A friend recently pointed out a great blog to me – Take Action for a Better World. The blog deals with a range of issues (click here to see his list – includes Unitarian Universalism!) but I was especially excited to read some of his postings on vegetarianism/veganism/animals issues. In his description he writes, “This site was created knowing that our role as advocates is not to judge, condemn, or punish, but to inspire, encourage, and uplift.” I especially appreciate the idea that he is not out to judge or condemn but to inspire, encourage and uplift. Yay for friendly vegetarians. He is also a trainer for the Institute for Humane Education which I think is a great group.
It Was Like One Big Discussion: A Visitor’s Perception of a Unitarian Universalist Sunday Morning ServiceMay 1, 2007
So on Saturday we moved. And we hired two moving helpers off of craigslist. They were great movers, hard workers and we couldn’t have done it with out them. Thank you Eric and Chris wherever you are. I thought I would share an amusing conversation that Eric (one of our movers) and I had on the way from our old place to the new place. I wish this was some sort of anomaly, but I bet it isn’t.
And so goes the conversation:
Me: So did you guys grow up in South Boston?
Eric: Yeah. What do you do here?
Me: I’m in school.
Eric: What do you study?
Eric: So are you gonna be a minister or something?
Me: Well, I am a candidate for ordination in Unitarian Universalism although the process might take a long time.
Eric: My grandma goes to one of them churches. It was the weirdest fuckin’ place I’ve ever been.
Me: How’s that?
Eric: Well, first there was two ladies breastfeeding in the middle of church. [Dramatic pause.] And the people made me talk about what I believe and stuff. I HATE talking and they made me talk.
Me: They really shouldn’t make visitors talk if they don’t feel comfortable with that. I promise you that isn’t the case with all Unitarian Universalist churches.
Eric: Well, and then afterward they had coffee and stuff. And they kept talking. The whole thing was like one big discussion. I hated it. I told my grandma never to take me back there again. Wicked weird.
Note that I don’t wish that the breastfeeding was uncommon – I wish that the making visitors feel weird and pressured to talk was uncommon. Granted, perhaps Eric wasn’t as forced to talk as he might have perceived, but nevertheless, he seemed to feel very uncomfortable with the whole thing. I wish we could reduce the extent to which we come across as weird, although that of course raises the question how much you can seem “mainstream” and “normal” without compromising. The breastfeeding is a perfect example – I would hope most of us would not be willing to give that up on the chance that it would make visitors feel more comfortable. But the question remains – how much do you give up to seem more normal and mainstream? I think it applies not only to Sunday mornings but to UUism in general. I don’t have the answer…