Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Unitarian For A Day


This year I got to march in the Gay Pride Parade, behind the banner of the Unitarian Church! I know what you're thinking. Murr, how can you presume to march in the Gay Pride Parade? You're not a Unitarian.

This is true, but I'm not all that far away from being a Unitarian. The motto of the Unitarian Universalist Church is "whatever." Unitarians have been around a long time. There's some indication there were even some rooting around the Transylvania region in the 1500s. The main thing that set them apart, in the early years, was their rejection of the Trinity. The Trinity is a little odd anyway. It's the notion that you have your God, your Son Of God, and your Holy Ghost, three persons, but really all the same person, one of which is more of a vapor. It's designed to be mysterious. There's no point in being God if everybody gets you.

The early Unitarians thought this was pointless. There is only one God, with only one change of clothes. They liked Jesus well enough, but didn't get into his paternity. They didn't have him going up to heaven and sitting at God's right hand. According to the doctrine of the Trinity, sitting at your own right hand is something you can do if you are really big, which most people agree God is.
Unitarians!

Later the Unitarians found a lot of other things in the scripture that didn't sit right with them, such as the Virgin Birth. They didn't buy that. Really, if Joseph did, that's all that matters. And what with one thing and another, and doubt being cast about a lot of your so-called miracles, they abandoned the notion that the Bible was all that reliable. In general, they embraced science and intellectualism. And in general, they didn't believe any one religion had all the answers, and one must be open to new ideas. This is one reason a lot of people don't count Unitarianism as a religion at all. True religions are a hell of a lot more sure of themselves. You can't go to war over "whatever."

Da Bears
Well, Unitarians aren't as interested in going to war. They are interested in having an open mind and an open heart and aspiring to be kind. Right there, that's going to sieve out a lot of your other world religions. Unitarians are so little bound by creed that they embrace agnostics, atheists, humanists, Jews, Buddhists, and pagans. In fact, one working definition of a Unitarian is "someone who goes to a Unitarian church."

Which makes me, ipso fatso, a Unitarian, because I went to the Unitarian church to meet up with the rest of my marching squad. I didn't go inside. These things take time.

53 comments:

  1. Your description of the Unitarian religion sounds oxymoronic. Completely. And that is a weird (and ugly) word in itself. And an antionomatopeic one.

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    1. Oxymoronic? Undogmatic? As long as we get some kind of critter in the descriptor, I'm cool.

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  2. They want the trappings and cachet of being a religion without the burden of following any rules, but at least they're relatively honest about it. Most self-declared Christians don't follow their sect's rules about birth control or working on Sunday or whatever. From a strictly pragmatic viewpoint, it's a good thing. When people really do follow their sacred texts, you get Fred Phelps and ISIS. No gay pride parades in Mosul.

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    1. I don't know. We Lutherans just used to sing "A Mighty Fortress" and go have coffee in the basement. That wasn't so bad.

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    2. Except the coffee itself, I've been told.

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    3. Well, a lot of it can go a little way.

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  3. From that description, I think you may have created a few converts.

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    1. And the neat thing about being a Unitarian is you don't even have to convert. You can just sort of show up.

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    2. Well, that's the thing about UUs. We show up. We show up on Gay Pride day, at protests against ICE holds, SCOMM, and mass incarcerations. We showed up in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s—and the 1840s. It's easy to spot us in our bright yellow Standing On the Side of Love t-shirts (and Birkenstocks). So we don't have a creed, unless it's "We need not think alike to love alike." One could do worse.

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    3. Definitely the showing-uppest of people.

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  4. Having shrugged off a couple of childhood and young adult religious denominations that no longer fit, I dabbled in Unitarianism in the mid-1980s. I quite liked the "whatever" philosophy and the intelligent, open-minded people who embraced it. I attended church there for a string of Sundays until I learned from my new boyfriend, Charles, that his too-recent ex was a member of that small congregation. After a few moments of highly intellectual consideration, I decided that the ex could keep the Unitarian Universalist Church and I'd take Charles. In hindsight, for what it's worth, the ex got the better end of the deal.

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    1. Well, shoot. She'd already tried them both. You just had to guess.

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  5. Just out of college I worked with a Unitarian at the Marietta Daily Journal. Joyce had terminal cancer, and she faced that with more courage than I had ever seen. A few years later I walked in the door at UUCA (Atlanta) and had never before felt such spiritual power. I went there for years before we moved away, and I credit the church for giving me a whole new perspective of what religion can be, what it can offer. As in any denomination, different UU churches will provide different experiences, but those years in Atlanta shine for me.

