Can we discuss cultural appropriation and the UU church? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 44 Old 04-24-2004, 10:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Or, basically, the UU church in general?
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#2 of 44 Old 04-25-2004, 03:29 AM
 
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#3 of 44 Old 04-26-2004, 08:36 AM
 
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#4 of 44 Old 04-26-2004, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#5 of 44 Old 04-26-2004, 09:20 PM
 
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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.
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#6 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 09:47 AM
 
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#7 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 11:02 AM
 
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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.
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#8 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 12:23 PM
 
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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.
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#9 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 04:04 PM
 
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"...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.
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#10 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 04:13 PM
 
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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.
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#11 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 05:58 PM
 
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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.

Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
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#12 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 06:06 PM
 
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"The "Universalism" in Unitarian Universalims refers to a theological idea that all people can be saved."


Saved from what???
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#13 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 06:14 PM
 
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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.
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#14 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 06:17 PM
 
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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.
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#15 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 06:24 PM
 
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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!
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#16 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 06:28 PM
 
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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.
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#17 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 06:34 PM
 
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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.
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#18 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 06:35 PM
 
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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.
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#19 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 06:41 PM
 
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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.
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#20 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 06:45 PM
 
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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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#21 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 07:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Arduinna
ok, sorry to go OT but what is the little vs big C difference???...
catholic means universal. :LOL It really does!

From dictionary.com:

cath·o·lic
Of broad or liberal scope; comprehensive: “The 100-odd pages of formulas and constants are surely the most catholic to be found” (Scientific American).
Including or concerning all humankind; universal: “what was of catholic rather than national interest” (J.A. Froude).


Catholic Of or involving the Roman Catholic Church.
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#22 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 08:21 PM
 
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now I'm really confused...

If Unitarian Universalists are neither unitarian nor universalist, why do they still use that name?

when I was growing up UU, we were definitely taught a version of Universalism - that all religions are valid and are seen as different means/paths to attain the same end/Truth (universal salvation, or one of the current, more liberal counterparts to that). Has the church really changed so much in the last twenty years?
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#23 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 08:24 PM
 
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delete. nobody seems interested.
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#24 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 08:32 PM
 
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Sorry your so upset Dar
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#25 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 08:36 PM
 
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#26 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 08:48 PM
 
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sigh

no one has called you a racist.

As for my opinion, just reread what I wrote above. It sums it up.
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#27 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 09:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stafl
now I'm really confused...

If Unitarian Universalists are neither unitarian nor universalist, why do they still use that name?..
Unitarianism and Universalism were the liberal religions of their times. They changed over time, becoming more similiar and, concidentially, less Christian and theist centered, and eventually merged. When they merged, they became a creedless religion. It is the tradition of being a liberal religion that we are carrying on in their names.


Quote:
Originally Posted by stafl
...when I was growing up UU, we were definitely taught a version of Universalism - that all religions are valid and are seen as different means/paths to attain the same end/Truth ...Has the church really changed so much in the last twenty years?
I guess it has. Nothing I've read or learned about UUism implies that we are all on different paths to some Ultimate Truth.

Edited to add: Perhaps you are thinking of lessons based on The Purposes and Principles? From that webpage:

The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:
...Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;...


As far as other religions go, I don't think that acknowledging that wisdom can be draw from other religions is the same as declaring them all equally valid and/or that they all are paths to the same place. I think also it's important to remember that listed among the sources of our living tradition are direct experience (which is listed first), Humanist teachings and earth-centered traditions.
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#28 of 44 Old 04-27-2004, 09:29 PM
 
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here is my analogy.

1 someone teaching traditional yoga as a the spiritual practice that it is.

2 someone teaching "yoga" as a get fit practice stripped of it's traditional spiritual practice.

one is cultural appropriation and one is not. Could one be racism?? possibly
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#29 of 44 Old 04-28-2004, 02:37 PM
 
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very interesting, Pugmadmama!
Here's what i know... My mother is both unitarian and universalist, as are most of her friends who attend service at our local UU church. My mother is the kindest, most gentle person I have ever met. I have never heard her utter the first derogatory comment about any person or group of people. There's not a person in the world could call her a racist, by any stretch of the imagination. That isn't to say that her religious views aren't ethnocentric, they most certainly are, and are defined in terms of the Christianity in which she was raised.

Like so many other people, i grew up to question the faith of my parents. my replies to this thread are a reflection of my rebellion against organized religion of any sort, UU in particular, and do not imply any judgement upon the people following those religions.
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#30 of 44 Old 04-28-2004, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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For me, I see it happen alot with white progressives.

See, just by being progressive it means we have the "right" to take bits of other people's religioius rituals and incorporate it into our own.

Why on earth would a bunch of white, upper class, mostly ex-Christians want to perform a Seder dinner?

Why use the singing bowl with every service?

It seems like just by being "progressive", there's some "entitlement" about taking other culture's religious symbols or rituals and using them. After all, we're "not racist, right" (this gets my goat, because we're ALL racist and by saying you're not is ignoring what is really going on in our world!).

I cannot get into the discussion around Universalism, all I know is that I don't feel any passion within the church. It's very political and very brain-oriented. That's fine for some, but for me, its' not.

I also don't like the fact that during the month of December my daughter, in RE, lights Hannukah candles. Either you teach people everything about the religion you are studying, or don't do the rituals! I'm offended that there's this simple act of "just lighting candles" that is taken from another religion without those from that religion leading the ritual!

Argh! Does this make sense?

And, yes, my community is white. Perhaps this has something to do with it. But, as progressives, we are really getting pretty icky with our entitlement. Even with classes and workshops on racism. That doesn't seem to help the matters above. It just makes us more guilty.

The use of words like "zen" or "tao" or "karma" has become so commercialized in our culture. I blame alot of that on progressives that feel like because they took some course on Buddhist principles that they can start using these words, along with hanging prayer flags up at their house.
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