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Summer Unitarian Universalist Thread - All Welcome - Page 5

post #81 of 97
Thread Starter 
Hmm. . . Well, Bella, I went to our Blending of the Waters service today and I thought it was wonderful. We sang "Shall We Gather By the River" and we all brought our water up (real or symbolic) and said where it came from and what it symbolized to us. And then the Minister did the part at the end that is my favorite where the new ministerial intern took dippers of water out of the combined bowl and put them into a jar to save and the Minister talked about where that water would go - used to water our Memorial Garden, used for the Flower Communion service in the Spring, and a small amount saved for the Water Service next year to start the blending just as happened this year with water from the 2009 Water service, so our water is joined with the water from other services back and back for years. Then the remainder of the water is used to water the enormous oak trees that stand outside the windows of our sanctuary. There was also an acted-out story and the choir provided some great music and we sang other hymns. For me, it was all quite spiritual.

There is going to be some variation between different UU churches in terms of feel and definitely sermons are going to be different. At my church I could totally see us having a sermon on The Power of Words. The Obama Peace Prize speech is less likely, but still possible. Other churches may have completely different kinds of sermons. Still, much as I love my religion and adore my own church, it would be silly of me to think UU is the perfect religion for everyone. The fact that you don't like the hymns - this doesn't necessarily mean that UU is not a good fit for you, but I'm pretty sure that most UU congregations (though probably not all) use the UU hymnal Singing the Living Tradition and most UUs I talk to love at least some of the hymns in StLT. For me, the music and hymns are one of the best parts of services, so if I didn't like the hymns, well, I would still like my church, but services would lose something pretty important.

If you are looking for a Christian church that is more "liberal" (note that liberal politically is not the same as liberal theologically, but often they seem to be found together) and that does not believe in a literal reading of the Bible, you might try a United Church of Christ / Congregational church.

Good luck in your search, wherever it leads you!
post #82 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adele_Mommy View Post
If you are looking for a Christian church that is more "liberal" (note that liberal politically is not the same as liberal theologically, but often they seem to be found together) and that does not believe in a literal reading of the Bible, you might try a United Church of Christ / Congregational church.
You know what's really funny? Sometimes the most liberal-seeming churches in terms of casual dress and rock-n-roll (or even heavy-metal) worship services can be the most fundamentalist in their teachings. I mean, the women may be jean-clad but the men are still in charge ... and corporal punishment of children is usually still seen as "God's way."
post #83 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
You know what's really funny? Sometimes the most liberal-seeming churches in terms of casual dress and rock-n-roll (or even heavy-metal) worship services can be the most fundamentalist in their teachings. I mean, the women may be jean-clad but the men are still in charge ... and corporal punishment of children is usually still seen as "God's way."
Yeah I've been to Unity and United Church of Christ and they're just not for me. I do think that trying out the other UU will probably be better. I noticed that the minister there talks about his own beliefs in his q&a on the website. I also read some of his sermons (which were pretty nice). I think knowing what religion he is helps me get a feel for the tone of the church. It seems that some uu churches are not open to sharing the beliefs of the staff..I think its helpful..and I know that that doesn't mean all sermons will be buddhist or what have you ykwim?
post #84 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LilMamiBella View Post
I think knowing what religion he is helps me get a feel for the tone of the church.
I'm glad there is another UU church that looks like it might be a better fit for you, and I hope you like it when you visit.

I may be misunderstanding your statement quoted above, but it concerns me a little that your view of what UU is may be a little off base. Unitarian Universalism is a religion. UU churches are not collections of people who "are" other religions who just decided to hang out together on Sundays. UUs may believe a lot of different things, they may have different theologies and/or philosophies, but we are all Unitarian Universalist. If you asked me what religion I am, I would say Unitarian Universalist. I would certainly hope that any UU minister would say the same thing. Yes, we often talk about UU Christians and UU Buddhists and UU whatever. I have even described myself as a UU Agnostic on occasion. Agnosticism is not my religion (which wouldn't make any sense in this case, but you know what I mean).

