Monday, October 23, 2006

If you've just joined a new faith, nobody gives a damn what you think of your old one.

Very soon after I joined my first UU church, I developed a theory about the way we are with each other. I noticed that some UUs, those whom I soon came to think of as “Baby UUs,” were very excited about UUism as a vehicle for their own self-expression. They tended to throw temper tantrums when the service wasn’t about something they wanted. And most of all, they talked about their previous religion. "Back when I was with the Jesus people, we did (whatever) Wasn’t that so-o stupid?”

And Beliefnet gave me the chance to meet some Ex-UUs who were constantly saying things like “You know what the problem with UUism was…?”

Newsflash: If you're an ex-UU we don't care. If you see problems but want to stay and fix them, great, I agree. If you fit in better with another faith, it's been nice praying with you. You know where the door is.

Whether you're going or coming, hearing people complain about their ex-religions gets OLD. It’s still old.

So please, people. Cut it out.

If you have just changed faiths, your numero uno job in your new community is to LISTEN to everyone else and LEARN about this new path in your journey. So do thyself a favor and shut up for six months then let the comparisons between the two faiths trickle in to coversation only when they offer real theological and cultural insight. But don't forget the first six months of shutting up, because that's when you're most likely to babble on. Believe it or not, the people in your new church don’t actually give a damn that you think they are cooler than the people in your previous church. You just make yourself look like a big jackass.

The blind date who won’t quit bitching about her ex? That’s you.

I don’t care if you were a deacon, an alter boy, a board president or a guy with a really popular blog in your old faith. Once you’ve moved on to a new faith, you’re starting over so try to do so with minimal baggage. Should you have trouble with this process, may I suggest you avail yourself of the services of a professional or a support group or anybody who is not a member of either faith, because I promise you, the people in both your new faith and old faith have heard your warmed over sarcasm a thousand times and it isn’t very interesting.

If you want to burn your bridges, just stop calling the people in your old church, you don't have to actively insult them and doing so is really sort of masturbatory and stupid. Don't get up at joys and concerns, tell people individually, preferably on your last Sunday.

Perhaps we need a thought experiment. Let’s think back to college.

Remember that freshman? You know, the one in the obviously brand new clothes who had obviously been a big shot back at Bumblefuck High? You probably met him the August of your Junior year and he was all “Back at my high school, we did it this way... Wasn’t that totally lame? Everyone was SO immature. And have I told you my SAT scores yet?”

And you the junior and your snarky little friends listened with a straight face, then went back to your off-campus apartment and laughed at him?

If you are new to your church and still whining about your old church, you’re that freshman.

So cut it out.

That is all.

who observes that many, many people come to and leave UUism knowing this already and practicing it. She salutes those people.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

But aside from that... to your central point, I will say


Chalicechick said...

Given all I've said about the Presbys, I would be a hypocrite if I said not to talk about it ever.

My suggestion was not to talk about it for the first six months you're in your new faith.


Lizard Eater said...


And I completely agree. And I would add: if you're joining a church, of any denomination, keep ears open and mouth closed for 6 months about the way the church operates. It may be that they really are doing something stupid. Or, it may be that there is a legitimate reason for doing what they do, and you will simply look like a know-it-all-fool if you don't wait and get the lay of the land before you begin telling them everything they should change.

Bill Baar said...

The problem is not all that many UUs have a sense of tradition. They have no idea what they've joined.... what needs to be reclaimed are the local traditions and histories of the individual Churhces they've joined.

Without knowing that, all that's left is to sqwack about what they've left...and it goes on for years.

UUpdater said...

Yeah, I think you nailed it. Any "new" experience is going to be during a honeymoon period. Familiarity breeds contempt so wait a while before you start praising something.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to nominating this post when the next round of UU blog awards comes around. Exactly what someone should've said a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree that people should not criticize things so much, but are people that harsh about each other behind their backs? I mean, making fun of the freshman in college?

None of it really seems necessary.

Robin Edgar said...

