Today we went to a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. It should be called a church, because that's what it is, but we'll just call it a UU for simplicity. Now, I had always imagined a UU as being the kind of place where people of all religions come and worship together. They bang a gong and do some ooomms, followed by a singing of Amazing Grace and maybe an Islamic chant, followed by a self-help sermon that talks about how you can be a better person so you can make the world a better place. We went because our son is still very unsure about what he believes, but needs to be around more normal teens and we thought that since he isn't really very religious, a UU would be a kind of neutral ground.
What I was surprised to find was basically a Baptist church that had been scrubbed free of all mentions to any particular god. There was a gong, but for no discernible reason. No one explained what it was for, what it meant, and it seemed to more like a school bell to tell you class was now in session. The hymns, some of them familiar, had been re-written to remove any reference to god. The "sermon" was the reading of a quote from a more famous UU member, followed by a few words about the quote. Other than being vaguely uplifting, there was no substance to it. The pastor (or whatever you call her) had this weird spoken word type drone as she read the passages, as if this was some kind of performance art piece. I found it mostly unsettling.
There were a lot more older people than I expected. I mean, my experience living in the Bible Belt is that old people are often neurotic, fundamentalists who tell people they are going to hell and are intolerant of anything that didn't exist "back in their day". I know this is stereotypical, but this was (and is) all my relatives and how all the old people I grew up around were. But I am also aware that there are a bunch of old people out there that were liberal in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. People who weren't religious even back then, who were tolerant of other people, and fought for the right's of others and themselves. And those people have to be somewhere, right? So I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised to find a plethora of them at the local UU.
That said, I realized this about myself: I do not need empty ritual in my life.
Singing Christmas songs that have been scrubbed of all god references, seems stupid and pointless, not progressive and inclusive. I don't know how anyone got anything from that service, but it mostly felt like a waste an a good hour and a half. But we are doing this for our kid, right? My hope is that after a few weeks, he will be okay with us dropping him off rather than feeling the need for us to be in the same building while he is at youth group.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.