Was wondering what to write for my first Spirit of Sunday post.
Want this to be a thoughtful post every week, sometimes about religion, sometimes about the spirit, or being meditative.
I grew up Unitarian Universalist, which is relatively rare thing, many UU children go to their own path so not all stay in the church. In fact, UU youth are encouraged to find their own spirituality, in fact part of the RE program is to visit other churches throughout the area and learn how they are different.
Many people find Unitarian Universalism through their life. Many people, myself included, have had issues with their church they were brought up in. And for people who are religious liberals, Unitarian Universalism can appeal. It is a strange religion in many ways. It’s is completely non-denominational, we have pagans, christians, jews, agnostics, atheists, humanists …. that are in the church. People are encouraged to read about their spiritual path and respect and cherish all religions.
It is also a congregational church with basic religious tenants but very different ministers by church. Some ministers can be theist, which means they believe in a higher power, even if it is not the Christian definition of God. Some are humanists, which means they believe in humanity but not God. Some are agnostic, and are not sure if there is a God. Some are pagan, and some have many views.
For me, I am a Universalist. The Universalist church and the Unitarian church merged 50 years ago in 1961. Some modern Unitarians (the term often used) like former UUA president John Buehrens wonder why it didn’t happen earlier. I think the merger has been fine but there was disadvantages of merging. Which included churches like the Westbrook, ME Universalist Church closed to where I live which was a major force in early 20th Century Westbrook but never recovered from the merger and closed 2 years ago.
Traditionally the Unitarian church was more educated, more middle class, more Harvard, much wealthier and more discussion and Humanist. Universalism’s roots were more working class, more small towns, more theistic and often quite godly. Universalist churches tended to have big kitchens, lots of food, and a friendlier version of Calvinism that preached universal salvation not the chosen few of Calvinism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UUA
And this theistic more open view of the world I find very appealing. I feel like the Unitarian view of the world tends to look at a more humanist perspective where religion is something worth studying and analyzing. I feel the spirit in much of the world and go to pagan gatherings with my wife, that are incredibly rich and prayerful.
In fact, I have been praying a lot recently with the strange times we live in .. with #Occupy .. and finding a church that really speaks to me on Sunday, First Parish UU on Congress Street, in Portland, ME by City Hall. I love to do heart prayers where I breathe in, touch my heart, think strongly about my prayer and push it into the world. I am literally throwing my spiritual energy out to the world. I find this powerful, and affirming. I also feel uncomfortable with the more supplicant kneeling prayer of traditional Christianity.
First Parish church got an amazing new minister last year, Reverend Christine Sillari, whose words and spirit speak to me. I like that she likes the silence before the prayer, and I find the services meditative. And the music is just awesome in the church, with absolutely wonderful acoustics. The UU hymn “Spirit of Life” gets me every week in my heart, and is first just played in piano and then sung with moderations and is just beautiful. It is also a time for me to light candles and give prayers for the world and for personal issues in my life. Here is their website: http://firstparishportland.org/
Feeling more prayerful, and connected to a church makes my life richer.
Next week: I plan to talk about Nation vs. State and how it has affected the post-Colonial world … This week I wanted to keep more personal.