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    1. Good to hear. I tend to look kindly upon Unitarians, while doing most of my worshipping in the woods somewhere. Hey, my sister went to college in Marietta.

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    2. Marietta, GA?????? Small world.

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    3. Oh poo. I knew there was another Marietta. No, Ohio.

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  6. I joined the Unitarian church in Edmonds, Washington, just last month, after a year of attending when I was in town. I feel completely at home with the philosophy and the community.

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  7. Intelligence, kindness, open minds -- if I was going to follow a religion, this would be the one. But I fear I am too lazy to actually go to church. What happens to Unitarians who don't go to church?

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    1. You don't get to participate in a community that values you for you and is committed to social action.

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    2. True. But at least you don't go to hell.

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  8. You marched in a good parade with like minded comrades. Sounds like a good day to me.

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    1. A parade in the rain. Totally Portland! stomp splash stomp splash plup plup

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  9. Here in metro ATL, this atheist UU is raising a happy, healthy kid who will have a sound world view to combat the Bible-belters she's surrounded by. Here are the 7 principles she's learned to live by:1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
    2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
    3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
    4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
    5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
    6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
    7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

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    1. Some of us don't have a ton of dignity, but I'll go along with all the rest of that.

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  10. I actually hadn't heard of Unitarians. This is something new to me. Whatever, huh? Kinda like that :)

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    1. There are probably areas of the country without a surplus of Unitarian churches.

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  11. I am perfect for this church because I am an agnostic, atheists, humanist, Buddhist, and pagans. I need to look in Judaism next!!

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    1. The wine's not good, and certain times of the year you're not going to be interested in the bread, either. Other than that...good outfit.

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  12. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were Unitarians, by the way. So were Darwin and Newton, Dickens and Coleridge. It's quite a respectable club.

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    1. I do like that club. Plus, they allow girls!

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  13. As someone who was married and raised her kids in the Unitarian Church, I always referred to it as "BYOG" ("Bring Your Own God"). Deed before creed, y'all!

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  14. I was born a Unitarian, as were my parents and grandparents (all New Englanders), and as a UU I have been spurred to action in many worthy causes, had my soul soothed when needed and have a great community of people of many beliefs in the UU Church of Berkeley... You have to develop your own 'the'ology, and that's a great exercise.

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    1. I so appreciate your use of the word "exercise," because it takes will and gumption, and is so much more valuable than whatever you get out of parking yourself in the valley and having the stone tablets crash down on you from Mt. Sinai.

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  15. These Unitarians sound like a pretty good bunch.

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    1. I'm not at all surprised so many of them have piped up here, though. Nice people come here.

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  16. There is a big Unitarian Church in Oregon city and many people I know attend it. I am accepting of most religions. I, too, an Lutheran.

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    1. I'm not actually a Lutheran. I'm an Apatheist, which means I'm pretty harmless but I can't be bothered to do actual good in the world, which Unitarians are driven to do.

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  17. I was a Unit for 10 months in 1966, but have been recusant since an LRY conference in Berkeley. I think Timothy Leary was there and perhaps still is.

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    1. Geo., may I ask what happened at the conference? I see on wikipedia that the LRY was a youth group under the Unitarian name - did it go in a different direction?

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    2. Okay, so I concentrated real hard (and googled Timothy Leary) and came up with a wisp of an idea about what might have happened ...

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    3. Jenny, Liberal Religious Youth was a good place for teenagers to learn and discuss philosophies that would shortly save their lives. There were dangerous forces facing them and not much time to prepare. I believe the group disbanded shortly after the Vietnam war ended.

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    4. Geo., I'm still not sure I follow. Are you speaking tongue-in-cheek or straight up? I'm not really a good reader of nuances, except when there are none there, when of course I see them all over the place.

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    5. Straight up about the dangerous forces.

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  18. Lots has changed since the beginnings of LRY (Liberal Religious Youth)! Now they are YRUU (Young Reliious UUs) and very much affiliated with the mainstream, not with the drug culture and rock and roll of the 60s. Leary started out in a pretty scientific exploration of hallucinigens! I wasn't there, tho', so no direct experience ;-).

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    1. If you were there, you wouldn't necessarily be able to remember it.

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    2. I have been told I was there.

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  19. pardon the misspellings! religious, hallucinogens...

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    1. We don't judge typos here! Especially since people's phones do it automatically.

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