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View Diary: Struggle and Faith: How Occupy Has Taught Me To Tolerate Religion (231 comments)

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  •  Take a look. (1+ / 0-)
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    I was a UU for seven years and found numerous UUs—probably more in the clergy and UUA administration than the laity—who traffic in just the same kinds of misrepresentation that you were responding to in your "One can disdain but still tolerate" comment above.

    I definitely don't know how liberal Quaker or Buddhist communities compare in that respect.

    Anti-atheist bias can be like homophobia in that simply being "out" can be taken as getting in someone else's face about your own orientation.  I hate that -- such blind double standards there.
    Yes, exactly. It is not difficult to find fervent support for just that kind of double standard in, for example, the UU clergy.

    Looking at the religious aspects of many intergroup conflicts, at the violence carried out by zealots in the name of religion, some people conclude that the world would be safer “religion-free.” They may even try living this way themselves. But too often they only practice a form of self-delusion. Nature abhors a vacuum and so does the human spirit. As C.S. Lewis said, the opposite of a belief in God is not a belief in nothing; it is a belief in anything. Sweep the demon of religion out the door and, like the story in the Gospels, you may only succeed in making room for an evil spirit worse than the first—this one accompanied by seven friends (Luke 11:24-26; Matt. 12:43-45). Zealous atheism can perform this role of demonic pseudoreligion.

    – UU Rev. and national UU Association President (1993-2001) John A. Buehrens, in A Chosen Faith, published by the UUA’s Beacon Press and billed by the publisher as “the classic introduction to Unitarian Universalism”

    Who are these people who still think that it’s special and unique to reject traditional images of the Deity? Are they the same guys who sit with me at weddings and let drop the bomb that they respect what I do [as a UU minster] but, rilly, they’re “spiritual but not religious??” “That’s fascinating and special, dear,” I tell them. “But I’d love it so much if we could conclude this conversation right this minute and you’d go fetch me another cocktail.”


    For an atheist to expect CHURCHES to pander to the a-theistic search for truth and meaning is like hiring a dental hygenist with no arms to do your cleaning, and expecting her to do a good job of it.

    – UU Rev. Victoria “Peacebang” Weinstein, nationally published and prize-winning UU minister

    •  Gautama H. Buddha!, (0+ / 0-)

      those quotes are ridiculous, not to mention intolerant, and self-evidently, squarely contradict the pluralism asserted in the "seven principles".  (I mean, look -- I can party with believers, and appreciate that for a lot of them "God" just means {love + largely benign superstition}, but hostility toward the stuff I smoke?  No thanks.  Just treat me like I treat you -- politely, tolerantly, even if you think I'm really misguided.

      The second quote is just snotty triumphalism, and the first one is merely silly; C.S. Lewis's assertion is transparently wrong, indeed so wrong that it could scarcely be taken seriously outside of a religious context.  No, C.S., not everyone needs to believe in the Sky Bully in order not to be a murderous, nihlistic fiend... speak for your own bad self.

      A good antidote to Lewis is this from "The Big Lebowski" (the character who says it being, of course, a fervent convert to Judaism):

      Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of national socialism, Dude; at least it's an ethos.
      Anyway. The "seven principles" contain none of the dumbness or venality of the quotes you cited, but some of the other stuff on UU websites hints at a theistic stance, e.g.
      "We believe human life has meaning, that the high purposes of humanity may be achieved and the spiritual nature of humanity indicates something about humankind and the cosmos as well."
      And, so, so depressingly, it seems that where theism goes, so goes venal backlash at the suggestion that maybe it's not true.  Et tu, U.U.?  Why does it work out this way?  Is it that theism is so lacking in justification that one has to smoke a lot of gooey, mushbrained memes to accept it, and therefore reacts with rage to the buzzkill of rationality?  It reminds me of the lability seen in mood disorders... "don't bring me down, man."

      Well, you've given me a lot of timely stuff to read, and thanks again.  At least I have other ways to get my community/ritual jollies, and I wish the same for all who desire it sans the bullshit.

