote the beliefnet post will be written off as an intolerant bigot by some because of his concerns about "anything goes" theology. But I think it's reasonable for him to state such concerns, though I don't 100 percent agree with him as I tend to think everybody draws the line between "Liberal Religion" and "anything goes" at a different place, be it theism, biblical authority or the maypole.

All that aside, the fact remains that a Christian UU (albeit a non-realist Christian of the Don Cupitt school, but a Christian UU just the same) wrote this letter. Whether the bit about "superstition" sounded like something we imagine a humanist might say is immaterial.

I'd say everybody who looked at the letter and assumed that anyone who doesn't like a Pagan festival must be a humanist and assumed a humanist wrote it owes the humanists an apology.

I'll go first.

Though a humanist myself, I did assume that a humanist had written this note and I'm really sorry I did. I will, in the future, not be so quick to assume bigotry before I know the facts of the situation.

Can everyone else who assumed the writer was a humanist do the same?



Joel Monka said...

"IMHO, if you've ever written anything anywhere that is critical of Christians or Huamnists, you are no less guilty of intolerance than these Rhode Island UUs." I think that would only be true if you had used an ad hominem attack. A criticism that can be used for a discussed and debated is one thing; this letter had no actual critique of the theologies involved, s/he merely called them flaky, superstition, irrational, and a travesty. There was nothing there for open debate.

Chalicechick said...

Fair enough. I changed "critical of" to "snarky about" in the post.


Robin Edgar said...

Um. . . Chances are pretty good that "non-realist Christian" U*U = "atheist Christian" U*U = "Humanist" U*U wrapped in Christian clothing. . . The intolerant and insulting language used by the alleged "non-realist Christian" U*U is pretty much identical to the kind of language that "Humanist" U*Us quite regularly use to trash ANY theistic religion including, and perhaps even especially. . . Christianity. I won't apologize to "Humanist" U*Us for mistaking an alleged "non-realist Christian" U*U until such a time as the "non-realist Christian" U*U is not an atheist and does not also identify as a "Humanist". The fact of the matter is that the one of the most outspoken fundamentalist athiest "Humanist" U*Us I have the misfortine to know could be described as a "non-realist Christian" in that he was a Presbytarian minister for several years and may have been a minister with other Christian denominations prior to being chucked out of the Presbytarian religious community following what he has openly referred to as a "heresy trial". . . Yes I am talking about that unmentionable U*U minister rev. Ray Drennan.

Anonymous said...

em-- that's really too much -- someone claims to be a Christian and you claim no they have to be a humanist because you don't like humanists. Get a grip.

Robin Edgar said...

Wrong as usual Kim. First of all the information is second-hand. Someone else, who claims to be a member of the First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island, asserted in Beliefnet forums that the intolerant letter writer was a "non-realist Christian" U*U. You tell me what "non-realist" means in this context. It can very easily be interpreted to mean a non-theist aka atheist who none-the-less identifies with Christian principles. In fact, based on the discussion over on Beliefnet, and the wording of the letter, I have very good reason to believe that the alleged "non-realist Christian" in question is an atheist or agnostic and not a true God believing Christian. Only when the intolerant letter writer who offensively and obnoxiously opposed Pagan Pride Day being hosted by his or her U*U congregation is positively identified as a God believing Christian will I change my tune. In any case, the language used by those U*Us who opposed their congregation hosting Pagan Pride Day is identical to the language that is typically used by "rational" atheist Humanist U*Us who consider ANY and ALL theistic religious belief to be "superstition".

Robin Edgar said...

Furthermore, as I have already repeatedly stated over the years and very recently in terms of this particular issue I do not dislike Humanists. I just have a problem with the intolerant and abusive dogmatic fundamentalist atheists who have the gall to call themselves "Humanists". It is precisely for that reason that I clearly speak about fundamentalist atheist "Humanists", and almost alway enclose the word Humanist(s) withhin euphemistic quotation marks when referring to "fundie" atheists. As a matter of fact I consider myself to be a Humanist of the "religious Humanist" variety, and have said so in the past, so it is just plain ignorant DIM Thinking for you and other U*Us to accuse me of disliking Humanists in any general sense of the word.

Robin Edgar said...

J Carlin just entered the fray over on the Beliefnet thread about this issue. Concerned U*Us may want to go have a look before he starts relegating my responses that expose his totalitarian attitude to the proverbial U*U "memory hole". . .