“Unitarian Universalism”: utterly inane

Probably the “best” explanation of Unitarian Universalism I have ever found:

Unitarian Universalism is a religious organization that tries to support whatever spiritual/religious path you choose to embark on. It’s no longer a Christian group (although there are some Unitarian Universalists who do consider themselves Christian) as many congregations may not place any more value on Christ or the Christian Bible than any other religious figure or book, and it sees all religions, and their corresponding sacred scriptures, as being equal in worth. Unitarian Universalist ministers will typically give you spiritual education regarding different religions to help you make your decision. There are, however, Unitarian Universalists who do not believe in God as God is traditionally conceived, and even doubt his or her existence, so you may feel at home there. In fact, a new splinter group, the American Unitarian Conference was apparently formed in response to growing numbers of atheists and secular humanists in the UUA.

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=367649

 

Quick question:

What do you get when you take religion, and then rip out everything which makes it distinctly “religious”, such as:

  1. Obsessive (and exclusive) “reverence” for a specific “sacred” text
  2. Unthinking, reflexive obedience to clergy
  3. Relentless prosyletizing
  4. Punishing “heretics” (whether by wholesale slaughter, or simple emotional blackmail)
  5. The systematic indoctrination of children
  6. The threat of eternal torment

Well, you get “Unitarian Universalism”, that’s what!

Quite frankly, I have no idea what the “appeal” of this is supposed to be:

  1. I am fully capable of finding value (or extreme disvalue) in specific texts, on my own.  I realize that many (most?) Christians are incapable of committing the “thoughtcrime” inherent in (say) reading the Tao Te Ching, Quran, Rig Veda etc. — let alone listening to (for example) the “Jewish counter-apologetics” put out bypeople like Michael Skobac, Tovia Singer etc. (for fear of being “tempted” to stray from their “faith”)…..but that is their failing.   No amount of “liberal” religion/”Open-mindedness” is ever going to “ween” those who have already succumbed to “Fundie” weirdness.
  2. UUism prides itself on the “diversity” of its members’ “beliefs” — so much so that they appear to be unable to actually discuss of evaluate those “beliefs” among one another for fear of being “offensive”:

A recent Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore ended with an apology.

Laurel Mendes explained that religious doctrine had been duly scrubbed from the hymns in the congregation’s Sunday program.

But Mendes, a neo-pagan lay member who led the service, feared that a reference to God in “Once to Every Soul and Nation” might upset the humanists in the pews.

“I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable by reciting something that might be considered a profession of faith,” said Mendes, 52, after the service. “We did say ‘God,’ which you don’t often hear in our most politically correct hymns.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/29/unitarian-universalists_n_887267.html

In other words: UUism is too damnably gutless and lacking in “content” to ever lead to substantive “dialog” among it’s own members.

I “Get it”: some people become dissatisfied with the particular ethnoreligious “identity” perpetrated on them during childhood.

There are several alternative courses of action open to individuals in that situation:

  1. Figure out your religious “beliefs” (if any) on your own, via an autodidactic search.  (the resources are available) — while keeping it to yourself.   It IS possible to continue participating in a given religious “community” without “agreeing” 100% with their (current) dogma, or shoving your dissent in their faces as a matter of routine.
  2. If that isn’t possible, you can always “Convert” to a different Denomination within your current religious tradition, or even a different religion entirely.  (I realize this take more effort, and carries a fairly substantive risk of “emotional blackmail” from those “closest” to you — but, as I’ve said other places in this blog, the value of any given “relationship” is inversely proportional to the amount of dishonesty required to sustain that “relationship”.  So, THEY can either “get over it”, or STFU, quite frankly.
  3. If NO other religion is persuasive/helpful?  Apatheism/Deism/Atheism etc.

At NO point is there any place for the notion of “Hey, I know!  Let’s create a parody religion with no particular content — dogma/”Sacred” texts/metaphysical pretensions etc. — where “refugees” from other religious traditions can get together regularly, to lie to one another via omission!

What exactly is the point of an organization where Christians/Muslims/Jews/Wicca/Agnostics/Atheists can get together, for the specific purpose of not discussing/evaluating their disparate “beliefs”?

This strikes me as the “religious” equivalent of a methadone clinic: you can’t quite manage to go “cold turkey” – so you switch to something with less severe side-effects, while leaving the underlying “addiction” intact.

I mean, seriously:  let’s assume an Ex-Fundie Protestant Christian and a non-Kashrut Jew happen to both be “members” of a UU congregation.   How is that useful?  Neither of them are particularly enthusiastic/obsessive about the “faith-tradition” perpetrated on them in childhood.  BOTH of them have probably lost contact/given up active involvement with that subculture.

