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#61 of 97 Old 08-31-2010, 11:04 AM
 
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The words to this hymn from StLT can be sung to the tune of "Jesus Loves Me"
YAY! These are AWESOME! Thank you so SOOO much! Your version is great and even seems like it should be the original... makes the Jesus one sound like a knock-off ... and it will be super-easy for me to memorize.

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I worry about our girls feeling a need for something more, and possibly getting sucked into fundamentalism since it's the fundamentalists who keep reaching out into the community and offering fun activities and free food and so on.
Yes, this is my worry too. Pretty much all our family (incl. DH) and all the people who surround us are fundamental Christian, so I worry that their practices will either feel conflicting when DD starts to be more involved at the UU church (she's 2.5 yrs now) or will somehow be turned into her "default" setting... does that make sense? Not sure how to say that, but I think the things that surround you when you're little, when/if you're totally safe and secure, remain powerful throughout you're life... like your default setting... your safe place that you always want to go back to and recreate as you get older. I would prefer that DD not have that connection to religion.

Stargirl - sounds like a great book... we're on a "no spend" budget for the month of Sept, but I think the book comes out as a paperback in Oct, so maybe I can get it a little cheaper then.
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#62 of 97 Old 08-31-2010, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Has anyone read "The Cathedral of the World: A Universalist Theology" by Forrest Church? I just picked up a copy and I would love to read it as a book club. Anyone interested?
I have not read The Cathedral of the World, but I love Forrest Church. I think a book club sounds like a great idea! Count me in!

I also am trying not to spend money on "extras", but a copy is available at my local library, though currently checked out. I can put a hold on it.

How do you want to handle the book club, Stargirl?

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#63 of 97 Old 08-31-2010, 06:23 PM
 
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Not sure how to say that, but I think the things that surround you when you're little, when/if you're totally safe and secure, remain powerful throughout you're life... like your default setting... your safe place that you always want to go back to and recreate as you get older. I would prefer that DD not have that connection to religion.
The hard part is that I started out parenting as a fundamentalist Christian myself. At about age 6, my older dd got really upset when one of her Sunday School teachers said something about liars going to hell. Dd has actually always been quite honest, but she still worried that she might have accidentally told a lie sometime.

I started to realize that this kind of religious teaching wasn't having a good effect on my dd, and I also realized that I didn't really believe any more that God was like that. We took a step back from church, and I talked a lot to her about how God is Love, and I asked her if she could believe that I would ever throw her into hell, and she said No, and I said that God is so much more loving than any human, so God doesn't throw His children into hell either.

Then, the other night, we were watching a documentary about that Intelligent Design trial in Dover. One of the couples that was pro-Evolution was also Christian, and dd looked at me and said, "Are we Christian?"

I wasn't sure how to answer. I started talking about my belief in Love, and she got very upset and asked what would happen to us when we died. I told her I couldn't really know for sure, but I was remembering this book Life After Life, in which some people who'd had near death experiences told their stories.

These were people who had all different beliefs -- not just Christian -- and yet they all saw the beautiful light and they all felt a sense of peace and wellbeing. I told her I'll get this book so we can read it. I said that I've never died, so I honestly don't know "for sure" what happens next -- but I just really believe in Love and I really believe that everything will be all right.

In some ways, it seems like dd felt more reassured when the teachings were "definite." Then she had the anxieties about hell, but I guess at least she felt like she knew "the rules." All this "I don't know" and "I'm still learning" stuff is terribly unsettling to her.

Maybe when families are UU from the very beginning, the children are spared all this angst? I wish I'd started this journey a little sooner, but for me it took becoming a mom to get me to start questioning the whole "God can't forgive our sins 'til someone bleeds for them"-spiel.

I feel so free and happy now, witin myself, but it's hard realizing that my prior beliefs and teachings have placed my now 10yo in the position of having to work through some really tough issues now, too.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#64 of 97 Old 08-31-2010, 09:10 PM
 
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Susan--

If I can chime in, my 4 year old has not been exposed to any of the fire and brim stone, doom and gloom, vengeful G-d, or the absolute Truth of much of Christianity.

But, he is really struggling with things like the creation of the universe, death, reincarnation, the existence of God, souls, etc. he is very anxious.

