Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Unitarian Christianity

As I have been on my spiritual journey, the UU Church of Santa Monica has been an important support for my exploration and learning about what is holy in our world.

For the past few years, I have felt an increasing rejection and lack of respect for the Christian traditions that many of us find meaningful. The statement is usually that “Christianity has hurt people deeply”, but I doubt that there is a faith tradition that hasn’t hurt someone deeply, yet because of our shared traditions, it is easier to trash Christianity than, say, Buddhism or Judaism.

Last night I looked up Unitarian and Universalism in the Larousse Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions, and I was reminded why I chose the Unitarian Universalist Church as my chosen faith. Here is what it says:

“Unitarians: A religious group which, although in many ways akin to Christianity, rejects the doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ.”

“Universalism: The religious belief that all people will be saved. It implies rejection of the traditional Christian belief in hell. A feature of much contemporary Protestant theology, it is motivated by moral doubts concerning eternal punishment, and by a recognition of the validity of other non-Christian world faiths.”

These definitions feel comfortable and perfect for me!

The simmering anti-Christianity and an even greater atheism culture at the UU Church of Santa Monica has alienated me. While we respect other religious traditions, we are snarky and dismissive of Christian traditions. Although I do not believe Jesus was more divine than, say, Jimmy Carter, I believe that both of these men reflect the higher power of unconditional love, the holiness of communal action, and the worship these god forces deserve. I would never admit to these beliefs in a Sunday service, which is more like a meeting or performance than worship. The announcements, recognitions, applause, and whole services devoted to non-worship activities are not what I want to do on Sunday mornings! The removal of the multi-faith banners and the consideration of eliminating the word “church” from our name drive me further from my spiritual home at the UU Church of SM.

In my independent religious exploration I have found some brilliant and moving work by UU ministers who identify as Christian. I wish they weren’t in places like Kansas! I am a Unitarian Universalist who follows the Universalist tradition of “recognizing the validity of non-Christian world faiths”, as well as the Christian tradition. Like other faith traditions, Christianity has much to teach us. I am especially interested in finding the overlaps among the great faith traditions (group practice, kindness, self-reliance, and meditation come to mind). Christianity deserves the respect of a UU congregation, whether it calls itself a church or not.

I choose to belong to a church that is characterized by ecumenical spiritual exploration and acceptance of differing beliefs. I want my church to participate in the National Council of Churches, and as an advocate for separation of church and state. I love belonging to a church that is a leader in welcoming all kinds of people, and that believes in sanctifying marriages between two people who love each other, regardless of gender. I am proud to be part of a church that is a leader in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. I am inspired by the variety of religious symbols welcoming those of all faiths to our church. Most of all, I strive to respect and honor the truths and the practices common to all world faiths. Church should be where that can happen.