Religious Community

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What I feel at this point in my life is the absence of a religious community in which I can share, with others having a similar theology to my own, the process of spiritual development.

As I mentioned in my introductory posting, Unitarian Universalism doesn't quite suit what I am looking for. UUism is a religion of seekers, where the process of seeking is more important than a common set of beliefs. I certainly respect that, and I think that a religious community should be open to seeking as part of its reason for existence, lest the religion become ossified by dogma. But by the same token, there is simply too broad a range of views within UUism, and this means a lack of the kind of focus that I would wish to have. I am not particularly interested in paganism or Buddhism, for example; they are fine religions for others, but they aren't what I seek from a church. Yet UU services often incorporate many religious traditions, including those that don't interest or inspire me.

What I want is something grounded in the Christian tradition, but which is more post-Christian than Christian. In terms of doctrine, it means rejecting the literal truth of the Bible, rejecting Trinitarian dogma, rejecting intercessionary prayer, and moving beyond a stale repetition of the traditional rituals of Christianity such as baptism. Instead, it looks towards communion with the Divine, using the Christian tradition as a starting point, not because it represents any kind of absolute truth, but because that is the tradition that we are most comfortable with and thus it provides us the easiest way to mediate our experiences of God. It means looking towards Jesus, not as a member of some Triune God whom we must worship, but as a human being in history who lived in a close relationship with God and who thus revealed something important about the divine life, and who inspired traditions that we still carry with us in our heart even if we reject the doctrines that arose around his life by later generations of followers.

What I seek is a kind of modern Unitarian Univeralism, not the intellectually-tinged "we believe in at most one God" of the modern American Unitarian Univeralist denomination, but rather a religion that believes in God which is a unity rather than a Trinity, and one that is Universalist in the sense of believing that no one religion has a monopoly on truth. It would be a religion that fully embraces a belief in God, and which does not reject intellectualism but which aspires to achieve at the same time a spiritual experience out of Sunday services, and which seeks to extend that spiritualism throughout our lives beyond the Sunday service.

Most importantly, what I miss is a commonality of purpose. While UU churches have a commonality of tolerance and a commonality of seeking, what I want is a commonality of faith, and UUism isn't about that. Oddly enough, many religious liberals, the John Shelby Spongs of the world, who might share my viewpoints remain within mainline denominations, and are apparently untroubled by the traditional language and rites, or the fact that these denominations contain conservative elements who have radically different theologies than their own. They perhaps seek to reform their own denominations, or maybe they don't mind the diversity of such radical proportion that exists within their denominations. But for me, none of it makes sense. So many denominations are aligned according to allegiances based factors that go beyond theological agreement. I would love to see a real reformation of modern religion, in which religious liberals from a whole variety of denominations reorganized themselves into a new, modern religious community, and left the religious conservatives to their own devices. Let them have their old Christian denominations; let others build a new one, based on a reformed understanding of God and a theology that reflects a new paradigm about God, Jesus, and the world. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem likely to happen. Which leaves me with the question of how I can satisfy my own spiritual cravings.

3 comments:

Freespirit said...

Hi,

I hope you don't mind that I am posting some of your assessments of UU to another group which is dedicated to UU growth/UU-style evangelism. (I'll make sure that a link to your blog is included.)

Thanks for sharing with us some of the particulars of your spiritual quest.

Ron Stevens

Mystical Seeker said...

Hi, of course I don't mind. Thank you for taking an interest in what I wrote.

CT said...

Hi,

Problem is that you don't want a church that adheres to the old dogma and excludes diversity of belief.

On the other hand you are looking for some uniformity of belief so you can explore a distinctly Christian set of beliefs.

The one given is that you will have to tolerate a significant variety of belief to be part of a faith community. Especially if you want one that encourages the search for meaning.

I've been searching for an online community supporting Spong's "Believers in Exile" but haven't found one yet.