The Future of Unitarian-Universalism and other Pagan News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  June 30, 2011 — 169 Comments

Top Story: The Religion News Service is featuring a story (alternate link) on the 50th anniversary of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), and whether the shrinking (162,800 members, down 1,400 from last year) creedless denomination can endure for another fifty years.

“For 50 years the UUA has conducted a virtually unprecedented experiment: advancing a religion without doctrine, hoping that welcoming communities and shared political causes, not creeds, will draw people to their pews. Leaders say its no-religious-questions-asked style positions the UUA to capitalize on liberalizing trends in American religion. But as the UUA turns 50 this year, some members argue that a “midlife” identity crisis is hampering outreach and hindering growth. In trying to be all things to everyone, they say, the association risks becoming nothing to anybody.”

Modern Pagans are a vibrant part of the modern UUA, and the article by Daniel Burke starts off the piece with a Pagan member of the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore leading a service.

“A recent Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore ended with an apology. Laurel Mendes explained that religious doctrine had been duly scrubbed from the hymns in the congregation’s Sunday program. But Mendes, a neo-pagan lay member who led the service, feared that a reference to God in “Once to Every Soul and Nation” might upset the humanists in the pews.”

While I’m pleased to see UU Pagans get noticed, I’m less happy with the fact that Burke seems to use this moment to underscore how far the UUA has drifted from its Christian roots. As for the future of the UUA, Burke cites an internal document from 2005 that says the denomination needs to create boundaries, to overcome its “reluctance to proclaim religious tenets.” Current UUA president Rev. Peter Morales sees “amazing opportunity” in the growing number of “nones,” people who don’t claim adherence to any particular faith, the “spiritual but not religious” demographic, but can outreach of this sort compensate for reports that the UUA is losing 85% of its children?

For many years the UUA has served as a haven and home for Pagans, especially in towns and cities that lack an established Pagan community. Many Pagans have fond feelings towards the UUA despite some institutional bumps in the road recently, with some prominent Pagans, like Margot Adler and Isaac Bonewits, having played significant roles within the Unitarian-Universalist sphere. But if those predicting the disappearance of the UUA are correct, if the next 50 years will see their slow fade-out from American life, then modern Pagans invested in the benefits of this denominational body will have to tackle the question of what the UUA provides us, whether we can replicate it independently of the UUA if need be, and what role groups like CUUPs and independent UU Pagans will play in the near future.

In Other News:

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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  • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com James Bulls

    I find it disturbing that a man who wants to hold the highest office in the land is blatantly using his position to proselytize and organize an exclusive religious rally. Mixing religion and politics is a bit like mixing ice cream and manure: the politics look a little better, but the ice cream is ruined.

    (Edit: And I would add that anybody who thinks this is harmless should take a look at some countries in the Middle East whose government and churches work together.)

    • joseph

      So you think that Governors should be restricted to only promoting interfaith events? I’d frankly see more First Amendment issues with such a restriction than with what Perry’s done.

      I’ve got to wonder if it was Dan Halloran inviting his fellow New York City councilmen to a Theodish gathering, wherein drinking a toast at sumbel to Jesus would be prohibited, if there would be the same sort of reaction.

      • http://www.myspace.com/kadynastar Khryseis_Astra

        If the Governor using his office to promote/sponsor an event which explicitly excludes all non-Christians, then that would certainly be a violation of said office, not to mention the Establishment clause. He was elected to represent ALL his constituents, not just those who share his faith.

      • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com James Bulls

        I think governors have no business at all using their office to promote any religion (hence the manure / ice cream example given above).

        • Joseph

          Good luck with that. Religion is a ubiquitous part of human life, and governors (and all politicians) are certainly within their rights to express religious sentiments, bring religious events to the attention of their constituents, etc. Saying “Please come to event X” is *not* the same as establishing religion.

          Even Kathleen Blano declared a day of prayer after hurricane Katrina, and asked President Bush to do the same on a national level.

          • Joseph

            (Sorry about that– this is “Greyhawk Grognard”. Still trying to figure out the new comment system.)

          • http://www.medi101.com Medical apps

            I think the new comment system is great.

    • Anonymous

      Why look to the Middle East when you can look to the U.K., Canada, and some Scandinavian countries where church and state are not exactly separate?

  • WarriorPrincessDanu

    I find Perry’s participation in this prayer rally quite disappointing. On the whole he’s been a fairly decent governor. Such a move is rather un-Texan of him….

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The notorious Unitarian Universalist reluctance to self-promote makes it a miracle we’ve lasted 50 years.

    • Morningdove3202

      I suppose we are bit like the Giant Panda, refusing to mate…

      • http://twitter.com/Mjausson Apel Mjausson

        I’ve spent 30 minutes on UUA.org without finding the “Join now” button…

        If the Giant Panda wants to survive, it needs to hook up with pandas who know how to sell and convert in a low-pressure way. I’d love to help but, for reasons just explained, I’m not even a member.

        • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

          Heck, I’ve been in UU congregations and I still have no idea how to “join.”

          • Ursyl

            At our congregation, you sign the book. We keep ours in the foyer.

            Have you considered asking someone at a congregation you’re interested in joining?

          • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

            Not anymore, no longer interested. They make up too much of their own mythology (presumably out of trying to be neutral) for my comfort.

        • http://www.facebook.com/dopollard David Pollard

          The UUA is an Association of congregations. Individual people can only “join” congregations.

          • Alan Salmi

            Actually, there is a way around it. There is something called the “church of the larger fellowship” in which you join as a member, but you are effectively part of a “virtual group” that previously was done by mail, now done online with support groups, etc. on the net. They also have sermons and ministers that you can contact for your needs and you are considered a full member of the UUA. For individual churches, there usually is an orientation and ritual to go through….

        • Praxidike

          I went to the Unitarian Church once . It was nice enough, but they made me, as a guest, wear a great big nametag. I was so embarassed that I never went back. I live in a different part of town now, but I’m afraid to risk another congregation.

        • Praxidike

          I went to the Unitarian Church once . It was nice enough, but they made me, as a guest, wear a great big nametag. I was so embarassed that I never went back. I live in a different part of town now, but I’m afraid to risk another congregation.

          • Ursyl

            Try again and just say “no thank-you”?

            I think welcoming visitors is a good thing, but making them have to stand out is not so much. I think part of it is so members know to say “hello” and to answer questions. But given that we seem to be groups made up of mostly introverts, you’d think there would be more sensitivity to that.

            Our congregation doesn’t do that to people.

          • Pyewacket83

            The guy at the door was quite adament–he was actually starting to attract a crowd or interested types, wanting to see what the commotion was. I went to the one in my new neighborhood, but I emailed them first to make sure no one was going to bang a gong or something when I came in. They were very nice and did nothing to set off my social phobia.

          • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

            In the congregation I attended, everyone wore nametags. The ones by official members were the more expensive ones with pins whereas guests like me wore the stickers.

          • Ursyl

            Ours is like that too, though not all of us remember to put on the name tags…

          • Morningdove3202

            Using reusable name tags saves money…. and I’m so terrible with names, I love the tags. At our congregation we have greeters with heart stickers on their tame tags and in the service guests are invited to speak to them and ask questions after the service.

        • Morningdove3202

          I don’t think you join the UUA, you join a congregation. At ours you sign a book and there is a “Path to Membership Class” just two meetings, that gives you the basic history of the UU and the particular congregation.

        • Elnigma

          An UU church whose website is clear about themselves and explains how to join:
          http://www.uucss.org/

  • Morningdove3202

    Our UU congregation has two kind of members, members and “friends of” many of which are very active. Many who can not contribute financially opt to become “friends of”…perhaps our official member count is down, but have we counted those who are “Friends of”? And yes we do suffer from a lack of self promotion… We need to be less afraid to say, “YES I am a Pagan who goes to church.” Please check out the UU, we strive to be a “light house” not a “clubhouse” and all are welcome! You can be a hard polytheist, or soft we don’t require an adherence to either concept.
    Liz

    • guest

      Kind of the opposite of Mormons, who convert a lot of people who don’t stick around, but are on the roles forever.

  • John Beckett

    A local rabbi calls my UU congregation a “spiritual homeless shelter.”  He’s right – the vast majority of our members come from other religions where they could no longer believe what they were told they had to believe.  As a result, we’ve spent too much time emphasizing what we don’t believe and not enough time emphasizing what we do believe – and why those beliefs compel us to social, political and environmental action.
     
    I can’t speak for the whole UUA, but I see that changing in my congregation.  It’s driven by a desire for authentic spirituality and religious experience.  Those who find it in, say, Buddhist practice still appreciate that CUUPS members find it in Pagan practice.  And they like being part of a congregation that presents wisdom from many traditions instead of just one.
     
    I think Unitarian Universalism will be fine, though it will take some time for this highly decentralized religion to develop a consistent identity of who we are instead of who we aren’t.
     
    Even if there was a thriving Druid grove in my neighborhood I would still remain active in my UU church.  It helps keep me grounded in this world, it gives me an avenue to put my beliefs into action, and above all, it’s become my family.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Reminds me of my metaphor, that a UU congregation is a lifeboat in the Sea of Faith, pulling in suvivors of shipwrecks elsewhere in the same sea. We haul them aboard, get them dry and coffee’ed, and give them a metaphorical T-shirt saying “I survived the wreck of the SS Presbyteria [or whatever].” But we don’t, as often as we should, offer opportunity to outgrow that T-shirt, outgrow “I’m UU because I’m *not* what my birth Sunday School tried to make me” self-definition into “I’m UU because I *am* [what have you].” Encouragement to spiritual growth is one of our Principles but it would be nice to see more of it. (Just so no one thinks marketing naivete is the only trait retarding UU growth.)

      • Guest

        My experience, or observation if you prefer, with UU congregations has been that they as you say pick up shipwreck survivors only to jump ship unto a new boat. From “SS Presbyteria” to “Buddhist Cruises” sort of a transition. I think that much of the “growth” from UU congregations tends to be people who drift in and drift out after maybe a couple years.

