This week my church had a parish-led service where five people from the community stood up and talked about what they believe in – with the goal of showcasing the varied beliefs and opinions that make up a Unitarian Universalist church. It was pretty cool hearing people of varying ages and backgrounds, and a varying length of time within the Unitarian church, talk about their beliefs. It was cool agreeing with everyone about somethings, disagreeing about other things and that being totally fine. Some come from Roman Catholic backgrounds, others have been atheists for years, a lot of them come from varying Christian or Jewish religions. All continue to question their faith every day. The very idea of belief is a big deal – as were are always thinking about it, always changing. That’s like the point. I love it.
I’ve been going to this church for a month now. So I’m a total newbie when it comes to unitarianism. I don’t even think I could really call myself a unitarian at all yet – just a person who attends their services. I’ve been thinking about religion, seriously questioning myself and the world for about three years. Before that I was “raised Protestant.” I was baptized in a Protestant church, went to their Sunday school and have poured coffee, etc. at various Christmas dinners. But I didn’t go to church weekly. Or even monthly – or heck, even on holidays. It wasn’t until high school and college that I found myself occasionally attending a service with a friend or boyfriend, wondering what this “religion” thing was, what I could get out of it, and which ones I’d like. For about half a year or more I seriously considered converting to Catholicism (which my husband was raised) because I loved the church he attended and introduced me to, or at least I loved the priest.
But as I sat in the masses long enough, the glow waned, and I began to find myself annoyed with them more and more. “I believe in one true Catholic…” Um, nope I don’t. “I believe that Jesus Christ died for us…” Maybe? I’m not saying, “No you are wrong,” so much as I am saying, “No I do not believe this with every (or any) fiber of my being – and I don’t think any of the other religions out there are more or less right.” Moreover – I don’t believe that wars over religious beliefs are right. I don’t believe the prejudices towards our neighbors based on what God they pray to, what days they pray and how, or the color of their skin is right.
To me religion has always felt more like a story than a fact. It’s an idea. I don’t see it going past that point of idea. And ideas are so wholly personal – and should be, I think. I would be surprised if every member of any church, regardless which one, didn’t disagree about some small point (or bigger ones) in their faith. It’s normal, we’re human, we all see and hear things differently. It’s what makes us beautiful. I believe people should embrace their differences and learn from them, and focus less on our afterlives and more on our LIVES. I believe we should spend more time finding ways to embrace one another, help one another in any way we can and make a difference. I believe that at the base of all religions is the idea that we should lead better lives and help one another. If we all believe this on some level, why do we exclude others and narrow ourselves? This is one thing I love about Unitarian Universalists. All are welcome. They really do strive to embrace everyone, of any background, any faith – and work together as a community to make a difference. To me, that’s what “religion” should be.
I believe that I will never have it all figured out. I do not think my faith will ever be complete, nor my knowledge. I will not be finished until I die. And since I do not have a firm idea of what the afterlife has in store for me, I think it should be so very important to embrace every minute of now while I can. If and when I meet my maker, it will be too late to do things differently. I’d rather be open to all opportunities for growth and knowledge than pin myself to just one. However, I am not bothered with other people choosing that one religion. I think that all of them have their uses, all of them accomplish great things – and that a lot of people are very secure in their faiths and that’s wonderful. There is obviously something to this religious thing, having been around this long. I get that. So while I find myself at home at my local UU parish, I commend people for finding their homes in any faith based place they can. I don’t necessarily understand you, but believe me I respect and admire anyone who can lead a good life and find comfort in their faith.
And honestly, that’s about it for now. I’ll end this here, and go back to thinking about frivolous things like dessert and watching Simpson’s tonight with my husband. I appologize to any of my readers who might be put off by “another religious post.” I have no idea if this will be a regular thing or not – but now that I’m attending UU services weekly, I find myself thinking about this stuff more – and my blog really does seem like the perfect place to record my thoughts and feelings while I embark on this little “journey.” I trust that if it’s not your cup of tea, that you can simply move on to the next thing you want to read and catch up with me later.