Take for the moment the following scenario. I know it looks like it’s a bit of an over generalization, but I think it has heaps of truth to it. Local Unitarian Universalist (UU) communities (churches, congregations, fellowships, societies) especially many of the ones that are the only one in their area are doing their activities ((worship) services, social gatherings etc…) and engagements with the wider society (social justice/action work, environmental justice/action work etc…) in a way that has nominal to no discernible religious and or spiritual component and or nominal to no discernible religious and or spiritual approach to it. Lets for argument sake say this is a problem because it leaves little to no room for genuine UUism and genuine UU communities to thrive in these local communities. And lets also for argument sake say genuine or authentic UUism and genuine or authentic UU communities have a core or central religious and or spiritual reason for their being. And I think UUism and locale UU communities to be genuinely UU they need to have a core or central religious and or spiritual reason for their being. Lets also say that some of these local UU communities are indeed doing some good in the world, just things with a nominal to no determinable religious and or spiritual component and or nominal to no determinable religious and or spiritual approach to them. And lets also for argument sake say this is also a problem for the existence of genuine UUism and UU community in these local communities.
In terms of the above scenario, what needs to be done to make room for genuine UUism and genuine UU commodities to exist and to hopefully thrive in these locale communities? Do the UU communities that are doing good just not in any way that is genuinely UU need to stop doing their work under the UU banner so this can happen? Do the ones that are not doing anything perpendicularly good regardless of if it’s in a genuinely UU way or some other way need to disband so this can happen? Thoughts?
It should be noted that in terms of this scenario I am defining religion as the following; Communal practices and accompanying beliefs that have the function of addressing the fundamental questions of human identity, ethics, death and the existence of the Divine (if any). And I am defining spirituality as the following; An individual’s personal practices and beliefs that have the function of addressing the fundamental questions of human identity, ethics, death and the existence of the Divine (if any).
I would say generally people are more wiling to put more of their time and energy into the thing and the places that have been a positive in their lives. I would say also generally that folks are leas likely to want to invest much of their time and energy into the places and things that are a drain or negative influence in their lives. If a place say school has been a negative influence or drain on your life it may be a place you want to avoid. On the other hand say if church is a place you have always felt you could be accepted and nourished in, it may be a place and thing you hold to a higher stranded. And wen one is holding something to a higher standard it can often appear as if they are highly dissatisfied with it or an aspect or aspects of it. That could not be farther from the truth. I know that wen I am holding something to a higher slandered or standards I am expressing my trust and confidence in it and belief that it can be even better then it is already. For if I had little trust in something it would definitely not be something I would want to spend much time one.
The thing I hold to a higher standard is my church. Not specifically my local church which is currently the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax located in Halifax, Canada but rather, the wider spiritual and religious community to which it belongs which is the Canadian Unitarian Universalist (UU) community and UUism in general. I spend lots of time thinking and reflecting on how it can be made better. I don’t just hold it to a higher stranded as an institution or organization but as a place and a thing that can nourish and continue to nourish folks like it has and continues to do for me. So wen I express my ideas about my church I am only expressing my desire for it to become something for more amazing than it already is. And I think it already is something wonderful. Jut not as wonderful as it could be. Has it lived up to what I thought it would be the first time I experienced it in Ottawa wen I first entered the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa back in the Fall of 1990 as an 8-year-old? Well for the most part it has far exceeded it. Dose that mean I’m fully satisfied with it? No not in the slightest. For me to be fully satisfied with it, it would have to become something so deep and so moving that it would leave my skin tingling wen I leave it after a good time had and have me jumping up and dawn with anticipation of the next good time to be had there.
I think for my church to begin to be a place that I could be fully satisfied with it would have to start to do the fallowing:
- actively in cloud discussion, worship and ritual focused one God as part of what makes up the regular church fare,
- strive to have the adult spaces of the church be not just laid out to meet the needs of the adult joiners but in ways that attempt to serve the needs of all of its adult members, both raised and joiners,
- be a place that recognizes that some of the adults members may not have grown up in and been hurt by a Christin denomination and may actually be looking for some of the comforts one can get from the Christian message,
- bring more diversity of style to the worship services, in clouding looking to the youth and young adult communities for inspiration in this area,
- move away from seeing church as something that is mostly all about Sunday mornings at the locale congregations to, something that is seen as spanning from Monday to Sunday wherever UUs happen to be,
- actively in cloud discussion and practice of Christianity as part of what makes up the regular church fare.
