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How come there's not more UUs?

Discussion in 'Unitarian Universalism DIR' started by Thirza Fallen, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. Thirza Fallen

    Thirza Fallen Crazy Cat Lady

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    With as "universal" as this denomination is, I thought it would appeal to more people. How come there aren't a ton of them?
     
  2. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita Vedanta and Spiritualist and Pantheist
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    Maybe because they consider themselves 'spiritual but not religious'. That position requires no effort or declaration.
     
  3. fiat lux

    fiat lux Member

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    What is a Universalist Christian?
     
  4. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Lack of proselytization. Which translates into a lack of awareness that it even exists, then a lack of understanding of what it is, and therefore no consideration of it as a religious option.
     
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  5. wintersolstice

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    Yes, you would certainly think that with belief in universal human goodness and salvation, the denomination would be very attractive.

    However, the UUA encourages thinking, questioning and exploration, inviting members to participate in a process of discovery. That's not everyone's cup of tea. It sounds simple, but it's not easy.

    Many people prefer a more black and white world view with dogma, rules, and clarity often found in other faith traditions with more literal and concrete approaches.

    The UU process requires work! The results may be too time-consuming and utimately too ambiguous for some people to tolerate.
     
    #5 wintersolstice, Dec 30, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
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  6. Salek Atesh

    Salek Atesh Active Member

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    Maybe it's because of the fact it is so universal. I go to UU services upon occasion, but I don't identify as UU, because there are better, more specific terminology that I can use to define what I am. If I said I was Universalist it could mean almost anything, since the term can fit so many different viewpoints (including my own). Thus, people like me, who want as accurate of labels as possible will gravitate toward more specific, less universal labels, so that more information can be communicated via that label.
     
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  7. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    I agree with everyone here. I went to a UU service twice and the sermons were alright; but the purpose is to broad to where it doesn't seem like a Church rather than an gathering.

    I have a soft spot for the Catholic Church and I hold Nichiren Buddhist and Pagan(witchcraft beliefs and practices). I like the structure and community of the Church and how they view sacraments and importance of worship. SGI (Nichiren Buddhism) is similar to UU and doesn't have that strong tie; when I had practiced with Shoshu, they did. Paganism (non Wiccan) is similar depending on the person.

    If UU had a specific unique structure of its own and more detailed core beliefs even though it won't be universal in the sense people may disagree, at least people will be respected and treated by their own belief (sense of individuality among a group).

    It would be universal that they would accept all faiths... and at least they could have different sermons and more educational sermons of different faiths to incorporate all people.

    Also, because of the UU and Catholic Church split, the UU Church I was at talked ill about the Christianity.

    I like the goal; it's just too broad for me.
     
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  8. fiat lux

    fiat lux Member

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    @ Carlita; I like what you say and I like also your footnotes, could I add to them some words of D.H.Lawrence, quoted by Lama Anagarika Govinda in 'Psycho-cosmic Symbolism of the Buddhist Stupa':

    "It was a vast old religion greater than anything we know. More starkly and nakedly religious. There is no god, no conception of god. All is god, but it is not the pantheism we are accustomed to which expresses itself as 'God is everywhere, God is in everything'. In the oldest religion everything was alive, not supernaturally, but naturally alive. There were only deeper and deeper streams of life, vibrations of life more and more vast. So rocks were alive, but a mountain had a deeper, vaster life than a rock, and it was much harder for a man to bring his spirit or his energy into contact with the life of the mountain, as from a great standing well of life, than it was to come into contact with the rock, and he had to put forth a great religious effort.
    For the whole life effort of man was to get his life into contact with the elemental life of the cosmos, mountain-life, cloud-life, thunder-life air-life, sun-life. To come into immediate felt contact, and so to derive energy, power and a dark sort of joy. This effort into sheer naked contact, without an intermediary or mediator, is the root meaning of religion.".
     
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  9. Thirza Fallen

    Thirza Fallen Crazy Cat Lady

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    A Christian who sees validity in all religions, not just Christainity.
     
  10. fiat lux

    fiat lux Member

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    Is the prefix really necessary, wouldn't real Christian cover it? -- John 14:2 (KJV)
     
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  11. Thirza Fallen

    Thirza Fallen Crazy Cat Lady

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    Hmm, I like you!
     
  12. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    That is so beautiful and so true. Thank you for sharing this.

     
  13. StarryNightshade

    StarryNightshade Your favorite Heterodox Jew.
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    As one who used to identity as UU, I think I can offer an "insiders" perspective.

