Category Archives: Christian faith

Overcoming cross cringe: UU Christians, speak

After writing the last post, I noted it on Twitter (I’m bitb) where Martin Kelley (martin_kelley) , a force behind QuakerQuaker picked it up.

To make the dialog short, I have an appeal for Unitarian Universalist Christians reading this. Please note in the comments how you have been affected by “anything but Christian” behavior, and (where appropriate) you have confronted it.

Also, I recall a good bit written about this when the UUCF began to reassert itself a few years ago. Does anyone recall which issues of the Good News had articles on the subject?

Quaker “cross cringe” — ah, sounds familiar

Unitarian Universalist Christians use a few terms — Christophobia, cross cringe and ABC (“anything but Christian”) — to describe the reception we get in unfriendly settings.

A posting today at QuakerQuaker shows that the problem — or perhaps a like problem — isn’t uniquely Unitarian Universalist. A shame that. Perhaps, too, an opportunity.

Liberal Quaker Problem” (QuakerQuaker)

Ascension: where Christ goes, we shall follow

Today is Ascension Day, one of my favorites in the church calendar and one the Universalists historically paid especial attention to.

It isn’t about Christ leaving (read: abandoning) us any more than self-satisfied jokers suggest that he was launched like a deep-space probe. Rather, it reflects a spiritual truth. As the bridge between God and humanity, Christ prepares the path for human beings to become more Godlike. More compassionate, creative and free, among other things. And neither is this sanctification the province of a precious and rare set. (I wonder if members of Holiness churches, with their belief in a instant and particular sanctification realize how false and self-righteous they sound. Bad for the Church’s mission and discouraging to the “unsanctified.” My word to them: stop talking about sanctification and start showing it.)

The sacred path is often depicted — in cards, magazine and other visual media — as a lonely stroll around a pond or along a beach, which in a more subtle way is just as selfish and particular as the Holiness member’s forceful self-affirmation. Consider today, instead, that the sacred path might be more thickly peopled than a marathon, and that its end might nothing less than the completion of God’s purposes on earth.

Other coverage of UUCF Revival?

I see that UUCF Executive Directory Ron Robinson has blogged about the UUCF’s Revival Conference in Tulsa.

But I can’t see that anyone else present has. (I don’t know who’s there.) Nor do I know of any so-called hashtags (for example, #uucfrevival09) used to identify photos, microblog posts (like those found on Twitter or Identi.ca) or more conventional blog posts.

Does anyone know of coverage of this event?

The lonely Christian

On Saturday, Hubby asked where we might go to church the next day. We settled on the farmer’s market — a bit of grim humor; in fact, we didn’t go — because the church options nearby are so unappealing, particularly when compared with the life and energy I see among those looking for organic greens and apples. To recap, we want a Christian church that is institutionally and spiritually healthy, has an identifiably historic liturgy and supports us as a gay couple to the highest level of its own polity. Good luck.

Yet despite our unchurched estate, I think we’re devout Christians, and from that faith make many small and large decisions. The odd or sad fact is that the lack of a church is less of an impediment that I thought it would be.

So it was quite a solace to know that this is hardly a twenty-first century phenomenon, or evidence of selfishness or some defect of loyal churchmanship. Consider this passage from no less a liberal Christian (and Unitarian fellow-traveler) than James Martineau, in his 1869 “The New Affinities of Faith: a Plea for Free Christian Union“:

Persons affected by these influences [of religious controversy] are ill at ease in their ecclesiastical home, and find their love for it tried by many an uncongenial word or usage. . . . They may very possibly have come to no conscious breach with their inherited orthodoxy, or at least have retained enough of it to save them from any direct transfer of allegiance. But it has ceased to be a religious essential, and has descended to the rank of personal opinion . . . .

Those who suffer from this over-legislation in matters of belief, may be divided into three different classes : —
1. Some have found the strain put upon their conscience intolerable, and become exiles from all religious association. They remain alone, and tell their deepest thought to none ; or gather into private knots, and whisper the secret of their divinest life as if it were a scandal or a sin. They are wanderers unattached, not from any churlish indifference to fellowship in spiritual things, but because they cannot have it without engagements which they dare not take.
2. Others hope for a reform from within their own church ; and, while labouring towards the hour of relief, endure as they best can what is repugnant to their convictions. . . .

Martineau’s experiment flourished for about a generation and was later absorbed into the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches — the Free Christian part of course — and wonder today what of its spirit speaks to us today.

Imagine your readers with Anglican case studies

I’ve been hearing quite a bit lately — in the various spheres of my life — about using case studies to guide a project. Imagine, say, you have a program at church and want to make sure it works for its participants. You might come up with case studies for a few archetypal participants, and imagine how they would benefit — or not — from the project. It would help identify missing stakeholders, or show that while the Gospel can be all things to all people your project cannot be. As you may guess from the title, I’m trying to identify my readers, so see how I might be better able to interact with them.

I first ran into this model in seminary, but one of the more accessible — in part because the text is online — is in the Church of England’s New Patterns for Worship. It is “designed to educate and train those who plan and lead worship” and uses four case studies, carried throughout the book’s examples. (p. x)

The direst example;

St Dodo’s is a church where worship is simply not one of the most important things the church does. It comes low on most people’s agenda, though there are occasional heated discussions at the PCC. The demands of
different factions and rival views in the church mean that the worship is very bitty, and there is a different kind of service each Sunday in the month, with very few people going every week. The vicar finds little time for preparation
and feels it is impossible to involve others in preparing or helping to lead because of the need to keep the balance between the different factions.

A resource to bookmark and download, at the bottom of this page.

The danger, humor of Christian culture

There’s a long-standing tension among the Christians within Unitarian Universalism over what is Christian: is culture enough? can one be reared Christian, and this upbringing be sufficient to hold and maintain the faith?

I think this belief in Christian culture — as a high call of character formation — is fading in part because it normalizes certain virtues (civic, middle-class and Western ones especially) and hallows them without a necessary distance for self-reflection.

But perhaps the more potent reason why Christian culture has lost its cachet is by what most people mean by “Christian culture.” On the one hand, there’s the pretty but remote Christian culture of soaring music, stonework, cloisters and long-dead patrons. On the other, there’s the democratic but — let’s face it — tacky order of Evangelical and Catholic kitsch, domesticity and respectability. And with a remarkable capacity for both grinning and condemning. The kind of things highlighted in the Stuff Christian Culture Likes blog.

I won’t have either, and won’t appeal to either to try to share and expand Christian fellowship. Unitarian Universalist Christians — and many others — would do well to make a clear alternative.

Harvard’s new hymnal facts

Chris Walton (Philocrites) brings to our attention the new hymnal Harvard University’s Memorial Church will dedicate tomorrow. This is that hymnal’s fourth edition; the third edition coming from 1964. Learning its lineage,  I made a quick Google search and uncovered the first and second editions dating to 1895 and 1907 respectively. These may be downloaded from Google Books if you so wish: first and second editions.

Of greater interest is the fact that at least two churches had authorized versions printed for their own use: First Congregational, New Bedford and First Parish in Weston. (The Weston hymnal, from Google Books.)

This latter church should be well known to my Unitarian Universalist Christian readers: it is the largest Christian church remaining within the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Interesting.