UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales, has posted a lame and evasive response to a serious legitimate question posed to him about the Humanist/Theist divide of the U*U World on the 'Morales Addresses “Humanist/Theist” Question' blog post of his Peter Morales For UUA President news blog. Conservative Pagan U*U Joel Monka finds Rev. Peter Morales' response to the question to be 'An Inadequate Answer' as do I. I was having a bit of fun with Rev. Morales' suggestion that Buddhists believe "Nothing" over on The Emerson Avenger blog and thus did not immediately post a more serious analysis of Rev. Peter Morales' considerably "less than excellent" response to this quite serious question about the Humanist/Theist divide that was posed to him during The Candidates’ Forum which was held on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at the Prairie Star District meeting in Duluth, Minnesota. In any case, I believe that my own response is more properly posted on this blog so here goes. . .
The Question In Question -
"Our denomination seems to be undergoing a philosophical shift. Twenty years ago in our congregation, the concept of a “Christian UU” seemed nonsensical. Now our congregation has a Christian UU minister and many of the secular humanists of previous generations, despite the acceptance of diversity that we say we believe in, are feeling bereft - bereft of a sanctuary from the world of deity (Christian or otherwise). The UU church was the one place in many UU’s lives where those who lived to a different drummer, theologically speaking, could live without the expectation that they subscribe to a divine being. Where they could go on a spiritual or religious journey without having to subscribe to the supernatural. How will you lead us as we struggle with this fundamental challenge?"
It is not clear who asked this question but the question itself, if taken at face value, contains some very interesting "answers" about the Humanist/Theist divide within Unitarian*Universalism. Apparently some Humanist U*Us sense a "philosophical shift" in the U*U World going from a Humanist dominated denomination to a more spiritual, theistic, and even "Christian" denomination. I find the perhaps unwitting "confession" that "twenty years ago", in at least one U*U congregation, "the concept of a 'Christian UU' seemed nonsensical" to be quite revealing. It certainly goes a long way to validating my own experience of a "Humanist" dominated Canadian U*U congregation that still appears to be dominated by so-called Humanist U*Us. "Humanist" being a code-word for atheist and agnostic aka non-theist Unitarian*Universalists.
Now however this Unidentified U*U congregation has, God forbid! a Christian U*U minister, and thus many of the "secular humanists of previous generations" aka aging and dwindling "Humanist" U*Us are feeling bereft. What are these U*U Humanists feeling bereft aka deprived of you ask? These aging "Humanist" U*Us are feeling bereft of a sanctuary from "the world of deity" be the deity a Christian version of God or *otherwise*. I guess that's a less than subtle acknowledgment that *some* U*U Humanists, no doubt especially those "Humanist" U*Us who can be properly described as "fundamentalist atheist" U*Us, are none too happy with the influx of U*U pagans over the last couple of decades or so. But we knew that already didn't we? What caused these less than bright "Brights" to seek "sanctuary" from "the world of deity" in a Unitarian Church of all places? Well we pretty much know that U*U history too. Or do we? I never quite figured out why any self-respecting atheist would want to go to church on Sunday to begin with, let alone try to hide from God in a so-called Unitarian Church.
Whoever posed the question pretends that aka expects us to believe that -
The Unitarian*Universalist church was the one place in many Humanist U*U’s lives where those who lived to a different drummer, theologically speaking, could live without the expectation that they subscribe to a divine being.
What?!! Isn't that a bit of a stretch? The *one* place where atheists could live without the expectation that they believe in God was the Unitarian*Universalist *Church*?
Give me a break. . .
Yes, yes, I know what *some* U*Us are going to say but *really*. Let's face it, don't U*Us think that it's just a bit conflicted, to say the least, for atheists to try to "get away from it all" in terms of God and theism by hiding out in a religious institution that is billed as the First Unitarian Church of Wherever? Especially given the original, traditional, definition of the word Unitarian which clearly implies belief in One God? What were these atheists thinking? Were they even thinking at all? Did they really believe that no Trinity doubting Christians and/or other God believing people would ever show up and want to join their so-called Unitarian Church?
:Where they could go on a spiritual or religious journey without *having* to subscribe to the supernatural.
OK That's different. It is one thing to go on spiritual or religious journey without having to, aka being obligated to, believe in God and/or the supernatural. It is quite another thing however to expect a so-called Unitarian Church to be completely and utterly devoid of any mention of God and/or the supernatural, or for it to be quite *unthinkable* to have Trinity doubting liberal Christians and/or other theists as members of a Unitarian Church, but it is abundantly evident that *some* U*U Humanists not only fully expected *their* Unitarian Church to be a God-Free Zone but strove to make it a God-Free Zone, and quite literally fought to keep it that way by making God believing people in general and Christian oriented people in particular, feel anything but welcome in *their* alleged Unitarian Church. . .
