Tolerance and Compassion?
Notice in the comments section, when one reader innocently inquires what Unitarians need to be "called out" for (in this context, to have our shortcomings and sins named and confronted). Fascism? Satanism? he asks.
I shake my head in dismay. Are you kidding? You really wonder what UUs need to be called out for?
Oy vey. We constantly mistake our ideals of tolerance, compassion and open-heartedness for a lived reality of tolerance and love. As of yet, they are ideals. They are principles. They are not the reality in most of our churches. One of the greatest, most destructive sins of the current UU movement is that we actually think we are living out our professed ideals, and worse yet, we think we're actually doing a better job of living out our ideals than mainstream Christians are doing at living out theirs. What a tragic misconception. We are not. What we are doing is making sure that we attract and truly include only those people whose attitudes, proclivities and preferences are exactly like ours, and then collectively congratulating ourselves at how well we're doing as a vibrant religious faith.
I do not excuse myself from this sin.
Someday, Unitarians here and in Britain might actually learn how to live in a spirit of true compassion and open-heartedness in our congregations. We might learn that the care of the soul should be the first order of business among us, not achieving intellectual and political conformity by means of hard-core intellectual wrassling. We may learn to live peacefully together with a shared sense of wonder and delight at the ways God moves within each of us, or, if you prefer, how reverence makes its way into our hearts even without a sense of a transcendent Presence.
We may learn to unabashedly worship together, where people will feel uplifted and know that they are responsible for their own experience. They will know how to worship together, and those who come to the minister bearing a list of every word, message, prayer and hymn that did not meet with his or her personal approval will be guided and companioned in a process of pastoral healing, not pandered to.
We may learn to truly welcome the stranger, not to erect barriers of smug superiority between us and thousands upon thousands of seekers who come to us actually thinking they will find authentic tolerance and diversity.
We've got plenty of besetting sins and demons to struggle with without messing with Satan and fascism, friends.
If I sound especially cranky, it's because I just read my GA program and realized that in three weeks I'll be cast out of the lovely environment of my own congregation -- where I can so often forget the besetting sins of UUism as I have experienced them all my life -- and directly experiencing all that dysfunction I have just named.
God give me strength, a loving heart, and unfailing humor.