Saturday, July 25, 2015

We need to be a faith

I am responding (admittedly probably too late - apologies for that) to the Unitarian conversations started by the Executive Committee on "Vision" following a Vision Day last year.

Of course this day (as these things always do) ended with a lot of words that are now being reflected upon. But I think the first phrase is in some ways the only thing that matters:

"We want to be... a faith that matters."

 In fact, I would say this is still too wordy. The challenge is that "we need to be a faith."

That's it, simply being a faith. If we're not engaged in the things of faith: prayer, God, soul, forgiveness, theology, then we're not really being a faith and everything else is just window-dressing.

But this leads me to another really important point. It it not the Executive Committee's job to nurture faith in Unitarianism. In fact it's not the Executive's job to do most of the things suggested in the Vision document. What we're talking about is cultural change which the Executive has almost zero influence over. I worry, once again that the Executive are promising more than they can possibly deliver. This is only setting the Executive up to be criticised by the rest of us, and encouraging the rest of us to be too passive in expecting "them" to do things for us.

The fact is we are now too small to be "a denomination" - we are still acting like we're the Methodists (and the Methodists are pretty small nowadays but still seventy times bigger than us). We are tiny and we just haven't got that into our institutional head yet. We can't expect "the denomination" to do anything. You have to do it or it won't get done. We need to really realise that there is a limit amount of vital life-saving work the General Assembly structures can do, and they need to concentrate on that and nothing else. We should support them and pray for them in that work.

Meanwhile, those of us who feel called to do so, should work for the spiritual, liturgical and theological renewal of Unitarianism. The grassroots needs bold experimenters and faithful mystics prepared to go deep and go out. That's where our salvation lies, God willing.


Blogger Ian said...

Why would you want to be a faith? Surely that is only an intermediate goal. You might want to be a faith because it makes it easier to do X. But to have that as the goal puts self-preservation above vision.

It's like a political party who's goal is to be elected. Sure being elected will end up being necessary, but there has to be a reason why you want to be elected, otherwise you're just power-hungry.

Or a job applicant who when asked 'why do you want this job', answers 'so I can be an employee'. It's not going to make you want to employ them, is it?

So what does Unitarianism want to do? What change in people's lives, or in society does it have a vision for. "We want to resource people to find vibrant and transforming spirituality." maybe "We want to give a loud religious voice for inclusion, tolerance and acceptance." perhaps. "Speak the truth of the Unity of God in a Trinitarian culture." even.

"We want to be a faith." Yeah, that's not going to go well.

11:46 pm  

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