politics and faith

Where does one’s belief system or sense of faith stop and one’s call to action on matters political begin.

I’ve grappled with this question for the few years that I’ve been a Unitarian Universalist and it still antagonizes me. It still pokes me and pushes me. The question recently smacked me on the forehead like one of those V-8 commercials when I learned of yet another UU leaving the fold. I don’t know about other UU’s but it bothers me to hear of someone leaving the faith.

And I think the reason this one is hitting me so hard is because the person leaving is making a declaration that this belief system is wrong for him… or perhaps just wrong. So it hooks and jabs at that soft spot on me (that I think we all have) where sometimes you doubt yourself and the choices you’ve made. That little place you try your best to keep smothered and out of earshot or eyesight.

As a young boy that place is where questions brewed like, “does God really exist? Was the crucifixion just a parlor trick to keep the flock in line? Why can’t I just pray to God instead of these middle men saints?” I hated to even think those questions in fear of getting slapped down by a bolt of lightning thrown down by God’s hand himself.

So if UU-ism wrong for Will… it could it be wrong for me, too, right.

His main reason was because speakers at his congregation routinely referred to political action from behind the pulpit… particularly liberal/Democrat-leaning political action. Par for the course in a UU congregation as a majority of its members are left of center, if not jumping on the end of the board trying to make the see-saw fall all the way to the left.

I’m kinda like him though. I don’t like nor do I want to hear about politics in the pulpit. My eyes glaze over. Start talking to me about gay marriage rights, oil drilling on protected lands, the war, illegal aliens, buying earth friendly products and say it from a financial or political point of view…. you may as well put smelling salts under my nose because I am out. Deliver it from a spiritual angle and you have my attention.

I’m not a politics kind of guy. I’ve said it before… it just doesn’t get me off. But as participating citizens in this republic what is it that moves us to vote… what is it that moves us to voice our opinion… what is it that moves us to take action on political issues. From the militant fundamentalist on one extreme to the militant atheist on the other, something visceral drives that conviction to say yes or no to ________________ (insert your particular cause de jur).

I can’t help but think the line between what you believe to be Truth (capital “T” moral, ethical Truth) is going to affect and drive how and what you believe our government should do or say. And I think the belief that is in your heart of hearts and in the marrow of your bones is reinforced by being with like-minded people.

So then, how does one reconcile political beliefs and spiritual beliefs? There it is again jabbing me. I feel for you Will. I’m sorry you couldn’t find what you were looking for at your UU congregation.

I can’t imagine not being a UU. I can however, imagine not being affiliated with my congregation. So when I hear of one of my sincere, like-minded UU’s leaving (unlike disgruntled, angry pirates, the whining y’all-don’t-like-UU Christians, give-polyamory-a-chance, what-about-the-pagan-IA’s… fiddle-playin’, cryin’ little bitches) (said with all the UU love in my heart) it sure does make me think twice.

This one’s for you Curtis… I struggle with faith, too.

Namasté y’all.

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4 responses to “politics and faith

  1. I’m reading your blog right now instead of writing the UN Sunday sermon which is TOMORROW! My reason for volunteering to lead this sermon was simple: I don’t recall ever attending one of these services and feeling connected and uplifted by it. So, my challenge to myself was to create the kind of service that I would want to attend. Why am I telling you this, besides the obvious procrastination motive? Because I get it. Even though I lean left, I understand that people don’t want to come to church and told to be better/do better/don’t eat meat/don’t use plastic bottles, etc. No one wants to be TOLD that. But I think we ought to demand from our churches that they INSPIRE us to do the right things (perhaps I shouldn’t say “right” things, too loaded, let me rephrase)–INSPIRE us to do better, be better, be more conscious in our daily living, in our interactions with one another, in our desires to connect with each other and with the divine.

    I think what is hurting congregations more than anything (because I’ve seen it firsthand), is this unwillingness of the church leadership to EXPECT transformation, to preach transformation, to lead transformation. And I mean lay leaders as well as professional leaders. I go to church for two reason: to be comforted and to be challenged. UU churches that grow have leaders who can manage both and have ministers who recognize that they can not speak to a whole UU congregation from only one perspective (ie, Humanism, Mysticism, Paganism, Christianity, etc.) or from one set of learning behaviors (audio only vs audio +visual –throw kinesthetic in there and you’ve hit the trifecta). Ah, now, as a lay leader, I must go craft a sermon that does all that I just laid out. Wish me luck.

    And thanks for your thoughts on this and allowing my caffeine-rich brain to sizzle somewhere other than on this sermon that MUST BE WRITTEN!

  2. good luck wishes on writing your sermon uuMomma! thanks for reading me. i liked your trifecta statement. man, ain’t that the truth. julian

  3. Mere Orthodoxy reviews Giuliani’s speech to the values voters conference.

    The central issue is the relationship between faith and politics, and on this point, Giuliani was less clear than a philosophically trained thinker such as myself might like. On the one hand, he said: “Belief in God is at the core of who I am, but he grew up in an environment where it was if not private, then separate from public life.” On the other hand, he said: “Don’t let anyone tell you that your faith can’t inform your political values–that’s up to you to decide.”

    Read one way, there’s clear disagreement between these two positions. Giuliani seems to be suggesting that social conservatives should let their faith inform their politics, but Giuliani will not. On the other hand, Giuliani is consistent in his relativism–if you want to let your faith inform your politics, go ahead. I choose not to.

    That sort of position–and the appeal to the “inclusiveness” of Christianity–probably wouldn’t sit well with most thinking evangelicals, but for setting up an atmosphere of agreement in his speech, it was brilliantly successful.

    I don’t see as much disagreement within Giuliani here as the Orthodox did. And I’m happy they found Giuliani brilliantly successful inspite of it.

  4. I’m not a UU like YOUYOU are but I just recently left the church that I was raised in. There is a long story behind the reasons why but it was very much like leaving my marriage. Hard to do. For me it wasn’t so much that the belief system was wrong for me but the environment itself was in many ways toxic. Not only did I switch churches but I switched denominations. I like where I’m at right now and I like that I don’t have history there. At my previous church I was a reader 2 years to the day that I had given the Eulogy for my Mom’s funeral. My mind was there at that point and not there to really worship. I left my former church with the intention of it being a sabbatical of sorts. A healing for both of us. Right now I’m not sure that I’ll ever go back. I realize I went off on a tangent that doesn’t have a lot to do with your post. I’ll read it again and try to comment more effectively later.

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