The Essence of Religious Maturity
What Unitarian Universalists often totally fail to acknowledge and to take responsibility for, is that they belong to a religious group that generally defines religion in a way that radically differs from the way every other human society defines religion. Astonishingly enough, they nevertheless complain and moan and thrash around when they and their views aren't warmly embraced by others (especially when those others are other Unitarian Universalists).
We (UUs) often define "religion" as that which binds together, (religare), conveniently dismissing the fact that for the rest of the world, "religion" is a system of beliefs and doctrines shared by a professing people (What's wrong with all of them? Poor, misguided suckers). We define "worship" as the act of "considering those things that are worthy," conveniently ignoring or blowing off the Greek and Hebrew derivations that explicitly refer to the act of prostrating oneself before a deity, or the old English origins of the term in reference to a wealthy nobleman ("your worth-ship").
We do this because we're groovy, free people and we feel entitled to do so. We're heretics.
Meanwhile, there's a tiny thimble-ful of us floating around in the great, huge ocean of religious people and religious systems, and we actually waste our time fighting amongst ourselves about who gets incuded, who don't get no respect, etc.
In the wider world, no one (relatively speaking) knows -- or cares -- about us.
We're so far beyond the Pale, even our horses are dots on the map.
So why do I point you to Jeff [oops, I had you mixed up with other UU bloggers named James, Jeff, sorry! -- P.B.] and ChaliceChick's posts as Good Things among us?
Because I think they represent the sincerity, careful thought, emotional engagement and personal reflection leading to personal responsibility that keeps me in love with this little, tiny community of heretics (a word whose roots mean "to question," after all).
These are the kind of posts that model a struggle to stay lovingly engaged with the community of the religious; not the usual justifications for why one is superior and should disengage (or to reform the rest of the aforementioned "poor suckers") from it.
These are not obnoxiously intellectual show-offy types, just masturbatorily displaying their great knowledge to validate their superiority. These are not victim types, who write to justify their great sense of persecution, and to blame and vilify those whom they believe persecute them. These are wonderers -- worriers who make an art form of fretting -- who display the maturity and wisdom of acknowledging that perhaps there's something worth worrying about in the topics they have chosen for their reflection.
To enter into questions of ultimate meaning bare-foot because you might be walking on someone else's holy ground is the essence of religious maturity. It is the essence of graciousness, and it is the essence of hospitality.
Unitarian Univeralists have too often defined hospitality as the quality of welcoming the stranger and immediately inviting him or her in to rearrange the living room furniture, sleep with our daughters and sons, and paint personally meaningful graffiti over older, sacred images.
What Jeff and ChaliceChick show us is a UU hospitality that invites the stranger to take off his or her shoes, quietly and respectfully enter the sanctuary of consideration together, and there -- guarded and guided by the wisdom of intellectual inquiry and tradition -- make decisions about how to best be a good and ethical person in their respective communities.
A bit of true refreshment on a hot and humid day.