The Town Hall meeting on Sunday, September 2 (“Shall We Change Our Name?”), was a high point of my 15 years at UUCPA. I have witnessed some deep conversations here, but never such tender sharing in such a large group. I hope everyone felt that their vulnerability was welcomed and supported. If not, please do speak to me or Dan. We can help.
Several points of interest arose for me as I listened, but I’ll write about just one in this edition’s column: the challenges of being a Christian at UUCPA.
As we say every week, and as the Principles and Purposes of the UUA affirm, we draw on many sources for guidance and wisdom. Many are the religions of the world, and we don’t require them to be perfect in order for them to give inspiration. Each, being a human product, has flaws aplenty. Buddhism is prone to a troubling amorality, with some (far from all) Buddhists preaching passivity to those suffering oppression. Islam has a history of conquest of “heathens,” with some (far from all) Muslims regarding it as superior to other, especially non-monotheistic, faiths. Judaism is intertwined with patriarchy, with some (far from all) Jews invoking a double standard for men and women, and dismissing those of other genders. We know we have to separate the wheat from the chaff with all traditions.
Christianity is no different. It’s imperfect. It’s filled with wise words and beautiful rituals, all tangled up with its negative aspects. More of us have experienced its down side than the down sides of other faith traditions, since more of us grew up Christian than anything else, so it’s not surprising that the wounds people bring from previous religions are often cross-shaped. (If you struggle to integrate your earlier experiences, from Christian churches or any other faiths or lack thereof, I hope you’ll join my two-part class, “Owning Your Religious Past,” starting this afternoon. See page 7.)
So it’s not news, but it’s sobering just the same, to hear how difficult it can still be for someone who draws on the source of Christianity to feel that they can be open about their faith here. I have seen good changes in my time. It’s been ages since anyone suggested that I preached too often from Christian sources. Maybe, like Nixon going to China, a raised-Jewish minister can cite Jesus without making anyone feel that Pat Robertson is taking over. Maybe our participation in multifaith organizations like Faith in Action (formerly PIA) and Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice has built some bridges. And maybe we’ve just gotten more trusting of one another, a little more able to let down our defenses and hear each others’ experiences.
I hope so. And I’m going to keep pushing us in that direction. Whether we call ourselves a church or something different, in order to live up to our ideals of openness and acceptance, we need to be as welcoming of those for whom Christianity is a major source as we are to UU Hindus, humanists, Buddhists, Jews, and “just plain Unitarian Universalists,” because UU Christians, too, are searching, and they, too, give so much to our beloved community. As a Unitarian Christian of long ago, Ferenc David, is rumored to have said, “We need not think alike to love alike.” — Blessings, Amy