Well LaReinaCobre I have good reason to believe that before Rev. Ray Drennan abusively labeled Creation Day as "your cult" to my face in November of 1995 the President of the Unitarian Church of Montreal Frank Greene and other like-minded "Humanist" U*Us were doing so behind my back. . . In fact I have good reason to believe that Rev. Ray Drennan would not have labeled Creation Day as a "cult" to my face if he did not think that he had substantial backing for making that slanderous allegation from a significant number of the "Humanist" clique that pretty well controlled the UCM. When I expressed my disapproval of his labeling of Creation Day as a "cult", as well as his contemptuous dismissal of my revelatory religious experience as "your psychotic experience" and my monotheistic religious beliefs as "silliness and fantasy", Rev. Ray Drennan responded by repeatedly asserting, "I am just being honest (with you)" and "I am the only one being honest (with you)" the clear implication of the latter assertion is that there were a significant number of other church members who held the same opinions and shared them behind m back but had the good sense not to come out and utter these intolerant and abusive slurs to my face. . . It is perhaps not insignificant that Rev. Ray Drennan attacked me very early in his U*U ministry as an self-professed "pastoral specialist". In fact his intolerant, hostile, and verbally and psychologically abusive attack on me took place in the week following his being officially invested as the new settled minister of the Unitarian Church of Montreal.

Rev. Ray Drennan was formerly a Presbyterian minister, according to the CUC bio on this page "He has lived and worked in several other countries (Ireland, Scotland, Mauritius & U.S.A.) and within several religious communities (Canadian and Mauritian Presbyterian Churches, United Church of Christ (USA), and the United Church of Canada." I count four Christian denominations that Rev. Ray Drennan worked within prior to becoming a born-again U*U very soon after leaving (or being expelled from) the Presbyterian Church followiing what he described as a "heresy trial" in discussions with the congregation or possibly even an early sermon or two. He baldly attacked the Presbytarian Church for voting against ordaining gay ministers in a letter to the editor of the Montreal Gazette soon after becoming the minister of the Unitarian Church of Montreal. Probably within six months. . .

It seems to me that Rev. Ray Drennan could be a poster boy for the kind of behaviour CC is talking about here and he kept it up through most of his ten years as the minister of the Unitarian Church of Montreal. Indeed he publicly slammed the Roman Catholic state funeral of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau with an intolerance and offensiveness that would do an Irish Orangeman Presbyterian proud in October 2000. This inspired my picket sign slogans that say -




I still display them to this day as they are further justified by other UCM injustices and abuses such as having me falsely arrested in trumped up criminal charges in an effort to abrogate and deny my costitutional right to peaceful public protest as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that is part of Pierre Elliot Trudeau's Liberal legacy to Canada and Canadians. . .


Chalicechick said...

LRC: People generally praise or complain about their old situation excessively as a way of getting attention, and yeah, people, especially young people, are pretty harsh on folks who just seem to be out for attention.

Jeff: Wahoo!


Anonymous said...

I would add that people who are still talking about how they were mistreated in high school, now that they have graduated, gone to college, gotten a job, and are married... they might also want to stop complaining.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I missed the central point of your post the first time. I'm deleting my off-topic question:)

Jamie Goodwin said...

Have you ever noticed... when people talk about our core values they use the words respect... but they really mean respecting one another.

I just feel like it is one of my core values to respect where I came from as well. I mean, I am happy that I am no longer a member of a church that does things "that way" but at the same time doing things 'that way" was a hugely important part of my life including my journey.

Steven Rowe said...

another amen!
...Im glad for people who found something so nice that they want to share. but... there are times and places to do that....
I was at at Church gathering this Spring, when somebody came in to try to convert everybody to their religion (seems they had read about the gathering in the local paper). Obviously there are some people who dont care that they make themselves and their relgion look bad; thus lessening their chances of making their own goals.

chutney said...

Bless you, CC. Honestly. I needed this. You've made my week.

Anonymous said...

I agree while recognizing that this is probably a necessary part of becoming accultured to UUism. The main problem is, as you've shown with the Joys & Concerns example, when new UUs express this at the wrong time and place.

WellSoul said...

When I first found UUism, I think I had some tendency to criticize or make fun of Christianity, because it was so freeing to find a place where it was OK to be irreverent and a heretic after spending years wrestling with my growing disbelief. However, I was never majorly rude and was appauled when someone made snide JC comments at the district leadership school. (I'm a bit late, but posting my comment anyway.)