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Confessions, part 10

In the Fall of 2004 I took an ASD class with Rev. Rob Hardies and Bill Rice called Unitarian Universalist Theology.  I had signed up for the course with a mixture of hope and skepticism.  As I said during our introductions in the first session, I was skeptical that there really was any such thing as UU theology, skeptical that there was anything that we could say that all UUs believed.  Yet I was there because I hoped that there was.

Rob started the class with an overview of what we would be discussing, which followed the standard format of theology - our view of God, our view of humanity, our view of our relationship between God and humanity.

Confessions, part 9

As I was coming to terms with my own discomfort of "going to church," I soon became aware of other sources of discomfort within my church. Jewish UUs who chafed at the word "church" for deeper reasons than mine. Atheist UUs who chafed at "church" and even more so at "God." Christian UUs who felt that their "church" was hostile to any meaningful expression of Christianity. And Pagan UUs who still experienced disdain for their beliefs/practices from other supposedly open-minded UUs. 

Confessions, part 8

I had made a commitment to Unitarian Universalism. When people asked me what religion I was, instead of saying "nothing" or "a little bit of everything" (depending upon how much I felt like explaining myself), I would say I'm a Unitarian. It was tentative at first. I said it a little abashedly and waited to see what the reaction would be - from others and from myself. Like trying on a new coat to check the fit.

Confessions, part 7

I didn't go shopping for a new church/religion just then. For one thing, I knew of nowhere else to go. The same reasons that had brought me to UU in the first place still applied.  

 

Confessions, part 6

The following Sunday I showed up for the first of two Adult Spiritual Development classes that I had signed up for in order to get more involved. The topic of the first class was the then recent call by UUA President Rev. Sinkford for UUs to develop a "language of reverence," to learn to become more comfortable with speaking in Christian terms like "sin" and "salvation." One of the discussion leaders supported Sinkford's call and expressed his desire that UUs be better able to communicate our beliefs to other people of faith, that UU be taken more seriously as a religion. 

Confessions, part 5

There were several things that struck me about my first service at All Souls Church, Unitarian.  First, there was the diversity of the congregation, reflecting the true urban community that I had been craving.  Second, there was the music... the choir sang beautiful negro spirituals, not the stuffy hymns from my days in Lutheran school.  And finally, there was the genuine warmth that members of the congregation showed towards each other and visitors.   

But I have to confess that I was too preoccupied with the "churchiness" of All Souls to be able to fully embrace all of this.  Curiously, the formal religious elements were both discomforting and comforting at the same time.  And as people rushed about greeting each other, the commotion after service was also disorienting.  

Confessions, part 4

I now know that 10:30 am on a Sunday morning is one of the busiest times at the Harvard street entrance of All Souls - people arriving for services, exchanging greetings, rushing to finish last minute church duties. But I swear, on that particular Sunday morning at that moment, there was no one else at that entrance. No others to hide behind, to fade into anonymity. Just me at the bottom of the small steps and the good Rev. Hardies at the top. "Hello," he said, "would you like to come in?" I told him that I would prefer to use the main entrance at the front of the church and casually kept on walking.

It was a lie. What I was really thinking was, "You don't have to go into this church. Just keep on walking straight ahead, don't turn. He won't be able to see you. Just keep walking straight, cross 16th street, go to Adams Morgan, grab a Starbucks mocha. That's a good way to spend a Sunday morning. You don't have to turn."

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