      • Anonymous

        :(Just so no one thinks marketing naivete is the only trait retarding UU growth.)

        Not at all, however I think that it can be fairly stated that, besides almost certainly retarding UU growth in some ways, UUA “marketing naivete” has wasted millions of UUA dollars that could have and *should* have been better spent elsewhere. . .

  • http://twitter.com/Mjausson Apel Mjausson

    From the History page on religionnews.com:
    “RNS does not endorse or promote any particular religion, creed or set of beliefs or non-beliefs. We are a secular organization committed to an ongoing conversation about the role of religion in public life.” …
    “For nearly 78 years, the Religion News Service has been an authoritative source of news about religion, spirituality and ideas.”

    Capitalization according to RNS (in order of appearance in linked article):
    neo-pagan
    God
    humanists
    Christian
    Buddhist
    Islamic
    Jewish
    Unitarian Universalism
    pagans

    If RNS aims to be neutral, they need to fix the capitalization rules in their style guide. Otherwise it’s hard not to assume that only “valid” religions and spiritual paths get capitalized.

    • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

      Okay, so in addition to everyone clicking the like button here for this comment, what’s actually being done to contact the RNS to get this fixed?

      • http://twitter.com/Mjausson Apel Mjausson

        I like that people click the Like button. :-)

        On a more serious note, I contacted them and got a response. I also did a bit of research.

        My notes are here:
        http://apel.livejournal.com/1625523.html

        • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

          Thanks, I’ll certainly be tweeting about this, and I think others should tweet about this as well being sure to include @APStylebook in their tweets to illustrate that this is unacceptable.

  • Anonymous

    Unitarianism has been called (by Charles Darwin, among others) “a feather bed to catch a falling Christian”. The problem is that some people don’t seem to realize that once one is done falling, it’s time to move on.

    • Morningdove3202

      I’ve been a UU for over 10 years, and I’m happy right where I have fallen. As my spirituality evolves, I can change my mind without changing my church and I like it that way.

      • Anonymous

        That is indeed one of the most positive aspects of Unitarian Universalism when it is actually practiced in accordance with claimed U*U principles and ideals. Now if only more U*Us were ready, willing and able to change their minds about some things. . .

  • http://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.joy.rose Elizabeth Rose

    As someone who has been a Pagan almost as long as I have been a Unitarian, (40+ years), I’ve long thought the church needs a marketing campaign. There are many, many people out there who could find a home and community in the UUA, but because they have NO idea it exists, they remain where they are, generally isolated from others who could support them. We’ve taken this “nuclear family” idea to it’s extreme limit, in my opinion. No family is an island. We all find, particularly in times of stress and crisis, that we need the support of others. If one is geographically (or emotionally/socially) isolated from one’s family of origin, what then? Do we suffer in silence, without resources of community, as the problem grows worse? As we’ve seen with so many daily news reports, so many are simply “falling off the map” in the current economic crisis. The UUA is doing no one any favors by staying mum on the benefits the community offers to those who are “non-affiliated”, but would find the humanity and decency of the church a haven. Get a marketing campaign, folks.

    • Anonymous

      The UUA has already done several marketing campaigns with virtually nothing to show for the millions of dollars they wasted on billboards and print media advertising campaigns.

      • Ursyl

        I think we need to try TV ads. Like those Mormon ones, or like the UCC ones.

        • Elnigma

          I wouldn’t be surprised if the congregation nearby that’s seems to be doing very well has much of its success because of having rainbow flags near its sign.

      • http://twitter.com/Mjausson Apel Mjausson

        Yeah, I doubt it’s (only) the marketing that’s the problem.

        From what I read in the comment threads above, there’s a reluctance and/or inability to do what’s needed to make it _easy_ for people to join. If that’s the way UUA wants it, that’s fine. It’s not like size determines the validity of a religion.

        • Ursyl

          What difficulty to join? We don’t require classes or baptism or any other formality. You sign the congregation’s book, or sign up online through the Church of the Larger Fellowship, and you’re in!

          We don’t even require oaths. Now in larger congregations, maybe you’d have to ask to find the book, but how difficult is that really?

          No doubt larger congregations run the introductory classes more often, but it’s not like you can’t sign the book, pledge, attend services, and volunteer for other positions without those. Heck, except for teaching and board positions, we don’t even require official membership. I’d been on a committee for a good year before finally sitting in on an informal class. In the meantime, I had been given a small book that explains UU-ism and its history, which it was up to me to read. Do other religious organizations hand everything to a new member without expecting a little self-starting and effort to be done by that new member?

          We’re not a “one way, ours, is the only way” proselytizing faith. Like with most forms of Paganism, you have to make some effort on your own to find the group that fits, or be active enough to help evolve the group to include you.

          Even as good as our little UU congregation is, I’m working on the next step: next Pagan topic I’m presenting might be publicized in the local paper. Still discussing, but either we’re a legitimate part of the religious spectrum and thus worthy of be publicized, or we’re not.

    • Chcruizer

      I was in a UU church for the first time last week. I really did not know what they were about, although I had been by the church in Fallston, MD a thousand times. I found out out of pure curiosity and then a friend of mine was giving a talk about Hinduism there, so I had an excuse to go. So my first appreance was almost by accident.
      Since I follow an earth centered spiritual path, it was great to go to a “church” and not feel out of place. Everyone was warm and welcoming, but no one was overbearing, as noted in some of the earlier posts. Also I noticed the name tags, but no one ask me to put one on, although I did stand and introduce myself when asked. I am fine with that as it made me feel a little more connected at that time and not just a flower on the wall.
      All in all, I throughly enoyed my visit and are planning to make a return visit.
      I wish there was more promotion of the UU as I may have made a visti years ago if I knew something about them.

  • Dumoktheartist

    Ive been an active member of a UU Church for roughly three years now. granted it has ties to the United Church of Christ as well and I have found our congregation has been growing slowly but surely. Being Pagan, I actually enjoy being with my congregation and even took up a position of responsibility there.
    I guess the trick is to not only talk about the difference of the UU opposed to Dogmatic forms of religion, we should try getting more involved and just show how people of different beliefs can get together and just form a spiritual community.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dopollard David Pollard

    The Religion News Service article on the UUA is just bad journalism.

    On the issue of children leaving the UUA – this has been going on for decades, including times when the UUA was slowly growing. It’s a trend that has also been going on in most of the liberal Christian denominations. Contributing more to this the UUA has twice in the last thirty year shutdown their national high school aged youth organizations. If you repeatedly bulldoze teenagers spiritual homes, don’t act shocked when they find somewhere else to go.
    Blaming the lack of God-talk from the pulpit for children’s departure is nonsense. Kids aren’t watching the sermons – they’re back in the Sunday School (often having circle!)
    If anything the increasing role of Paganism is a significant factor in bringing more young adults into UU congregations. And, the ministers know that if all they do on Sunday is use Christian liturgy, these new folks won’t stick around. So essentially, the journalist picked up on traditionalists lashing out against the increasing post-Christian tenor of modern UU worship and decided that this is why there’s been a small dip in enrollment numbers (and not blaming other obvious factors, like the economy…)

  • Yvonne Aburrow

    162,800 members looks pretty good from this side of the pond, where the membership of Unitarian churches in the UK is about 3500 – but growing. UK Unitarianism has its own Pagan grouping

  • Anonymous

    I have not had all pleasant experiences with the UUs I have visited. While it seems to me as a generality that UUs are accepting of all; I can name one UU church in particular where prior to 2007 the “humanists” decided that the CUUPs (Pagan group) were an embarrassment simply for being Pagan. The CUUPs was disenfranchised and the minister fired for trying to meditate and find a workable solution. The Pagans left by default since they were not welcomed nor wanted by the click in power. Seemed like an oxymoron to me when I considered that ‘humanist’ is non-religious by definition and I never quite understand the apparent ‘witch hunt’ and insults.

    Yet, another UU church, in Amarillo, TX (a mere 2 hours distance) is most accepting and welcoming of everyone. Clearly it is the membership that makes or breaks any organization. It is a pity I think that individual UUs can behave as that the one church wishes with no cohesiveness to national or regional trends.

    Speaking for myself, I would not say that all UUs are accepting of Pagans. Kudos and my thanks to Amarillo, TX and the wonderful folks of the UU there!

    • Anonymous

      :I can name one UU church in particular where prior to 2007 the “humanists” decided that the CUUPs (Pagan group) were an embarrassment simply for being Pagan.

      Please do name that intolerant and abusive “Humanist” dominated UU “church”.

      There are rather too many of them sprinkled throughout the UU World.

      God knows that I have been subjected to a UU witch-hunt for daring to speak openly about a profound revelatory religious experience and organizing an inter-religious celebration of Creation that included prominent pagan participation.

      • Anonymous

        It was/is the UU of Lubbock, TX

        • Anonymous

          And,

          As I expected might be the case. . .

          First Unitaritan Universalist Church of Lubbock, Texas is one of those U*U “Welcoming Congregations” that are quite evidently “less than welcoming” to pagans and no doubt Christians and other God believing people.

          http://www.uulubbock.org/

          “Welcome seekers of freedom, reason, tolerance, and love!”*

          * Unless you happen to believe in God or gods. . .

          • Anonymous

            You’d be right! I called them a bunch of garden party atheists using a church for a tax donation.

          • Ursyl

            The “Welcoming Congregation” program is specifically aimed at GLBTQ… issues and persons.

            Sounds like the members of that congregation need to reread their own website.

          • Anonymous

            I am sure that they are aware of that Ursyl, but it is rarely explicit that the “Welcoming Congregations” term is (or *was*. . .) specifically aimed at GQBLT people. I am pretty sure that the UUA’s “Standing On The Side Of Love” campaign was also originally exclusively aimed at the marriage equality issue but has broadened it’s scope somewhat now, while being mainly concerned with a only few “pet issues” of the UUA.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I’m replying formally to Ursyl but actually to Robin ’cause the thread ran out.

