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Switch to Forum Live View Is UUism beyond rescue?
3 years ago  ::  Sep 17, 2011 - 6:53PM #11
MsTopaz
Posts: 400

Sep 17, 2011 -- 5:23PM, DotNotInOz wrote:

Hiya, MsT,  Topaz is my birthstone. Yours, too?  Say more about your experiences if you'd care to. I've found that airing my disappointment has helped me "divorce" UUism and feel more reconciled to my Solo Church.



Yep, Topaz is my birthstone!

I have attended Unitarian churches in several different cities, sometimes for up to a year, sometimes for a short time. I was married by a Unitarian minister. I agree with most of what I read about Unitarianism, but I haven't much enjoyed my attempts to be part of Unitarian communities. I've never put all my thoughts about this together in one place, but here goes:


* My religious slant is progressive Christian. Unfortunately, Unitarians are appreciative of Buddhism, earth-centered religions, Judaism, Islam, atheism, agnosticism, humanism, etc., but NOT Christianity. Many of them are hostile toward Christianity in any form. They view Christians as intellectually suspect. Personally, I don't really understand why so many atheists attend UU churches. It seems like there would be better places to congregate rather than a church.


* There seems to be a rotation of political/social issues around which Unitarian sermons are written. Immigration, homelessness, anti-war, etc. I care about all of these thing but I don't necessarily want to talk about them at church, week after week. I belong to the Democratic Party for my political convictions. I want spiritual reflection and development at church.


* I am a bit uncomfortable with the way Unitarians borrow from all world religions and traditions without necessarily understanding them or honoring them appropriately. This felt particularly true when I watched them use Native American rituals while the few Native Americans in the group stood around looking extremely awkward and uncomfortable. Unitarians seem so determined to honor diversity, they do so in a way that cheapens all the faith traditions.


* I strongly believe in a church's ability to foster a sense of community and support for members. I was really impressed once when a good friend, who is Baptist, had to be on bedrest throughout a difficult pregnancy. Her church rallied around her and visited her several times per week to bring her food, clean her house, and keep her company through the boring months of staying in bed. I would help someone in this situation and I would want to be helped myself. As a Unitarian, I volunteered for a care committee and I was not asked one time in an entire year to do anything. I asked the head of the committee why this was and she said, "Unitarians don't ask for help and they would rather talk about social issues than visit someone in need."


* Related to the above, a lot of Unitarians came to Unitarianism because they were rejecting something else. There is a hugely individualistic bent to most Unitarians and many of them are varying levels of adversarial. This makes it tremendously hard to achieve consensus on anything or to create any sense of cohesiveness at all.


* The UU Polyamory groups are not something I really want to encounter at my church.


Now all of this being said, I admire a lot about Unitarianism and I wish it worked better in real life than it does.

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3 years ago  ::  Sep 18, 2011 - 6:54AM #12
DotNotInOz
Posts: 6,833
You've added a good many things that bothered me as well, particularly the  lifting other faiths' rituals and performing them with no understanding of the ritual's role within its context, sometimes offensively so. 

One wonders what the point of a Caring Committee is if its members think they must be asked to help. Perhaps what most such do--send greeting cards or flowers and that's pretty much that.

As I once overheard someone remark about a committee plagued by dissent, "The real problem is that we haven't any unity." I'd say that characterizes most UU churches. Ironic, that.  
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3 years ago  ::  Sep 18, 2011 - 2:20PM #13
Jupiter6208
Posts: 2,371

I have to agree with both of you i did try to give UU a  go of it but honestly i found it void of Spirituatlity on any level.(  looks good on paper)  My Birthstone is Topaz also.

"A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person."  Dave Berry



You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger. Buddha.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
Eleanor Roosevelt
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3 years ago  ::  Sep 18, 2011 - 6:38PM #14
DotNotInOz
Posts: 6,833
We're in big trouble here if all three of us with November birthdays are also Scorpios. :-D
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3 years ago  ::  Sep 19, 2011 - 1:21PM #15
jamlawken
Posts: 75

Sep 17, 2011 -- 6:53PM, MsTopaz wrote:

* I am a bit uncomfortable with the way Unitarians borrow from all world religions and traditions without necessarily understanding them or honoring them appropriately. This felt particularly true when I watched them use Native American rituals while the few Native Americans in the group stood around looking extremely awkward and uncomfortable. Unitarians seem so determined to honor diversity, they do so in a way that cheapens all the faith traditions.




I spent years on a UU worship committee asking folk to "stick to the knitting" and not preach on faiths we knew nothing about. I believe that UUs borrow from other world religions for entertainment and intelectual stimulation and not for worship. I once asked the worship committe what we as UUs worshiped and was told "the coffee pot" and "nothing". I wrote a letter to UU World about this and it was published during the Fall of 2006.

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3 years ago  ::  Sep 19, 2011 - 3:41PM #16
DotNotInOz
Posts: 6,833

Interesting you would mention the coffeepot, Jamlawken. In all my time as a member of two different UU churches for a year respectively, I can think of only a few services that seemed to enliven people anywhere near as much as coffeetime--all involving a guest speaker on a social justice topic, no surprise there, I'm sure. I went to services regularly, too, missing no more than a half dozen altogether in each church.

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 23, 2011 - 4:23PM #17
gettingbettereveryday
Posts: 1

I'm pretty sure UUism is beyond hope/help. Congregational polity is a big problem, in my opinion. If leadership ultimately answers to no higher authority and if membership doesn't act in accordance with the expectation that it will call out leadership when problems arise, anything can and will happen within a church. 