I don't think that anything you said or did earlier has anything to do with your daughter's anxiety now.

my mom and I were talking about it this morning on my way to work, and she basically acknowledged that everyone gets anxious when they really think about these Really Big Things, unless you can fall back on an unwavering faith. But, I have never known anyone whose faith was unwavering, and everyone I know who has been through darkness and struggle has struggled with faith...
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#65 of 97 Old 09-01-2010, 12:02 AM
 
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spedteacher30 -- Thank you so much for sharing about your son's journey! I'd been feeling that I really dumped a load on my dd, both by being so fundamentalist before, and by being so changeable now -- but maybe we all just really have to make our own journeys, and this is part of her journey.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#66 of 97 Old 09-01-2010, 09:53 AM
 
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Hi. Could someone please help me understand this? I have been researching UU after trying out many religions (judaism, christianity, islam), but I feel like all paths lead to God, although I still have Christian leanings. I also love that UUs are accepting of everyone. I posted on another christian group asking if anyone else attended a UU church and of course they all got their panties in a ruffle and someone posted this link http://www.gotquestions.org/unitarian-universalism.html. I'm pretty sure that this website has false information, but can you please confirm that for me? DH is agnostic and very open to a UU church. I would love to have a place that we could all attend with the family. You can reply here or PM me. Thanks so much.
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#67 of 97 Old 09-01-2010, 05:38 PM
 
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Sometimes I wish the name could just be "Universalist" and not "Unitarian Universalist" -- mainly because of how I've grown through communing with Mary. I've come to see her as the the one through whom God became human. Her DNA is now inextricably interwoven into God's DNA.

Also, the concept of the Three in One, once explained to me through the example of an apple being seeds, flesh, and skin, but still one apple, has for years been very beautiful to me to such an extent that I refuse to give it up.

Although I no longer believe that everyone has to believe the Christian gospel to be saved -- and I also no longer believe that Jesus' death was necessary from God's standpoint -- I still believe Jesus' crucifixion was necessary in order for a certain portion of the world's population to move beyond the "eye for an eye" revenge mentality.

I kind of see the Christian gospel as a "gateway drug" to draw certain people into the path of full enlightenment.

So...I don't know if I can ever commit to Unitarianism although I am certainly already committed to Universalism. I'd be very interested in learning whether this is likely to be an issue at whatever point that I might like to become a full fledged member.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#68 of 97 Old 09-01-2010, 05:42 PM
 
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P.S. I now kind of use the words "God," "Love," and "Life force" interchangeably. I just realized that it seems, and probably is, very contradictory for me to post earlier in the thread about how I wonder if I might be a "spiritual atheist" -- and then here I am talking about "God's DNA."

I'm not sure what I really mean by this, exactly, but it's weird how the less sure I feel, and the less "set" it all is in my mind, the more alive I feel and the more in-tune with Reality and Truth. Does anyone else ever feel this way?

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#69 of 97 Old 09-01-2010, 09:48 PM
 
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I think I'm gonna lurk if that's ok.


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#70 of 97 Old 09-02-2010, 10:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Absolutely, barefootscientist. Lurk away!

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#71 of 97 Old 09-02-2010, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi. Could someone please help me understand this? I have been researching UU after trying out many religions (judaism, christianity, islam), but I feel like all paths lead to God, although I still have Christian leanings. I also love that UUs are accepting of everyone. I posted on another christian group asking if anyone else attended a UU church and of course they all got their panties in a ruffle and someone posted this link http://www.gotquestions.org/unitarian-universalism.html. I'm pretty sure that this website has false information, but can you please confirm that for me? DH is agnostic and very open to a UU church. I would love to have a place that we could all attend with the family. You can reply here or PM me. Thanks so much.
In my opinion, that website contains a few misinterpretations and some out-in-out falsehoods along with a few tiny, out of context truths.

Here are the high points as I see them.

UU is definitely NOT a cult. It does not even come close to meeting any of the characteristics of a cult. See What Is a Cult on the International Cultic Studies Site for more information. Note: sometimes people confuse UU with the (completely unrelated) Unification Church (Moonies), which may actually be a cult, but it does not appear to me that this website is doing this.

