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Unitarian Universalists


Johnny Smith
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Hello all -

 

I have posted before about my former years in the grips of fundamentalism. Unlike some who were raised in the fundamentalist camps but never truly believed, I was a die hard believer. Everything I did, thought, and said was influenced by the awareness of a righteous, vindictive God who, by the way, was also somehow full of mercy and compassion. This God was my constant companion; an imaginary friend that had such a profound affect on my emotions.

 

Over the course of the last few years, I have been taking steps away from the insanity. As many might attest, it has been a liberating and terrifying process. I can only liken it to what I would imagine a new born babe must feel as it exits the mother's womb. In awe of the new life, and yet unable to do anything but scream in terror because of the unfamiliarity. Unlike a baby, however, I do not have a gentle mother to guide me through this harsh but beautiful new world.

 

In my former life as a Mormon and subsequently a Born Again Christian, I would have gawked at the thought of attending a liberal church, never mind a Unitarian Universalist one. In my mind, a Unitarian Universalist Congregation was a liberal cesspool filled with weak and compromising people. They were deceived by their knowledge. They had a form of Godliness, but denied the power thereof. ( 2 Timothy 3:5 )

 

Yesterday, five years after beginning my journey out of fundamentalism, I attended a Unitarian Universalist Church. I was inspired by the genuineness of the people. I was challenged by the thoughtful and by the way, non-compromising, sermon. The minister spoke with such blatant honesty about the contradictions and even outlandish stories found within religious scripture, even the Bible. He spoke about the pioneers of Universalism who dared to challenge archaic doctrines, and passionately believed with great vision in a future rid of social and even spiritual injustice. The sermon was the most honest I have ever heard.

 

I truly enjoyed the spiritual structure of the Unitarian Universalist service, with hymns and reflections. I was refreshed by the non-dogmatic and thought-provoking sermon.

 

The scripture in Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, let us reason together" was truly demonstrated at this Unitarian Universalist Congregation. I will return.

 

Has anyone else visited a UU Church? What were your thoughts?

 

JS

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Although I've not attended a UU church, I do respect them for tolerance, anti-bigotry, and open mindedness to alternatives to fundamentalist dogma.

 

Back when I was a baptist, UU was preached (at/about) as one of those "watered-down" churches, along with the episcopal and lutheran. Some fundies didn't even consider UU's to be "christians".

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Many deists are associated with the UU and its openness is very welcoming. But it's offputting to me that so many seem to have traded a religious/spiritual indoctrination for a political one. The whole point of becoming spitiritually liberated is to become liberated in this world as well, but more often than not it doesn't happen.

 

I think the dogma of the UU church is that philosophy is only subjective, even to the absurd point, for example, of patting a Christian-deist on the back (there are some) and telling them "whatever you feel is right for you". Subjective Truth does exist, but it doesn't involve acceptance of illogical contradiction.

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... I think the dogma of the UU church is that philosophy is only subjective, even to the absurd point, for example, of patting a Christian-deist on the back (there are some) and telling them "whatever you feel is right for you". Subjective Truth does exist, but it doesn't involve acceptance of illogical contradiction.

 

Yes, that's one of the things I LOVE about UU - no trying to pigeon-hole people into little boxes labeled atheist vs. agnostic vs. deists vs. whatever. I haven't attended a UU church lately, but one of the things I most appreciated about their churches is that their services often feature speakers with very different viewpoints.

 

Of course, no fundamentalistic (either moslem or christian) addressed us -- primarily because fundies wouldn't accept our invitations to talk with us infidels :wicked: -- so, in my experience "acceptance of illogical contradictions" never came up since rational people (i.e., non-fundies) seem to have more in common than they have differences, even when their theologies differ.

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Many deists are associated with the UU and its openness is very welcoming. But it's offputting to me that so many seem to have traded a religious/spiritual indoctrination for a political one. The whole point of becoming spitiritually liberated is to become liberated in this world as well, but more often than not it doesn't happen.

 

I think the dogma of the UU church is that philosophy is only subjective, even to the absurd point, for example, of patting a Christian-deist on the back (there are some) and telling them "whatever you feel is right for you". Subjective Truth does exist, but it doesn't involve acceptance of illogical contradiction.

 

I happened to know a self-proclaimed Christian deist... he is the new pastor at my husband's old church. My MIL set up my husband and now they communicate via e-mail occassionally. I don't even get how that kind of philosophy is possible, either!