I agree with the spiritual void issue as well. I'm pretty sure I have never met a less spiritual person than the minister of the UU church I attend. In fact, I've taken to describing the situation as follows: All around X there is spirituality. Where X stands, there is a void. Literally.


I certainly appreciate the sense of community that I get from attending church, but I also come for a sense of spiritual connection. Without it, what's the point of wasting several hours of my Sunday? Of late, our congregation doesn't even get a chance for prayer/meditation/silent reflection. It's pathetic. Of course, I'm not really sure how a religion rooted in transcendentalism can co-exist with, say, paganism or humanism. Every time I think about that paradox, I see the end of UUism is nigh upon us. 


Finally, there's a sense that speaking up and pointing out problems IS a problem. The message seems to be: don't rock the boat, don't make anyone uncomfortable, don't speak up. The message of UUism has been watered down and made into a thin pablum designed to nourish (?) anyone who walks through the doors. But let's face it: wrestling with one's spirituality is messy business. The highly sanitized UU message doesn't really take into account any of that messiness. This unrealistic approach to the spiritual experience has slowly been unraveling the rich history of the dual religious streams that were merged to form UUism.

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 25, 2011 - 4:23PM #18
RevDorris
Posts: 1,809

When an organization or group says 'don't rock the boat' it is usually already sinking.  The UUA is a large organization -- the member churches and fellowships -- working in a positive way can change the direction of the organization as a whole.  If those groups or fellowships feel powerless in the organization then they should leave -- join a new organization or form a new one.  This also applies to individuals within a church or fellowship or any other group.


Change happens when enough people band together to make it happen.


If enough people want to make the UUA a new dynamic force within the Spiritual and Religious World -  it can be done.


Rock the Boat -- Promote Love, Harmony, and Peace.


Rock the Boat -- Demand that God and Spirituality be returned to every pulpit and church.


Rock the Boat -- Be Active in promoting your faith community.


Rock the Boat -- Be a force in humanitarian service.


Be an active part of your Unitarian Community. 


One God -- One World -- One Family.

With love,

Rev Dorris
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3 years ago  ::  Oct 27, 2011 - 7:59AM #19
DotNotInOz
Posts: 6,833

Oct 23, 2011 -- 4:23PM, gettingbettereveryday wrote:

 


Finally, there's a sense that speaking up and pointing out problems IS a problem. The message seems to be: don't rock the boat, don't make anyone uncomfortable, don't speak up. The message of UUism has been watered down and made into a thin pablum designed to nourish (?) anyone who walks through the doors. But let's face it: wrestling with one's spirituality is messy business. The highly sanitized UU message doesn't really take into account any of that messiness. This unrealistic approach to the spiritual experience has slowly been unraveling the rich history of the dual religious streams that were merged to form UUism.




Mega-bingo!


And isn't it ironic, painfully so, that a faith that claims to be open to free expression really isn't?


One of the best, most honest discussions I ever was involved with in a UU church was on why UU's avoid confronting humanity's dark side and what the effects of that avoidance are.


People in my small group went at the topic straightforwardly and honestly. When it was time for each small group to conclude, we all sat looking at each other with a good deal of dismay. One man then said something to the effect of, "Wow! I hadn't really thought about how essential this is and how very little UUism offers to deal with human weakness and evil. And what the hell can any of us do about that?"


I think that present-day UUism reflects what the critics of Transcendentalism so often levy against it--Transcendentalism is so intently focused, they claim, upon humanity as inherently good that it denies the existence of moral failings, weakness and outright evil.


I see it differently and think that Emerson and the gang did as well. They were't stupid by any means or inclined to put on blinders to shield themselves from what was evident in their surroundings. If all things are united by the Oversoul which permeates all things then all aspects are united, too, and none can be disregarded simply because it's less difficult to pretend they don't exist. Thus, to be genuinely aware of the greater whole, we must examine ourselves more scrupulously and not shy away from the ugliness.


Doesn't transcendence actually mean seeing what is there and working to rise above--to transcend it--when that appears to be what is required? That's not effortless, and UUism today seems to think it is or ought to be.

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2011 - 3:10PM #20
DFireheart
Posts: 70

I guess I’ve been fortunate in that my experience of UUism in no way reflects some of the concerns I’m seeing here.  My church has a ton of younger people in their 20’s and 30’s and continues to grow.  I almost can’t imagine a group affiliated with a UU church that was membership by invitation unless it was highly unusual circumstance.  I think that may actually violate the P&P’s unless the purpose was therapeutic a highly sensitive support group (incest survivors, etc).


 Most UU churches that are in trouble seem to be, from my limited knowledge, stuck in the we-are-church-going-atheists mode that manifests as dry as chalkdust services and forums. But he UUA and our churches have, for the most part, moved well beyond that now and are committed, especially with our new UUA Pres, to continuing to expand our breadth.


I see the UU appeal in three broad areas.


1) Radical inclusivity – the idea that, no matter your spiritual tradition or beliefs, the UU welcomes you and will support you in your search for meaning.


 


2) Spiritual Universalism – UUism seems to be evolving in the direction of a broad pantheistic sense that can find truth, value, and beauty in any life affirming spiritual tradition, including the affirmation of the natural processes of life itself. 


 


3) Building a Land – from the title of hymn 121, UU, at its best, has at its heart a vision of a world that works for everybody, that transcends social justice to envision a humanity at peace and in harmony with each other and the natural world, where no one is , in any sense, left behind.


 


A congregation that lives these principles, or makes a serious sustained effort, will be healthy, attractive, and a high energy, happening place that will at least match any evangelical mega church on Sunday.


 

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