One month into 2011, what question(s) are you living? Are there any prompts/questions that arose during #reverb10 that are still resonating in your life? Are you living new questions?
December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris
I moved across country, is it any surprise this is the question I would be dealing with?
I went to church my first Sunday in New York. The Unitarian Universalist community was a huge part of my life from about 14-21. From 21-25, I've probably been to church maybe four times. It's not because I became disenchanted, or began questioning my religion or anything like that. Unitarian Universalism is a religion largely about questioning and with very little creed. I did get a little burned out after spending close to six years spending a large amount of my energy on organizing and being a leader in district youth conferences but that also wasn't really it. The truth is, the UU church just doesn't provide a very good container for young adults. There are youth conferences and there is church service which often tends to be more family oriented or geared towards answering different questions than twenty somethings have.
So why did I go to church?
Community. Familiarity. To sit in a room full of people with similar beliefs to mine. To stand and thumb through the hymnal to a familiar song. To repeat the familiar affirmation "Love is the doctrine of this church, the quest for truth its sacrament and service it's prayer". I chickened out and didn't actually go to coffee hour, but I spoke with both the minister and the student minister (who had delivered the sermon that morning) and found out they had a young adult group and though there are many UU churches in New York, that one seemed like a pretty good fit for me.
For me, church has always been about community, not God or prayer* or any of that other stuff I frankly don't really understand because while there are many things I have faith in, a high power is not one of them. I don't think this a particularly uncommon view in a religion where Humanism is often found more acceptable to talk about than JudeoChristian beliefs. In fact, the only part of the bible I've regularly heard quoted from UU ministers is "to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God," and trust me, we don't use the G word a lot, but we do talk about social justice, how to live your values in your every day life and be an active member of your community a lot.
Yes, there are a lot of negative things about organized religion I could throw in here. On the liberal side of the aisle we are really good at equating religion with teaching hatred and ignorance and I'm not denying that it can be (and is) used for that. We get distracted by those who are self righteous about their faith and don't notice those who are quietly helping those in need with humility. Most importantly I think we forget that churches of any faith are places where people come together and share their joys and sorrows, give each other a helping hand and a girl from 2,000 miles away can feel welcome.
* I'm with Susan B. Anthony on this one "I pray every single second of my life; not on my knees but with my work. My prayer is to lift women to equality with man. Work and worship are one with me. I cannot imagine a God of the universe made happy by my getting down on my knees and calling him 'great'."