Sacred Story, Or Sacred Soap Opera?
So Paul baptizes them in the name of Jesus and they get the Holy Spirit and go around prophecying and speaking in tongues.
This just cracked me up: "We've never heard of the Holy Spirit." I just see them kicking at the dirt with their toes while Paul stands there thinking, "God, I need a cup of coffee."
It's just one of the great comedy moments in Acts, the other (for me) being when Paul preaches on for so long that Eutychus falls asleep and falls out the window to his death. ohmygod, Eutychus just fell out the window! he's totally lying in a little heap down there on the ground! holy camel patties! someone do something!
You can just imagine this. Of course Paul runs down and resurrects him, and all is well (except that no one asked Eutychus if maybe he wouldn't prefer to stay dead rather than listen to Paul keep preaching. Maybe they sent him home for a nap. One can only hope so).
There's another great episode where some charlatans are trying to cast out demons in the name of Jesus, and they get the tar beaten out of them and are thrown out of town bloody and nekkid. And there's that whole scandal with Demetrius, the maker of the Artemis figurines, and a big mob scene there.
We say that the Christian story is a sacred story, but to me it's more like a sacred soap opera, and therein lies it's profound appeal. Whether our lives are dull and uninspiring or full of drama, who isn't drawn to a massive cosmic soap opera?
What is Unitarian Universalism's sacred story? A long line of reasonable people thinking smart thoughts?
Yawn. I just fell out the window.
And yet that's what we so often present in our Sunday Schools and from our pulpits.
Don't you think there's a reason we all love to rehash the bloody controversies of our past, and even to perpetuate them through our own passions today? Don't you think there's a reason that we savor the stories of the nutjobs among us, telling them again and again over dinner? Don't you think there's a reason we perpetually regale ourselves with the tales of how crazy we all got during this or that conflict, and for our fond and constant remembrance of that pistol in Theodore Parker's desk?
Unitarian Universalists love to emphasize freedom, reason and conscience, and to suggest that our "sacred story" derives from tales of heroes and heroines intellectually embracing those principles. They say that, and then they fail to mention, or to make thrillingly real in the telling of the story, all the blood and guts that came with embracing those principles. That's a serious mistake, for you will notice that when UUs get together, what binds them in affection and energy is the dramatic stuff, the unbelievably insane stuff, the war stories, the power struggles, the scandals, the times when emotion exploded out and overcame Reason, and everyone actually felt caught up in the spirit.
No one wants to be part of a sacred story that bores you so much you fall asleep and fall out the window. We need something that more honestly reflects the high drama of who we are and what we endure together.