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6 years ago  ::  Jul 29, 2008 - 1:20PM #1
chris_lg
Posts: 358
This discussion came up on the church shooting thread and I thought it warrented some further conversation on its own thread. I know many, if not most UU's identify as secular humanist/agnostic/atheist, but many, including myself, do not. I consider myself a progressive Christian, and a heretic at that. Others are liberal Jews, Wiccans, followers of Eastern religions, and various other varieties of believers. We are a diverse community. UU churches often attract mixed tradition couples who find a place where both partners can worship comfortably.

I dearly love the UU's intellectual approach to religion. I have a questioning mind and, as a young person, thrived on the freedom to explore it. I also love the "faith in action" aspect. I truly believe religion is worthless unless it is lived out by making the world better. Now that I'm older, I find some things missing.  What I miss is the mystical. I do believe in the Great Mystery, whether it be a living Being, or metaphor. (I think there IS an intelligence in the Universe greater than ours, but I know not all agree with me. I will concede that such a mind is not likely to much resemble ours, and we certianly don't know it's thoughts and feelings.) I don't have much opportunity in a UU church to share my feeling of awe and communion with that aspect of spirituality. If others DO share it, they don't much say so. People just aren't comfortable being spiritual in a UU church. We're just too RATIONAL for that. I'm a lifetime UU. I won't change my stripes. I'll just have to fill them in a bit on my own. I guess a lot of us have to do that.
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 29, 2008 - 2:15PM #2
new_earth
Posts: 97
I was a member for about 6 months and came to the conclusion that at least at this point in my life, I don't feel comfortable in the UU church anymore. It's not that I don't feel comfortable with the people there, but I just don't see the point in staying somewhere that doesn't talk about or practice my individual beliefs when I can do it somewhere that does.

Maybe it's because I've grown backwards as opposed to most other UU's. My family wasn't religious at all yet they weren't necessarily atheist. They were a BIT mystical and all were very much into Science Fiction/futuristic ideas. It kind of left me on my own to figure out what I believed. So I've never been rebelling against any religious background, I've been searching for my own. It's not that I didn't 'know' what I believed, I always knew but always thought I was alone. I never thought I would find it, honestly. The only place I found it was in what most people consider "new age". I would still say I relate to it entirely, minus the channeling, tarot, astrology, etc. I was never into that. But it was always the beliefs, the spirituality, the combination of all world religions, a metaphysical belief in God. Up until a few months ago I never heard of New Thought or Religious Science, which apparently is what I was looking for all these years and didn't know it.

Before that though, is when I found UU. On the surface it really seemed right. The respect for all world religions, social justice, liberal outlook. But the spirituality is not there. The mysticism was not there. The enlightenment aspect was not there. There was no mention of God whatsoever, except in a few random hymns that were sung. I started to realize that it was missing a lot of things for me, that on the surface, if you were reading the UUA website, you would have thought you'd find. I was very let down and I'm actually pretty sad about it, considering I started to get involved. Now I have almost no interest, and the little bit that I do have is complaining about it on Beliefnet LOL.

Seriously though, I just don't understand why our congregation (or UU'ism itself) can't just come to the conclusion that the science they believe in is just the other side of explaining existence - the other side being the mystical or religious. I thought it was already known and practiced in UU that God wasn't necessarily a 'being' but like you said, The Great Mystery, whatever it is, whatever it is anyone wants to call it, however anyone wants to explain it, but summed up into the word God, in a metaphysical sense.

But instead everywhere you might see or hear god in our UU services would be replaced with 'life'. To me life feels more like only the physical, whereas God or Spirit feels more like the metaphysical, which to me is much more important, since the physical comes from the metaphysical.

