It’s my day off after FUSE and I’m supposed to be working on the refresh the Inquirer website. (Which I promise I will do more on this evening.) But, I’ve spent an hour or more catching up on blog posts talking about the state of UU-ism (like this and this). And thinking that British Unitarianism is not like that. At least not for me.
I’m reading that in the States, atheist orthodoxyin UU congregations is stifling other people’s expressions of faith. As an atheist, I really really hope no one feels that I’m doing that here. Because that would be wrong and un-Unitarian.
I do think that it’s quite acceptable to have an entire service go by without mentioning God (or any euphemism for god and gods). I prefer to do so if I take the service myself. But it would be unacceptable to have an entire service go by without the opportunity to worship. I do not come to church to listen to a lecture.
But then, I also think that it’s perfectly acceptable to base a service on the Bible. In fact, I desperately need to get round to writing a service about the Good Samaritan. (Which I will probably do without mentioning God.)
One of my favourite recent services was taken by Sue Woolley on feminine aspects of the divine. Because I didn’t need to believe in a specific idea to be enlightened and inspired by it.
The congregation I belong to enjoy ‘intellectual’ sermons from time to time. But, they also enjoy storytelling sermons. And sermons from personal experience. And sermons about how to live better and more authentic lives. And (something I’m never sure of) sermons about Unitarian history. I judge their enjoyment, by the way, by the discussion of it over tea and coffee afterwards.
We have a settled minister who is good at creating worship. Of course he has the beliefs he has. For example, he is rooted in Christianity and inspired by Sufism and they shows in his services. This gives us depth and consistency. So when I get the pulpit filled on Sundays he is not there, I try and ask Unitarians who can offer other perspectives. They may not always be as popular with everyone, but I think it’s important to have breadth to complement the depth.
The great strength of Unitarian worship is its diversity. This is not because you can believe whatever you like as a Unitarian, and we need to cater to everyone in some kind of all you can eat spiritual buffet. It is because we are open to learning from a variety of sources. Which we will truly never do, unless we open ourselves to worship inspired by a variety of sources.