You make an interesting point about the staff of UU churches not sharing their own beliefs. My minister has been quite clear and open, repeatedly, about his own personal theology, but he doesn't talk about it in his message on our web page (which you can read here if you wish). It is certainly valid to want to know more about the "slant" of a particular UU church, but a very important point of Unitarian Universalism is that we don't have to agree with anyone else, not even the minister, on specific points of dogma or theology. This sermon my minister gave in 2008 talks about this topic. Here is a little taste:

Quote:
I remember early in my ministry here, I received a letter from a relatively new member who had decided that he had to leave the church because he felt that I was too restricted in what I said from the pulpit…that it would be unacceptable for me to talk about God in this community. One sentence of that letter especially stands out in my memory. He wrote, “I’d love to get you hooked up to a lie detector to see what you really feel about God.”


While I was disappointed to see this fellow leave our community, as I am any time we say goodbye to someone who has been gathering with us, I was even more saddened to acknowledge that he thought he needed a lie detector to determine my feelings about God.

You know, he could have just asked me.

Of course, even if he had, he may not have liked the answer. On the other hand, I may not have been all that forthcoming anyway, as the following story, told by one of my colleagues, suggests. I’ve told this story before, but it’s a good one.

One day this UU minister was approached by a member of the congregation he then served, who with great earnestness asked, “I need to know. Are you a humanist or a theist?” Somewhat surprised, the minister replied, “Why on earth do you need to know that?”

The member answered, “I just do. It’s very important to me that I know where you are coming from. So, please, tell me, if you are a humanist or a theist.”

The minister rubbed his chin, thought for a moment, and responded, “I guess that all depends…”

“Depends on what?” the member interrupted.

“Well, it all depends on what you are.”

Becoming exasperated now, the member shot back, “Why does it matter what I think? I am asking you what you think!”

“It does matter what you think,” the minister replied. Then he put his hand on the member’s shoulder and continued, “If you are a humanist, then I am a theist. If you are a theist, then I am a humanist.”
post #85 of 97
first day of youth RE yesterday for the year. i'm teaching preschool class . phewwww... we changed up the routine so a wee 'lesson' using Chalice Children and then move to the play room.
my 3 year old hates circle time so it was a wee bit stressful for me, i hope he is less disruptive when it's just the other teacher

any other RE teachers here? what are your kids working on this year?
post #86 of 97
I may be misunderstanding your statement quoted above, but it concerns me a little that your view of what UU is may be a little off base. Unitarian Universalism is a religion. UU churches are not collections of people who "are" other religions who just decided to hang out together on Sundays. UUs may believe a lot of different things, they may have different theologies and/or philosophies, but we are all Unitarian Universalist. If you asked me what religion I am, I would say Unitarian Universalist.

I thought of it as a church like you said.. Never thought of it as a religion I guess because a UU could be anything. I am sorry about that!

It is certainly valid to want to know more about the "slant" of a particular UU church, but a very important point of Unitarian Universalism is that we don't have to agree with anyone else, not even the minister, on specific points of dogma or theology.

I have no problem... I'm not even sure what I am! And I know that sometimes there are special guests or speaker and I know they don't just speak about one religion. I wasn't trying to discriminate.
post #87 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LilMamiBella View Post
I thought of it as a church like you said.. Never thought of it as a religion I guess because a UU could be anything. I am sorry about that!
No need to apologize! It is a common misconception actually. We hear a lot of "UUs can believe anything they want" and "UU is not really a religion", neither of which is true IMO. That's why I took advantage of your statement to give my perspective.
post #88 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adele_Mommy View Post
No need to apologize! It is a common misconception actually. We hear a lot of "UUs can believe anything they want" and "UU is not really a religion", neither of which is true IMO. That's why I took advantage of your statement to give my perspective.
Wait, you can't believe anything you want? What things do you have to believe then? Are you talking about the seven principles or whatever?

