What a Great UU Church Could Be
Scott Wells over at Boy in the Bands started a lively conversation about whether authentic Universalist and Unitarian beliefs no longer have a home within the UUA. In the course of that conversation, visitor Kim asked what it is that UU Christians want in a UU church, considering that (in her experience) many UU churches don't like to talk about theology. It's a great question that I tried to answer over there, but I'm not sure if Scott's blog host accepted my post, and in any event I think it also deserves its own stand-alone thread. Here's my answer again, slightly edited.
Here's my idea of the ideal UU church, at least, "ideal" from this one humble seeker's point of view. Churches like these once were common, and there are still a precious few of them around. In a perfect world I'd like to see the UUA work much more aggressively to support, promote and plant more of them:
A church that promotes theological discussion and preaches theology from the pulpit, rather than avoiding it.
A church where “worship” is routinely used as a transitive verb, rather than only as a noun.
A church that embraces many different apprehensions of “God”, rather than avoiding or denying the concept.
A church where not only is the word “God” as easily spoken as “human”, but also “Jesus” as easily as “God”, “Christ” as easily as “Jesus”, and “Tao” and “Buddha” and “Brahman” and “Mother Earth” as easily as (but no more easily than) “Christ”.
A church that cherishes and uses the Bible as its first source of moral and spiritual insight, rather than neglecting or disparaging it.
A church that not only discusses theology in the abstract, but also affirms “Channing” Unitarianism and/or “Ballou” Universalism at its own foundational theological identity, and uses them as a home base for broader spiritual exploration, rather than avoiding them as anachronistic oddities.
A church that refuses to search for spiritual truths either only within the Christian tradition, or only beyond the Christian tradition, but accepts truths from all other sources as accretive and supplemental to its Christian heritage, rather than superior and contradictory.
A church that employs both reason and tradition as a test of validity for all new spiritual truths and insights, and employs them rigorously and equitably, rather than raising vague ideals of community and inclusiveness above those of reason and tradition, or holding Christianity alone among spiritual paths to a uniquely demanding, nearly impossible probative standard.
A church that is not afraid to see the “Humanist” worldview first pronounced in the 1930s as a half-true, half-false heresy, at odds with itself, rather than as an inviolable bedrock doctrine: half-true in its affirmation of human worth, but half-false in its bitter, categorical denial of all prior human apprehensions of the Holy throughout the entire course of human experience.