Saturday, July 3, 2010
Winning the hearts and minds of the people
Me: Yeah, they're everywhere.
John: I don't understand it. What are they selling, hellfire and brimstone?
Me: No, they are selling hope. People are really hurting these days with the economy, unemployment, the rapid changes in society. They are hearing about terrorists around every corner and global warming. They are realizing that their kids are going to have it tougher than they did and they feel scared and a little guilty.
These new fundamentalist churches have the answer for why there is evil in the world. It is sin. People get this. The problem is with THEM and not US because we have Jesus. This is very comforting to people. It lowers their anxiety. And what do we UUs have to offer?
John: Not much.
Me: Psychobabbel. We got nothing. No Jesus, no Buddha, no bible, no answers. We essentially say, "There is no answer and whatever answer there is you have to figure out yourself". It's every dog for himself or join our little group and we will commiserate together.
John: Gee, no wonder our denomination is dying.
Me: Yeah we haven't got much going for us, at least in the eyes of the unconverted.
John: Dave, you aren't helping at all. Are you saying there's no hope for our new church in Brockport?
Me: It's a huge, huge challenge. Without a book, without a God, without much of tradition, how do you attract, engage, and retain people?
John: I have no idea.
Me: Well, our goal is not just to increase our numbers in and of itself. Our goal is to make a difference in the world. To create and describe a faith that is life giving, life supporting, life enhancing, that contributes to the common well being of all living creatures, our planet and the universe.
Me: Of course, why else would we be doing this?
John: What is that faith that you are talking about?
Me: I am not sure that the Unitarian side has much to offer, but the Universalist side sure does. We believe in the universal salvation of all people. We sink or swim together. Our Universalist faith has a lot to offer. We just need to more specifically articulate it. How do we deal with the evil in the world? What is a responsibility for each other? How do we work together for the common good? How does our faith engender hope in the face of fear and discouragement, hate and jealousy?
John: Okay. And so, what do we need to be doing?
Me: We need to develop and describe a theology of hope, a theology which outlines how one overcomes evil and creates grace.
John: Like what?
Me: Good question. I have to think about it. Let's get together again in a few days and talk more about it?
John: I'd like that.
This is article #1 in a series on UU theology.