What’s the point, exactly?   There are a plethora of other ways to get access to INOFFENSIVE SELF-HELP PABLUM.

The wonderful thing about living in a culture where “heretics” are no longer tortured to death/burned at the stake etc.: I KNOW that I am no longer beholden to mindlessly ape/parrot what my “significant others” want to think that I “believe”.

I can (and do) dissent — and can do so, without fear of being tortured to death,  or burnt at the stake.

I don’t see any particular “need” for an organization which explicitly gives me “permission” to do what I’ve been doing as far back as I can remember.

There’s something implicitly grotesque about the notion of an “authority” permitting me to “think for myself”.

There’s also something (implicitly) grotesque and absurd about a gaggle of like-minded individuals not being able to give up on the warm fuzziness of “belonging” (IE: HERD CONFORMITY).

 

 

Advertisements

3 thoughts on ““Unitarian Universalism”: utterly inane

  1. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. Obviously your experience was so bad, you felt the need to write an semi-eloquently written rant using interesting and unique examples to support your claim. I don’t really see the point in asking why something exists and what’s the point of it existing anyways. I’m not exactly sure where your beliefs range and how diverse your knowledge is on religion, but the good news is that you seem to have knowledge on religions besides the main Christian-Based groups.
    I’ll explain a little more about the appeal of Unitarian Universalism, since you seem to not fully get it. Mind you, I have no interest in converting you to my faith, but I think dialogue is important and I hope you will hear me out since you did ask.
    Many of the people who attend churches tend to be LGBT, scholarly-type people, people who practice Pagan or Wicca, Agnostics and Atheist who are spiritual, people who have an interest in eastern philosophy and religion but can’t go to or shouldn’t go to Buddhist Temples or Sikh temples because they are not a part of that culture and it would be inappropriate for them to go, people who have had issues with Christianity in the past and it’s counterparts, but still want a sense of community. I could go on.
    Sure, there are denominations that might offer a safe space for LGBT, but can these people seriously bring their partners and families without fear that people might not fully accept them?
    I don’t fully understand your issue with, as you call it, “The Herd Mentality” and why it offends you so much. Community is a human necessity and we seek it anywhere we go. You’ve started a blog in hopes of seeking a community. I don’t see the harm in an atheist who wants to find a liberal spiritual community. It’s human nature and it’s animal nature. Humans are animals. Deal with it.
    I really don’t know what happened when visiting a Unitarian Universalist church but clearly it pissed you off enough to need to rant about it. Unitarian Universalism is not a parody religion and clearly, you are uneducated about what a parody is and what it takes to be a religion. There are religions out there that don’t require a Holy text of some sort and I didn’t realize that was some sort of requirement to fulfill your narrow idea of what is an actual religion.
    Good examples of actual parody religions are Pastafarianism, Invisible Pink Unicorn, Eventualism, or First Church of Last Laugh. Wikipedia has a great article on parody religions and you might notice how Unitarian Universalism is not on there. Weird.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parody_religion
    I fail to see how Unitarian Universalism is a parody religion, but we’ll pretend it’s all a joke because clearly, in the 1800s, when Unitarian Universalism was originally founded, they didn’t really take spirituality seriously.
    Maybe if you attended more than one service or actually read articles written by Unitarian ministers, you’d find there’s a lot more than just a shitshow of made up crap that’s all slammed together. We have our own ideas of God and we come together to listen to in depth sermons. We have after church groups that discuss deeper about spirituality on various subject. Every congregation has a different take on the subject. But if you actually took the time to understand it instead of writing a half-assed article, you might have known this.

    • See, I’m actually going to permit this comment to appear on the blog. You’re welcome!

      “Can’t shouldn’t go to Buddhist temples?”

      Gonna call “bullshit” on that. Here’s the thing. I totally “get” why people would be physically incapable of (say) actually going to a Buddhist temple. If the nearest one is, say 500 miles from where you live, then it might be *inconvenient* to do so.

      (Then again, there are devout Muslims who actually give enough of a shit about their own religion, to engage in the Hajj:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajj

      So, there’s the first reason I genuinely consider UUism to be a :”parody” religion: you PRETEND to give a shit about various other religions (Judaism/Buddhism/Christianity, whatever) — BUT YOU CAN’T BE BOTHERED, for whatever reason — to actually participate IN those religions.

      As to your other claim that some (white!) people “shouldn’t” go to Buddhist temples, because they’re “not part of that culture”: what kind of blinkered, race-baiting shit is that, exactly?

      Time for a Malcolm X quote:

      “I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca, I have made my seven circuits around the Ka’ba, led by a young Mutawaf named Muhammad, I drank water from the well of the Zam Zam. I ran seven times back and forth between the hills of Mt. Al-Safa and Al Marwah. I have prayed in the ancient city of Mina, and I have prayed on Mt. Arafat.”