This list is just some of what would move my church, the UU Church to becoming more wonderful in my eyes.
So yes I do hold my church to a hire stranded. And at times it can seem like I am just unsatisfied with this or that aspect or aspects of it. That could not be farther from the truth. I know that wen I am holding something to a higher slandered or standards I am expressing my trust and confidence in it and belief that it can be even better. I remember back wen I was in grade 4 I had this teacher named Mrs. Howell. She had me write a creative writing story. I had to start of by putting together an outline indicating what it was to be about. I think it was to be about initially road hockey. I say initially about road hockey because after I had started writing it I gout this idea to turn it into yes still a road hokey story but now one that in clouded UFUs and an alien encounter. I think I only argued and pleaded with my teacher to make this change because I trusted in the wonderful teaching ability she had. On the other hand if I had seen her as a not so good teacher then I think I would have not even attempted to get the ok to make this change in the story. Did I get the ok as far as I can remember I did not. Do I still have the story? I think not. The point here is we as people, we strive and work at making the things and places that have been a positive in our lives better, far more often than we do the once that are a drain or negative on our lives.
And like my grade 4 teacher Mrs. Howell how I held to a high stranded I now hold me church to a high standard. I listed some things that I think if my church where to implemented would, take it in my eyes in the direction of becoming a more wonderful place. Will it be an easy road to go in getting these things don in my church. No, not at all. Dose that men I should not try and get some of them implemented? It just means some of them will take a wile to see manifested into a reality and, some will never be come a reality. This is because others how also hold my church witch is also their church to a higher stranded have a differing idea as to what that stranded aught to look like once manifest.
Should I just sit around and bemoan the fact that my church is not going in these directions. No, definitely not. Insisted I think the wise course of action for me to take is to start crafting and articulating a plan that would help to bring some of the things on this list into a reality. And then rallying folks to help me see the plan is implemented. Will this be a easy thing to do? Well it will be a herd road to go dawn. But it will be a road that once walked will bring me and I hope those who come after my more satisfaction with and willingness to work at doing the hard work need to make this our church a more wonderful place to call our home.
This is not the post I promised about how my beliefs in God are moving my spiritual beliefs inline with Christian beliefs. That post will come next week.
I have already left a comment on the post Say no five times (sure to irritate everyone) over on fellow Unitarian Universalist Scott Wells’ blog Boy In The Band but I thought I would also come up with a list of the five things I would implement if I was in charge of starting a new Unitarian Universalist (UU) church. Here is my list just keep in mind that this list only reflects what I would ideal like to see in my dream UU church if I had complete control over things. This is a list of the five things in addition to what you could most likely expect to be included in a UU church. So here is my list.
- It would have Sunday worship services that would be experientially focused rather than head centred. This would mean the form that the worship cervices would take would be one that resembles greatly the one that is used by UU youth at their youth conferences and young adults at their camp weekends. These would be ones that are facilitated by the minister but put on by members of the church community interested in worship and its elements (ritual, music and readings ect). This worship service would be one that would leave the worshipers with a sense that their souls had been touched and that they had been moved spiritually.
- We would have an environment that encouraged lots of exploration of God. This exploration of God would happen in the Sunday worship services, the children’s RE classes, the youth group and the adult learning classes just to name a few. The mane porpoise of this exploration of God would be to bring the church goers closer to God as well as to make the church a place were his love over flows.
- Music would be a key part of the church. Not just through a church choir and the singing of a few hymns every Sunday in the worship service but, through music being a part of the full religious life of the church by being a central part of each of it’s attendees own spiritual lives. Loud and emotionally focused stiles of music would also be come part of the everyday mix including rock and modern country music songs plus other song don in thees styles, yes ones with lyrics that call the worshipper to be closer with God and be remind of his ever available love for them.
- The church would have church goers that put their religious life at the centre of their lives. That means ahead of spurts and other extracurricular activity like Scots ect.
- The church would be a central hub for the wider community it is located in. Yes the wider local community members would feel comfortable coming and hanging out at the church.
I will summarize what my church will be all about. It will be a God centred church. One with church goers who’s lives are centred on religion, their religious home and the spiritual growth and spiritual maturity of their fellow spiritual seekers. Thy will use ecstatic worship and loud emotional music to help them get closer to God and to help have his love pore all over them and their church. They will work at making their church a safe and loving place for them to hang with their fellow humans from the surrounding community.