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Unitarian Universalism

I have mixed feelings about Unitarian Universalism (UUs). On the face of it, I think they do a lot of good. Any place where people of all faiths can come together and “commune” (for lack of a better word) for no other reason than to come together and listen to uplifting speeches is a good thing in my opinion. I think they represent the paragon of the so-called interfaith dialogue. I know a lot of atheist/agnostics on message boards who go to UU churches because of the social aspect of it; and the numbers show that it's going to church that contains many of the benefits usually associated with religion (improved health, a reduction in suicides, and increased marital fidelity), and not what the person believes.
 
Unfortunately, not many people know about the UU church. Today I read this article by a UU minister. It's an interesting article, and there are parts of it that subtly remind me of the “chaos” of early Christian Gnosticism; a Christianity that focused on personal revelations and not so much on dogmas or creeds. The writer stresses, like my previous paragraph, the goal of the UU church is being as liberal and open minded as possible, accepting people from all walks of “faith”.
 
But what about those on the outside of the UU church? This following quote hit kinda close to home for me:
I remember a tragic incident that occurred during my ministry. One evening I was called to the hospital to be with the mother of a two-year-old child who was brain-dead after choking on a piece of chewing gum. The mother, a Unitarian Universalist, was estranged from the child's father, who was of another faith. Leaving the hospital, I found myself in the elevator with the father's minister, and I said to him, “Well, we can do the memorial service together.” And he responded, “No, we can't. We don't worship the same God.” His comment made my sadness deeper still, and the estrangement of these families seemed ever greater.
I have a close friend from college that wasn't religious who a couple of years ago was dating a (not known to him) religious girl. Apparently, one of her friends convinced her that their relationship wouldn't work out for religious reasons. So they broke up. The question I consistently have asked myself since then is whether that sort of interfaith relationship – and its failure – was really a microcosm of a greater fundamental incompatibility between religions. Quite apropos to this post, he tried to salvage their perceived differences by suggesting that they go to a UU church together. She flat out rejected it.
 
It was really sad to see, since they obviously liked each other. They would sort of “revert” back to boyfriend-girlfriend mode for a couple of months after he graduated. He would go back to their alma mater to visit on certain weekends when mutual friends were having parties.
 
Anyway, I'm still not sure where I place myself along the lines of the accomodationalist/confrontationalist atheism infighting. If the two stories above really are endemic to religion, then it would seem that the accomodationalists – those who think that religious and non-religious people can get along – are fighting a losing battle. And the confrontationalists – those who argue that religion doesn't deserve respect and should be wiped out (one of the reasons due to its “inherently” divisive nature) – are right. I would like to be an accomodationalist; I would like to live in a world where we can all get along… but what I would like human/religious nature to be might not necessarily be what it actually is. So my mixed feeling about UU is that it might be a fool's errand; blind to the nature of the type of religion people want.
 
So I am sort of split between a MLK/Professor X approach towards religion and a Magneto/Malcolm X approach:
 
Professor X: “Killing… won't bring you peace”
Magneto: “Peace was never an option”
 
Hopefully, though, things like Unitarian Universalism will win out in the end. And maybe, like 100 years from now or something, people like my friend and his ex-girlfriend could stay together without perceived religious differences dividing them.
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in interfaith

 

Inter-Faith Relationships – Can They Work Out?

(Inspired by this thread)
The only way inter-religious relationships can work is if both parties place higher emphasis on how they treat each other over what each other believes. In my experience, the difference between your average Christian and a fundamentalist is that the fundamentalist puts priority on what other people believe and not how other people treat them. Your average [sane] Christian focuses more on how the person treats them.

I dated a Catholic for a year and we had absolutely no problems when it came to religion. She only cared that I treated her well. She broke up with me [probably] because I got insanely drunk one night and blacked out lol… and I also refused to say the “L” word. Conversely, I dated a Protestant and she didn’t care about how I treated her, she couldn’t accept that I didn’t have the correct beliefs. And she had just gotten out of a pretty bad relationship where the guy shared her beliefs, but played mind games and was emotionally abusive… but she was with him for three years. I’m certain I didn’t play any mind games or was emotionally abusive to her .

