Saturday, February 28, 2015

True religion is where the rubber hits the road

Peter Morales wrote in the Fall, 2014 issue of UU World, "Religion, I have long believed, is much more about what we love than about what we think. The central religious task is to change hearts, not just opinions."

Religion is much more about what we do than what we love. Love is as love does. As Dr. Laura has said, "Feeling good, and doing good can be two different things." The key to success will be bringing Unitarian Universalist values (principles) into alignment with practices. Currently, there are huge gaps in values and practices and let's not forget that authentic religion is experienced where the rubber hits the road.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Akilter - How you feeling?

What did the chickpea say when she had a stomach ache?

I falafel!

The off center cross symbol of Universalism

Until I read Richard Trudeau's book Universalism 101 I had not known about the off center cross symbol of Universalism. The symbol was adopted by the Massachusetts Universalist Convention in 1947.

After the merger of Unitarianism and Universalism in 1961 animosity has developed in Unitarian Universalism toward the cross symbol of Christianity. This is unfortunate because so many UUs have a Christian experience as part of their religious and spiritual formation. As Rev. Trudeau points out in his book Universalism 101, "Most UUs who disown a Christian background do so because they don't know how to separate Christianity's toxic components from the elements  that could still nourish them." p.16

As I have matured I have come to understand that most so called Christians do not understand Jesus's message and teachings and they certainly don't apply them in their lives. The sign of the cross is not a symbol of expiation, suffering, torture and death, but rather the opposite, a symbol of triumph, transcendence, patient compassion, and the resurrection of the spirit with the eschewing of the body.

The Universalist symbol acknowledges the importance of Christian teachings while leaving plenty of room for other traditions and sources as well, that's why the cross is off center, to make room for other paths.

Having learned of the off center cross symbol I have come to love it more than the flaming chalice. For someone with my background as a former Roman Catholic it respects and supports my positive religious experience with Catholicism while leaving plenty of room for other experiences as well. The flaming chalice is a wonderful symbol as well indicating the divine spark in each one of us and the whole world. Perhaps I can have both. Why do I have to choose? Could I put the flaming chalice within the circle with the off center cross?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tolerance for pain may be high but it is not without limit

What is the purpose of life?

According to the Dali Lama the purpose of life is happiness.

What will make me happy?

Ultimately, according to A Course In Miracles, what will make, you, me, and everybody happy is the acceptance of the Atonement. The Course points out that our tolerance for pain is very high, but short of death, it is not without limit. In crisis, if not before, we recognize that there must be a better way. We recognize as they say in the first step of Alcoholic Anonymous that our life is unmanageable. We have defiled our soul and that things need to be repaired and protected. It is written in the Course that whenever we are anxious something is wrong. You have been deceived.

How do I get back on the right track?

That's what religion and philosophy is for to help you find your way back to the right track. There are may roads to the Atonement. Which is best for you depends on many things. For the spiritually mature, Unitarian Universalism may be a way because it is open to the teachings of the six sources. Unitarian Universalists covenant together to affirm and promote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. The authentic search is within and the recognition that we are one with everything which is what the Course calls the Atonement.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How's lent going?

How is lent going? It's been a week, right?

Yes, Lent started last Wednesday which is a week ago today. It's on my mind every day, but I can't say that I've come up with a good way to celebrate it every day. I think of the interdependent web and how I can enhance it and I do do many things like feed the feral cats that live under my barn. They seem to appreciate it because they come running when I put the food and water out, but I notice one is pregnant again and I am left wondering if I am helping or just enabling a bad situation.

Feeding the cats is silly isn't it? Hardly what one might consider a spiritual practice, but then again I gave twenty bucks a piece to two college students who spent 15 minutes helping me get my car unstuck from the snow. They tried to beg off saying "you don't have to give us anything" but when I insisted they took it without any further resistance. I was a college student once, and twenty bucks might go a long way for these two good Samaritans.

I suppose there are other things too if I were pressed that I have done over the week, but I would do them anyway Lent or not.

Any way it continues to be on mind. I am mindful which is all the rage now.

What's going on for you?

Monday, February 23, 2015

I, as damaged goods, being a former Roman Catholic, have found a home in Unitarian Universalism

Rev. Richard Trudeau in his book Universalism 101 describes how he dealt with this anger at his former church when he converted to Unitarian Universalism. He describes how he divided the psychological legacy of his former church into four piles:

1. The stuff that was toxic.
2. The stuff that was silly.
3. The stuff that made sense.
4. The stuff that didn't make sense but felt good.

As a former Roman Catholic, I was taught a lot of stuff that was toxic then and is toxic still. Pope Francis seems to be on the right track trying to fix some of this stuff, but I am sure he will not get it all done. The biggest things that are toxic is the church's stance on the sexual aspect of the human body especially reproductive health, and the church's patriarchial and misogynistic beliefs and practices.

Second there is a lot of stuff that is just silly like the virgin birth and Mary's bodily assumption into heaven.

Third, there is a lot that makes sense the foremost being that God is love and that the way to the kingdom is, as Jesus taught, "to love as I have loved."

Fourth, I do like the sacraments and liturgy. I miss that in Unitarian Universalism. Some of the ceremonies and  rituals are very moving, comforting, and uplifting. The Catholics know how to worship when they do it right. I miss communion at every service.

So, I want to thank Rev. Trudean. His four part sorting mechanism is helpful. It helps me separate the grain from the chaf. Rev. Trudeau writes, "...I have come to think that our congregations should be not so much 'decontamination chambers' where people wash away their former religions, but rather workshops where they confront them." p. 7

I think our UU congregations have to be far more than toxic waste dumps for people recovering from religious abuse;  they need to be a place to facilitate the process of recovery and spiritual growth. Our congregations need to be strength based and not focused on deficits and problems.

I call myself a Roman Catholic Unitarian Universalist and not a Unitarian Universalist Roman Catholic. The first works well because the UUs gladly welcome me, while the RCs would consider me a heretic and excommunicate me. I, as damaged goods, have found a loving and welcoming home as have many others. Praise be to God!