Confessions, part 1

OK, I admit it. I go to church almost every Sunday and I like it. Most times I even love it. Now, for the 26-44% of Americans[1] who go to worship on a regular basis this may seem like a strange thing to confess. But I'm one of those people who is usually suspicious of authority and organized institutions. Who tends to question things that are presented as "the truth." Who has trouble with the idea of a patriarchal God who condemns most of His children to hell. You know, one of those "Godless liberals."

Confessions, part 2

I had first heard about Unitarian Universalism in college.  In my early 20s is when friends started getting married, and for those who weren't religious yet didn't want a wedding at City Hall, a Unitarian minister was the minister of choice.  You told them what you wanted said, and more importantly what you didn't want said, and the minister would happily go along with it.  No questions asked.  My friends and I all liked that about UU, but it didn't strike me as a religion that I would commit to.  It had struck me as "fluffy."  What was the point of belonging to a faith where you could believe whatever you wanted to believe?

Confessions, part 3

In September of 2003 I moved to Washington, DC in order to start a masters program in liberal studies at Georgetown. After much thought and hesitation, I had decided to leave a career in science.  As much as I loved science (and still do), I needed to do something where I could more easily see how my work made the world a better place.  Tho I wasn't sure what that something was.  Having briefly considered law school, I finally decided to   pursue public policy with an emphasis in bioethics.  As the Spirit would have it, the professor who's classes on bioethics I had planned to take was diagnosed with cancer that same Fall.  I never took a single class with him. Instead, I ended up diving in head-first into a field even more rarefied than science, religion.

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."

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 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 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.  



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