    1.) As @Quintessence said, there is absolutely no proselytization. Yes, there are booklets explaining what UU is, but there are no groups going around handing them out or "preaching the Gospel". As such, with little to no awareness, not many people know of the existence of UU.

    2.) To those who do know about it, it's reputation isn't exactly the best. It's often referred to as the "church with no beliefs" or a "spiritual junkyard". To an extent, that's not true. There are beliefs in UU (the 7 principles), but they are quite broad and sometimes slightly disorganized.

    3.) As opened minded as UU claims to be, it has it's fair share of close mindedness. If one is not an ultra-liberal, then they are often out of the circle of political discussion that goes on. Even as a center-left liberal, I often found myself not agreeing with a lot of what was being discussed. There is also an aura of anti-theism and anti-religionism that pervades through many congregations. Especially against Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. When I first began exploring Hinduism, I was told that it was a belief for "backwards" people who had no grounding in a "rational, scientific worldview".

    4.) UU is very racially homogenous. Mostly older, middle class white people. It's sadly very hard to find non-white church members. As such, with the essence of UU being that it draws from many of the world religions and traditions, people have often accused it of being culturally appropriative or racist.
     
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  14. wintersolstice

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    Very interesting observations! #4 particularly mirrors my experience, but I would add, in addition to "older, middle class white people," mostly suburbanites who are removed from the struggles of the inner city.
     
  15. Devananda

    Devananda unapologetically Black, unapologetically Catholic
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    As a multiracial individual, I agree with that point. It's disappointing that not more of us are attracted to a religion like Unitarian Universalism. As a Transcendentalist, I am HEAVILY mystical. (The Transcendentalists and their eclectic sense of spirituality were the principal reason behind the evolution of American Unitarianism from a Christian denomination to a theologically diverse religion in its own right.) Religion is not religion if it doesn't move the spirit. It's an empty form.
     
  16. applewuud

    applewuud Active Member

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    Theologically, a Universalist believes in the eventual salvation of all human beings, and that there is no such thing as eternal damnation: an infinite punishment for finite sins is illogical if God is good and just, as the Gospels say God is.

    This was revolutionary thinking in the 18th century, but now many Catholic, Episcopal, and other mainline denominations agree...another reason that Unitarian-Universalism isn't as big as it might be: many of its beliefs are shared by other denominations now, so it has less of a "unique selling proposition".
     
  17. wintersolstice

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    Good point!
    Your explanation of universalism is my understanding of the concept as well.
     
  18. Confucian Mormon Buddhist

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    Here's a few reasons.

    1) Unitarian Universalism isn't political in and of itself, but the people who practice it definitely have their own political culture (just as one would say that Mormons tend to be very conservative). What I've seen is lots of progressivism among UUs, and it's the main reason I don't go to UU church. I'd imagine it puts many other Right-wingers off too.

    2) The kind of person who wants to go to church in the first place is probably somebody who has a sect they identify with. If they're happy with not going to church as is, why would they get up to go to a UU church?

    3) I've only attended a single UU service and thought it was fine, but I'd imagine that the lack of a more organized, serious set of rules, ritual, and mythology would actually harm it. UU churches seem to be more like social clubs (heck, the members themselves said as much) for people who want to experiment with a variety of traditions. That's valuable, but it's just not going to give you the framework to be people's moral support in the way that more serious religions are.
     
  19. Frater Sisyphus

    Frater Sisyphus Contradiction, irrationality and disorder

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    I really like the idea of Utarian Universalism**, in a way it's kind of like this site as a whole. Lots of people from different religions coming together (generally) in mutual respect, often with the big chance to notice the connections between their seemingly separate beliefs - to embrace all their religions.
    I think it's a beautiful idea. Of course, I'd agree with the idea (that is actually supported by this site too!) that mutually-friendly discussion should be premised separately from heated debates.

    In other words, it's a great idea!


    **afterall, my own beliefs come from quite a few separate religions and philosophies
     
  20. Marcion

    Marcion Tantra-Yoga Universalist

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    I think the problem with Unitarian Universalism is that it's main motivation to start the movement was what it wanted to escape from (dogmatic sectarian ways of thinking). If you run away from all the negatives in a religion in a more rational way (I suppose it started out as a christan movement) that does not automatically make for a strong positive movement practice wise.

    Although the motivation was good, there was no spiritual genius in the centre of the movement who could combine the practical sides of spirituality with a rational universal outlook and concoct something both strong and universal.

    It is a bit like with New Age which suffers from a similar defect. It kind of knows what it does not want to be but lacks the knowledge to make something strong and really moving. They remain too diffuse and too intelectual and lack powerful spiritual practices.
     
    #20 Marcion, Aug 19, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
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