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Can we discuss cultural appropriation and the UU church?

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
Or, basically, the UU church in general?
post #2 of 44
post #3 of 44
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post #4 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaryLLL
This is what you said on your other thread:




What do you mean, "heady?" And how are you disenchanted?
That it feels like every service is a college-level theological discussion. Sometimes I hear passionate voices here and there, but it seems they are watered down by the need to appeal to "everyone". So, the message is often very head-centered and diluted. I also feel like it's more of a political rally every time rather than something heart-centered.

However, my dh finds the church very moving, so I guess these things could be heart-centered for some people.

I'm just having a hard time with the overall whiteness of the church and the taking from other cultures into our own service.
post #5 of 44
while searching for info on a totally unrelated topic, I came across this website and a new perspective that universalism equates to racism:

http://www.yahoodi.com/peace/automorphism.html
Quote:
Automorphism - A derivative of 'anthropomorphism', the psychology of projecting human qualities and emotions onto non-human animals, plants and inanimate objects. Thus 'automorphism' is the psychology of projecting one's own qualities, emotions, values or culture onto other people. And 'ethnomorphism' is the psychology of projecting the characteristics and values of one's own ethnic group onto other ethnic groups. It is the assumption that other people or ethnic groups share the same values as you and your ethnic group.

At it's most benign, this psychology is offensive not only to the persons or ethnicity whose uniqueness and distinctiveness is being negated by such projection, but it is also offensive to the culture or ethnic group of the one making the projection. In the later case, their culture or ethnic distinctiveness is also negated by the assumption that all the world shares the same values. Thus, if not checked by rational consideration, such psychology leads to the racist politics of universalism and anti-multiculturalism.
I'm having a hard time putting to words the faults I've personally found in the UU church. I keep typing in a long-winded reply to this thread, and then deleting it all instead of posting it.
I can totally agree with the idealistic version of organized religion that you find in the UU church, but at the same time I know that idealism just doesn't seem to work in the real world, nor does organized religion of any sort work for me personally.
post #6 of 44
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post #7 of 44
Wow, thanks for posting that link Stafl. Regarding ethnomorphism, I think it's really thought provoking. And it probably could have been used on the pagan cultural appropriation (or any cultural appropriation )thread.

I think it touches on the very question what is hubris.

I think the point is that, it is one thing to look at similarites between cultural and religious practices to see what we have in common as a way of building ties to others, it's a whole other thing to use that commonality to deny people their uniqueness and in the process steal their cultural practices.

As far as UU:

What I liked about it: I liked the political action that they were involved in. I liked that they were welcoming of all people.

What I didn't like: Too Churchy for me personally. And wayyyy to much talk of Jesus. Our UU seemed to focus on Jesus and Buddah.
post #8 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaryLLL
Let's think twice before we condemn all universalists as rascists, shall we? I know this bd has looser rules, but come on...

Is Joseph Campbell a rascist? Was Jung? Was Plato? Gandhi?
Oh, Dar, please don't think I was calling universalists racists, it was just a new perspective (not my own) on the issue that I thought I would share. It sure did make me think when I read it, and I read it over and over before I decided to go ahead and share it here.
post #9 of 44
"...It is the assumption that other people or ethnic groups share the same values as you and your ethnic group...Thus, if not checked by rational consideration, such psychology leads to the racist politics of universalism and anti-multiculturalism."

I'm confused. The "Universalism" in Unitarian Universalims refers to a theological idea that all people can be saved. (The "Unitarianism" is a referral to a theological idea that rejects the Trinity.) So, I'm confused as to how the idea that all people will eventually be saved is racist.

Further, the UU churches I've been a part of actively promote multiculturalism and reject the idea that all people and/or ethnic groups should share the same values. For example, at my former UU church, I did the program Journey Towards Wholeness, which was very valuable in learning about things like anti-racism and mulitcultralism.
post #10 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by pamamidwife
...I'm just having a hard time with the overall whiteness of the church ....
Hmmm...I wonder if this isn't partly the state/area you live in? I did a brief search on line and the smaller towns in Oregon report that 80-90% of their population is white. Portland reports that 77% of it's population is white.

I've belonged to quite a few UU churches and the most diverse ones were located in diverse areas (areas that report a white population of 50% or less) Even those churches were not as diverse as they should have been and that is most certainly a problem within UUism. But it's a problem that gets worse when you choose to live in an overwhelmingly white area/state.
post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaryLLL
Let's think twice before we condemn all universalists as rascists, shall we? I know this bd has looser rules, but come on...

Is Joseph Campbell a rascist? Was Jung? Was Plato? Gandhi?
actually, many would argue that Jung was a racist. I did a quick web search and found some articles:

http://www.israjung.co.il/nagarieng.htm
http://www.ewtn.com/library/NEWAGE/JUNGNOLL.TXT

Joseph Campbell has also been accused of racist anti-Semitism, but I don't know very much about him.

Plato wasn't a racist because racism is a 19th century idea, but he was an elitist, believed in a caste system.

Gandhi--I don't believe Gandhi was a racist.
post #12 of 44
"The "Universalism" in Unitarian Universalims refers to a theological idea that all people can be saved."


