Sunday, October 22, 2006


I remember the first Revival of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship in 1999. It was in New Orleans and I worked on the planning committee. We had NO IDEA what we were doing! None!

So I showed up in New Orleans and had a few days of vacation to explore that beautiful, wonderful, tragic city. I met my friend Poppa T Holder at a hotel -- he's gay, don't get excited -- and we had a great time carousing (by the way, Poppa T is profiled in a terrific article in the recent issue of Out magazine). I sang karaoke for the first time and became enamored of hot sauce, a passion that endures to this day.

When I got to the conference, I had never been to a gathering of the UUCF outside of Harvard Divinity School. There were about 90 people there, and we did things like SING GOD AND CHRIST-CENTERED HYMNS. Some people WAVED THEIR HANDS IN THE AIR (Chuck Thomas, where are you, dude? All grown up, married and a daddy now!). I walked around in a kind of bubble of thrill and confusion and anxiety and tremendously fragile hope. We had workshops on PRAYER and we had a HEALING SERVICE that cracked me open like a little egg and I wept and got a runny nose all over the beautiful people who laid hands on me in prayer and love.

I was BAPTIZED! It turned out to be very controversial with some people who thought it was bad ecclesiology. I didn't think Jesus would have a problem with my being baptized outside of a church community, seeing as he probably just dipped people in the River Jordan, or whatever, without worrying about their community of Christian formation. I wasn't offended by the critics, just bemused. I think there's a way to say, "I have to question the way this was done, but congratulations on this important moment and welcome to the faith." But they were just snotty. Hey, by their fruits ye shall know them.

We all went out to Bourbon Street one night and I wound up barfing into the sink of my dorm room later on. I wasn't inebriated, I swear. I think I was just really excited and overstimulated and the food was too rich for me.

So all in all, it was totally thrilling and really weird because I had never been a Christian in community before, and I made some wonderful friends and just let myself be filled with joy and commitment.

Someone in a UU setting asked me soon after that why I became a Christian. I said, "Because I'm not mature enough to be a Buddhist."

Anyway, I'm very much looking forward to joining the UUCF community again for the --what is it, the fourth? -- REVIVAL conference in New York City in two weekends. When we started this thing, we just had no idea that they would become a tradition, let alone that they would feature speakers like Gary Dorrien and draw participants from all over the country.

Hey, original REVIVAL pals, looking forward to seeing you there, and making new friends.


Blogger Wally Nut said...

I apologize for posting this here but I saw that you were forced to cut off comments to your "abuse in the Catholic church" post. I wanted to let you know I have posted a response to your piece.

Blogger SC Universalist said...

Certainly sounds like it will be fun -
Good speakers too!

Blogger boyinthebands said...

I met PeaceBang at the first Revival, and I was one of those who "had a problem" with the baptisms, and still do for the same reason. Not to say they weren't "proper" baptisms. My beef wasn't with PB or the other baptisands, but with the UUCF Board.

The issue is ecclesiological. What is the purpose of baptism? A large and growing ecumenical consensus includes in its meaning an induction to the Christian church. If so, how can something that's not-church (the UUCF) take upon itself the church's perogative. Or is the UUCF claiming to be a church? (with the attendant problems that occasions.) And this isn't a loose out-there WCC global Christian issue, but an ecclesiological issue from within Unitarian Universalist theological tradition. In fine, a conference does not a church make. (See Cambridge Platform.) Perhaps you could say the officiating ministers "carry the church they serve" into the service, but that introduces a number of issues too detailed to consider here. I didn't see any theological self-reflection in the process, and that bothered me.

Now, that said, I made an ass of myself in front of PB at the time, and it was in an act of contrition that I contacted her and our friendship grew out of that.

Who says there's no value in theological dispute?

Blogger Ron said...

Great memories PB, each time for me Revival has been different (and this will be the sixth one!) and yet sometime during each one I get that buzz from the very first one, that "Blessed Assurance" thing. They seem to somehow adhere to their places, and churches that host Revival, and so I am really looking forward to NYC, and next year same time in Cleveland.
I worry each year, in the midst of all the institutionalizing of it, and programming of it, that maybe the Spirit won't show up this time, o me of little faith. Especially it is great to see the big buzz on the faces of those who come for the first time no matter where it is and it is Nawlins all over again.
Sure hope we might be able to return to New Orleans in coming years for a tenth anniversary Revival.
Oh, and I just wrapped all the Revival stuff up into one post at the site so that link might not work but those who just go to the site will be able to find everything they need easily.
See you soon,


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