Sunday, September 06, 2009

I Want a Bigger Tent

I want a bigger tent.

I want a tent where I can point out, as Rev. Christine did, that we are all at a spot on the agnostic spectrum without a God-Person (G-P) hollering, “Don’t call me an agnostic!”

I want a tent where I can talk about the Holy Spirit without a Non-God-Person (N-G-P) hollering, “Stop talking about God!”

I want a tent where we can discuss different theories about what happened after Jesus died without a G-P complaining that I’m being intolerant to Christians.

I want a tent where I can attend a workshop on “How to Pray” without an N-G-P complaining that we’re trying to turn into a Christian church.

I want a tent where we can talk about the contributions humanism has made, and continues to make, to our religion without a G-P rolling their eyes.

I want a tent where someone can stand up and say “I love this church and I love God!” without an N-G-P rolling their eyes.

I want a tent where, when an N-G-P explains that she doesn’t believe in any sort of outside spirit, she isn’t patted condescendingly by a G-P and told, “Yet.”

I want a tent where, when a G-P talks about a moment when he felt God was sending him a message, he isn’t patronizingly told that it’s fine to anthropomorphize a God as a way to make sense out of life.

I want a tent where I can include a performance of XTC’s “Dear God” and not be told I’m insulting the G-Ps.

I want a tent where I can include “Amazing Grace” and not be accused of trying to exclude the N-G-Ps.

I want a tent where a G-P will genuinely listen to the answer after asking, “Why would an atheist go to church?"

I want a tent where an N-G-P will genuinely listen to the answer after asking, “How can you be a Christian and a UU?”

I want a bigger tent.


Transient and Permanent said...

Don't lose faith. I grew up in that very tent, at my local, large, healthy UU church. It's still that way today too. Needless to say, it was a bit eye-opening to move on to other UU congregations in other areas and find that my experience was not the only paradigm for UUism. But the UUism you describe is my UUism and that of my family, and I know a whole congregation that has functioned that way for decades without significant tension. During my lifetime with them I've variously leaned toward agnosticism, atheism, Humanism, paganism, Buddhism, and theism (in no particular order), and never had the slightest bit of discomfort or provoked any criticism. So your tent is possible; it can exist in individual hearts, in loving families, and in full congregations; UUism is not and need not always be a bunch of cranks defending their own patch of turf.

Ian Riddell said...


Perhaps that tent is our to build.

Earthbound Spirit said...

Amen. And, I must say, my internship congregation came close to this vision!

Liz Hill said...

Maybe we need to think of it as a campground. Lots of tents. But one gathering of people.
For the record, I'm not really Christian, but we could live in the same tent quite happily.
As someone else said, keep the faith. Keep the vision. Know that it is possible. And thank you for your post.

Anna Banana said...

I sent your post to our UU DRE for inspiration. She's putting up an actual tent for RE classes. It's a 30 ft x 30 ft and 12 ft high pyramid and she will get lots of resistance, so (as Board president) I want to support her. Now she can think of the tent as more than just an extra classroom. She loved your post, me too. THANK YOU.

DairyStateDad said...

Posting a link to this, and to Paul Oakley's response, at my own blog.

EmJay said...

Me too! I would also like for it to be okay to not know if you are a GP or NGP. I'm still working it out and very much want to hear what others have found.

Sara said...

yes, amen. And, I too want it to be OK to be neither a GP nor a NGP. Can I be G-curious?