My parents, my brother, and my sister, are all ethnic UUs. If you ask them their religion, they will say, "Unitarian." My parents raised them in this religion, and then me, when I came along.
Other than a handful of times to see me preach, none of them have been in a UU church in the last 30 years.
Last October, my parents, my brother and I, were sitting around talking about going to church. "Well, I see no need to go to church," said my bro, "Because the older I get, the less important it is to hear about what'll happen when you die."
My parents and I looked at him as if he had sprouted three heads. "I can't think of the last time I heard a sermon that addressed that," I said.
"No, no, that's not why you go to church," said my parents. "You go because of the community, all the people you'll meet and talk to."
If you're thinking about the blind men and the elephant, you're not alone. Well, blind man #3:
"As the only person who actually attends a UU church," sez I, "and the one working toward being a minister, let me tell you that the reason you go to church is because it helps you become a better person."
And they all looked at me like I had sprouted three heads.
None of them go to a UU church. But I happen to know that in the last year, all three have told someone about Unitarian Universalism. And urged someone to check it out.
So, we can say, Oh, they're not really UUs, but here's the deal: they're probably representing UU out there.
Rev. Perchlik asks:
What does our connection to those people mean? What duty or responsibility do we have towards those persons? How do they change our own self-image?My answers, which I don't claim are any good, since I've got a whole nest of the vampires, I mean, ethnic UUs, in my family:
Connection (religiously) ... well, I think of them as "lapsed UUs." Duty/responsibility: if they show up in church, kill the fatted calf and rejoice. And invite them to attend a new UU class. And become a member. (And smile patiently when they say, "Hey, this isn't what Unitarian Universalism is supposed to be!") How do they change our own self-image?: My first response was "Sorry, not at all." Once I got over my grouse about people who think if that sat in a garage once thirty years ago, they're a car ...
Yes, um, once I got through that moment of pique, I got pragmatic. These folks are out there, with good intentions, probably mentioning every once in a while something about this cool religion that someone should go check out.
They're Lapsed Unitarians. Their thoughts about Unitarian Universalism may be a bit out-dated. They call themselves "Unitarians" when the hospital chaplain ask their religion. And they know that a UU church "is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."
Let's have a feast and celebrate.