            My UU congregation adopted a Flaming Chalice with a rainbow flame so everyone knows what our Welcoming Congregation status means.

            Yes, “Standing on the Side of Love” was originally a marriage-equity slogan. It became the name of a broad anti-oppression initiative.

        • Iboudicca

          The reason the UU of Lubbock threw out the “Pagans” it was the Humanists felt their power slipping. If all the Pagans had become official members they would have taken control of the local “UU”. I know I was there and at the time a member of the “worship committe”. I tried the UU church and wanted to help, even though they didn’t match my polytheist religious beliefs,but left with the rest of the Pagans because of hostility.

          • http://www.facebook.com/dopollard David Pollard

            It should also be noted that what happened in Lubbock was over a decade ago now. In the late ’90′s the number of Pagans in UU Churches was *rapidly* growing and Husmanists – especially in the South-Central US felt quite threatened by it. So they pushed back and got chapters kicked out in a couple congregations in Missouri and also in Lubbock TX. These days (for the most part) Pagans and Humanists get along better and cooperated quite closely a few years ago when the UUA administration attempted to change the Principle & Purposes section of the bylaws that would have diminished the Sources section of the document.

          • Anonymous

            Given this article mentions declining UU numbers, I’m glad some places/churches are over their fears of Pagans, and working together. With that said, this has not happened in all cases (and I do refer to the Lubbock. TX where the leadership and guiding members are the same from a decade ago). And as mentioned by others, the Pagans were not the only group insulted mocked and persecuted. People left as a direct result.

            I admire and support UUs where there is a mutual, respectful relationship. For the other sort, local Pagan groups (including Pagan, faith-based), and coalitions formed to fill the community need(s). Unlike from a decade ago, today there are many avenues to choose and UU is but one of many.

    • Harmonyfb

      Back when my husband and I were attending the local UU church, I had a Humanist call me a “superstitious ninny” to my face.

      • Ursyl

        I think I would have asked them exactly how that supports you in your search for truth and meaning, as per whichever principle that is.

        While I know that there have been those at our congregation who didn’t get it, they at least had the maturity and manners to ask questions rather than insult. Besides which, if all the Pagans left our small congregation, there’d be next to no one left. At one point, a good half the active Board members were Pagan or Pagan leaning. LOL

        • Harmonyfb

          if all the Pagans left our small congregation, there’d be next to no one left. At one point, a good half the active Board members were Pagan or Pagan leaning.

          ::laugh:: At the time that happened, I was on the board, along with another Pagan member.

          But that particular Humanist was responsible for my husband leaving the UU church in disgust because of his anti-Christian rants (from the pulpit, as he was the default sermon-maker whenever the minister was out.)

          • Anonymous

            And Unitarian Universalists can’t seem to figure out why they are “a tiny, declining, fringe religion”. . .

            Not that there are not some other reasons for U*U stagnation and decline, but it should be a “no-brainer” that the anti-Christian and broader anti-religious intolerance and bigotry that is found is so many U*U “churches” is a major contributing factor to the decline, and potential fall. . . of Unitarian Universalism.

      • Anonymous

        Well that’s not in the least bit surprising to me. . .

        The “Humanist” UU minister of my UU “church” contemptuously dismissed my monotheistic aka *Unitarian* religious beliefs as being nothing but “silliness and fantasy”, went on to intolerantly and abusively label a quite profound revelatory religious experience that I was trying to explain to him as “your psychotic experience” and angrily demanded that I seek “professional help”. . . As if that was not enough he falsely and maliciously labeled an inter-religious celebration of Creation that I had quite successfully organized as “your cult”. He later preached a sermon in which he dogmatically asserted that God is “a non-existent being” and that belief in God “seems primitive”.

        • http://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.joy.rose Elizabeth Rose

          That’s very sad. I think I would organize to have him replaced as minister – since he’s hardly ministering to his congregation, that being you (who clearly does not share his non-beliefs). Alas, being a UU doesn’t exempt people from being asshats. It’s very rare to run into one in the ministry in the UUA, but it does happen. Friends of mine are dealing with a minister who simply doesn’t have a clue, in their church. Apparently, her sermons are boring, and, for a small church, she’s quite overpaid. On the other hand, all of the ministers of the churches I’ve attended have been wonderful, caring, open-minded people who really tried to give the best of themselves to their congregants, for which I am grateful (and probably contributed to my turning out okay as a human being, despite many difficult circumstances.) Please don’t let one jerk color your view of the whole.

          • Anonymous

            I tried to “organize” to have him retract his intolerant and abusive (to say nothing of slanderous) statements by filing a complaint against him with the “church” board. Knowing that *they* were largely “secular humanists” who would do little or nothing in response to my complaint I forwarded it to UUA President John Buehrens in the hope that he would oversee a satisfactory response to my complaint. He did no such thing. . . On the contrary he pretended that the minister had done nothing wrong but none-the-less forwarded my complaint to the director of UUA’s very aptly named Ministerial *Fellowship* Committee who took his cue and actually had the gall to say that the minister’s obviously intolerant and abusive behavior “seemed to us to be within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership.”

            :Alas, being a UU doesn’t exempt people from being asshats. It’s very rare to run into one in the ministry in the UUA, but it does happen.

            I guess I must be a U*U Asshat magnet because I have run into dozens if not hundreds of U*U Asshats, a good number of whom are U*U clergy and UUA administrators. . . AFA*I*AC Former UUA President Rev. Dr. John Buehrens and MFC Director Rev. Diane Miller are numbered amongst these U*U Asshats in light of just how far up their U*U asses their heads were in their negligent and effectively complicit responses to my legitimate clergy misconduct grievance against Rev. Ray Drennan.

            :Please don’t let one jerk color your view of the whole.

            I don’t.

            I let dozens and even hundreds of U*U jerks to color the whole. . .

            After all “the whole” tolerates the “jerks” aka Asshats and effectively condones their unacceptable behaviour.

          • Anonymous

            Come to think of it. . . “the whole” foolishly allow dozens and even hundreds of jerks aka U*U Asshats “tarnish the image” of Unitarian Universalism and then they wonder why so very few people to be a U*U. . . Unitarian Universalism will remain “a tiny, declining, fringe religion” as long as most U*Us turn a blind eye to the jerks and asshats in their midst.

            BTW Thanks for reminding me about this Larson cartoon. :-)

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            It must be borne in mind that this UU hierarchy heard the minister’s side of the story, which we have not. It may be more than a band of asshats circling the wagons around one of their own.

          • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.abbott Stephen Abbott

            One UU group (hardly a “church”) I attended for over a year nearly destroyed a woman minister’s career because she mentioned “God” in a sermon. And her God was always in FEMALE form! Astoundingly self-destructive, and FAR more common than most people think.

        • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.abbott Stephen Abbott

          Your experience is VERY typical of UUers in general. They are astoundingly intolerant and many can be borderline psychotically enraged at the thought that someone ACTUALLY believes in something. And it doesn’t matter if that something is “I believe in the existence of Jupiter and Juno,” or in traditional, Jeffersonian Unitarianism (the ultimate irony) or any other belief in something other than the Democratic or Green Party platforms. One is supported only inasmuch as one’s belief rejects the Majority View of Christianity. That, to me, is intolerance, and quite bizarre for a so-called religion.

          • Anonymous

            “They are astoundingly intolerant and many can be borderline psychotically enraged at the thought that someone ACTUALLY believes in something.”

            It is most ironic that Rev. Ray Drennan was pretty much “borderline psychotically enraged” (as you put it) when he intolerantly and abusively labeled my revelatory religious experience as “your psychotic experience” and angrily insisted that I seek “professional help”. . . I will never forget the enraged look on his face when he said this.

      • Morningdove3202

        We had something similar happen at discussion meeting. Someone said that another person’s belief in God was just “teenage hormones”. Another member called him on it, and told that person that he was not honoring her inherent worth and dignity. The anti-theist person soon left after that. This is what good congregations do, they hold people responsible.

        • Anonymous

          Glad to hear that Morningdove3202.

          Unfortunately no one in a position of authority at the Unitarian Church of Montreal or the UUA and CUC ever held Rev. Ray Drennan accountable for his obvious anti-religious bad attitude. Sadly the UUA and MFC have a very poor track record when it comes to holding “less than perfect” U*U ministers accountable for their harmful and damaging words and actions and I see little sign of improvement. On the contrary I see an ongoing lack of willingness on the part of the UUA and MFC to genuinely practice “justice, equity, and compassion” in their human relations with clergy misconduct complainants.

      • Elnigma

        I think calling someone a “ninny” is rather “ninnyish”

    • http://notawiccan.blogspot.com Meganne

      I can’t speak of where I live now, but the UU society I belonged to (and taught religious education at for quite some time) was basically run by the “secular humanists.” That society didn’t have a CUUPs group or any earth-centered groups for that matter. I genuinely believe that one of the main problems with many UU congregations is that they are being controlled by those who feel that beliefs outside of hard facts, science, etc really alienates those of us deemed “superstitious.”

      I haven’t been to the congregation where I live now. I’ve noticed they have an earth-spirituality group, but I’ve also heard that they tend to run off certain types of Pagans. After the experience I had with the congregation I was a member of, I’m not sure I have the heart to try another.

    • Morningdove3202

      Exactly why we need a “Pagan Friendly Congregations” program…hint hint wink wink CUUPS!

      • Anonymous

        LOLOLOL! I’ll leave PC to others ;)

      • Anonymous

        :Exactly why we need a “Pagan Friendly Congregations” program…hint hint wink wink CUUPS!

        I have only half-jokingly said that the UUA needs a “Welcoming Congregations” program for theists of all kinds. . .

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

    As friendly a place as UUA can be, I don’t see it as a good viable place for pagan practice over the long run. It may be a good place for fellowship with other open minded people, or a good place for seekers who feel drawn to an as-yet undefined Earth-centered spirituality, but not any deep practice of pagan religion. Paganism, in all of the traditions I am familiar with, is something that is created and experienced by its participants, not something you turn up for and watch from a congregation.