      "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

      by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:56:08 PM PDT

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      •  I appreciate (0+ / 0-)

        the energy and integrity you're bringing to this exchange.

        I certainly agree that the Seven Principles are superior to the anti-atheist dreck I've pointed to. (Though I think the Seventh is, in its actual terms, foggy-minded nonsense—but at least it's mostly-well-meaning foggy-minded nonsense.) The First and Fourth are a huge part of what brought me to UUism in the first place. Not incidentally, atheophobic UUs shit all over those two.

        For whatever it's worth, I'm pretty sure Buehrens pulled that "Lewis quote" out of Buehrens' own ass. Lewis was an arrogant-Christian asshole, but I've spent a long time trying to track the quotation down, and near as I can tell, it's actually a line commonly, though still inaccurately, credited to Lewis pal (and fellow atheophobe) G.K. Chesterton.

        Anyway, the bigger point is that the President of the UUA was citing that quip in Beacon Press's "classic introduction to Unitarian Universalism as a relevant response to both atheism and to those of us who vainly "try" to live religion-free lives. That's an outrage, as I suspect you'll agree—and I think the bigger outrage is that thousands upon thousands of UUs have read that book (it's Beacon's all-time bestseller, other than hymnals), and I think a grand total of five or ten of us have openly pointed out it's loaded to overflowing with hateful shit. Could Buehrens (and Weinstein and company—and they have a lot of company) have gotten away with writing nasty garbage like that about GLBTs? About members of any other despised minority? If they'd tried, would the UU laity (you excepted!) have greeted it with such a deafening yawn?

        It's just endlessly disgraceful.

        •  Can't believe I let that one sail by (0+ / 0-)

          Crikey!  THE guy, the UU head guy.  He wrote that.  Somehow that didn't register... I think I got distracted by the faux-Lewis quote (which is admittedly low-hanging fruit) and then googling for the movie quote.  Priorities, you understand.  Sometimes I'm so out of it, it's scary.

          Not as scary as the fact that the former head UU dude said this, though.  Yeah, you're right, if he'd have said that gays "too often... only practice a form of self-delusion" (because they don't pork the opposite sex), that wouldn't have gone over too well.  (And of course how ironic the quote is -- it's like saying "I know you are but what am I?" to the entirely legit questions any objective person would ask about theism.)  And the book is full of this stuff?  Oy gevalt.  Well, we'll see where I go with this thing.  Forewarned, forearmed -- thanks again!

          I'm going to have to start following atheist civil rights closely, as I do with disability rights and privacy rights, and (the one that keeps us happy these days) LGBT rights.  When I google for that repugnant Weinstein quote, and come across stuff like "Unitarian Universalists Complain About Atheist Ads", let alone "Finnish Politician Fined for Blaspheming", then we've got a problem, and it involves people like me, and there's that whole thing about hanging together or hanging separately.  I appreciate the knowledge and insight you've shared, and will keep an eye out for your handle as I dig in.  Any other fora to recommend besides that link you posted & cites therein?

          "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

          by dackmont on Wed May 01, 2013 at 12:05:47 AM PDT

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          •  No, I think you've got (1+ / 0-)
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            the same things I do, now.

            You may notice that there's a fair amount of me on those pages and cites. I believe I've written the longest review of A Chosen Fath in existence. And I even posted a handful of comments—one of which idiotically accused fabulous atheist blogger Greta Christina of something she was innocent of, d'oh!—on the Hemant Mehta "UUs Complain" blog post you found.

            This has been a big-deal issue for me, though substantially less so since I left the church in 2008.

    •  Curious about other groups (0+ / 0-)

      Do you or anyone reading this have experience with other humanistic communities or congregations, like Ethical Culture (not aligned with any prexisting religious tradition) or Humanistic Judaism (obviously so aligned, but explicitly, at least in principle, rejecting all theistic language)?   Curious about this stuff... would be nice to find someplace sans the atheophobia.  Having another place to hang out with my kid is part of the motivation.

      "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

      by dackmont on Wed May 01, 2013 at 02:11:51 AM PDT

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