post #89 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarefootScientist View Post
Wait, you can't believe anything you want? What things do you have to believe then? Are you talking about the seven principles or whatever?
there are jew, christan, atheist, wiccan, buddist, muslim, -insert here - UUers.
There are many paths to god / understanding there is no one right path and all paths hold truth and wisdom in them. The seven principals are what holds UUers as one religion.
  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

if you believe in those you can call yourself a UUer how you relate to god is up to you.
post #90 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarefootScientist View Post
Wait, you can't believe anything you want? What things do you have to believe then? Are you talking about the seven principles or whatever?
Yes, I am talking about the Seven Principles, but only as a starting point. There are many implications of those principles that do constrain our "beliefs". This is an extremely complicated topic that is the subject of much on-going discussion and debate among UUs (like so many other topics! UUs do love a good debate ). I will try to provide some resources and perspectives that might help stimulate discussion both on this thread and offline. Please remember that I have a tendency to state my own views as if they were facts, and rather than try to avoid doing that entirely, I will simply put this disclaimer here that what follows is filtered through my own view of Unitarian Universalism and I make no claim that it is the RIGHT AND COMPLETE ANSWER.

First I will link to The Seven Principles, because I will be referring to them, and also because you can never do that too often on a UU thread, IMO.

OK, now let's take a really extreme example: Can you be UU and believe that homosexuality is a sin and all homosexuals are doomed to hell? I would say no. I have had people tell me that UU churches are self-selecting. i.e. no one who believes that would ever want to be a member of a UU church. I suppose this is true, but I don't think that is the only thing that keeps certain beliefs from being found in UU congregations. I believe this particular belief is in conflict with the first and third principle and possibly the seventh. Further, my congregation is a Welcoming Congregation. That means we went through training and voted as a congregation to make an intentional effort to be welcoming to GLBT people. Allowing someone who believed the example statement to act and speak on this belief unchallenged in church and at church functions would be extremely damaging to our ability to be welcoming. Choices have to be made. In being welcoming to GLBT people we must necessarily be much less welcoming and accepting of people who are openly and aggressively hostile to GLBT people.

Likewise, I don't see how someone who believes women should never take a leadership role in religion can be UU. It's not that we would provide a test and refuse membership to anyone who checked "No" on "Should women be allowed to be ministers?" but when a particular belief is not only never going to translated into practice, but is also never going to be accepted by a community, when a belief goes against the core underlying values of a community, I don't think it is inaccurate to say, "You can't be UU and believe women should not be ministers."

Here's a different perspective. Last year I took a discussion course called, "Do UUs Have a Shared Theology?". The course was led by our ministerial intern. We met weekly for several months. Here is part of the course description:
Quote:
To many we are known as “the religion where you can believe anything.” While it is true that Unitarian Universalists embrace a number of world views, there are many things which seem to fall decidedly outside of the scope of UU belief. Half of every week will be spent exploring Unitarian Universalist history which is key in understanding where we are now. The other half will be spent in discussion about our shared theology.
At the end of most sessions, as a group we tried to come up with a theological statement that at least 80% of the group agreed with and that we thought at least 80% of UUs in general would agree with. These were supposed to be positive "We believe . . ." statements, not negative, "We don't believe statements. . . " I remember some we came up with were something along the lines of "We believe we all have a resposibility to try to have a positive impact with our lives, to try to 'leave the world a better place'," and "We believe we are all connected to each other by our shared humanity." Regarding the arbitrary 80% estimate and the fact that I'm sure there are going to be UUs reading this who do not agree with one or both these statements, remember that there are probably people who call themselves Roman Catholics who do not believe the wine literally changes into blood, but transubstantiation is still a doctrine of the Roman Catholic church and, as such, most people would say this is something Catholics "have to believe".

There are also different ideas of what it means to "believe" something. Here is an article I find interesting, if a little overly-intellectual, appropriately titled, "Can Unitarian Universalists Believe Anything They Want?"

