Monday, March 27, 2006

Converted by myself

"It is very curious to observe the unpracticality of all sermons... by [Unitarians]... when they undertake any practical subject... somehow they don't get at it. You feel that you have heard or read a very clever and entertaining paper, embodying a good deal of clear and deep thought, and you ask 'What shall I do?', and pause for a reply, and pause in vain."

George Templeton Strong, 1858

As true now as it was then, I fear.

I'm in Stoke-on-Trent tonight, staying with my parents. They're moving house in a few weeks so I'm here to pack up some of my stuff so they have less to do. I've been going through some old stuff and have found a book of religious writing of mine. There are no dates, but I estimate the contents were written from when I was about 17 to when I was 20 or 21. That covers the period that I became a Unitarian. I found the above quote in the writings, but have no evidence or recollection of where I got it from.

Tonight I have found myself converted by myself. I've been reading the firery and passionate stuff I wrote when I was searching and when I was just coming to Unitarianism. From the beginning I had many complaints about the Unitarian faith not reaching its potential. I was never starry-eyed about a perfect Unitarian community. Yet I was passionate that there was a Unitarian gospel to proclaim, and that it was worth doing. Actually I'm suprised at how much of what I have written and said recently I was already saying a few years ago. I'm convinced that my most creative and productive time religiously was as a teenager, and that the rest of my life will be simply expanding upon the doctrines that I worked out then.

I don't want to lose touch with the 19-year-old me. I need him. It is a big fear of mine that as I become a minister I will get so bogged down in the day to day stuff that I will forget this purpose and mission I felt (and feel right now) as an idealistic teenager and twentysomething. I need to keep this energy up somehow. I need to always remember the reason I came to this faith in the first place. I need to love this faith, trust in the divine, be true to my calling and keep reading the stuff I wrote when I was younger.

Conversion is essential. One of the people who can convert me is my teenager self.

God bless.


Blogger UU-Mom said...

I hope you don't mind a comment from a life-long U-to-UU who is active in growth and activism.

It sounds like you have good goals and ideals. How many times have you been to General Assembly? I'm sorry your own congregation is making you discouraged. There are so many more and you see a lot of the best at GA. Keep in touch with UUSC by joining UUSC-hot or whatever it's called - they have an email list and an rss feed for action alerts and news. The UUWO also keeps us informed about UU action.

My own church is growing - we're just getting back to our 1970's number, but we hope to excede our past membership height and we have a new young minister who I think will get us there. Take a peak at what we're doing.

Good luck in your pursuits! I hope I see you at GA.

12:56 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please be careful!

You belong to a movement that is frequently described as narcissistic.

Therefore, consider how others may read statements like the header to this post.

You believe you've done your best theological work already. Please see my comment above.

There's still plenty to come, I would imagine. It is only good, if it stands up after plenty of reflection after much testing.

Meeting and falling in love with your life partner, marriage, birth of a child, death of a loved one, personal illness, tragedy, sudden misfortune, encounter with another tradition.......

3:19 pm  
Blogger LaReinaCobre said...

I believe it's always good to remember what we used to dream of and desire in life. It's not that we necessarily wanted better things for ourselves when we were younger, but it's good to take stock. There are so many distractions.

8:57 am  
Blogger PeaceBang said...

Apologies to UU Mom, but I couldn't disagree more that you see "a lot of the best" at General Assembly.
Thanks for the post. To regard our own conscience as a source of religious authority is a hallmark of classical Unitarianism. Of course we're described as narcissistic -- we ARE narcissistic! -- but that's because we're infected by the spiritual disease of narcissism and not the fault of our honored heritage. As you know, one can be "converted by myself" and not do it in a self-indulgent, undisciplined manner. Press on!

2:20 am  

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