Unitarian Universalists

 

 

 

       I suppose it was a dumb commitment to make. I had made a promise to my ex that we would remain friends; so, for the past several months we’ve been doing things like grocery shopping, visiting bookstores, and watching movies together. I had become the stereotypical platonic friend. “Bleehhh!” I told her about this religious project I was doing, and it seemed to peak her interest. She had always been real heavy into sociology, and this project sounded very interesting to her. So here I was picking her up so that we could spend an awkward—for me at least—morning at church together. As we were heading to the church, I couldn’t help but think about how good she looked. “Ugghhh! Stop thinking about this! This is not helpful!” I screamed to myself, silently of course. On the outside I looked cool and collected, but on the inside I was running circles in my mind. I couldn’t wait ‘til we got to the church. So, needless to say my interpretations of the church ecclesial functions and group distinctions may not be entirely cognizant.

       For my first trip, I had chosen to visit the Unitarian Universalists. They had sounded interesting to me in class. They were described as being the Bostonian like, educated liberals of religion, which to me sounded like an oxymoron. I had never really had a fond liking of religious people or of religious organizations. I suppose I’ve always thought of them as being too narrow and closed minded. Of course, I know that not all religions are as I’ve described; however, I’m not trying to depict an explanation of fact, as much as sentiment. That’s how I feel anyways. I suppose I too can be a bit narrow-minded. It’s probably why I chose them. I suppose the main question I wanted to answer by visiting this place was why intelligent, open minded people would choose to follow some dogma or to believe in some mystical super natural.

       The Unitarians had historically at one time been Christians, but they were composed of individuals who couldn’t quite follow or believe in a dogma in which non-Christians would go to hell. It struck them as unfair. So, they made their own religion, and were burned at the stake. They tried again, but those people were also burned at the stake. They, then tried again, and those people didn’t burn. It’s a storybook tale of perseverance. In today’s society there is a lot of science, evidence, skepticism, war, death, famine, floods, and what not, that can easily make a person lose faith in a strict dogmatic belief. The Unitarians I would suppose are simply the people who want to believe, but can’t get themselves to stop asking questions. Human beings are social animals, but we are also curious animals; this faith then, I would concede, is just the natural intersection of the two. I suppose anyways.

       I had visited the church two days before. I wanted to find out where it was and what it looked like. When I first saw it, I thought it looked kinda’ like some hippy commune. It looked more so like some residential upper class log cabin you’d see out in the mountains or on some lake front property, than it did anything like a church. The main floor was very spacious. It had some modern, yet eastern look to it. There were stone floors, plants, and a visible garden to the left in a type of atrium on the other side of a double set of glass doors. Everything seemed to be arranged along the walls in what seemed to be a circular pattern. I already had the preconceived notion of this place being a hippie commune, so I thought, “Maybe it’s some kind of Feng-shui thing?” On the far side of the open floor in plain view from the entrance there was some big sectioned up circular stone mural—looked like a daisy—with symbols of all the world’s major religions: Hopi Indians, Egyptian, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Celtic, and Buddhism on each of the stones, circling around this center stone piece with the symbol for the Unitarian Universalists, a chalice with a flame coming out of it. This seemed to depict to me a coming together of different beliefs into a single entity, theirs. It also included atheistic and agnostic beliefs as well in what the plaque read as, “in the spaces between the stones.” I was in good company then—right up there with moss and lichen. The place had a very stuck-up feel to me. However, I was going to try and be unbiased.

       Anyways, I pulled into the entrance of the drive way, and found a spot to park my car. I assessed that there were actually quite a few attendants, because I had to park some distance away from the entrance. Most of the cars were nice looking sedans and some luxury cars. There were also a few of those economical hybrid cars that people brag have lower co2 emission rates. I assessed from that, that most of these people were middle aged to old, middle-upper class liberals. I went around the other side of the car and helped my ex get out. As we walked into the building, I told her, “I think I might have over dressed for the occasion.” I was wearing a suit for the most part, minus the jacket. After looking around the room, I noticed most people were dressed pretty conservatively in sweaters, kaki pants, and dresses—but nothing formal. She agreed with my assessment. “You’re such a dork.” She said smiling. I ignored her. In any case, I had a casual jacket in my car I had gotten from Ross with a little badge that read, “Glacier National Park Ranger.” I wasn’t one, but I thought it looked cool. So, I went out to get it and put it on. It helped a bit.

       A few old ladies sitting at a reception table had us fill out some name tags and stick ‘em on our shirts. Mine read, “JOE,” in big block letters. I wanted to ensure everybody knew who I was. We were then directed to another room to await the service, and we took some seats in the back, because I wanted to be able to see everyone. The room was arranged much like any other protestant service you might see. In the front were the pews, to the left of that was the choir, and the chairs throughout the room were arranged to face them. There was nothing unusual, except that in the front of the room, they had a place for all the little kids to sit. “The church must be really big on kids.” I thought to myself. “That whole get ‘em while their young thing.” I brought that same topic up later after the service, and they ensured me that the church encourages “individual” growth, not indoctrination. “Whatever.” I thought. I really was trying to be unbiased.

       As the service began, my ex was struck by the fact that the place seemed very inviting and diverse. There was a female minister, a black choir director, and what seemed to be a gay, youth minister. I made that latter assessment based on the way he talked, dressed, and the fact that he sang some, let’s say, sprightly song in front of the whole congregation. I agreed with my ex, it was very open, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Anyways, we had been handed some flyers which had the day’s events written out. “That’s actually kinda’ cool.” I said leaning over to my ex. I pointed to her the topic of the day, “Classism and Racism.” I had grown up poor—or po’, to be more specific—and I would consider myself to be Hispanic; so, I was quite prepared for the topic. In any sense, it was a good sermon. The woman who gave it spoke very well and from memory; so, she obviously seemed to know her topic. However, the sermon didn’t cover anything I couldn’t have learned off the history channel or in a sociology book.

       In the end though, although I liked the sermon and I agreed with their policies, I was still left feeling like this place was somewhat unattractive. It didn’t quite have that “something” that would entice me to want to stay there. It was too superfluous, and didn’t really offer anything more than what you might be able to get out of a sociology class. Also, not really knowing anyone or being part of the community, I felt somewhat out of place. My ex felt the same; however, that might be the very thing that got everyone else there to stay. She as opposed to me was actually quite energized by it. She told me, “I’ve never really been a part of a community before. I think this could be a good thing.” I suppose the whole humanistic need to belong is what drives people together. My ex felt it, but I didn’t. Over-all, this church doesn’t really believe in anything. They just throw stuff out and hope you pick something up. That seems to be enough for some people, and it should’ve been enough for me; but for some reason, it just wasn’t. I suppose I’m either just too lazy to come on a continual basis, or I’m just too complacent to care. In any case, that wasn’t the point.

 

Back

 

 

 

Hosting by WebRing.