Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More thought on Peacebang’s “Vague Buddhism”

I’ve been neglecting the blog (don’t you hate when the “real world” interferes with what you really want to do?), but I have been pondering- primarily Peacebang’s Humanists or vague Buddhists? , by way of Oversoul’s Response to Peacebang‘s blog and Lizard Eater’s No More Elevator Speech . I realized that much of what I written in response to Christian questions about my Pagan beliefs is applicable to the discussion within UU.

The question I was asked as a Pagan was “If your tradition contradicts the tradition of another Wiccan, can they both be objectively true? If you cater/construct your religion according to your desires, then isn't it nothing more than your own invention?” Here was my answer: Yes, they are both objectively true- and no, they are not merely our inventions. The freedom to choose is not license for catering to whims, it’s an obligation, a duty- you are required to find through study, soul-searching, and prayer the way to the Divine. Both the Wiccan and the Christian can say “The Earth is real; I can touch it. God is real; I can touch him.” To them both, each experience was equally factual. We are each of us prisoners within our own skulls; I cannot know exactly what a Pentecostal is experiencing when the spirit takes them anymore than they can experience what I feel in circle- we each come to the Divine one at a time. In a very real sense, there are six billion religions! My body will reject an organ transplant even from a close relative (absent drugs); objectively, only my kidney will work for me, and yours for you... each is different, and each is the only true way for each other. My need for that specific kidney- or that specific faith- is not my invention.

I would modify that answer only slightly for a UU, by substituting “Truth” for “The Divine”, as there are many atheist UUs... but so altered, I believe it to be true: by becoming UU, you have assumed an obligation to find your truth. We have rejected the other denominations’ set answers, but the human psyche is not built to live with a vacuum; therefore we must be seekers. This is where I disagree with Peacebang’s reply to Lizard Eater, when she said “I absolutely agree with you that personal witness is more powerful than trying to stammer out a definition of Unitarian Universalist. However, while the Christian witness is testifying to the saving grace of God/Christ in their life, we're witnessing to the saving grace of a congregation in our life. When I try to answer the question "what are we worshiping?" your post validates my sad conclusion that we are, in fact, worshiping ourselves.” If a graduate of Harvard’s Divinity school sings its saving virtues, it is understood that he is not worshipping it; he is praising its part in bringing him to that which he does worship. When I praise All Souls Indianapolis, I’m expressing gratitude for its help in my own spiritual growth; I am not worshipping All Souls.

Our duty to seek truth is also why I disagree with Oversoul’s statement:
"Someday, UUism will have to squarely confront three fundamental questions:
1. Is there a Higher Power?
2. If yes, what is its nature and how do we relate to it as a religious community?
3. How do the answers to questions 1 and 2 inform the way we live our lives?"
UUs have this obligation- but the UUA does not. Those questions are my responsibility, and as I wrote in my creed, “I believe that responsibility, for good or ill, is my one irrevocable possession.” In their hearts, all people know this to be true- is there a single faith more than fifty years old that has not schismed into multiple denominations? Even within those denominations, is there one with 100% agreement between congregates?

Worshipping together does not have to mean worshipping the same thing.

1 comment:

PeaceBang said...

I definitely agree that worshiping together doesn't have to mean worshiping the same thing. That's pretty much the basis of our gathering, in fact, and a truth we constantly and confidently proclaim.

However, what I'm still circling around is the ACT of worship, which is different than your hypothetical graduate of Harvard Divinity School extolling its virtues. In the latter case, the person is just talking about something. She is obviously not worshiping. However, if she goes to church every Sunday and spends an hour thinking about how much she loves Harvard Divinity School, in that case, isn't she worshiping it? I mean, just given the Western world's most commonly accepted definition of "worship?"