Anyway, before I go on and on, this is basically what led me away from UU, the lack of metaphysical/God spirituality. It looked good on the surface, and I still respect what it is all about, but I found no reason to stay somewhere that did not reflect my personal beliefs when I could go somewhere that did, somewhere that I didn't feel alone anymore and somewhere that lifted me up on a Sunday morning even when I have a hangover :D
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 29, 2008 - 3:29PM #3
Clairraven
Posts: 925
I attended a UU church for about two years and then I found a UU church that is Christian.  Check us out -

www.universalist.org

I also became more active with UU Christian Fellowship activities, going to revivals and discussion groups and such. 

It's difficult for a believer in God to find a peaceful place in a UU church.  Many UU's want to think that Christians are not as smart or rational.  I find it really funny that if I end a sentence with "God Willing" I get patronizing glances from UU's, but those same people think it is cool to say "inshallah."  There is no ignorance like that of a "smart" person. 

I think you just have to experiment with UU churches and small groups and you might just have to start a group in your own church.  And if that doesn't work have some other church services you can rely on, to visit when you are craving God.   There is nothing wrong with going to some other church's bible study or a Taize group or holiday services at a UCC church. 

The UUA needs us.  Now more than ever.  I say we keep giving glory to God and let people know the results of our "search for truth and meaning."  We are supposed to love diversity.  Well, let's make our brothers and sisters prove it.  We shouldn't hide at all.
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 29, 2008 - 3:48PM #4
new_earth
Posts: 97
[QUOTE=Clairraven;655639]I attended a UU church for about two years and then I found a UU church that is Christian.  Check us out -

www.universalist.org

I also became more active with UU Christian Fellowship activities, going to revivals and discussion groups and such. 

It's difficult for a believer in God to find a peaceful place in a UU church.  Many UU's want to think that Christians are not as smart or rational.  I find it really funny that if I end a sentence with "God Willing" I get patronizing glances from UU's, but those same people think it is cool to say "inshallah."  There is no ignorance like that of a "smart" person. 

I think you just have to experiment with UU churches and small groups and you might just have to start a group in your own church.  And if that doesn't work have some other church services you can rely on, to visit when you are craving God.   There is nothing wrong with going to some other church's bible study or a Taize group or holiday services at a UCC church. 

The UUA needs us.  Now more than ever.  I say we keep giving glory to God and let people know the results of our "search for truth and meaning."  We are supposed to love diversity.  Well, let's make our brothers and sisters prove it.  We shouldn't hide at all.[/QUOTE]

Not everyone who believes in a form of God is Christian. I'm sure you know that but I felt the need to say it. :) (Me being one of them). There just seem to be atheists who always assume that :/

Actually since I started getting into New Thought/Religious Science I have grown to appreciate Christianity more - not the superficial/literal, mainstream version but a very metaphysical one. At least from the way I perceive a lot of Jesus' quotes and teachings, they are DEEP. And I mean DEEP, not just caring for your fellow man and doing good deeds, but deep connection with our source (referred to as the Father). Unity of God with human, human with human, and the universe. That is what I've come to learn is the message, and with that comes learning to love all beings. Without that unity is what I believe causes 'sin' or 'evil'.

Just wanted to express this because to be honest, although I've always been very spiritual and had my own personal belief in God, I was always annoyed by Christianity, until now anyway.
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 29, 2008 - 4:30PM #5
Clairraven
Posts: 925
[QUOTE=new_earth;655672]
Just wanted to express this because to be honest, although I've always been very spiritual and had my own personal belief in God, I was always annoyed by Christianity, until now anyway.[/QUOTE]


And MANY UUs are "annoyed" by Christianity, or at least that is the way it seems.  Christianity is where the UU was born, that is a fact.  So it is somewhat like being Irish and annoyed with Ireland. 

I don't think UUs show the same arrogance when it comes to other God-centered faiths.  My former UU church had a big seder for passover, but the Easter service was a pagan deal.  What up with that?  During Ramadan, we had a ramadan sermon (as if!) but nothing during Lent.