Saved from what???
post #13 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by pugmadmama
I'm confused. The "Universalism" in Unitarian Universalims refers to a theological idea that all people can be saved. (The "Unitarianism" is a referral to a theological idea that rejects the Trinity.) So, I'm confused as to how the idea that all people will eventually be saved is racist.

Further, the UU churches I've been a part of actively promote multiculturalism and reject the idea that all people and/or ethnic groups should share the same values.
Universalism assumes there is some common Truth which underlies all different faiths and belief systems. This assumption itself is very ethnocentric and often found to be quite offensive to people who hold those other beliefs. The whole idea of "universal salvation" is quite offensive to some people of other faiths, and totally negates their spiritual beliefs.

A person who leaves Christianity (or whatever other faith) for UUism still sees things in light of their religious and ethnic upbringing, twisting others' beliefs to fit their personal take on things. That is the psychological error described at the website I quoted earlier (and described even better by William James in his Principles of Psychology and Varieties of Religious Experience). We all do it, I know I do, but that doesn't make it right. When an organized religion does it to another religion, or when a culture does it to another culture, it is "cultural appropriation" and decidedly ethnocentric if not outright racist.
post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna
"The "Universalism" in Unitarian Universalims refers to a theological idea that all people can be saved."


Saved from what???
Eternal damnation, in a nutshell. There was a very popular idea that salvation was pre-determined, that only the "select" would be saved and everyone else was Hell-bound. Universalism was the then radical idea that salvation was univesally available.

Unitarianism and Universalism were seperate religions for hudreds of years but they were both the liberal, Christian religion of their times. Eventually the two came to share things like Religious Education textbooks and they merged about 40 years ago.

Edited to clarify: Unitarian Universalism in neither. We no longer espouse the ideas of universal salvation or reject (or embrace, for that matter) the idea of one God vs. the idea of a trinity. In the days when Unitarianism and Universalism were formed, they embodied the religious liberal thought of the day. UU is still a liberal religion, that's why we still carry the names, Unitarianism and Universalism, but it is no longer exclusively Christian or even mono-theist. UU as it exists today is a creedless religion.
post #15 of 44
Thanks for the explination Pugmadmama. I did know that They were seperate before. No wonder I didn't feel at home at UU. I do not feel any need for salvation. In fact from my short little stint there it seemed like it was more a place for disenfranchised Christians than anyone else. Regardless of the CUUPS chapters.

And Stacy, Excellent post!
post #16 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by stafl
Universalism assumes there is some common Truth which underlies all different faiths and belief systems. ...
That's an incorrect definition of Universalism in the religious meaning of the word. The word "Universalist" means that salvation is available to all. It means, basically, that God and "his" salvation are larger than any single faith or belief system. In anycase, most of today's UU don't believe in "Universalism" or "Unitarianism" . Even if individual UU's believe it, we are a creedless religion and so have no official position on such things. We are the sons and daughters of the liberal religious pioneers of the past, that's why we still carry those names.


Quote:
Originally Posted by stafl
...The whole idea of "universal salvation" is quite offensive to some people of other faiths, and totally negates their spiritual beliefs...
I get that. Unitarian Universalism as a whole has no official position on salvation. Meaning, of course, that we don't require it. However, if you want to believe that or even if another UU wants to believe that, that's fine.


Quote:
Originally Posted by stafl
...When an organized religion does it to another religion, or when a culture does it to another culture, it is "cultural appropriation" and decidedly ethnocentric if not outright racist.
I've seen things at my UU's churches that crossed the line into cultural appropriation. That shouldn't happen and it does.

But I don't think it's cultural appropriation when, say, a Jewish member of UU church leads a Seder dinner or when a Native American member leads a drum circle (both things I've seen happen at my fellowships). UU's come from a wide array of religious traditions and so it only follows that some of those traditions will come with those people.
post #17 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna
Thanks for the explination Pugmadmama. I did know that They were seperate before. No wonder I didn't feel at home at UU. I do not feel any need for salvation...
We are a creedless religion. That means that we don't officially believe in God, Jesus, salvation, etc. Individual members have a freedom and responsibility to shape their own belief system, which can include God, Jesus, salvation (but, personally, I have yet to meet a UU who believes in a need for salvation) There are Jewish UUs, Buddhist UUs's, Christian UUs', etc. And then there are UU's like me, just plain old UU's.
post #18 of 44
I think that we are talking about two different things. That may or may not apply to both. There is UU Universalism and then there is the broader use of the word universalist which I usually see people define as " all are one " kinda thing.
post #19 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna
I think that we are talking about two different things. That may or may not apply to both. There is UU Universalism and then there is the broader use of the word universalist which I usually see people define as " all are one " kinda thing.
Yes, I think we are talking about two different things. But it's confusing because, as I understand it, stafl is using universalism to talk about Universalism.

This is reminding me of Catholic vs catholic.
post #20 of 44
ok, sorry to go OT but what is the little vs big C difference???

For the record my issues are generally with the small u universalism as I feel that it promotes cultural appropriation.
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