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Showing posts from February, 2012

Spirituality and Religion

Religion is not just spirituality.  These days, it is customary to contrast spirituality with religion.  Spirituality is personal -- the soul's relations.  Religion is communal.  We call it "organized religion" (even UU's) and most people think "organized religion" is icky.  It's institutions.  It's traditions.  It's a particular point of view passed down from generation to generation, from teacher to learner, from parents to children.  It's teachings.

So when people are saying that they are spiritual but not religious, they are saying that they do not connect what they feel and think about their soul's relations from the point of view of institutions and history.  And most people who take this approach do so because they are unaware of organized religious institutions that they can agree with or trust.

But while so many have disconnected spirituality from history and institutions, the society as a whole has taken to mass incarceration,…

Beyond Congregations

As far as I can tell, and I am not as close to it as others, the "Beyond Congregations" conversation is a mess.

Like many of our conversations are messes.

A brainstorming free association session is not a conversation.

If everyone enters into the conversational space to grind their own traditional axes, then a messy conversation will result.

If I understand it correctly, the subject of the beyond congregation conversation was whether there were other forms of organization that would allow us to meaningfully engage people who, for one reason or another, would not be likely to join one of our existing congregations, nor would they be interested in starting a new one.

Somehow this got crossed with the observation that there were many people who identified as UU's, but don't belong to congregations.  Which, in my book, is fine and is not a problem.  They are, for the most part, happy with their present relationship to UUism.

Some of them do reveal the kinds of people …

Out of the Wilderness

I believe that 1968-2008 was a 40 year wilderness period for Unitarian Universalism, a long period in which cultural, religious and political conservatism were aggressive and dominant.

What happened in UUism in the wilderness?

The sense that we were outposts of an embattled cultural liberalism took over our thinking.  We were enclaves, protected territory where "like-minded' people could gather safely.  We were accused of not being a real religion, having no dogmatic beliefs, nor a defined path to salvation.  Liberal politics and culture were described as excessively permissive, self-indulgent, faddish and repressive ("politically correct").  Whether we called ourselves Christian no longer mattered; "Real" Christians were insistent that we were definitely not.  Our children told us that they felt unsafe and insecure on the playgrounds.  Conservatives were building megachurches which seemed to exercise political power, while our congregations struggled to …