Sunday, March 25, 2018

"If I was going to go to a church, I would go to your church."

This is an anecdote I heard recently. It wasn't from a Unitarian, but from a progressive Christian:

"I was talking to my neighbour who's an atheist. And she said to me, 'I'm not religious, but you know what? If I was going to go to a church, I would go to your church.'"

This is the kind of thing that is said by Unitarians, and other religious progressives as a satisfying kind of story that enables us to say to ourselves, "see, we are on the right path, lot's of rational people really agree with us!" I've probably said something like that myself in the past.

The problem is that pesky "if".

That "if" has become louder and louder in my mind. Because if we really hear that "if" we would hear what the sentence really says, "If I was going to go to a church, I would go to your church... but I'm not. I never will and it's not something that interests me in the slightest. I vaguely approve of what you're doing, but it will always remain entirely irrelevant to my life."

I no longer see this as something that comforts me as a religious liberal. It will really be no use to be vaguely approved off by the majority of people as our communities die out because they attract no commitment or real interest. Meanwhile a minority of religious conservatives will be vaguely disapproved of my the majority, while remaining a dynamic force which a minority of people give their heart, soul, and lives to.

Which is better?

The need for liberals is not to get people to agree with us. They already do. The need for liberals is to give anyone a coherent reason to come to church. The need for liberals is to offer a genuine spiritual healing for the ills of the world. To be able to say what spiritual solutions we actually offer to the world's problems.

This requires us to shift from constantly talking about what makes us different from conservative religion to be able to say what makes us different from not being religious.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect this type of conversation is quite common, Stephen. Unitarianism has been keeping up with the liberal progress of our society around us for many generations but I agree that's not enough to attract many new people in. Yes there is a need for spiritual healing and solutions for society, but I would add, for individuals too, as we all need help ourselves as well as putting the world to rights. Dare we also suggest that Unitarianism could be "a dynamic force which a minority of people give their heart, soul, and lives to."

You make good points, but what are the answers? We (myself included) find it easier to talk about what the problems are, the harder part is agreeing on the solutions, and putting them into action. The movement must have tried many different experiments over the years, I hope we can learn from what hasn't worked for us.

Nick.

8:26 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home