    I think there are times and places where large gatherings of pan-pagan or even pan-religious people can hold meaningful rituals, but on the day to day level, a pagan ritual to me means that we create a sacred space and invite particular gods and goddesses to join us, make particular offerings to them, perform spellwork rooted in traditions of magick particular to our own tradition and so so with others who have been called to the same deities and who work with each other in very intimate fashion. With something like a UUA service, you have a bunch of people who are united only in their distaste for traditional doctrine. You have a disparate group of people each appealing to their own sources of divine.

    They generally do so in a very positive and encouraging atmosphere, but I think it has some inherent limits in the depth of experience and growth you are likely to have as a pagan over time. Add to that the fact that as pagans, you are usually a minority, and one that may be barely tolerated rather then welcomed, or may be welcome only contingent on which group holds power at any given time. With all respect to those who love their local congregations, I would caution against becoming too dependent upon them and do not neglect to create your own circles and groves and institutions. It’s fraught with hard work and disappointment, but you will find it will be well worth it in the long run.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I am moved, as a deeply committed Pagan and a deeply committed UU, to express limited agreement with Kenneth here. I have been modestly successful at composing UU Pagan liturgy for Sunday services that draws in the congregation and is moderately well received. But it doesn’t substitute for my coven. It’s my offering of Pagan resources to UUs who are interested.

    • Ursyl

      That is what we have done at ours. We circle at the various holy days, and do services on topics we are knowledgable about on a regular basis. Sundays are for the brain massage and sharing and learning. Rituals 8 times/year are for the spiritual depth we seek. Some of us also go to the rituals done by the local ADF Druid Grove as we are able too. More depth of a slightly different flavor.:-)

    • Morningdove3202

      Do you remember the joke about why UU’s sing so terribly? It’s because they are reading a line ahead to make sure they agree with the words. An excellent article in the UU world (don’t remember which one) used the joke to teach something very important…..paraphrasing, it said…. “We should sing every word, weather we agree or not, because someone there in that congregation needs to hear those words and we are not just there for ourselves.” And when I read that article that is the day I became a UU first and Pagan second.

      • Ursyl

        I like that! I shall endeavor to remember it.

    • BHG

      I think there’s actually a definite place for that sort of thing in Paganism as it stands now, though: to my experience, a lot of our more-established communities may gather around more-general but undoubtedly-Pagan gatherings and ceremonies, while having smaller groups and personal practices. Absent those bigger structures, there are a lot of isolated individuals, families, and small groups who mostly interact in the context of Internet debate and are very reticent to practice/celebrate with others: the UU can constitute quite a gathering place for those, though it’s not uncommon, apparently, for Pagans there to end up starting up a more-independently Pagan group from there.

      I think it’s OK, more than OK, for this process to happen: the UU can be both a point of community engagement for us, and actually a great resource for seekers who may be a little reticent about diving right in to Pagan worship. In some cases, it really makes a lot of sense for them to go there and sort out what they’re feeling and when they’re ready. (Sometimes seekers really are looking for that ‘rescue ship,’ that doesn’t mean that ‘rescue ships’ are places they have to *stay forever.* Especially if they’re leaving a Christian church with all those embedded expectations that the nature of religion is to want to convert people, sometimes they’re like, ‘Where do I sign up,’ or ‘how do I convert,’ while they’re still not even knowing what they’re getting into. There, sometimes it’s a good thing to offer the UU as a resource precisely so they *can* explore different viewpoints and be more sure of what they’re doing.

      And for those of us who are committed Pagans, in some areas, the UU can be a real point of community engagement.

  • Nyxynox

    I like the UU church as a concept but as someone who grew up “un-churched” (a term I learned there), I find the Christian format of their services really uncomfortable and strange. I like paganism, it is participatory. I have a hand in the ritual, even if it is just holding space and energy. Sitting in a pew, listening to a sermon (even though some of them were wonderful), singing hymns too weird for me. I don’t go anymore. I would like to find a “church” that I can raise my daughter in, where she can find a community of support and religious guidance. But as a BTW, that ain’t happening in my coven.

    • Morningdove3202

      That does seam to be a major downside to covens, few want anything to do with kids… another reason why I’m a UU, because it takes a village to raise a child.

  • Norse Alchemist

    The reason that membership is falling is not that great of a mystery. In fact, I would argue that it is blatantly obvious and in the title of the Church. Universalist Unitarian.

    Universally of Oneness.

    Yet, and this is especially true of the Pagan/Heathen religions growing in number, people no longer want One Path, One Way, or a Universal point of view. We are constantly bombarded with the call for diversity and pluralism (even if these calls end up only functioning as forms of further discrimination against certain points of view and function to create a new form of Oneness).

    The simple fact is that people are tired of being told, we’re all the same, and we’re all equal. Because life constantly shows us that such is not the case. Add into the fact that people are floating out there, lost, with no sense of identity as individuals or groups beyond vague ideas of gender or race or politics that are only used to divide people from their past or views that some feel are unacceptable, being pushed ever towards a more universal world where they are no different from anyone else, (except when they are in the “wrong” and thus are party to some “evil” to which they most likely have no part in setting up or perpetrating).

    I think people are getting tired of a “One World, One Way, One People” way of looking at things, and to my knowledge, that is at the heart of the UUA and most other forms of Christianity and Islam out there. People don’t want to be part of One Group. They want to be themselves, and enjoy the freedoms that come from forging their own paths.

    • http://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.joy.rose Elizabeth Rose

      I think it’s important to recognize our common humanity and common longing for connection with the greater “whole” – whether one finds that through religion, humanism or science – while respecting and celebrating our diversity. Which means we have to learn to tolerate and embrace each other. The problem with seeking ONLY divergence is that we risk returning to tribalism, which, mostly seems to perpetuate war and violence against the “other”, those not of OUR tribe. I’m not too crazy of what I’ve seen of that kind of trouble in the Pagan community. Too many people treat their “group” as their own personal fief. I think that’s potentially MORE hurtful than a Universalist view. It’s not saying that everyone else is bad – it is saying “perhaps we should find ways to respect and be decent to each other, whether or not we agree on all points of belief (or non-belief.)”

      • Norse Alchemist

        Elizabeth, I think what you see as trouble is what I see as something glorious. I am very pro-tribalism. The smaller the group of people, the tighter the connection. Individual, family, clan, tribe, ethinic group, and then on up.

        That longing for the “greater whole” to me is somewhat misguided. The “greater whole” does not care about me. One person is an individual, a million is a statistic.

        1/6,000,000,000? That’s not even worth noticing.

        But tribally? Clannishly? That’s when you can matter. That’s when people know you, care for you. An open door, a place at the table, and a horn of mead.

        So what if some people treat their little areas as their own personal fief? If those around them are alright with it, then I say it’s good. Because that means those people get to matter. Wanting to attach to the greater whole? That comes from the place of knowing somewhere in your mind that you really don’t matter in this world. So you want to attach to that something greater, feel that connection, and believe you’re worth while. But that “greater whole” is never going to notice. It can’t.

        As for the trouble of Tribalism, and the whole “fight the other,” this too is a positive thing. it is the nature of the world for conflict. It makes us grow, keeps us from being stagnant.

        As for accepting and respecting everyone, that’s all good in theory, but in practice? It’s acceptable for a man to beat his wife in Africa, but it wasn’t for my Norse Ancestors. It is acceptable for Europeans to eat pork or worship whatever gods we please, but not for Muslims. It is acceptable for Muslims to marry young girls, especially in their native lands, but not for those in the West. All of those are crimes punishable by prison or worse in the places where they are considered sins. Do we accept them? When we run into someone who acts so fundamentally counter to what we believe to be right and good, do we just accept it? And yes, I do realize that to us eating pork and being pagans seems “light,” but from the perspective of the Muslim, it is more evil to them than pedophilia is to us.

        So I ask, which is worse. The Tribe that stands strong in its beliefs, or the group that clings to the “Greater Whole” even when it means swallowing things that strike them as evil?

        • Cigfran

          Put that way, ‘tribal’ values sound like liberal ‘relativist’ values.

        • Anonymous

          Huh? You’re comparing the actions your supposed Norse ancestors with what you say are the actions of present day African men?

          • Norse Alchemist

            oh no, my ancestors have had their sins too. I’m not claiming my people were pure while others are not. And I didn’t say the Africans were pedophiles nor that they all beat their wives, only that it was acceptable to hit them. As for the pedophilia, that I said was practiced by Muslims, which it is a modern and recorded practice.

            The point wasn’t to make my people look good or them look bad. The point was to show that good and evil are subjective, and the instant you want to have a Universal coming together, you’re going to run into that problem. Remember, I mentioned that polytheism and eating pork were considered sins to Muslims as pedophilia is to us. In their eyes, we are more evil.

        • Morningdove3202

          …have you heard of “Universal Salvation”? That’s where UU get’s it’s Universalism from… the idea that everyone is saved, not “Universal Religion, one size fits all” for everyone…

        • Thinkaboutit

          “As for the trouble of Tribalism, and the whole “fight the other,” this too is a positive thing. it is the nature of the world for conflict. It makes us grow, keeps us from being stagnant. ”

          Little known fact. If you put all of the nuclear weapons in one spot and detonated them all at once you would create a crack that goes through the crust and into the mantle causing a chain reaction that would turn the planet into a band of asteroids.

          Think about that for a second. We have reached a level of advancement in our history where it is possible(at least in theory) to utterly and completely destroy the planet and all life on it. Not just all humans. Not just all life on earth. Everything.

          I think that the idea of conflict as a good thing is fine when a single person or a group of individuals can only impose a relatively small level of casualties. Alexander the Great or the Marquis de Sade can extol the virtues of war and combat all they want as they could cause the deaths of no more than half a million people(the total casualties of all of Alexander the Great’s wars totaled to less than 250,000 people).

          Nowadays one “Tribe” can cause tens of millions(in fact) or hundreds of millions(in theory) of people to die.

