Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Response to My UU Post

I received an interesting comment to my post on being a capitalist Republican Unitarian Universalist...

Roci wrote:
Why would you belong to a "church" that doesn't believe in anything?Even the elks have more than that.On what basis does your "leader" get his moral authority to tell you anything?Not trying to throw stones, but I don't see the point in anyone attending such a "church", liberal or conservative.

Roci asks some good questions. It’s not uncommon for outsiders to think that UU churches don’t have beliefs or morals. If your definition of ‘beliefs’ and ‘morals’ is based on supernatural entities magically meddling with the natural world, then I would agree that we UUs don’t believe in anything (except for UU Wiccans, UU Christians, UU Polytheists, etc.). Seriously though, a majority UUs believe in the same Judeo-Christian moral teachings that most non-UU folks believe in. Most UUs deviate, however, from main-line religions when it comes to importance of supernatural forces.

Many UUs believe in God or gods and you can find your fill of supernatural talk if you know where to look. There are, however many more humanists than theists. I and the humanists I’m close to believe that the world’s religions are compilations of human wisdom sexed-up with mysticism. We choose to take the teachings and leave magic.

UUs do have seven guiding principals (inherent worth of all people, responsible search for truth, yada yada yada) that are pretty easy to accept. The thing I really like about UUism is that it acknowledges that no single religion has found ‘The Answer’ (in fact we have a hymn with the line: “to question is the answer”). Most UUs are well educated, thoughtful folks who never felt at home in the birth religion.

All that being said, UUism isn’t perfect. A few of my gripes:

1) Political correctness runs rampant

2) Too politically liberal– I’m convinced our national office is a front for the DNC

3) Hostile toward believers (really just Christians… I’ve never heard a UU minister attack Islam many faults)

4) Cheap – UUs give less (% of Income) to their churches than most other denominations

5) Too tolerant of bad behavior – both adults and children get away with horrible manners

The bottom line for me is that it’s really the only place my family can go to be a part of a religious community without having to make intellectual compromises. I was raised in a Jewish (Conservative) household and realized I was a humanist shortly after my Bar Mitzvah. My wife is a non-practicing Catholic who still enjoys the ritual of Catholicism but doesn’t have strong theological ties to religion. We have two kids that we wanted to expose to a religious community. UU is the only available option.

Two of my close friends are quite religious (Mormon and Evangelical Christian) and I’m somewhat jealous of the non-theological aspects of their communities: very sociable & thoughtful members, high level of commitment to their religious communities ($$ and time), welcoming to politically conservative views. Both would be a perfect fit for me if I could deal with all of the God talk. Actually, I could deal with it… I just don’t want my kids exposed to it.


At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After a fellow UU congregant brought this post to my attention, I thought I'd respond. My comments are based on my being a UU for 13 years and a former evangelical Christian for over 20 years.

You state:

"1) Political correctness runs rampant"

--Stating this is like saying "Republicans are too religiously conservative"- by what standard, and how do you define "religiously conservative"? Essentially you're just sharing your opinion and others may see it differently; they might not agree with your definition of PC or agree that the above is a pejorative statement. Or to put it differently, many might be DRAWN to UU churches by the very thing you dislike.

"2) Too politically liberal– I’m convinced our national office is a front for the DNC"

--UU congregations are most certainly politically liberal. But no more than conservative Christian churches are overwhelmingly politically conservative.

"3) Hostile toward believers (really just Christians… I’ve never heard a UU >>minister attack Islam many faults)"

--Unfortunately this is often true, and we need to learn and grow in this area. But try this sometime: walk into any adult evangelical Christian Sunday school class and start espousing the tenets of atheism or secular humanism (or using their vocabulary) and see what sort of response you get. Or listen to words from the pulpits in these churches!

"4) Cheap – UUs give less (% of Income) to their churches than most other >>denominations"

--You're comparing apples to oranges. If UUs had an authoritative text saying we should give 10% and an authoritative clergy requesting it, our giving rates would climb into the range of the evangelicals.

"5) Too tolerant of bad behavior – both adults and children get away with horrible manners"

--Hard to say anything meaningful about this complaint without having at least a clue about the specific cases

Personally I'd choose the UUs on a bad day over the evangelicals on their best days. But that's me; your mileage might vary.

Dan "not so anonymous" R.

(and anonymous because I don't need yet another id & password to remember)

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Early Riser said...

Anonymous Dan makes a few interesting remarks. Unfortunately, too many of his comments are based on the facts that UUs aren't any worse that Evangelical churches when it comes to tolerance of differences.

I really don't care if Evangelical churches are tolerant... they don't claim that they welcome all vies and religious backgrounds so I don't hold them to that standard.

UUs, on the other hand, preach tolerance as one of our key principals and I don't believe we practice what we preach.

On the matter of money, I think it belittles Christians to say that they give so much more than we do because of some authoritarian structure. They give because they truly embrace a culture of generosity (time, money, friendship) that UUs cannot seem to grasp.

At 3:08 PM, Blogger Roci said...

My response to your response to my response is at my blog.


At 1:07 AM, Blogger Flexo said...

I have a friend who decided to become a UU minister. From the way she talks about it, UU seems more like a religion for modern times. I was also brough up Jewish, and I love Jewish heritage and studying Hebrew... but I believe the Torah is a collection of stories, a code of laws and ethics, and a census that were never meant to permeate centuries into the future without taking scientific discoveries into account...

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Chalicechick said...

For what it's worth, I'm a UU and much more liberal than you are and I agree with all of those criticisms.


At 10:18 AM, Blogger Bill Baar said...

You're not alone. There are more of us then people realize I suspect.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger spankthatdonkey said...

One of my favorite bumper stickers is "God is too big for one religion"

At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a liberal (politically as well as in religion) and a UU. I have to admit there is at least a ring of truth in your statements 1-through-3 although I think you overstate all of them. (Re # 4, I totally agree -- UU's are cheap. Re # 5, I don't have a clue as to what you are talking about that is any different than anywhere else.)

For example, you state UU's are hostile to Christians. Well, yes and no. I have heard any number of cheap shots taken at Christians by my fellow UU's. On the other hand, we not only live in a dominant Christian society but one where certain sects are becoming more militant and working to impose themselves on the rest of us. When they push I have no problem with pushing back. We owe that to our kids and our country.


PS I still think you should donate that extra money to your church rather than invest it in a gas well.

At 1:23 PM, Anonymous PENNY STOCK INVESTMENTS said...

Not a bad take on things at all.


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