The Unitarian Universalist name comes from the merger of two denominations - the Unitarians and the Universalists (both Christian denominations by the way). At the time of the merger, not all Unitarians were Universalists and certainly not all Universalists were Unitarians. Now you do not have to be either Unitarian or Universalist (or Christian) or subscribe to any specified theology to be UU. Unitarian Universalists are united by a set of principles or values rather than a creed. You can find these principles here. I think it is important to note that UU is by no means the only non-creedal protestant-based denomination. Other examples include Quakers, Baptists, and the Brethren. You can read about the history of UU here.

While it is true that the name Unitarian (though not Universalist) comes from a rejection of the concept of the Trinity, this rejection is not historically a rejection of the Bible, or even the divinity of Jesus necessarily. Very early Christianity included Unitarian thought. I believe it was not until the Nicean council that denial of the doctrine of the Trinity formally became heresy (after that point some Unitarians were executed for their beliefs by the way). Early Unitarians definitely considered themselves to be Christians. I personally do not believe in the holy authority of the Bible, but even if I did, it is my understanding that the Biblical argument for the Trinity is not conclusive (it is definitely possible to be a Bible-believing Unitarian).

While it is true that many and possibly most UUs today either do not believe in an afterlife or will admit to not knowing, this is not part of the theology of Universalism. Prior to the merger, historically, Universalist theology stated that whatever Salvation there was, it was available to all people, Christian and non-Christian, and that no one was ever condemned to an eternal, everlasting hell. There is more to it than that and of course there have always been individual variations of belief, but that is my understanding of the main essential concept of Universalism as present in the Universalist denomination in the US prior to the merger that formed the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Finally, UU is not anti-Christian (or at least it shouldn't be - I can't speak for every member of every UU congregation). There are UU Christians today. They are not in the majority at my church, but there are some. There are also some whole UU congregations that are Christian. You can find out more information about UU Christianity here: Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship (Disclosure: I am not Christian, myself).

I hope this information is helpful. Please feel free to post here or PM me if you have specific questions or concerns.

Adele

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#72 of 97 Old 09-02-2010, 04:54 PM
 
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Subbing.

We're planning on going to our first UU service this weekend and I'm nervous as well as excited. I've been wanting to check it out for a bit now, but there wasn't much going on in the summer and the sermon (do you call it that?) this Sunday is

“Words and Phrases": "Spiritual terms resonate with all of us in different ways. This sermon will explore how words like God, worship, and church are interpreted by a diverse set of people and invite the congregation to reflect on their own assumptions about religious words."

So it should be a good introduction. Especially since when I brought it up with DH (trying to explain what a UU church is and why I wanted to check it out) he had issues with the term church vs. worship service!

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#73 of 97 Old 09-02-2010, 05:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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curiouscanadian!

That sounds like a really great sermon to me. Of course, I'm a word-lover.

Please post and let us know your reactions after you visit.

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#74 of 97 Old 09-03-2010, 06:01 PM
 
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Hello fellow UUs and interested folk! I am new to this board and my husband and I are currently TTC #1. We started attending a UU church about 8 months ago and we LOVE it. We come from very different religious backgrounds (him Christian, me nothing.) We began going with the intent of finding a place to take our future children to. Growing up without a religion may seem freeing to a lot of people but in my experience it was frustrating not having any sort of questions answered or even discussed.

What was really helpful to us deciding to keep attending was going to a 3 hour class by the pastor who went through the history of UUism and core beliefs. He was SO knowledgable about the history of it and his sermons are very thought provoking and moving. I honestly never thought I would like going to church but I love that hour of hymns, stories and sermon like you wouldn't believe. I have honestly been moved to misty eyes on more than one occasion.

My only complaint is that our church is very....elderly. There aren't a lot of young folk - we started a young adult group and that is well and good but the majority is just old. It's strange. I didn't think they would be so in to it?

I'm excited to hear more about everyone's experiences and reading this thread has been great!

Sidenote/trivia: our church is the one that President Obama's mother attended when her family lived in WA state. Woo!
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#75 of 97 Old 09-03-2010, 08:23 PM
 
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Adele: I just want to express yet again my gratitude for the gift of time and reflection that you give to all of us who read this thread.

