Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I'm Thinking of Becoming a Unitarian

When I participated in an "Anti-Torture Caravan" with the magnificent Matthew Behrens, (who would have thought that such a thing was ever necessary?) I was struck at how almost every place we stopped was a church.  The spaces set aside for people to collectively participate in larger, non-commercial initiatives were generally churches.

What is "public space"? Where can you go to meet with others and not have the owner, or some agent of the owner, evict you for any reason whatsoever or no reason at all? Where can people without means congregate; socialize, without being told to "move along"? Public libraries have become islands for the marginalized, but they're also places for quiet study and contemplation. (Or they're supposed to be.)

Union halls can be places where people congregate for purposes other than commerce. But entrance there is a product of employment. Churches seemed to be places where people from within the atomized, capitalist-consumerist "communities" can gather to celebrate unspecified collective values, such as "human rights," "environmentalism," "peace," etc., About the only ones that come quickly to mind anyway.

Now, I have nothing against religious people in general. I don't think religious faith is a sign of stupidity. But being an atheist, I couldn't see how I could participate in such a community. I thought about organizing local leftists to construct alternative spaces, but the activist community is generally full of obnoxious types; ego-maniacs (such as myself) and intolerant types who refuse to have anything to do with someone who disagrees with one important aspect of their gamut of opinions.

So it turns out that the Unitarians welcome atheists. Nobody is supposed to preach about their own hobby-horses, or deride the beliefs of others. I can deal with that. I have no intention of preaching non-belief to anyone. (I do support the right, as well as the importance, of atheist spokespeople like Richard Dawkins to argue against religious delusion. I think "belief" in the unknowable creates all sorts of needless confusion.)

So, there you have it.


Tal Hartsfeld said...

A truly open-minded place, accepting of anyone of any background with any kind of belief or lifestyle.
Utopitarian ...Unitopian?
I think the "uni" in Unitarian is accurate enough.

Anyone can attend any of their services: Catholics, Baptists, Jewish, Atheist...
Can't think of any other church that unconditional and all-accepting.
At least none come to mind at this time.

Been eons since I myself have attended a church service. And I'm not even an atheist myself (although I don't gravitate toward any religions. I'm what one calls a "casual believer" in a divinely deliberately controlled universe).

thwap said...

Thanks Tal,

I don't really want to hear a service, so much as be part of a community that espouses values and ideals as their main focus.