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.