Tuesday, August 05, 2008

From UU to Dutch Reformed

For many years, I considered myself a Unitarian Universalist, and I attended a number of UU churches. They were each unique, but their members were by and large among the kindest and most tolerant people I have ever met. UU churches have members who are atheists and members who are Christians, but all of these folks that I have encountered strove to embody brotherly love. I knew UUs whose creed was love for one's fellow man and for God, however you might envision Him or Her, with no expectation of eternal reward. This life is all there is for you, and there is no better way to live it than by following the teachings of Jesus.

Many UUs were, like me, refugees from a stultifying fundamentalist background. We wanted to believe in something but not the crazy, hateful stuff that the Bible Thumpers preached. In a UU church, the Sermon on the Mount would get a full hearing, while the Ten Commandments would generate little interest. Occasionally, you'd get a whiff of smugness, a feeling that some UUs reckoned that they were intellectually superior to their fundie counterparts. This was forgiveable since it was objectively true, and the vast majority of UUs would never berate others for being less intelligent. UUs are pretty much all qualified for MENSA but would mostly be too humble to join such an organization. Intelligence is, after all, a gift of God, so there's no sense in being proud of it.

I have often wished that my own Christian denomination would stand up for peace and toleration and brotherly love like the UUs do. The Congregationalist Church we attended in Bronxville was a lot like a UU church, and if its members weren't all so superannuated might have worked for peace.

When we moved to Dutchess County, we tried a UU church over in Poughkeepsie. For the first time ever in my experience with UU churches, nobody greeted us or seemed to take any notice of our presence. We couldn't even find a seat. The congregation including a large percentage of mullet sporting lesbians, and the proceedings seemed to be devoted entirely to gay issues. We continued our search for a church. We love gays, and we are open and affirming, but we aren't much interested in taking on gay issues to the exclusion of others. Plus, I don't like mullets.

Now we're Dutch Reformed. All because the UUs in P'town had mullets. At least I am. Mrs Vache Folle, on further consideration, has decided that she is an atheist. She hasn't renounced membership in the church or anything; she just doesn't believe in God any longer and no longer attends church services. Ironically, I reckon it was her experience in our church that pushed her over the edge. Our small group leader was pretty much a legalistic fundamentalist, and Mrs VF had never encountered such a phenomenon and was unprepared for it. I know that the membership in our church varies considerably from fundamentalist on up to the most liberal Christians you could hope to find and that the spirit of love and unity maintained in the church keeps the fundies in check. We keep them busy doing good, and they don't have much time to run around renouncing other people's sins.

We first attended a UU church in Charleston, WV. Mrs VF told me on the way to the church that it was the Unification Church or some such thing, and I was aghast that we were going to a Moonie church. I was relieved to find an oasis of reason and love in an otherwise pretty stupid and judgmental part of the country. I recall one of the elders explaining that the Unitarians and the Universalists had joined together because the Unitarians had reckoned that mankind was too good for God to condemn, while the Universalists had reckoned that God was too good to condemn mankind. You end up in the same position, so why not join forces?

UU jokes:

UUs believe in, at most, one God.

When the Klan terrorizes a UU, they burn a question mark on his lawn.

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