Forecast for the Future

"Every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself. The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact that he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it's too late. 

Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not that far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."

- Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Friday, February 8, 2008

Week 5, Religion: Unitarianism Pt. 2, or Can You Really Trust a Unitarian?

You can't trust the Unitarians.

So where were we?

I had a wonderful ninety minute lunch yesterday with a friend who graciously offered to share her thoughts, feelings and experiences with me as a woman growing up Catholic in America today. Knowing admittedly only sketchy bits and pieces about her faith, I quizzed her on some relevant details, including Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Holy Week, as well as inquiring about more basic matters like the Eucharist, Sunday School, and what made or broke a Church service.

She talked a lot and I asked a lot of questions, mostly informational but some invasive, and it was pretty great. But when we got to the end, she turned to me and asked if I minded if she asked me a question: "What about you though? I know you're a Unitarian and all, but what do you believe in? Do you believe?"

This is it, really: what is it exactly that I do believe in? Where has my "Unitarian Faith" brought me? I come back to the jokes, which are not based on nothing; at best, I am in the "discussion phase" of my faith understanding, and at worst I have nothing to say. Growing up as a Unitarian Universalist has made me an open-minded person, but having never been asked to subscribe to a certain set of beliefs, I wonder at times what it would feel like to embrace or reject an understanding of the world handed down to me by people I trust most, my parents and priest.

In explaining myself to her, I clarified that while I do not believe that Jesus was a godly savior and I do not know whether or not I believe in God(s), I am also not an atheist. To me, atheism seems kind of pointless: why take effort to refute a concept that is no more refutable than it is provable? For this reason, I am also somewhat suspect of "avowed atheists", as I am not entirely certain what motivates someone to go out of their way to declare their non-recognition of a force they do not believe exists; beyond the sensibility of such efforts, the undercurrent of anger that often courses through these declarations surprises me. But then, this is probably the love-centered, non-confrontational Unitarian in me; maybe the non-committal middle road of "still searching" is in fact worst of all. Also, I haven't lived in a world where I might be burned at the stake for having non-conformist attitudes about faith, so what the fuck do I know about anything?

Is Unitarian Universalist a postmodern religion? Don't laugh. Modernity, as much as it strives for "the new", is the perfect religious domain: its obsessive quest to find the ultimate epistemological heartbeat falls exactly in line with the hopes and dreams of any prophet having eared the words of God. I'll even do you right and even type "religion" but it's still the same question. As a Unitarian, you are taught to accept any and all comers; love, passion, and fairness reign above drown-out shouts and book-thumping quasi-wizardry. It's not that you're told not to refute another woman or man's truth, but simply that you made to understand that you can't. Truths exist together on a four dimensional Tony Robbin plane. Who are we to say which is right or even happening right now?

What that leaves is a sea of love-leaves blowing around America looking for a home. We float down in upstate wherever and nest and make love and families and houses and touch but don't impact the lives of the people around us. Except for I guess Thomas Jefferson, TS Eliot, Emerson, Dickens, John Adams (shitty prez), Charles Darwin, Sylvia Plath, Buckminster Fuller, Rod Serling, Pete Seeger, Alexander Graham Bell, Christopher Reeve, NC Wyeth, PT Barnum, Paul Revere, Marys Wollstonecraft/Shelley, Coleridge, Horatio Alger, Ben Franklin, and of course, Tim Berners-Lee.

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1 comment:

E-BAD said...


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