Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Unitarian Universalists Are Talkin 'Bout Theology!

Matthew Gatheringwater and some others are in the midst of a great conversation over at Philocrites:

Matthew said this, which made me make a Scooby-Doo "ruh roh?" noise and perk my doggie ear in the air:

"Getting swept up in uncritical emotional acceptance of religious language scares me a bit."

Experience is indeed everything. Most people I know who use traditional religious language have hefted the heavy ax of critical thought over each word and cracked it open over many years, researched it, followed its etymologies like so many Encyclopedia Browns, considered its political and social implications, prayed over it, tried it out in different settings, and claimed or re-claimed it only after a tenacious battle with it. God. Kingdom of Heaven. Grace. Sin. Redemption. Divine. Holy. Christ. Sacrament. Spiritual. Religion. Like Jacob wrestling with the angel, we would not let these words go until they had blessed us.

When *I* think of emotional treatment of language, I tend to think of the rejectors of traditional religious language who recoil violently and immediately against such words, responding viscerally from a place of old wounds and abuses and insisting they not be used, said, employed or invoked.

This is not to insult the emotional response; I for one have never been in favor of the old "reason trumps emotion" dualism. It is just to exegete for a moment my authentic Scooby Doo moment while mulling through the comments section in Philocrites.

At my recent summer intensive course, a wonderful new UU friend (and seminarian) was approached by a professor after her afternoon lecture. Entirely unprompted, the professor inquired, "Did I use too much God-language for you?"

What does this tell you? It tells me that lacking a theological center or a shared and clear "good news," Unitarian Universalists become known for our terminal uniqueness, our pre-offendedness, and our wholly Other identity (with tinges of victimhood) within even the progressive Christian community.
Please read this year's Commission on Appraisal report. It is fine, it is eloquent, it is dignified and lovely and inspiring. And I believe (although I've just skimmed it) that we can all find our own theological perspectives affirmed in there. Hats way off to the Commission. Shoes off. Clothes off. Everyone in the pool!!

Oh, and speaking of dogs, I feel like a golden retriever every time I put the damned drops in my ear. I have "infecto-ear," as my sister used to say of her dogs. The doc admonished me with this highly medical explanation: "It was healing up until you putzed with it with the Q-tip!" I love a doctor who can say "putzed." There's nothing like a little bit of mamaloschen to comfort a girl.

Here's why I am closing off the comments lately: it's an editorial decision to help me manage my exhaustion and anxiety. I take every comment to heart, I read them all and think out a response to each and every one even if I don't post anything.
So as I work my way back from "hiatus" please understand that my energy level isn't where I want it to be, and rather than avoid blogging entirely I'm just managing it differently.

Peace and Grace.
Grease and Pace.


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