Juliabell: My family found UU'ism in the same way as you AND my initial reservation about our congregation too was all of the white hair. What I discovered along the way is that many of these wonderful folks came to UU'ism for their children. In a time (60's) where there kids would be chastised in the community for not attending Sunday school, many of these families resonated with the UU paradigm and brought their kids. They are huge supporters of our RE program and essentially keep our church going through their financial and volunteer contributions. So now, three years later, I see what a gift my older congregation is to my family who doesn't have any grandparents and extended family nearby. They are our church family, our spiritual home. So although I always try to inform other young families that I meet about our wonderful congregation in hopes of growing our demographic, I have come to realise just how much we have benefited from the experience and wisdom of all those wonderful white heads of hair. May it be so for your too!

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#76 of 97 Old 09-05-2010, 04:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Juliabell!

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#77 of 97 Old 09-05-2010, 04:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, Stargirl, for saying such a nice thing about my posts on this thread. Also, thank you for providing a wonderful thoughtful response to Juliabell.

Thanks to those who said nice things about my little "Mommy Loves You" rhyme.

Thank you all for making this thread so fun and rewarding!

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#78 of 97 Old 09-06-2010, 12:40 AM
 
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So I went to my first UU service today as planned. Unfortunately DH bailed on me at the last minute (he had previously agreed to go ) but I still went and took DS with me as I wanted to approach it with family in mind.

I purposely arrived a little early and everyone was very friendly and I got a nice tour of the church. Due to having DS with me I opted for the Quiet Room attached to the Sanctuary, which is a big plus in my books as I didn't feel comfortable leaving him in the nursery. It was nice, and I did meet another couple with young children but I admit I was very disappointed by the fact that the other couple was very chatty (between themselves) when I was was trying to listen to the sermon so between them and DS I felt I missed a large portion of the actual sermon. Luckily I was told after that the sermon would be posted to the church website so I will be able to read it and absorb/reflect on it much more.

I do think I will be going again, but if DH isn't going to be joining me (which I admit to being disappointed about) I will probably leave DS at home with him and join the others in the Sanctuary. I guess in summary I will be going again as I don't feel the experience was all it could be and am still hoping it will be the spiritual community I'm looking for.

(BTW, sorry if I got any of the terms wrong - totally new to this! )

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#79 of 97 Old 09-09-2010, 06:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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CuriousCanadian,

I'm sorry there were disappointing things about your UU visit, but I'm glad there were good things as well and really glad there were enough good things that you are going to go back.

My dh does not attend with me. This is a lack for me and for quite some time I harbored hopes that he would eventually attend at least occasionally, but now I have accepted that it is never going to happen. There is the silver lining that my dd could stay home with him when she was too young for RE as you said you are going to try with your ds. My dd very rarely attended with me until she got old enough to be interested in RE. Now she goes during the year because she enjoys RE, but frequently skips during the summer.

Regarding the terminology, I'm sure there are some UUs who would say you got them all right and others who would say you got them wrong. Language can be an area of contention for UUs. Some members of my church call the sanctuary the sanctuary and others call it the auditorium. Everyone knows what is being referred to by either word and most people don't care much which word is used, but there are a few individuals who will make a big deal about it in a way I find rather annoying.

Thanks for the update!

Adele

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#80 of 97 Old 09-09-2010, 08:22 PM
 
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So would you say that your uu has similar sermons as these:

-Our Annual Water Service

-Nonviolence and The Obama Peace Prize Speech

-The Power Of Words


I really want to get into UU but I dislike the hymns, the people that go are old, and its not very spiritual. I know I'll never find a perfect place but ..I dunno. Sorry I'm being such a Debbie Downer. I really *do* want to feel like I fit in somewhere.. maybe its cause I'm used to the way the Christian church was that I used to go to. Dh still goes there with the older kids. I loved the pop/rock music they played and the pastor was great but could not agree with the political side and literally believing the bible is true.

eta: I have two UU's about 30 mins in each direction and then another one about 45-50mins away. Maybe I should try one of those.

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#81 of 97 Old 09-12-2010, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

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#82 of 97 Old 09-13-2010, 02:27 AM
 
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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."

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#83 of 97 Old 09-13-2010, 11:44 AM
 
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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?

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#84 of 97 Old 09-13-2010, 01:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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:

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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.”

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?


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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.

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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:
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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!

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