          If we go backwards it is only a matter of time before one “Tribe” gets angry with another “Tribe” and gets their hands on a nuke or super-ebola-flu-AIDS-TB and the rest, as they say, is history.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I don’t come anywhere near NA’s affection for tribal combat but I suspect it stems from something once useful. Before humans (and I use the term _very_ loosely) had elders or councils or the like, but just lived in anarchic bands, a band might get too many people to function properly or secure enough food. At that point a distaste for others not sharing some trivial characteristic (eg, manner of tying the hair) could usefully spit the band into two, each going its own way.

          • Thinkaboutit

            I am willing to concede that point. However, I think that(like many things in our history) it is outdated.

            My fate is bound up with yours, NA’s, and even people I don’t like such as Bob Larson and James Ray.

            The idea of universalism(to me) isn’t as much an ideal that we should strive for as much as a fact that we must live with whose consequences we must accept and work with.

            We are one if for no other reason than we can destroy each other.

            And that is why I think the UUs are valuable. They can be part of the solution to keep us from blowing ourselves to kingdom come.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Of course it’s outdated; so it a strong taste for sugar, salt and animal fat. But they’re still there.

            And it’s not Pagan to simply dismiss a core aspect of ourselves that’s no longer adaptive. (In fact, it’s Humanist to do so.) We need to respect these aspects just as we do sensitivity to the sacredness of nature and feminity in the Divine.

            UUism is indeed unique (or at least rare), not in proclaiming a universal community, but in setting no preconditions for inclusion.

    • Anonymous

      Norse Alchemist: “The simple fact is that people are tired of being told, we’re all the same, and we’re all equal.”

      Jean Jacques Rousseau: “I conceive that there are two kinds of inequality among the human species; one, which I call natural or physical, because it is established by nature, and consists in a difference of age, health, bodily strength, and the qualities of the mind or of the soul: and another, which may be called moral or political inequality, because it depends on a kind of convention, and is established, or at least authorised by the consent of men. This latter consists of the different privileges, which some men enjoy to the prejudice of others; such as that of being more rich, more honoured, more powerful or even in a position to exact obedience.”

    • Cigfran

      I think you’re projecting, and that the more significant reasons that the UU church seems to be failing are actually those to be found among those that have encountered it and whose comments are well-expressed here.

      For myself, as a practicing Pagan, I found the church both too generic and too Christian-flavored… in short, insufficiently ‘pagan’ as I understand the word in the context of my own worldview.

      I seriously doubt that it has much of anything to do with a perception of the UU church as some sort of stealth propagandist for the “One World Order.”

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Alchemist, the “Universal” in Universalism refers to a confidence that all souls will eventually be saved. It’s a verbal Christian fossil whose resonance in today’s UUism is found in the First Principle of the worth and dignity of every human person. The “Unitarian” in Unitarianism is another verbal Christian fossil, belief that God is Unitary, ie, that Jesus was a man, not a god. The names have hung on; it ideas have evolved.

      Doesn’t have a thing to do with making us all alike.

      • Norse Alchemist

        idk about that Baruch. Universally saved by a Unitary God, sounds pretty much like everyone’s the same to me. One path, one world, one god. I don’t see how that’s invalidated my point.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          I can only explain it to you. I can’t understand it for you.

        • Morningdove3202

          It means that God isn’t such a jerk to condemn anyone to hell. What’s that got to do with everyone being alike?

          • Norse Alchemist

            Because in my experience, to be forgiven by God, you have to follow his rules, and since he has only one set of rules, everyone must act the same way in the following of those rules, or they have failed to obey his word. Hence, everyone becomes alike, because there is only one way to act in life.

  • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com Vermillion

    To be honest most of the time when I hear or read about Unitarian-Universalism I think of UU of 8 from the webcomic Oh my Gods!

    I’ve never been to a UU church but something about the format of it has always seemed off to me. Not wrong or anything but just..off-kilter. I don’t know if that has to do with my revulsion of the word “church” however.

  • Dumoktheartist

    After reading some of the horror stories, I am kind of glad my congregation is as supportive as they are.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

      Ditto. I have been going to my local UU congregation in Indiana for about 1 1/2 years, and enjoy it very much. In fact, although I am Pagan, I feel more at home in the UU service than in the CUUPS Wheel of the Year celebrations. It is also important to me as a place to bring my children and my non-Pagan wife. Our minister is an atheist, but you would never know it from his sermons. Our pre-service meetings include a “4th Principle” (humanist/atheist) discussion group and a “Spirit Circle) for those looking for more “spirituality”. The two groups seem to co-exist well and people move back and forth between the groups fluidly. I know there are some bad congregations out there, but if you have had that experience, I encourage you to try another congregation.

      • Anonymous

        Well, while it is nice to know that there are some “good” U*U congregations here and there in the U*U World, the fact of the matter is that one cannot so easily “try another congregation” when one finds that the congregation they are attending has some serious flaws. Due to the fact that there are only about 1000 U*U congregations all told in the USA, and only just over 40 in Canada, all too often there is no other U*U “church” nearby to attend. In any case, isn’t it better to try and fix the problems that exist rather than “move on” and allow them to continue or even grow worse?

        • Tericay

          “In any case, isn’t it better to try and fix the problems that exist rather than “move on” and allow them to continue or even grow worse? ”

          As someone who opted to “stay and fix it” this is difficult, painful work. We had segregation: atheist services at 11am and Pagan ones at 4pm and no middle ground. Four years after overthrowing spiritually intolerant leadership and “retiring” the fellowshipped minister reinforcing it, our congregation is still struggling with the aftermath of a bloody civil war.

          Lifetime friendships ended, our membership and budget were nearly halved, at one point debate briefly broke out on the sanctuary floor, in front of our children during Joys and Concerns. Members who helped physically construct our church now refuse to set foot on the grounds.

          I’ve survived my term this year as President (I’m the third “rebel” President, and the second Pagan), but I’m a lot more cynical than I was 5 years ago when I started rocking the boat. “…better to try and fix the problems…?” Maybe, but I wouldn’t necessarily *recommend* it, it’s brutal work and not for the faint of heart.

          But on the flipside, I owe my life to a healthy UU congregation: they kept my heart alive when I was the victim of domestic violence and subsequent homelessness and other victimization. I’m so glad I was lucky enough to find them. I met my first Pagans there, who set my feet on the Path I follow today.

          This healthy congregation is what gave me the courage and strength to keep going when things got really tough. I knew atheists and pagans could worship together because I’d seen it done and I persisted until my vision became reality.

          So to those wishing for change, it CAN happen. But it won’t be easy, gird your loins and protect your heart.

          • Anonymous

            I did not suggest that it would be easy to stay and try to fix the problems, and I agree that it can be “brutal” as you put it, but if everyone just left when they ran into problems at U*U churches the problems would probably never be resolved. Thank you for your heartfelt testimony about how difficult it can be to be a fighter rather than a quitter. :-)

    • Ursyl

      Most definitely! We have a real gem in our town apparently! The Humanists are polite to the Pagans, who respect that other members have different beliefs, and anyone who is so inclined is welcome to present a Sunday service on the topic of their choice.

      Maybe that comes from being such a small group, with only a part time minister? We help and do our own, or there wouldn’t be any.

      • Anonymous

        :Maybe that comes from being such a small group, with only a part time minister?

        Not likely. I expect that many if not most of the U*U “churches” that are dominated by intolerant and bigoted “Humanist” U*Us are small groups, precisely because they are so intolerant of, and unwelcoming towards, theists of all kinds.

  • Ursyl

    I’ve been trying to figure out what was bothering me about that article, and maybe I have?

    I do not understand why they would be afraid of one reference to “God” in a song so much as to apologize for it. Does Mendes think the Humanists do not know that others believe in that Being? Does she think the Humanists can’t handle even one mention of such? How insulting!!

    I know in my discussions, and I have been the main speaker for a number of our Sunday services, I tend to use the term “deity,” but that is for clarity because I’m usually not limiting my reference to only the Abrahamic (the assumed concept when “God” is said in this country). That others say “God” certainly is not offensive, though it can muddy the conversation if they’re trying to make it a universal term, which it is not.

    In any case, I think that Mendes was really selling her fellow UU congregants short and insulting them.

    • http://notawiccan.blogspot.com Meganne

      I’m glad your congregation is more well-rounded and tolerant than the few I’ve been involved with, but my experience has been much in line with Mendes on this one. I did speaking for the congregation I was involved in talking about a “higher power,” and was informed by many people that my talk of deity offended others… Not the message, but the actual mention of a “higher power.” Not a specific god or gods, but a generic term specifically meant to include all. Specifically because the Humanists took offense to it. There are groups out there that can’t handle a single mention of the Divine within the UU.

      I’m not against Humanism by any means, but I am against the strangle-hold they have within some UU societies. I’d be the same way if the Pagans were alienating everyone in a UU group, too.

    • Anonymous

      ” Does she think the Humanists can’t handle even one mention of such? How insulting!!”

      Unfortunately a certain species of Humanist that I refer to as “fundamentalist atheist” Humanists are quite allergic to the ‘G’ word and other overtly religious/spiritual language. Be assured that it was not Laurel Mendes alone who “duly scrubbed” religious language “from the hymns in the congregation’s Sunday program”. . . If Mendes feared that a reference to God in “Once to Every Soul and Nation” might upset the humanists in the pews” it *might* be because Humanists in the pews of First Unitarian Church of Baltimore had already gotten “upset” about references to God and other religious language in the past. In light of the fact that religious language was in fact “duly scrubbed” from the hymn book this scenario seems quite likely. It certainly reflects what has happened in numerous other U*U churches where “God talk” and other religious language have been “duly scrubbed” from church services etc. to cater to the Humanists.

      • Tericay

        Indeed; in our congregation the word God was taped over in a popular hymn so newcomers “wouldn’t accidently sing the ‘wrong’ words. We have fixed that since our “revolution”.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I’ve been watching this thread with growing dismay. I was “present at the creation” of UU Paganism in the 1980s and heard plenty of stories of intolerant UU Humanists then and the congregations they dominated. I’m sad to see how little has changed in 25 years. We may have found the real secret of UU stagnation.