      “There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.”

      “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white – but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.”

      “You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.”

      “During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug – while praying to the same God – with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the deeds of the white Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.”

      “We were truly all the same (brothers) – because their belief in one God had removed the white from their minds, the white from their behavior, and the white from their attitude.”

      “I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man – and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their ‘differences’ in color.”

      http://islam.uga.edu/malcomx.html

      So, that takes care of your (implicit) contention that some individuals should avoid actually participating in some religions, because they’re “not part of that culture”>

      (BTW: you DO realize that by claiming stuff like that, you are tacitly conflating “religion”, “Cultural Tradition” and “ethnicity”, right? As in: treating all three categories as one unified “package deal”.

      Not sorry to tell you that I have *zero* respect for that sort of “soft” racism.

      So, yeah: UUism is a “parody” religion, in that — by your own admission — it is basically a gaggle of “LGBTQ scholarly typies”, “Wiccans” who can’t be bothered to start their own coven, wannabe (Hipster?) “Buddhists” who “can’t or shouldn’t” actually go to a Buddhist temple, etc.

      Shit, Pastafarianism strikes me as INFINITELY MORE HONEST, in that at least it is *open* with its insults and mockery of other religions.

      Seriously: if you’re GENUINELY INTERESTED in a specific religion — then either join that religion, or have the courage to admit that your INDIVIDUAL “spiritual path” *is* “INDIVIDUAL”.

      Don’t glom onto a gaggle of *other* pseudo-“seekers” (who may – who probably have nothing much in common with you, anyway — other than that THEY happen to be pretending an interest in some religion or other, as well”.

      So, no: a gaggle of “LGBTQ Scholarly-types”/eclectic Wiccans/Hipster “Buddhists” who can’t even risk have substantive content in the songs they sing at their “services” — quite simply, no wonder your “membership” is in free-fall:

      http://growinguu.blogs.uua.org/numerical-indicators/how-do-we-compare/

      As to the other thing? The cutesy aphorism about how we “all have our own way of seeing God?”

      Isn’t that equally true of ANYONE — including those who (oh, I dunno), ACTUALLY PARTICIPATE IN — rather than merely parodying — the various religions UU folks pretend to give a shit about?

      Moreover, I’ll freely admit that I’ve never bothered to go to a UU service. I’ve never dressed up like Bugs Bunny, either.

      I find NEITHER of those options to be any kind of laudable “spiritual path”.

      As for the “depth?” Good for you. Deepak Chopra strikes some folks as pretty “profound”, tool. Just sayin’.

      My question for you is:

      Is UUism *really* about creating a place where individuals from “diverse spiritual and cultural backgrounds” can dome together to examine “the big questions”, or is it just another shiny-happy ‘safe space” where “LGBTQ Scholarly types” go, to hide from those mean ol’ Fundies?

  2. I read, with great interest, your observations and opinions concerning Unitarianism.
    Today I attended one of their services for the first time. You got it ENTIRELY right…
    a bunch of politically correct, quasi-intellectuals with idiotic smiles plastered on their faces.
    No one approached me, a stranger, to ask me why I had come or to welcome me. They were
    all broken up into what appeared to be little cliques. Trying to engage anyone was fruitless.
    The one exception was the “official” greeter who let me know that it was OK to bring my coffee
    into the meeting (worship) area. The coffee sucked, by the way.
    I should point out that I was not there to pass judgement. I was dressed business casual. I had taken
    a shower and shaved that morning so, there was nothing overtly repulsive about my person or
    demeanor.
    I am a “non-believer”. I don’t “believe” anything and find the entire concept of accepting something
    “on faith” completely alien. I guess I am unusual in that regard. I don’t reject the existence of “god”.
    I simply don’t know. What I am fairly convinced of is that no one else knows, either.
    From the time I was very young and, continuing throughout my adult-hood, I have been fascinated
    by this thing called religion and how it has and continues to impact so many aspects of our
    society, lives and interactions.
    I studied comparative religion in college. I have read most (not cover-to-cover) of the Bible.
    I have read some of the Book of Mormon (tough read). I have read parts of the Bhagavad gita and
    Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching… “The true Tao can not be written or told.”
    I “practiced” Wicca for a couple of years. I have been to Synagogue (Temple). I was raised Lutheran.
    I’ve been to Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Swedenborg and Assembly of God services.
    Probably one of the stupidest things I’ve heard this week was the other poster’s assertion that
    one “shouldn’t go to Buddhist Temples or Sikh temples because they are not a part of that culture.”
    Mind numbing!
    I guess I will just have to live by the old joke (Groucho Marx)… “I don’t want to belong to any club that
    will accept me as a member. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s