For readers who aren’t familiar with Unitarian Universalism, here it is: Although initially a pair of Christian heresies, both small struggling denominations moved further and further to the theological left until both jettisoned Christianity, embraced Humanism, joined forces (merged), and discovered (after merger) that other than some political aims in common, the theologies which reflected their demographics were largely incompatible.
Their demographics were largely incompatible as well. Unitarians tended toward the wealthier merchant classes. Their theology predicated on the idea that there is no Original Sin, led easily toward the notion that we are basically good. Universalists were largely working class. Their theology recognized that while humans sin and can be downright evil, God is so good that God will never condemn human beings to eternal punishment.
One puts the goodness on human beings, and by extension human agency, the other puts it on God. In other words, one puts everything in humanity’s hands, the other does not.
The dividing line not explored is a class divide. The wealthy (and hangers on, as their always are) had a theology that saw themselves as basically good, and too good to be punished. The workers saw themselves as flawed, and oftentimes their employers as evil. One can imagine them saying, “This can’t be all, we can’t grind our lives away and then go to Hell. God loves us, and will not punish us on top of everything else.”
What happens when the theology of the masters and the theology of the slaves are merged together?
What do you think happens? The wealthy win. It’s what always happens.
The theology of God’s goodness became subsumed by the theology of our goodness. All of this under cloak of humanism. The underlying theologies were never really discussed, or even really acknowledged. After all, theology is just another form of “supernaturalism.” It has nothing to do with the real world, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… Here’s where you need to imagine old-man, stuttering, humanist invective.
See the problem here?
“Unitarian Universalism” has its roots in a desperate attempt by what one of its own former clergy describe as “two small, Christian heresies” with — broadly incompatible — underlying theologies.
(Hint: I have absolutely no problem, whatsoever, with the notion that they two root-groups were “heresies”. Nor do I see that as a “slur”-word. Protestantism ITSELF began as a morass of “heretical” alternatives to the Roman Catholic church — which ITSELF is considered “heretical” by the various “Orthodox” churches (Russian/Greek etc.).
So, it’s not that I give two liquidy shits over whether “Unitarianism” or “Universalism” were themselves “heretical” variants of Protestantism.
My gripe is with the fact that the underlying theologies themselves were pretty much incompatible, and (in many ways) self-canceling:
Unitarianism: “Humans are too good to deserve eternal Hellfire”
Universalism: “Humans suck! However, God is too good to inflict eternal Hellfire!”
So, what exactly is the point, then?
“Unitarian Universalism” — from its inception — has systematically renounced BOTH the “carrot” and the “stick”. The essential “core” of all “religions” IS that “carrot-and-stick” thing:
The “carrot” (and the Stick) both amount to the tacit claim that believing/doing whatever-it-happens-to-be is (somehow) “better” than NOT believing/doing it.
This is then dressed up in all kinds of “doctrine”: If you’re “good” you get a cookie (IE: an eternity in “heaven”(Christianity/Judaism/Islam), the opportunity NOT to get reincarnated(Hinduism/Buddhism), etc.). If you’re “bad”, then Yahweh/Karma etc. will spank you. (“Fire and brimstone”, bad “karma”, etc.)
Now, yeah: I have very deliberately described what can be extremely complex theological systems in terms more suitable to (let’s say) the level of “understanding” exhibited by a severely cognitively-disabled toddler, or something.
But, here’s the thing: absent at least some base-line notion of “believe/do what we WANT you to believe/do – either because doing so leads to ‘reward’, or because NOT doing so leads to ‘punishment’ — then there is literally NOTHING to offer:
I mean seriously: IF your customers don’t actually “need” whichever theology you happen to be hyping, and you assure them that there’s no actual “down-side” to NOT buying your product, then why in hell would they ever even consider “buying” it, in the first place?
THIS is why I can’t help but view UUism as a tacit insult to, well, pretty much every other religion — and to atheism, for that matter.
As an organizational principle, it brazenly advertises that it has nothing to offer, except possibly, an exceedingly dumbed-down pablum-ized (mis)”understanding” of whatever touchy-feely crapola they happen to find least “offensive” from the rest of the world’s religions.
What the hell is the point, again?