Friday, February 25, 2005


I had a fairly painful UU conversation yesterday. A friend was really struggling with the notion that Unitarian Universalism was a Christian religion. It was his contention that he would not be UU if it were explicitly identified as Christian (or perhaps even post-Christian if post-Christian did not mean non-Christian).

I don't consider myself a Christian or a theist. I have made that clear in this space before. But I don't feel the need to flee if folks are honest about our Christian heritage. I will admit that like my friend I would not have become a UU if it was explicitly identified as Christian at the time. But as members and especially as seminarians I think we have to get past that. By all means, we don't have to be Christians but we have to get past being reactionary about Christianity. (I would generally substitute atheists and Pagans for Christians too.)

Christian antisemitism was part of my friend's issue with our collective relationship with Christianity. We were both in a class studying the gospel of Matthew and the topic of Christian supercessionism (an attempt by many Christians to distance Christianity from its Jewish roots and to treat Christianity as the new and improved replacment for Judaism).

UU seminarians generally agree that Christian supercessionism is a bad thing. The question I have been trying to explore is the extent to which people like me tend to do the same thing to Christianity, with a new sort of "logical positivist" supercessionism. (My first choices were humanist, rationalist or atheist supercessionism. But I think "logical positivism" is closer to the point)
To what extent does the critique of supecessionism apply?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Lenten snark vigil

This blogging thing is new to me. Far too often I decide that what sounds like a good post to me does not have a tone that I want to communicate.

I have been really enjoying the posts on Lent and Ash Wednesday on Boy in the Bands and Peacebang.

I also particularly enjoyed the last two entries on The ChaliceBlog concerning liberal christianity and fundraising.

All these posts make some good points that I agree with. I consider these three blogs the most entertaining UU blogs I read. I am especially drawn to the snarkishness of these three writers. For the time being however, I think I am trying to give up snark for Lent. I came to this a few days late, after I posed the lyrics to Phil Ochs' Love Me, I'm a LIberal on DailyKos

I love reading Scott, CC and Peacebang. But sometimes I ask myself (particularly when I start composing a snarkish post or comment), I bet Reverend Phil could raise the same point without anyone feeling attacked. I know I am not that good. Chris from Philocrites, Sean from Ministrare, and Major Greg seem to do a better job of this than I do. On Coffeehour, Chalice Chick says she "goes back and forth on Rebecca Parker" but I find her another person who is good at this.

I aspire to be more like Rebecca and more like Reverend Phil. They seem to have the ability to address the divisions and problems in UU history, culture and theology wihtout going out of their way to rub anyone's noses in it. Maybe this is just my junior seminarian attempt to behave "more ministerial" but I think this is important. If we are to be more than the Lowest Common Denomination (In a more snarkish moment I gave serious thought to renaming this blog Lowest Common Denomination) we need to move beyonnd muttering tolerance and towards the power of inclusion and affirmation.

I'm an atheist from an unchurched background. I am comfortable exloring Christianity the way some other UUs approach Buddhism. I read Paul Tilich's Systematic Theology last year. The structuralist part of me thinks that UUs need a systematic theology that can tie us all together (and build a land where we bind up the broken). I think Tillich's latent and manifest church, and some of his doctrine of the spirit might provide a starting point for a "legitimate" Christian theology that makes sense of contemporary Unitarian Universalism. I understand why the Christian heritage (some would say baggage) of this idea is troublesome to some of us. I also fully understand why most of us would really question the need for anything this formal as well as the implications of any kind of "legitimacy" (Ooh air quotes or what I call "virtuation marks" twice in one paragraph).

More than any quick elevator speech that we can pitch to outsiders, I think we need a complicated story that expalins how we all belong together. And we need our RE and our sermons (or messages if you like) to develop and strengthen this story until it is internalized.

(If this post is unbearable sanctimonious I apologize. Perhaps it is a side effect of studying the Puritans for UU History this week.)

Friday, February 11, 2005

Dave Chappelle's mom

Was I the last person to find this out? Dave Chappelle (the star of the Chappelle Show on Comedy Central) is the son of Yvonne Seon, the first African American woman to be fellowshipped as a UU Minister?

Here is what he says about it here:

I read in your bio that you're the son of a Unitarian minister. Did that play into your getting into stand-up at all?
I don't know about that. I don't think so. Both of my parents are really smart people, and that influenced me, but I don't think the Unitarian thing did at all. That's a pretty laid back religion, the Unitarian thing.

It's not quite fire and brimstone.
Yeah, you don't feel like you're a preacher's son or anything. And when I started doing stand-up, my mom was really, really supportive.

Did they ever have a problem with your material?

Because she's your mom.
Yeah, exactly. "You're hitting that 'pussy' word a little hard."

"Hey, Dave, maybe one 'pussy' is enough."
Yeah, yeah! Exactly.