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Old 02-28-2018, 03:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Help me understand Unitarianism

I was considering having the word in the title be Unitariansim but no.

Is it better than libertariansim? Or Catholicism? Buddhism? Atheism? A prism? I don't know. It is the "religion" I most identify with partly for family historical reasons.
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Old 02-28-2018, 04:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Unitarianism originally started as a Christian denomination that believed Jesus was an important person and possibly a mortal son of God (depending on the sect), but wasn't literally another form of God himself - as contrasted with the doctrine of the Trinity that prevails mostly in Christianity today.

But nowadays, Unitarianism is mostly noted as the first part of Unitarian-Universalism which is an organized religious observance without a real theology; its members have churches or other gathering places and hold services, but the creed is that all religious beliefs have a measure of validity, as well as social and cultural value. The belief in this universalist creed is what defines UU congregations, whose individual members commonly consider themselves to be both "other religion X" as well as Unitarian-Universalist. So you have Christians and Buddhists and pagans and atheists and so on and so on all choosing to gather as part of this third group which includes them all.

UU members tend to be politically and socially liberal, not libertarian. Services can include readings from any sacred text of any religion, or talks on completely secular topics. One time I went to a UU service and the "sermon" was basically a short biography of Pete Seeger and his protest music. The pastor actually played a couple of songs on a guitar, it was crazy.

The one thing though about Unitarian-Universalism is that it is serious about the nonjudgmental inclusivity thing, and that means a given service can sometimes end up uncritically dwelling on "woo" or pseudoscientific topics or beliefs.
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Old 02-28-2018, 04:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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No one had invented TED talks yet when UU was formed.
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Old 02-28-2018, 04:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota Tebaldi View Post
Unitarianism ....
Thanks, that's actually one of the best and most practical descriptions of Unitarianism that I've read.

I was raised Unitarian, and I often refer to myself (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) as a lapsed Unitarian. I haven't attended services in decades, but the basic liberal bent and "live and let live" philosophy of mine comes straight from what I saw in action in my Unitarian Church.

You can basically believe in just about anything, or be an outright atheist like me, and still be Unitarian. It's about the journey, not the answers.

Congregations can vary widely, precisely because UUs are so inclusive, but in my experience they veered strongly to white, college-educated, non-observant Judeo-Christian professionals. The UU Church of my childhood, in Austin, Texas, drew heavily from the University of Texas for its membership. For those kids who liked school and classroom learning, going to UU church was like an extra day of school, but with music and cookies.

When I retire, I plan on going back. I won't need Sundays for sleeping late and the socializing will keep me from becoming a misanthropic hermit.
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I won't need Sundays for sleeping late and the socializing will keep me from becoming a misanthropic hermit.
You say that as if you think being a misanthropic hermit is a bad thing.
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Unitarism is probably the most non-offensive religion that exists in the western world, encompaing pretty much every creed. The joke you were making is not far off but not quite -> it is as if it were second life, providing the toolbox, and the various religions/nonreligions each formed their own sim.

My in-laws, both of whom are Athiests, go to one. The same one actually that my wife and I got married at.
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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What do you get if you cross a Unitarian with a Jehovah's Witness?

Someone who knocks on your door for no apparent reason (Badum)

But in reality I help them with their newsletter and might get involved with some people who have transportation issues needing to get to court or some place. I like what my church is trying to do.
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Old 02-28-2018, 06:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Innula Zenovka View Post
You say that as if you think being a misanthropic hermit is a bad thing.
Seems perfectly healthy to me, especially these days.
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Old 02-28-2018, 06:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm mostly blah blahing since I can't really do anything given my health and my father's but...

The UU Church here really could be an agent of change here in S NJ more than most organizations. They are already to some degree.

There is only one way to "fix" this country and that is from the ground up. This church has the qualities where they could have a lot of influence but they aren't really there yet.
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Old 02-28-2018, 06:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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To amplify what Dakota said, Unitarians originally were named after their belief that the God in Christian tradition is not a trinity, but a single entity, "unifying" all attributes of the Godhead in that one entity. Accordingly, although they regarded Christ as an important prophet inspired by God, they did not worship him as any sort of god or aspect of one.

The previous paragraph is in the past tense because I'm not sure how many actual "Unitarian" congregations remain. Time marches on, and it has pretty much stomped on the original Unitarian belief system, in favor of the liberal-with-white-Christian-roots Unitarian Universalist churches that are so much more familiar.

Our largest local UU congregation says it's one of the largest in the country, and is a major bulwark of liberal activism. They are amazingly upbeat and organized, which is great to see, even though they sometimes espouse such cringeworthy activism as a lecture about the "White Ally Toolkit". Save me, humanists!
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Old 02-28-2018, 10:01 PM   #11 (permalink)
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The UU church I did go to, got 'threatened' with Lightning from God [as in, I'm surprised God hasn't struck them down, blahblahblah] because one of the guest Speakers was an Atheist.

And I know we had some in the congregation. We also had a big group of pagans.
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Old 02-28-2018, 10:59 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Yeah...a kids' play at a UU church in Tennessee was also shot up by some lunatic in 2008 because he wanted to kill "liberals and Democrats who were destroying the country" or something.
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Old 02-28-2018, 11:02 PM   #13 (permalink)
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It's a good fit for me because I'm half Humanist and half Pagan, with a Humanist ethical system. The shared principles are the most important part of it to me. If for some reason I couldn't access the UU I might go to an equally liberal and activist church like UCC.

The tendency to have a narrow range of class, race and sometimes age, is a limiting factor. Rather than try to be too much more of all things to all people, it might be better to do even more to support umbrella activisms of coalitions of liberal religions and Humanists. I say this because people who need a set dogma and those who don't need different things from a church, but the same things from community.
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Old 03-01-2018, 07:46 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Kara Spengler View Post
Unitarism is probably the most non-offensive religion that exists in the western world, encompaing pretty much every creed. The joke you were making is not far off but not quite -> it is as if it were second life, providing the toolbox, and the various religions/nonreligions each formed their own sim.

My in-laws, both of whom are Athiests, go to one. The same one actually that my wife and I got married at.
I'm an Atheist who attends a UU church. We have members who are Pagan, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Quaker, Hindu, Buddhist and many others. I personally fall into the category of humanist. As far as I can see, their only requirement is respect and tolerance of others and a sincere desire to make life on earth better for everyone.

The reason that I attend is that working with this group of UU people, gives me a great avenue into my community and the ability to help my community.

They take in homeless families, feed the homeless, help families find shelter and jobs and just in general do a lot to help others.

I appreciate being a cog in this wheel.
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Old 03-01-2018, 01:59 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Hmm, thinking about getting involved with my in-laws UU church (I am not sure if they still go or not). A few logistical issues though, one is to find out if any sessions are signed so my wife can go (and obviously ask if she wants to be involved) and the next is that I like sleeping in on Sundays.
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