Voices of a Liberal Faith – Unitarian Universalists

If you ever wanted to find out what Unitarian Universalism (UU) is about then this promotional video from the Unitarian Universalist Association is probably not a bad place to start.

You will see that it’s very eclectic theologically, drawing from religious traditions as diverse as Christianity and Atheism and Paganism. You’ll also see they like old style church, with much emphasis on hymns and vestments as well as warm words to say about buildings and the like.

I find there’s some ironies in that, in the way Unitarian Universalist ritual conservativism / theological liberalism is a virtual mirror opposite of Evangelical and Pentecostal ritual liberalism / theological conservativism. It reminds me of the difference between exoskeletons and endoskeltons. I don’t know if any of you ever studied biology, but to speak of exoskeletons and endoskeltons is to speak of the difference between creatures who rely on hard outers (exo) shells for support of their soft center (as with crabs and shellfish) and creatures who rely on hard inner (endo) bones for support of their soft outer flesh as with mammals and birds). The analogy I have in mind here is between outer expression and inner belief. Which is more important for religious identity? I’m sure we could have some interesting discussions between Christians and Unitarian Universalists on that one.

Hat tip to Jason for the vid

10 Comments

  1. I’ve been visiting the Unitarian church in Cape Town. It is as you say litugically conservative and theologically liberal.
    But it’s a real relief though to have a thoroughgoing inclusive ethos.

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  2. I suppose the question for me is how you unpack the issue of inclusiveness.
    I believe Christ had a distinct message to teach and that this sets certain limits on the creative license of any teachers who would call themselves Christian. So I differ with UU on that.
    Yet I believe space should be granted to doubt, question and ponder too. Overly restricted approaches can quench the Spirit. I think we got a reasonable balance happening in the cell group I was running last year. That have a Hindu girl in it who was comfortable asking questions indicated to me that, despite our Jesus focus, we were accessible enough.
    When that’s said and done though, even though I disagree with the UU I can understand why many find it to be a relief.

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  3. I left this comment on your blog in response:
    “The question this brings out for me Nic is, does not a “united finale” subvert free will? Is such inclusion somewhat totalitarian? People have no ultimate choise about God? I would agree the New Testament suggests an inclusivity far more expansive than what some Christians offer these days, but an abolute one? I’ve got these niggling feelings it creates as much problems as it solves. I think genuine restorative justice demands genuine volunteerism.”
    I would add that this relates back to my response to Kay on the “Crucifixion: what’s it about” post. Is a forced love authentic love?

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  4. I don’t see how you hear me suggesting “forced love”. Clearly free will is central to this.
    Heres my reply to you – (synchrobloggin madness)
    Matt – I agree that new problems are created by radical inclusion, free will being perhaps the main one. As it stands, this part of it is shrouded in a degree of unknowing for me.
    I do not claim to have a system, but rather a hope. Love “believes all things”, there is a romantic aspect to it. So my deep sense that Grace will triumph in the end is how I choose to play it in the face of these unknowns, as I continue to struggle with the questions you pose.
    What I AM convinced of, is that there is reasonable doubt about justifying the doctine of hell from scripture, and sufficient evidence in scripture for the hope I hold, of Universal Restoration.

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  5. Hi Matt,
    Indeed that does open up quite a number of questions. Actually, if you were to do some further research, I think you would find that a fair number of God believing people have been made to feel rather unwelcome in many of the so-called “Welcoming Congregations” of the Unitarian*Universalist aka U*U “faith”. To my knowledge I am the only person I know of who has actually been permanently expelled from a “Unitarian Church” as a result of a conflict over religious beliefs, but I know of other U*Us, including some people who were brought up as U*Us, who have left the U*U fold because they were badly treated because they believed in God.
    Montreal Unitarian U*Us like to pretend that my expulsion was not for religious reasons, but the simple fact is that the expulsions that I have been subjected to were as a direct result of defending myself against attacks on my religious beliefs and practices and protesting against the more widespread anti-religious intolerance and bigotry within the Unitarian*Universalist community. I was initially expelled for six months for doing nothing more than submitting a letter of grievance arising from fundamentalist atheist U*U minister Rev. Ray Drennan’s insulting and defamatory attack on my religious beliefs and practices. When I began my public protest in the spring of 1998 because Montreal Unitarian U*Us and the UUA had repeatedly refused to responsibly redress my grievances, and had sought to silence me by using threats of expulsion from the “church”, I was again subjected to further temporary expulsions until Montreal Unitarians permanently expelled me for protesting on November 22nd, 1999.
    Yes, the rumours of U*U “acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth” are greatly exaggerated, as are other U*U claims. More details are available on the Emerson Avenger blog. I recently commented on a Chicago Tribune article about the UUA’s misleading, if not outright false, national marketing campaign. My comments were quickly cut loose from the article but are still in internet limbo where they may be read.
    http://www.topix.com/forum/living/wedding/TOPO8CM7M0S56JJVE
    The article has been republished by several other publications such as the Houston Chronicle. I commented on the Houston Chronicle article yesterday and the comments are still attached to the page.
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/religion/5448091.html

    Like

  6. Hi Matt,
    Indeed that does open up quite a number of questions. Actually, if you were to do some further research, I think you would find that a fair number of God believing people have been made to feel rather unwelcome in many of the so-called “Welcoming Congregations” of the Unitarian*Universalist aka U*U “faith”. To my knowledge I am the only person I know of who has actually been permanently expelled from a “Unitarian Church” as a result of a conflict over religious beliefs, but I know of other U*Us, including some people who were brought up as U*Us, who have left the U*U fold because they were badly treated because they believed in God.
    Montreal Unitarian U*Us like to pretend that my expulsion was not for religious reasons, but the simple fact is that the expulsions that I have been subjected to were as a direct result of defending myself against attacks on my religious beliefs and practices and protesting against the more widespread anti-religious intolerance and bigotry within the Unitarian*Universalist community. I was initially expelled for six months for doing nothing more than submitting a letter of grievance arising from fundamentalist atheist U*U minister Rev. Ray Drennan’s insulting and defamatory attack on my religious beliefs and practices. When I began my public protest in the spring of 1998 because Montreal Unitarian U*Us and the UUA had repeatedly refused to responsibly redress my grievances, and had sought to silence me by using threats of expulsion from the “church”, I was again subjected to further temporary expulsions until Montreal Unitarians permanently expelled me for protesting on November 22nd, 1999.
    Yes, the rumours of U*U “acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth” are greatly exaggerated, as are other U*U claims. More details are available on the Emerson Avenger blog. I recently commented on a Chicago Tribune article about the UUA’s misleading, if not outright false, national marketing campaign. My comments were quickly cut loose from the article but are still in internet limbo where they may be read.
    http://www.topix.com/forum/living/wedding/TOPO8CM7M0S56JJVE
    The article has been republished by several other publications such as the Houston Chronicle. I commented on the Houston Chronicle article yesterday and the comments are still attached to the page.
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/religion/5448091.html

    Like

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