This post is already way too long, so that is more than enough for a start. I can't wait to hear other people's ideas on this topic!
post #91 of 97
You know, the main reason I am drawn to UU is because I am a universalist who doesn't believe anyone is going to hell, and I also no longer fit in congregations where sexual roles are prescribed or where same-sex relationships are condemned.

It's honestly hard to imagine anyone being drawn to UU if they have "fundamentalist" views on salvation or sexuality or women's roles. I mean, wouldn't such a person just plug into one of the many fundamentalist congregations that are out there?

The only exception I can think of would be a "missionary" on a mission to convert UU's to fundamentalism. These people wouldn't really be trying to join, just disrupt. I wonder if UU congregations have ever had to deal with anyone like this?
post #92 of 97
Sorry slightly off topic (although I have been enjoying the discussion)...

I just need positive encouragement from like-minded mommas...We just e-mailed the invite for DS's dedication at the local UU church to my family...that includes my verrrryyyy Catholic, emotionally immature, childish, punishing mother, who did not previously know that I am now UU instead of Catholic. I feel great about our decision, but I am not looking forward to the consequences...they won't be pretty that is for sure. SO any encouraging words are desired and welcomed. Thanks!!
post #93 of 97
Thread Starter 
locknestmother,



That sounds really hard. I have been extremely fortunate in not having to deal with close relatives with different beliefs. I would hope that the simple joy of seeing her grandchild dedicated and the beauty of the ceremony will, if not win your mother over, at least convince her to be both civil and supportive this one time.

Will you have a partner participating in the dedication? Are you going to have one or two Guide Parents or God Parents? Having a support team can make things easier. Also, I bet your minister is an old hand at dealing with relatives from other religions at Child Dedications and will make everyone feel comfortable.

Regardless of how your mother behaves (or even whether or not she comes) I hope you can relax and enjoy the ceremony. My memories of my DD's Dedication are some of my favorite church memories. It was truly a powerful, moving, amazing experience and I hope your experience of your son's dedication is great too.

Good luck!

Adele
post #94 of 97
Well I went to a UU that is new to me. I took the babies with me. The people were friendly. The nursery was a little small but they had a good time playing there. I got to sit and listen to the sermon without interruptions. I could've had them with me but I would've ended up chasing my 3 yr old and she would've been loud. The sermon was about atonement. The minister talked about how we as UU'ers don't believe in sin but that we should still try to forgive and be forgiven. I thought it was very timely as I'm having a hard time forgiving my mom. I felt at peace when I first sat down. Then later when he led us in a meditation, I felt like I might go to sleep! There were only about 10 or so adults under the age of 40. I wish there were more of us and even an older lady who mentioned in the joys/sorrows that she was glad that there were young people there and encouraged us to keep coming. It can be a hassle trying to get the babies ready and going alone to UU church but I'm going to try to keep going.
post #95 of 97
Thread Starter 
It sounds like you had a really good visit, Bella. I'm glad.

Thank you for updating us.

The sermon at my church yesterday was also about forgiveness. That's great that you found it personally timely. When I started reading that sentence I thought you were going to comment on how we were just coming off the Jewish High Holy Days (Yom Kippur was 9/17 - 9/18). At my church we often have a sermon on forgiveness and/or atonement at this time of year and I think this is probably common in UU churches.
post #96 of 97
Thread Starter 
It's the first day of Autumn!

Please come join us on the new Autumn Unitarian Universalist thread.
post #97 of 97
Thanks Adele Mommy...Things are both great/and horrible at the same time. My mom responded in her crazy way and we are being punished, but I am doing okay with it. I DO have a wonderfully supportive DH, and our close friends are being Guide Parents. Plus, since my family is being so mean and hurtful, some friends are coming to the Dedication to be family by choice for us. So all in all, I can't wait...I have already read what will be said at the Dedication and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I do think the day will be very special for us.
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