Placing emphasis on “belief” is dogmaticism.

If both parties involved aren’t all dogmaticism but rather places emphasis on “orthopraxy” (correct action), then it might work out. That dogmaticism is at the heart of all religious intolerance, and will doom any sort of relationship to failure; either leading to break up or to a relationship where both people have the correct “beliefs”, but is devoid of respect. And what if one person just happens to lose their faith, and both only cared about dogma? What if they placed correct belief over all else? One person might simply lie to the other so that they would stay together. It’s possible that dogmaticism could even lead to perpetual dishonesty in a relationship for those who place correct belief at the highest priority in a relationship (faith is self-deception).

This reminds me of a comment made by someone in response to a Rabbi’s view on the historicity of the Exodus:

Maimonides strongly criticized people who insisted that the Bible had to be literally true. Nonetheless, many people still cling to the foolish notion that literal truth is a necessary belief. That is illogical for Jews, since we are not a FAITH based People whose way(s) of life are not based upon any belief. Christians, on the other hand, need literal truth because for them belief is more important than truth.
– RickLee

The mainstream Jewish view towards religion also seems to be one of “orthopraxy” and not dogmaticism. From another point of view on the opposite side of the spectrum, this table was put together by Luke over at Common Sense Atheism:

Similarities

Christian Atheist
…probably wants to increase world happiness and reduce suffering. … probably wants to increase world happiness and reduce suffering.
…holds thousands of beliefs for which she has no well-tested evidence. …holds thousands of beliefs for which she has no well-tested evidence.
…often makes irrational decisions. …often makes irrational decisions.
…may or may not believe in free will. …may or may not believe in free will.
…may believe any number of things about morality. …may believe any number of things about morality.
…almost certainly holds some beliefs that logically contradict other beliefs she holds. …almost certainly holds some beliefs that logically contradict other beliefs she holds.
…is plagued by over a dozen powerful cognitive biases. …is plagued by over a dozen powerful cognitive biases.
…may believe any number of things about who the Historical Jesus was. …may believe any number of things about who the Historical Jesus was.
…may be anywhere from extremely intelligent to frightfully stupid. …may be anywhere from extremely intelligent to frightfully stupid.
…is probably outraged by some religious beliefs and practices. …is probably outraged by some religious beliefs and practices.
…may have any range of beliefs about evolution, cosmogony, and the nature of spacetime. …may have any range of beliefs about evolution, cosmogony, and the nature of spacetime.
…may hold any of several views about metaphysics. …may hold any of several views about metaphysics.
…may or may not have a highly positive view of science. …may or may not have a highly positive view of science.
…may or may not believe in absolute truth. …may or may not believe in absolute truth.
…holds many beliefs and attitudes out of trust, not evidence. …holds many beliefs and attitudes out of trust, not evidence.
…may hold any of several views about the historicity of the Bible. …may hold any of several views about the historicity of the Bible.
…sometimes acts against her own moral principles. …sometimes acts against her own moral principles.
…can be angry, satisfied, sad, happy, lazy, or industrious at different times. …can be angry, satisfied, sad, happy, lazy, or industrious at different times.
…often makes assertions about topics she knows relatively little about. …often makes assertions about topics she knows relatively little about.
…may live in a bubble of like-minded friends or have many friends with diverse beliefs. …may live in a bubble of like-minded friends or have many friends with diverse beliefs.
…may or may not regularly doubt her own worldview. …may or may not regularly doubt her own worldview.

Differences

…believes in a god. … doesn’t believe in a god.

Concentrate on similarities, not dogmaticism.

 
Comments Off on Inter-Faith Relationships – Can They Work Out?

Posted by on January 12, 2010 in correct belief, dogmaticism, interfaith, orthopraxy, relationships

 
 
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