So just how will Rev. Peter Morales lead Humanist U*Us as they struggle with this fundamental challenge to Humanist domination of the U*U World? Unfortunately Rev. Morales doesn't provide any realistic answer to that loaded question, and he even seems to be trying to deftly sidestep the whole issue of the Humanist/Theist divide in his rather lame and definitely inadequate, if not outright non-existent, response to that question. Rev. Peter Morales’ response pretends that "religion is not ultimately about what we believe." Tell that to any Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Baha'i, Zoroastrian etc. etc. aka *believer*. . . Indeed why do the Unitarian*UNiversalist association Of Congregations aka the UA and the Canadian Unitarian Council aka the CUC* publish various tracts and other U*U religious propaganda explaining what Unitarian*Universalists ostensibly *believe* if what people believe is not what religion is very much about? How is what U*Us love, what U*Us share, and what U*Us aspire to become, separated aka divorced from what U*Us believe pray tell? Aren't memory and hope forms of belief? Hope aka wishful thinking is certainly a form of belief aka faith. Memory is a synthesis of belief and actual experiential knowledge.
And since when is it "only in modern western society" that religious groups are defined by what they believe?!! Does Rev. Peter Morales *really* believe that religious groups were not defined by what they believed in ancient Eastern aka Oriental society? My bullshit detector just went Code Red. . .
But wait. There's more. . .
"What do Buddhists believe? Nothing — and they are a great religious tradition."
ROTFLMU*UO! Who would have thought that Buddhists and U*Us has so-o-o-o-o much in common? Well except for the "great religious tradition" bit of course. . . Heck even Rev. Peter Morales freely and irresponsibly acknowledges the capital 'T' objective Truth that Unitarian*Universalism aka The U*U Movement is *really* just a "tiny, declining, fringe religion", and in his "stump speech" announcing his candidacy to be the next President of *The* Tiny Declining Fringe Religion no less.
When all else fails change the subject. . .
"The humanist/theist debate is the wrong discussion."
Wrong Peter. The question in question sought an answer from you as to just how you would lead the Unitarian*Universalist religious community in the face of the preexisting and ongoing Humanist/Theist "debate", to say nothing of Humanist/Theist tension. . . It was a legitimate question, even if some uncharitable U*Us might describe a so-worded question as "whining", and you just failed and/or refused to answer it.
"It creates division and distraction. It is a debate no one wins and everyone loses."
No kidding Peter. I expect that is exactly why a Humanist shared his and/or her concerns about this "debate" which "no one wins and everyone loses" and wanted to know how you intend to responsibly deal with this "division and distraction" if or when you are elected President of the UUA. As they say, inquiring minds want to know. . . I dare say that a good number of U*U theists, be they Christian U*Us, U*U Pagans, or otherwise, are every bit as interested in hearing your answer to this legitimate question as those on the other side of the Humanist/Theist divide.
Peter then asserted - The questions we should address are these:
• What do we long to create together?
• How do we want to be with one another? What is our image of beloved community?
• How best can we join hands and work together for compassion, justice, peace, freedom, and a planet that will sustain life?
Oh dear. . . It appears that somebody asked Rev. Peter Morales the proverbial "wrong question". How many other legitimate and quite serious questions will Rev. Peter Morales deem to be the wrong question and refuse to answer aka address if or when he is "elected" as President of the UUA? Or is that yet another "wrong question" to ask? Yes, those *other* questions are very good questions, and deserve answers as well, but asking these additional questions in no way answers the question in question Peter.
"If you and I share a commitment to compassion; if you and I want to create a place where children are raised in a loving community and where elders are honored; if you and I want to end war and oppression; if you and I want to preserve life on earth, then you and I have the same religion."
OK so Rev. Peter Morales is trying to simplistically bridge the Humanist/Theist divide by pointing out that Humanist U*Us and Theist U*Us have a variety of common interests and concerns, but U*Us know that already don't U*Us? The quite regrettable fact of the matter is that, in spite of the fact that Humanists and Theists have much more in common (perhaps especially within the context of the claimed principles and ideals of U*Uism) than they have serious differences, the Humanist/Theist divide is very real in a good number of U*U "churches" as the question in question makes abundantly clear. . . So Rev. Peter Morales, please do everybody in the U*U World a favor and responsibly answer the question that was posed to you.
Allow me to rephrase it slightly -
How will you, UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales, lead ALL Unitarian*Universalists, both Humanist U*Us and Theist U*Us of all kinds, as U*Us on both sides of the Humanist/Theist divide struggle with the various unproductive (and in some cases quite harmful and damaging) "divisions and distractions" of this "fundamental challenge" to the ability of Unitarian*Universalism to be anything more than a "tiny, declining, fringe religion"?
Here's a clue. Actually practicing genuine justice, equity and compassion in human relations between U*Us on both sides of the Humanist/Theist divide will be required to bring resolutions to the divisions aka conflicts and distractions that you quite evidently know exist within the U*U World. So you might want to tell everyone how you are going to embody good humanist values, and the teachings of Jesus and other theists, and bring these values to life if or when you are elected as President of the UUA.
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