    • Anonymous

      There is no question in my mind that the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry of the “fundamentalist atheist” subset of “Humanist” U*Us (be it anti-pagan, anti-Christian, or otherwise anti-theistic) is a major contributing factor to the stagnation, and indeed very real decline. . . of the Unitarian Universalist religious community. I have repeatedly demanded that the UUA firmly and forthrightly address this issue head-on and they have repeatedly failed/refused to do so.

      • Anonymous

        One more thing. . .

        Speaking of how little has changed Baruch, you might (not) want to enter into a free and responsible search for the truth and meaning of these comparatively recent words of “Humanist” UUA President Rev. Peter Morales -

        “We live in dark times, times filled with hatred, injustice, prejudice, ignorance. Sadly, *obsolete religions* created for another time contribute to the darkness.”

        To be sure, Rev. Morales was talking primarily about the three Abrahamic religions but the very broad brush that he painted with could easily include most if not all pagan traditions.

        No?

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          IMHO, no.

          • Anonymous

            I think you may be misinterpreting my comment Baruch.

            Do you *really* believe that Rev. Peter Morales’ purely negative demonizing swipe at “obsolete religions created for another time” in no way included ancient pagan religions?

            How about this earlier assertion in his “stump speech” announcing his candidacy for UUA President?

            “The old religions lead to tribalism, violence, suspicion, hatred, and oppression.”

            Couldn’t possibly include old *pagan* religions could it?

            If you look into Rev. Peter Morales’ background I think that you will discover that he *was* a rather intolerant Humanist UU not so long ago. . . Whether or not he still is one is open to some question, but I do think that there *may* be a link between his election as UUA President and an apparent resurgence in, or at least continuation of, anti-Christian or more broadly anti-religious intolerance on the part of “Humanist” UUs.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Morales’ election pleased me because I liked his grow-your-congregation narrative better than Laura Hallmann’s. If he’s anti-Pagan I’ll hear about it from UU Pagans much closer than I to the UUA mechanisms, and so far I haven’t.

            Again, why do you care? Why aren’t you sharing your personal gnosis with the world like a true son of the UU Second Source?

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        “I have repeatedly demanded that the UUA [...] address this issue head-on”

        Sometimes I wonder why. I mean, you had what anyone in the world of unverified personal gnosis would accept as a genuine spiritual revelation, the very stuff of the UU First Source. Why have you not focused on bringing it to the world, rather than rehearsing your grievances with the UUA? It’s been a while; had you done so, by now Robin Edgar might be a name the UUA had no choice but to deal with.

        • Anonymous

          The fact of the matter Baruch is that I *have* brought much of what was revealed to me to thousands of people in one way or another, but I have some very good reasons for taking something of a “go slow” approach to that for now. That being said, I find it rather annoying when U*Us criticize me for airing my grievances with the UUA in the same breath that they criticize me for not doing more to publicize my little revelation. The last time I checked. . . Unitarian Universalists have allowed Rev. Ray Drennan and other U*Us to falsely and maliciously label Creation Day as a cult, and intolerantly and abusively label my revelatory religious experience as a “psychotic experience” and otherwise maliciously pathologize me, to say nothing of other things which compromise and damage my ability to successfully deliver whatever messages I might have to deliver. Are you and other U*Us incapable of understanding that clearing my name of such U*U defamation and slander is an important part of clearing the way to speak freely and openly about what I experienced?

          You know what they say Baruch -

          If you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem. . .

          Sadly, in light of some of your comments here Baruch, you are really seem to be part of the problem. Aren’t you just a tad ashamed that you and *thousands* of other complacent (and thus effectively complicit) U*Us have allowed the Unitarian Church of Montreal and the UUA to get away with “murder” in the form of character assassination for well over a decade now?

          Revelation IS sealed thanks to U*Us like you AFA*I*AC.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            You misunderstand me, Robin. I’ve never denied that you were badly treated. Nor do I criticize your protest at same. I’ve no problem with the idea that the UUA, a human institution, has flaws and may be obdurate in its flawedness.

            I merely wonder why, as someone with a message from God, you invest so much effort in trying to seek vindication within the UU world, when you could be concretizing that message in a classic UU Third Source institution that makes the average UU ashamed of how you were treated.

            In another post you gave me the link to an exchange of douments within a UU newsgroup. Where’s the link to the Eye of God Temple or whatever might arise from sharing your revelation with those thousands? As you say, it’s been “well over a decade now.” Where’s the fruit of your decade of effort?

  • Sundragon0330

    I was a member of a UU congregation until quite recently. I still have my CLF membership. What I and my Asatru fiance want to know is, why is it not ok for a theist (as my fiance is) to risk offending a UU humanist, but it’s ok for UU humanists to go out of their way to offend pagan UU theists? This is the experience we have had – the UUs going out of their way to protect the delicate sensibilities of the humanists while allowing them to run roughshod over the sensibilities of people who are theistic/believe in God or Gods.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      When I was a UU Humanist I was quite aware of the history of struggle when the Unitarian establishment was Christian and Humanism was the new kid on the block. Perhaps some UU Humanists are afraid that Pagan UUs and other UU theists are going to take it all back.

      It’s not OK, of course, for anyone to insult another’s theology. But it happens. Humanists get away with it because they’re the established (a)theology de facto. It’s a grimy situation.

      • Anonymous

        “It’s not OK, of course, for anyone to insult another’s theology.”

        You are badly mistaken Baruch. . .

        Need I remind you one more time that the UUA and MFC made an official ruling way back in the spring of 1996 to the effect that it is “within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership” for Unitarian Universalist ministers to “insult another’s theology”? I am not aware of the UUA and MFC ever overturning that official UUA ruling. Are you?

        • Anonymous
        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          You commit an interesting error of logic here, citing documents of an insitituion for which you clearly (and plausibly) have no respect as a rebuttal to my moral position that it’s not OK to insult another’s theology. Do you respect the moral authority of the UUA or not? If so, shut up. If not, don’t cite it as a moral source.

          • Anonymous

            ROTFLMU*UO!

            *You* make an interesting error of not recognizing sarcasm when it is positively dripping off the page. . .

            I was by no means rebutting your moral position that it’s not OK to insult another’s theology, I was sarcastically pointing out that the UUA and MFC both *immorally* and unethically believe that it is perfectly acceptable for U*U ministers to not only “insult another’s theology” but falsely and maliciously label another’s inter-religious event as a cult.

            Why do you suppose I said read it and *weep* Baruch?

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            True, I don’t generally mix sarcasm with moral discourse.

          • Anonymous

            In light of the well documented fact that the UUA and MFC have been standing on the side of immorality (to say nothing of intolerance and bigotry) for over 15 years now I think that a healthy dose of sarcasm was warranted. . .

          • http://www.facebook.com/dopollard David Pollard

            If you’re in Canada why would you be writing to the UUA? Canadian UU congregations were spun off from the UUA about a decade ago. Shouldn’t you be reporting the problem minister to the Canadian Unitarian Council?

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            David, iirc the UUA retained responsibility for provision and services to Canadian UU ministers in the Velvet Divorce.

          • Anonymous

            Baruch’s response to your question partially answers it David but there are other reasons why I am holding the UUA accountable for its failures. When I first reported the “problem minister” in question it was years before the “Velvet Divorce”. I filed a complaint with the Board of the Unitarian Church of Montreal and sent copies of the complaint to the Presidents of the UUA and CUC in the hopes that they would take steps to ensure a satisfactory response to my complaint since I had reasons to believe the Board would ignore it or arbitrarily dismiss it if there was no “oversight”. I have already spoken here about how *that* turned out. . . None-the-less, as Baruch rightly points out, even *today* if a Unitarian Universalist minister in Canada (most of whom are American imports in any case. . .) causes problems of one kind or another it is still the UUA’s department of ministry that they are *theoretically* answerable to. The CUC has no oversight over Canadian Unitarian ministers and apparently never did. . .

            For the record, the CUC President’s response to my complaint was to very diplomatically point out that, due to “congregational polity”, the CUC could not intervene in the matter. Not that they would have anyway, being thoroughly dominated by “Humanists”, but at least he ever so politely washed his hands of the problem.

            Notwithstanding all of the above, the UUA and MFC have a truly shameful track record of negligence and complicity in their responses to clergy misconduct complaints of all kinds, including clergy sexual misconduct complaints which seem to be the only kind they take half-ways seriously. I would thus be publicly criticizing the UUA and MFC even if they did not have authority over Canadian Unitarian ministers.

            As a little side note about UUA immorality. . . that “Velvet Divorce” that Baruch spoke about happened almost immediately after the UUA no longer needed the CUC to launder money from restricted charitable trusts so that the money found its way back to UUA coffers instead of the charitable trusts’ intended recepients. If you have trouble believing that I suggest read Rev. Charles Eddis’ “sermon” titled -

            CANADIAN UNITARIAN INDEPENDENCE: LOSS, RISK, AND OPPORTUNITY

            if you can find it that is. . .

            It seems to have been “memory holed”.

            You can read the pertinent parts of it in The Emerson Avenger blog posts titled -

            Did The CUC Collude With The UUA To Redirect Trust Funds Intended For Charitable Purposes Back To The UUA Coffers?

            and

            Just How Ethical Is This Questionable Manipulation Of Charitable Trusts Rev. Charles Eddis?

            Here is the most pertinent paragraph -

            Then in 1983 another fund appeared, the Liberal Religious Charitable Society. Because of restrictions in the bequest, the UUA could only spend this money outside of the United States. Accord number four was then worked out. The CUC agreed to pay all the money it raised, less $4,000, to the UUA. The UUA, in return, would give the CUC the same amount out of the restricted funds of the Liberal Religious Charitable Society.

