After a lot of consideration, and after consulting with a UU-minister-in-training, I’ve pretty much concluded that it’s time to officially join our local Unitarian Universalist church.
The people at my husband’s church (our church?) are family; they’re our community.
The political climate this year has been awful. I’ve seen people bullying each other, arguing with each other, greater divisiveness than ever among people, even good, well-meaning people.
The resulting realization was that at the UU, people aren’t obligated to agree, politically, spiritually, religiously, philosophically, or otherwise. (Often we do agree about things outside of religion, however.)
No one’s forcing anyone to believe anything. There are Seven Principles and Six Sources of Inspiration; the Seven Principles are ethics that I can agree with whole-heartedly, and the Six Sources are sources that definitely ring true to me and have inspired me at one time or another.
The UU is an open-ended religion. One doesn’t have to be “just” UU; there’s no dogma, no creed, nothing that says you can’t change your mind or question things. In fact, changing one’s mind is probably a hallmark of being Unitarian Universalist!
True, the lack of ritual at the local UU has been a turn-off for me. But I can celebrate the Holy Eucharist at home with my family, and the UUs that are interested can join me and my family for such rituals.
The fact remains that even my beloved Episcopal Church has been ridiculous in its celebration of the Holy Eucharist at times, leaving out small details that have a meaningful spiritual aspect.
I cannot fault the Episcopal Church too much, though; they were, after all, a sort of compromise for me, a compromise for the Gnostic perspectives I held, a church that would accept me as a gay man and allow me to participate in the Sacraments. There are no Gnostic churches around; there are no Liberal Catholic churches around, and so here I am, making compromises with mainstream Christianity.
The UU may not offer Sacraments for the most part, but I’m more than accepted as a gay man, as is my husband, and more importantly, I can be openly Gnostic. I can tell people that I’m a Gnostic Christian, and nobody bats at an eye, calls me a heretic, or damns me to Hell.
People know that I’m a married gay man, and they’re happy for me and my husband- no one merely “tolerates” us, no one suggests that our marriage isn’t a “true” marriage or any other such nonsense. In fact, the people there were fighting for our rights before the rights were recognized. There are no games played about Social Justice. The people at the UUFBC live it.
Most of my friends (not all, but most) are people in their “golden years” (over age 50) who lean so far “left” and are so liberal that they put the word “Bleeding Heart” to shame. They’re not Bleeding Hearts; they’re like bone-marrow, stem-cells crying out for justice. These are the most caring, open-minded, CHRISTIAN people I’ve met in my life even if most of them would eschew the label “Christian” and aren’t interested in “traditional” religion.
You have to understand, I come from a small town full of people who still think it’s 1950…or earlier. My cousin informed me the other day that when her mom first arrived in Slocomb in the 1970s, the theaters were still segregated- that’s an era that was only ten to fifteen years before I was born. Most of the people in their “golden years” have one foot in the grave in Alabama. They believe their superficial reading of the Bible is the only way its ever truly been read, and that’s that. And the whole thing is amazingly sad and has created a climate of Christian straight white male privilege that other parts of the USA that truly embrace the values and ideals of the USA would be appalled to see.
And then I come down here to the UU where the “golden years” folks are going kayaking, hiking, and fighting for social justice actively and loudly in the community. Most of the people planning the upcoming LGBTQIA Film Festival (Known as the Q Fest) are people over the age of 50!!!
So the whole argument that it’s only the young, uneducated, naive people who are “liberals,” the whole argument that I was fed my entire life by the society around me, is truly a steaming pile of…well, you know what.
The reality is that, maybe this is where God wants me. I have to look at it from that perspective. Maybe this is where I’m meant to do the most good in the world.
And by God, I’m gonna do the Good. Thanks be to Jesus and His representatives at the UU.