It just goes to show how biased "liberals" can be.
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 29, 2008 - 5:44PM #6
new_earth
Posts: 97
[QUOTE=Clairraven;655774]And MANY UUs are "annoyed" by Christianity, or at least that is the way it seems.  Christianity is where the UU was born, that is a fact.  So it is somewhat like being Irish and annoyed with Ireland. 

I don't think UUs show the same arrogance when it comes to other God-centered faiths.  My former UU church had a big seder for passover, but the Easter service was a pagan deal.  What up with that?  During Ramadan, we had a ramadan sermon (as if!) but nothing during Lent.

It just goes to show how biased "liberals" can be.[/QUOTE]

I think the people you are referring to might just hold hostility toward Christianity because of the fundamentalists. Also I think a lot of them grew up in some Christian denomination that made them 'sour' and have a hard time reconciling their experience there with being UU, even if the history of UU is Christian, it is definitely not very much like it today.  Another reason might be that most of this country is already familiar with Christianity and Christian celebration and not so much other world religions, so they want something different.

For me, the church I was attending, although there were some Christians, Pagans, Buddhists, a former Hindu maybe - was mostly secular humanist, so where I was, it wasn't Christians that were shut out, but pretty much any spirituality other than humanist/social justice.

That was my main problem with it all - they are 'accepting' of different backgrounds but do not 'incorporate' them.
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 29, 2008 - 6:59PM #7
jamlawken
Posts: 75
Thank you new_earth and Clairraven for your wonnderful writing.

I joined UU 18 years ago because I thought they liberally believed in what I call a "presence" without having to load it up with the guilt, judgement, and recrimination of  other religions.  I've discovered that UU is the same only different, chastizing those who believe that there's something other than humanism (secular, religious, whatever) and those who are not vocal anti christians.  I've never been a humanist, don't plan to become one, and don't really want to be anti anything except war, famine, discrimination, intolerance,...

I'm a pragmatist and have been asking myself why I spend so much time and money at a church that's not a church (that believes in something beyond one's self).  I've known for awhile that it's time for a change but haven't been able to make it.  Things like being on the worship committee, being in the choir, teaching OWL, having my kid in the youth group, being on the Board, getting a new minister, have made me hang on.

Last week I visted a non-UU church (one that would put my UU congregation's concept of being open and tolerant to shame) and standing in the door was an old UU friend with whom I long ago taught RE to my and hir children.  A sign perhaps?  We'll see.

Please pray (in your own way) for the souls of Greg McKendry and Linda Kraeger.

Sincerely
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 29, 2008 - 7:11PM #8
DotNotInOz
Posts: 6,832
Okay, Jamlawken, you've got me curious...what "non-UU church" did you visit if you don't mind saying?
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 29, 2008 - 7:11PM #9
Clairraven
Posts: 925
jamlawken,

I also felt a spiritual emptiness in my former UU church.  I love them all to pieces, but seriously, for what they were spiritually, I could have just showed up for coffee hour and socialized with them.

There is a danger, I believe, in thinking that one has it all figured out.  There is nothing wrong with engaging the "Spirit of Life" or the "transcending awe."  I mean UUs call out to these things but at the moment someone suggests that we take it seriously, you get this outcry.  I don't know.  I really believe in the "free church."  I think it is the way to go.  But I felt like such an outsider there. 

I thank God for the scraps of Universalist Christianity that are left in the UUA. 

I hope that you find a way to add a more spiritual element to your church, rather than leave it.  Maybe a small group ministry or something?
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 29, 2008 - 8:48PM #10
jamlawken
Posts: 75
Thanks for the encouragement, Clairraven.  I've talked about starting a small group ministry on spirituality and reverence and some of my UU friends have encouraged me to do so instead of leaving UU.  The now former minister heard me propose to do this and came out of hir office to tell me what for, which shook me up; but all things pass.

The non-UU church I visited was Unitarians Considering Christ.

Sincerely
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