    • Anonymous

      “why is it not ok for a theist (as my fiance is) to risk offending a UU humanist, but it’s ok for UU humanists to go out of their way to offend pagan UU theists?”

      Excellent question Sundragon0330. . .

      And your follow-up statement reflects the experience of numerous other people who have visited or joined many other U*U “churches”.

    • Ursyl

      I would say that it’s not okay for insult to be going in any direction. I don’t understand why the Humanists in any congregation would be needing “delicate sensibilities” to be protected either. Everyone had inherent worth and dignity, and all are to be helping all in their individual search for truth and meaning.

      Questions are fine, and expected even, and in answering the questions of one of our more outspoken atheist members, I’ve refined my own thoughts on what I believe. He even agreed with me!

      I guess if I were faced with such disrespect, I’d be asking them how their actions live up to those principles we’re supposed to ponder.

      • Anonymous

        “I guess if I were faced with such disrespect, I’d be asking them how their actions live up to those principles we’re supposed to ponder.”

        Been there. Done that.

        And more than fifteen years after the initial “disrespect” nothing has changed. . .

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.abbott Stephen Abbott

    A religion that is open to all and embraces every faith is a swell idea. But not to state the obvious or anything, but a “non-religion religion” that bans the mere mention of “God” or any mention of any religion other than a vague personal warmth inside oneself, but gets very vocal about a certain brand of politics and activism is just a political organization, and should not pretend to be otherwise, nor should it have tax-exempt status. Let it become a 529 or a 501(c)3 organization.

    Every UU congregation I’ve attended has been extremely hostile to organized religion or virtually any public religious expressions. There’s a psychosis among many UUers about religion even existing, and I suggest they get over that.

    That they’ve been sheltering to pagans and non-traditional Christians is great. But Pagans and liberal Christians should, by all rights, form organizations with their own clearly stated beliefs and polity. It’s more honest and will indeed be long-lasting.

    • Anonymous

      “Every UU congregation I’ve attended has been extremely hostile to organized religion or virtually any public religious expressions.”

      Unless of course they are U*U public religious expressions, often in the form of ersatz “civil disobedience”. . .

      • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.abbott Stephen Abbott

        Agreed. Though those expressions tend to be secular expressions devoid of all religious meaning. In other words, political.

        As I’ve been thinking about this further today, it dawns on me to state that UUism really is a Secular Humanist “Faith”. I’ve heard SH’s decry the idea that such exists, but come to think of it, that’s exactly what it is.

        I’d be interested in learning more about your revelation of which you spoke earlier in the thread. Is it on a website or blog?

        • Anonymous

          There was a website, but it went down in late 2006 or early 2007 and I have not reconstructed it.

          It has been preserved by The Internet Archive however -

          http://web.archive.org/web/20060302103303/http://revelationisnotsealed.homestead.com/

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Thanks for the link. Which did you go to the UU minister about, your Bibliomancy or your Eye of God insight? Or both?

          • Anonymous

            Actually he came to me. . . I had an exposition in my apartment that illustrated how the total solar eclipse “Eye of God” and other TSE symbolism had influenced ancient religious beliefs and practices. I almost certainly spoke about the “Bibliomancy” at some point, I certainly talked about the other unusual meaningful “coincidences” aka synchronicity that I had experienced.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            We’re going to have to keep replying to the same comment ’cause the thread ran out.

            I had a run of synchronicities after I became Pagan. It’s like, if you open yourself to weird shit, it happens.

            The tome I needed practically jumped off a bookstore shelf into my hands. Someone gave me a quote in the morning I needed for a talk that afternoon.

            What were yours like?

        • Christa Landon

          Secular Humanists have no interest in congregational life.

          About 47% of UUs are RELIGIOUS HUMANISTS, which means that they DO value congregational life and believe that the cultivation of the best of being a human being is served by participating in such a community.

          The two groups are mutually frustrated by one another.

          • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.abbott Stephen Abbott

            I don’t get the distinction. I found little religion going on in UU congregations, but a lot of religion-bashing. If that’s religious humanism, I was not aware of the label.

      • http://www.paganinstitute.org Christa Landon

        I wonder how many UU congregations you visited, because your description applies to only a few UUs in any UU congregation I’ve known. And I’ve attended UU congregations in CA, IL, IN, MA, OH, MI, MN, VA, WI and WY — and I probably forgot a few.

        I’ve been a practicing Pagan since 1970 and a practicing UU since 1984, and I can tell you that there are AT LEAST as many cranky Pagans as there are cranky UUs.

        FYI: UUs joke that Unitarian Universalism is a “barely organized religion.”

        UUs aren’t opposed to organized religion, or to religion, but rather to sectarianism: the belief that one’s own religion is the ONLY right one and that all others are to a greater or lesser extent compromised or demonic.

        UUs DO object to anyone imposing a creed on them. A creed is a formula defining ultimate Reality, created by a committee to be memorized by followers, and used as a test of heresy. I think it was Jefferson who opined that creeds make half of humankind liars and the rest fools.

        As far as I’ve been able to learn in my research, the CREED is a Christian invention, along with the heresy trial, neither of which would fit Pagan values, ancient or modern.

        UUs don’t need a creed because UUs are united in a covenant of shared purposes.

        • Robin Edgar

          Presumably your comment was intended for Stephen Abbot Christa but I will respond to some of it myself.

          You said -

          “UUs aren’t opposed to organized religion, or to religion, but rather to sectarianism: the belief that one’s own religion is the ONLY right one and that all others are to a greater or lesser extent compromised or demonic.”

          Tell that to UUA President Peter Morales and other *sectarian* U*U “religious professionals” who seem to be utterly convinced that Unitarian Universalism “is the ONLY right (religion)” and that all other “old religions” are “obsolete religions” that are to a greater or lesser extent compromised or demonic. . .

          I have already quoted from Rev. Peter Morales’ “stump speech” elsewhere in my comments here but allow me to repeat his words again and pull a few more quotes -

          “The old religions lead to tribalism, violence, suspicion, hatred, and oppression.”

          BTW It seems to me that Morales’ blanket swipe at “old religions” *could* include ancient pagan religions. No?

          “Today Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially the more conservative parts of them, have become what they first opposed: narrow, rigid and reactionary.”

          “This is us! This is us! We *can* be the religion for our time.”

          Emphasis mine but it reflects an emphasis that Rev. Morales used in his sermon cum stump speech.

          “We should be the religion for our time.”

          Nuff said regarding Rev. Peter Morales’ sect*arianism?

          God knows that numerous other U*U ministers present The U*U Movement as being superior to all other religions and often put down other religions in their efforts to booster The Tiny Declining Fringe Religion™*.

          * You can pretty much that UUA President Peter Morales for that “less than flattering”, but sadly quite truthful and accurate, description of Unitarian Universalism. I just capitalized the words and added the ™ symbol.

        • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.abbott Stephen Abbott

          Christa, I’m responding here, rather than at the other place you posted, as you requested.

          I’m delighted you’ve met with wonderful UUs in your faith journey. I have not had great experiences, nor have many others. Then again, some are seeking other things from a congregation – a refuge from “religion” or from rules, creeds or doctrines, or a secular humanist club where no Deity’s name may be uttered. And that’s great for them. They are free to do this, obviously.

          Sadly, I once believed it to be a faith in which ALL faiths were considered valid and celebrated as equal yearnings for universal Truth. My experience has been exactly the opposite. All religions have been shunned, ridiculed, and put down by pastors with great vigor and at times, nastiness.

          As for Pagans in the past, ancient Romans and Greeks (not to mention earlier civilizations) very much believed in performing ritual in the proper way – an orthopraxis of their rites, if you will (though obviously rites and even the perception of Gods and their attributes evolved over time, like all religions do) – and they believed in the reality of Gods and Goddesses who were immanently involved in their lives and were worthy of worship and devotion. Utter that last sentence from a UU pulpit sometime.

          While creeds and even “beliefs” (as in: statements about God/s that one must believe) are indeed typical of the Monotheistic faiths, and were not understood in the same way as today, they did rather uniformly approach Deities, and in their communities, together. To claim they were lawless, ritual-free folks who despised organized religion – as some claim – is a grossly inaccurate picture of Pagan life, especially in the immediate pre-Christian era. Organized is ALL ABOUT what they were when it came to approaching the Gods (though obviously not in churches on Sunday sitting in pews, reading long creeds that hair-split the definition of the Gods’ Nature and Substance.)

          That today we all find our own way to Faith is an obvious statement that I agree with wholeheartedly. But I find nothing wrong, and much RIGHT, with a group today forming and saying, “This is how we, as a group, have decided to worship the Norse Dieties” (or the Horned God and Goddess, or The Greek or Roman Gods, or some NEW conception of Deity) and if one likes those paths, one can be free to join! Or leave!

          The marketplace of ideas should be open and free and far more varied, but that doesn’t mean denominations or faith groups that have rules, established rites and a community based on common goals can NEVER exist because paganism must be atomized to the individual level. That would be silly. But that’s the DEMAND that UUism today makes on its members: that their only common goal is that there can be NO common beliefs, and that the only Truth is that there is no “Truth.”

          That model is clearly broken. When Pagans begin forming denominations that have clarity of belief, Paganism will have found more legitimacy and a great many – millions, perhaps – will flock to these new institutions.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      “That [UUs have] been sheltering to pagans and non-traditional Christians is great. But Pagans and liberal Christians should, by all rights, form organizations with their own clearly stated beliefs and polity. It’s more honest and will indeed be long-lasting.”

      I’ve often wondered what the institutional history of Paganism would have been if CUUPS had never existed. (Not hostile to CUUPS, just wonder about the alternative reality.)

      • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.abbott Stephen Abbott

        I’m a huge fan of alternate histories. lol I’m a bigger fan of alternate futures. Anything is possible in the future, and I hope some group gets proactive and creates Institutions (meaning: organizations. Not asylums!) for Theistic pagans.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          “I hope…”

          I thought Ar nDraiocht Fein/A Druid Fellowship more or less did that.

          • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.abbott Stephen Abbott

            For Druids, sure.