 

I have been to a UU church. Actually, there are a few in my area. They all differ in style and feel. Some are decidedly more Christian in their outlook than others. Some are decidedly less spiritual and more (solely) into social justice issues. I like them a lot, and I would go to the more social justice-focused congregation if my husband would go with me. He says they are all too touchy-feely humanistic and he has the same problem as The Paineful Truth-- that they pat the backs of anyone claiming any religion.

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I was a Swedenborgian, which often goes hand in hand with the UU's. I really enjoyed it because they made an effort to show and invite people of other religions to come and speak, believing god manifested in many ways. They also didn't mind at all that I tended towards pagan leanings. I call them "technically christian."

 

All in all, I really liked the people there for being genuine and very caring, and everything I learned about other religions. But I discovered even in spite of this that my fear of churches still made me feel terribly awkward so I didn't attend for a really long time.

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I've been a few times and if I could get my butt up and around on Sunday mornings, I would go back. I enjoy it because they welcome everyone regardless of their beliefs or lack there of. Their adult classes are real informative also. These classes are far more advanced than I ever thought they would be. They used words that I had never heard of and it took some time for comprehension to set in. Not like the Christian Sunday school where no mind is necessary to believe what they are saying! :)

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I went to a UU church a couple weeks ago -- Emerson UU in Canoga Park CA -- mostly out of curiousity, because I'd heard that it wasn't really a church at all, more like a fellowship of freethinkers. I left after a few minutes, because for one thing, it was way too much like church to me. From the layout of the building to the order of the service (they even call it a worship service), it's indistinguishable from any other church service. The other thing that was strange was that the average age was about 65-70 and it smelled and felt like a nursing home in there. There was literally nobody except for me under 50, and most people were much older than that. So all in all I felt very uncomfortable there.

 

Then I attended an Athiests United meeting with a panel of speakers, and one of the speakers was a UU minister of a different UU church in Thousand Oaks, CA. She had some interesting comments about Fundamentalism, but I wasn't impressed with her remarks about athiests. She commented with surprise to one of the other panelists that he seemed to be a positive athiest (as though that was a paradox), and when an announcement was made about the holiday party coming up she commented on how funny it was that athiests would celebrate the holidays... whatever.

 

Of all the ideas that Dawkins presented in God Delusion, the one that resonated the clearest to me was his questioning of the notion that some questions are best left to theologians. Why would we do that? Why would we seek any truth from religion? What makes theologians capable of discovering truth that science is unable to discover? The answer, of course, is that theologians are no better equipped to deal with such questions than anyone else. If anything, they are hindered by their own religious perspectives. There is no truth in religions, it's all bullshit. Trying to seek the truth in all religions is a vain pursuit; truth is not to be found in any religion. Christianity is bullshit, Islam is bullshit, Judaism is bullshit, Hinduism is bullshit. Mix them all up as the UU's do and what do you get? Just a bigger pile of bullshit.

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Thackerie wrote:

so, in my experience "acceptance of illogical contradictions" never came up since rational people (i.e., non-fundies) seem to have more in common than they have differences, even when their theologies differ.

 

Adopting subjective/I-just-feel-it's-right-for-me beliefs with no other reason to believe in it, is as blind-faith as any fundie's foundation. The UU are not what they used to be, and I believe pandering to illogic has already placed it on a parallel road with mainstream religion--only here, instead of locking belief up in a small box, they're saying that any belief, as long as you don't force it on others, is valid....for you.

 

I ask, "How can someone be a Christian-deist?"

I'm answered that "perhaps you can't, but others may be."

 

There are all brands of fundies.

 

Pandora wrote:

Some are decidedly less spiritual and more (solely) into social justice issues. I like them a lot, and I would go to the more social justice-focused congregation if my husband would go with me. He says they are all too touchy-feely humanistic and he has the same problem as The Paineful Truth-- that they pat the backs of anyone claiming any religion.

 

Your husband is a man after my own heart--philosophically speaking of course.

 

Darkside wrote:

Of all the ideas that Dawkins presented in God Delusion, the one that resonated the clearest to me was his questioning of the notion that some questions are best left to theologians. Why would we do that? Why would we seek any truth from religion? What makes theologians capable of discovering truth that science is unable to discover? The answer, of course, is that theologians are no better equipped to deal with such questions than anyone else. If anything, they are hindered by their own religious perspectives. There is no truth in religions, it's all bullshit. Trying to seek the truth in all religions is a vain pursuit; truth is not to be found in any religion. Christianity is bullshit, Islam is bullshit, Judaism is bullshit, Hinduism is bullshit. Mix them all up as the UU's do and what do you get? Just a bigger pile of bullshit.

 

Great rant and some great points. I would like to expand on one statement, "What makes theologians capable of discovering truth that science is unable to discover?"

