Tuesday, June 27, 2006

And now for the position

If you have not yet read the post below, please do that before you read this piece, so that you understand the place I'm coming from.

After almost 40 years of observing this religious movement, this faith community that I am so in love with, I am convinced that it is evolving into a new way of "doing religion".

In the past several years, we have seen religious humanism make room (grudgingly, yes, to some extent) for folks hungry for a spiritual journey beyond social justice work. Some of these folks were Christian, some were pagan, some were Jewish, some were undefined, just hungry. As we all struggled together, we found that we had much in common. The humanists weren't all anti-theists-------they had a different vision of the Power beyond human power. They called it natural law and they believed in love and life as strongly as anyone else. The Christians and Pagans and Jews were just as committed to social justice as the humanists and nontheists; they felt called by God/Goddess to care for others and the earth. All the hungry people wanted meaning in their lives, meaning beyond the day to day struggles of work and survival.

This has been a cataclysmic struggle and there have been casualties on both sides. Many have left the struggle, wounded by the acrimonious debate. Others have watched in sympathy as the war within our faith has flared up repeatedly. Others have invoked the "wounded" card, stating that UUism has to be their way because they have been so wounded by the "other way", which could be nontheism or theism.

It's clear to me that we are finding the Middle Way, as the Buddha directed. And for me, the Middle Way is this: we are a faith community grounded in love and justice. We love each other and allow each other to express ourselves in our own ways, with love. We do not insist that others speak our language and we do the best we can to understand and translate the unfamiliar language of others.

And the upshot is that we have a living, growing religious faith. Our guiding principle is Love and under the protective shelter of Love, all may gather. We may use different words to express our convictions, but all are welcome, all are loved, all are equally important. We do not require that our members and friends all speak the same language; we do require that they seek to live with love and justice for all. We do not require that our members and friends all believe the same thing; we do require that they all respect and honor one another's convictions.

And what this means is that the formerly bullied (whether nontheist, theist, BGLT, people of color, whatever the group that has been marginalized) MAY NOT seek to dominate, to seek a kind of revenge by exerting power over those who may have excluded them in the past. This is hard, because people who are angry and hurt almost inevitably want revenge. But if we are truly living with love and justice, we will find a better way to respond to each other.

Amen, Shalom, Salaam, and Blessed Be.


Mystical Seeker said...

Years ago, I attended a UU church regularly in Colorado, when a visiting minister used some Christian language in a sermon and a lot of the members were apparently upset over this. I always found it odd that it was okay to use Buddhist language or talk about other religious faiths, but to use Christian language was not okay. And I say this even though I don't consider myself a Christian.

I haven't attended a UU service more than 2 or 3 times in the last decade, so I can't say that I am familiar with where UUism is at these days. I never quite found the spiritual side of a liberal religion that I was looking for. I think my needs are too specific and narrow, unfortunately, for any religion to satisfy it.

Still, I can imagine that for UUs it would be nice to move beyond acrimony towards a real community of spirit that flourishes despite the differences.

Mystical Seeker said...

Thanks for leaving a comment in my blog. The Colorado church where I encountered that was in Colorado Springs. This was around 1988 or 1989, when they were doing a search for a new minister and they were having guest ministers. My recollection, which is a bit hazy now, was that it was one of the guest ministers who was applying for the position who offended some of the membership by using Christian language in a sermon, but it was long ago so some of the details are fuzzy right now. I was just an attender rather than a member, but I did attend regularly and I recall hearing about this criticism later on.