          • Cigfran

            Any such organization is necessarily going to be “for” the group of people whose practices it supports. So yes, “for Druids.” The point remains that it can and has been done.

    • Christa Landon

      I don’t know when or where you encountered UUs, but few UUs fit your description, maybe 5%. I can’t figure out how to cut and past my long reply, but I accidentally appended it to Baruch Dreamstalker’s comment on your post.

  • Anonymous

    :I had a run of synchronicities after I became Pagan. It’s like, if you open yourself to weird shit, it happens. . . The tome I needed practically jumped off a bookstore shelf into my hands. Someone gave me a quote in the morning I needed for a talk that afternoon. What were yours like?

    Interestingly enough *some* of my synchronicities were of the sort you mention here Baruch but those ones were at the low end of the scale. For example, at a certain point I was trying to find information about the Eye of God symbol on the Great Seal of the United States of America which is printed on the back of every U.S. one dollar bill. I wasn’t having much luck running searches in university library computers. I was walking down an aisle in Concordia University library when I passed a Joseph Campbell book which I believe was ‘The Power Of Myth’, I knew very little about Joseph Campbell at the time but the title caught my eye and I decided to have a look through the book. I took it off the shelf and opened it randomly. The very first pages that it opened to were all about the Eye of God symbol on the Great Seal. . .

    The most powerful synchronicities were somewhat intimidating and could be psychologically traumatizing to some people so, for now, I will keep them to myself. I *have* posted about them in the past so if you run a Google search for my name and synchronicity or synchronicities you may find those old posts.

    • Anonymous

      Just had an interesting little synchronicity that is pertinent to this post, or at least the comments on it, a minute or two ago.

      I was typing -

      anti-pagan intolerance

      into Google to see what popped up and, at the exact time that I was typing the word “intolerance”, a woman sitting about a dozen feet to my right said,

      “C’est l’intolerance.”

      as part of a conversation that she was having with a couple of other people.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Robin, all I get for that search, at least to the exent I’m willing to put in time on it, is about your disputes with the UU establishment. If you insist on going this Google route please give me a key word or two that will pull the wheat from the chaff.

      • Robin Edgar

        My apologies for inadvertently wasting your time Baruch. I ran some Google searches with keywords that should have found the old comments and nothing turned up. . . It seems that the ephemeral nature of the internet has come into play here.

        I know that *some* of the old posts that spoke in some detail of the most significant synchronicities were in the UU sections of Beliefnet. Unfortunately some years ago Beliefnet deleted huge swaths of those public forums claiming that they could not afford the servers to host them all at the time.

        Feel free to contact me privately if you want. My email address is provided in the comment form of The Emerson Avenger blog. If you want to retain anonymity post a comment in one of the TEA blog posts where I speak about synchronicity and I will respond to you there.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Robin, I appreciate your offer of various private routes to communication with you. They are all, however, in service to your reluctance to speak of your experiences with synchronicity on this board.

          I am confident that the Wild Hunt commenters have the psychological robustness to read of these things without trauma. Why not just answer my question in this space?

          • Robin Edgar

            It is not “this board” and its regular readers and commenters in particular that concern me Baruch. The fact of the matter is that *anyone* Googling my name and the terms synchronicity or synchronicities could be directed here and end up wishing they had not read about the more intimidating synchronicities. I expect that you are right in terms of the “regulars” here so, in that I was prepared to publicly respond to you in the comment sections of my own blog I guess it does not make a huge difference if I do it here.

            Here are two of the most significant synchronicities that make others pale in comparison -

            1: Some weeks following the initial mystical experience, which had been prompted by some unusual coincidences and was followed by something of an onslaught of synchronicity, I began to seriously contemplate approaching the Roman Catholic church about what was happening. One day I was in my front room of a third story apartment in deep contemplation about whether or not to approach the Roman Catholic church. I was kneeling (not in prayer) looking at some material that was pro-Catholic and anti-Catholic (Chick publication) trying to decide what was best. At a certain point I decided to leave the room and, when I stood up, I saw out of my front windows facing onto the street below that a police car was passing very slowly on the street below me with its flashers on. This was unusual since normally the car would be going quite fast with its flashers on so I walked up to the windows to see what was going on. It turned out that the police car was escorting a small “parade” of Roman Catholics, including some Knights of Columbus in their regalia and someone carrying a cross. I believe that this parade was related to Easter celebrations as this took place in April of 1992. So here I was in my room in deep contemplation as to whether or not I should tell the Roman Catholic about what I was experiencing and a small parade of Roman Catholics walked right past my apartment in that time frame. I should point out that if I had not gotten up at the moment that I did that I would be unaware of this “coincidence”. If I had stood up and left the room a few seconds earlier I would not have seen the police car and thus would not have seen the parade. Likewise if I had stood up a few minutes later the parade would have passed by unseen.

            2. A month or two down the road from this fairly spectacular synchronity there was another high end one. The experience had placed a lot of emphasis on the damage we were doing to the environment, including the hole in the ozone layer. I was standing on my porch which also fronted on the street and was looking straight down onto the sidewalk. A man in a blue tank-top walked by below me and he was very red from sunburn on his shoulders. I thought to myself -

            “We are going to fry ourselves.”

            At that exact moment a heard a very load roar of jets. It sounded like a whole squadron of fighter jets was racing towards my apartment. Because I was looking down I could not see what was causing this roar of jets so naturally I looked up to see what it was and it turned out to be a single B-52 bomber flying directly towards my apartment after having taken off from Dorval airport. This is an extremely unusual occurrence in Montreal. Almost unheard of, yet it happened at exactly the time that I was thinking,

            “We are going to fry ourselves.”

            in terms of the hole in the ozone layer. Needless to say the B-52 bomber presented another horrific method by which we can “fry ourselves.” I later contacted Dorval airport to confirm that a B-52 bomber had in fact taken off from it and was told that a B-52 bomber that had participated in the St. Hubert air show had indeed taken off that day. Not that I thought that I was hallucinating or anything, I knew that it was real, but I wanted to find out *why* a B-52 bomber had taken of from the airport and be able to prove that I was not hallucinating if necessary.

            The above synchronicity was probably the most intimidating and worrying one in terms of the “meaningfulness” of the “coincidence” but, by that time, I had become quite inured to such occurrences.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Robin, I feel constricted typing in such a small box. I’m going to move our conversation to a new comment thread.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    ATTN ROBIN

    A B-52 is indeed an impressive piece of flight technology. I had one pop over the horizon just west of me one day as I was stuck in interstate traffic, seemingly a mile wide, four feet off the ground and coming right at me. And it is indeed another way we can fry ourselves.

    I assume you did not take your presentation to the Catholic Church. Bibliomancy is an ancient form of divination (under different names) and afaik the Church is not big on individual divination. It, eg, believes the ouija board to be literally a tool of the Devil. Far from embracing your synchronicity with a Bible as a proof of Divine existence and omniscience, they might have regarded the whole thing as demonically inspired and your salvation in jeopardy if you pursued it. (And you thought the UUs gave you a hard time.)

    I don’t regard either of these synchronicities as threatening anyone’s mental equilibrium, though you may have more experience than I of susceptible people.

    Perhaps you should have regarded the negativity and hostility of that UU minister as another example of synchronicity — that it was not yet time to bring your message to a UU congregation from the inside, but to go outside the UU realm altogether (where you would not have to deal with a Humanist hierarchy) and create your own show. While Googling you I ran across a conservative UU website that wrote of the tragedy of Robin Edgar, to the effect that God doesn’t give revelations for no reason and your tragedy is your diversion into conflict with the UUA. I regard finding that as a syncrhonicity all my own — it confirms my opinion of what you should do.

    But it’s your show.

    • Robin Edgar

      “I assume you did not take your presentation to the Catholic Church.”

      You assume half-correctly. I did not do so immediately following the synchronicity mentioned, choosing to err on the side of caution. I did however approach the local Catholic church about a year later regarding the revelatory experience itself and my proposal for Creation Day. I actually got a much warmer welcome from the English language bishop of Montreal than I did from “Humanist” Montreal Unitarians. . . He was one of the few religious leaders to express concern for my personal well-being. The local RC diocese actually wrote a very positive report vis-a-vis Creation Day, which stated that it did not in any way go against Catholic doctrine. As I have said to U*Us before, modern *liberal* North American Roman Catholics are actually more genuine “religious liberals” than a whole lot of U*Us. . . I didn’t get very far in terms of requesting that the RC church investigate my revelatory experience however. I dealt with the Bishop’s assistant who was more conservative and he balked. He did not however verbally defecate all over me like Rev. Ray Drennan and other U*Us have done. He simply asked me if I wanted to be a saint and asserted that the only kind of religious experience the RC church investigated these days were those related to beatifying people.

      :I don’t regard either of these synchronicities as threatening anyone’s mental equilibrium, though you may have more experience than I of susceptible people.

      I didn’t speak of “mental equilibrium” but rather psychological trauma like fear and anxiety. The implications of these and other synchronicities, to say nothing of God’s divine omniscience, are not exactly pleasant. . .

      The self-described conservative pagan U*U Joel Monka is off base in more ways than one, as my comments on his rather tragic blog post should make clear. Indeed one has to wonder if Unitarian Universalists are complete frauds when they proclaim -

      “Revelation is not sealed!”

      but are only too happy to not only willfully ignore claimed revelatory religious experiences but freely allow intolerant and abusive “Humanist” U*Us to trample all over spiritual “pearls” that are offered up in good faith with complete impunity. . .

      My revelatory religious experience was very much of the prophetic variety and *this* prophet doesn’t take any “shit” from U*Us. Au contraire I will be disturbing U*U “shit” until U*Us clean up their act.

      • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.abbott Stephen Abbott

        This all begs the question: Why put up with their **** at all? Why bother with the UUers at all? Why not expound your beliefs independent of them, or, as I have said elsewhere, form your own group of theists who are open to revelation as legitimate? Surely there are many, many others like you in your area.