 

Nothing of course, maybe even less for the reasons you point out. But while science may be the only path to purely objective Truth, is not the only path to all Truth, and is not involved at all in subjective Truth. I believe that between science and beauty that represent those pure aspects of Truth, there are justice and love that blend the two. (Subject of another thread.)

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I would take exception to the there is no truth in religion remark, but I get the feeling that that is a remarkably poorly thought out statement (If you think about it, there is a lot of truth about people in them, just not in their message).

 

There are a number of things that science can't say a whole lot about, mostly due to the lack of ability to observe those phenomena, may get better with time, but there are always new nooks and crannies found...

 

When given a situation where there is no way I can have a certainly correct answer, then I usually go with my best guess (or just a plain I don't know, if there is nowhere enough evidence for a WAG).

 

Thought about checking out the UUs for fun, seeing what they were about firsthand, just haven't had time to.

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I would take exception to the there is no truth in religion remark

 

True. For instance there is great wisdom in the Bible as well as great evil.

 

Good point.

 

I felt satisfied at the UU church. I wouldn't expect everyone to feel the same way. Living in part of the Bible Belt (Dallas, TX) it was a welcome respite from the Evangelical Christian world that surrounds me.

 

I have gone from Mormonism to Born Again (Pentecostal) Christianity. Within the past five years I have researched Judaism, Islam and other religions in depth. I have attended Jewish Synagogues and Muslim Masjids (Mosques). I have been looking for a place to belong. Yes, I admit it. I like gathering with others of like mind in a spiritual setting.

 

Those that know me also know that I have used controlling cult-like religion as an escape in my life. So, instead of quitting cold turkey, I see the Unitarian Universalist church as a safe place to be on my journey out of religious fantasy. I am seeking balance in my life, and perhaps being involved in the UU will help me achieve the normalcy I desire.

 

Thanks for your responses.

 

JS

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I would take exception to the there is no truth in religion remark, but I get the feeling that that is a remarkably poorly thought out statement (If you think about it, there is a lot of truth about people in them, just not in their message).

 

Nope, it's something I've put a lot of thought into. If by "truth about people" you mean insight into the believers of whatever religion we're talking about, then yes, religion does offer this historical insight. From the Torah we can gather a lot of infomation about how the ancient Jews saw themselves and their neighbors. From the Christian bible we can understand where the fundies are coming from and why they believe what they do, but as far as actual truth about the things that are traditionally supposed to fall into religion's purview, e.g. how was the world created, why are we here, what is the meaning of life, all religions that I've seen are pretty much devoid of any truth. Science, while it can't offer Truth with a capital T in regards to these questions, gives more insight than any religion, or all of them combined, which is why I don't see any value in the multi-faith approach of the UU church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

True. For instance there is great wisdom in the Bible as well as great evil.

 

For example...?

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True. For instance there is great wisdom in the Bible as well as great evil.

 

For example...?

 

I don't know what Paineful Truth is referring to. My position is that any truth that exists in the Bible also exists elsewhere. However, what the Bible is--a collection of ancient writings--is true. As you say, it has value for that purpose.

 

I attended a UU service with a classmate who was giving a talk as part of her practicum. It was okay. But I really LOVE group singing and their singing was terrible. To begin with, they assembled in a low-ceilinged basement, which makes accoustics about as bad as possible. In addition, I heard someone joking that they are too much into brainy stuff to really sing. That told me singing was not a high priority with them. I haven't gone back.

 

As for whether or not they are Christian. My classmate said she herself is a Christian UU, while others are Jewish or some other religion. I got the impression from my classmate that each congregation has its own way of doing things so that one does not necessarily find the same traditions from one congregation to the next. Based on what I hear from various people on the internet I get the impression that the UU church has served as a haven for nonheterosexuals who do not want to leave Christianity.

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An old and very dear friend of mine introduced me to the UU, and I attended a few services with her. I was impressed by their approach and tolerance, but, not being a follower by nature, I don't attend services.

Because of this, we chose a UU chaplin to perform our marriage ceremony however the local chapter was a Unitarian Fellowship, which has Christian leanings. To make a long story short, by the end of my dealings with this chaplin, I wanted to strangle her.

Churches are churches, priests are priests, I have no time for any of them.

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I go to a UU church. As others have noted, each one is different, in how they order the service, what terminology they use, and what mix of people attend. My congregation is a mix, though the service itself follows a form you might call "generic protestant". It would suit me fine if they would loosen it up a bit more, drop the singing (sorry, Ruby Sera!), and even add a Q&A time after the message to stimulate discussion. We're all different, and church isn't for everyone...even one that's Unitarian..

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