Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Purpose of Reform

Editor's Note: I will sometimes cross-post my entries to Street Prophets out of a desire to increase my hits and get additional exposure. Yesterday's post created a minor firestorm of negative comments and thus I felt compelled to write a response.


Had I known my previous diary would have created so much fuss and so many negative responses, I would have tried to couch my argument in much more diplomatic, tactful terms. Do allow me this opportunity, if you will, to defend myself and to furthermore emphasize what I was attempting to say.

I feel that I have been misunderstood. Please allow me the ability to set the record straight.

In doing so, I would also invite you to take a second look at my earlier entry. In your haste to criticize me, I daresay you some of completely missed my point altogether.

If I erred, I erred in phrasing my criticisms in terms of us versus them. I meant no disrespect to Unitarian Universalism, nor individual Unitarian Universalists. When I was a member, I know I would have taken posts such as mine in the spirit of constructive criticism and out of a desire to affect change and make needed reforms. Indeed, I spent many a national con in lusty conversation with other UUs who had identified similar problems and at the time I listened with a rapt ear to their own unique pet theories regarding the ways things ought to be. Several of them blog and use their own personal weblogs as a launching pad by which to best extrapolate their ideas.

Our desire in doing so was be to improve the faith, maintain its membership, and furthermore patch the trouble areas. Or to put it simply, the reason we even bothered to waste our breath is because we loved our church. We saw spirituality and especially organized religion, any organized religion, as an evolving process constantly in need of being modified to suit changing times.

Perhaps I'm different than a lot of people. I'm a reformer by nature and to me, even the supposedly most perfect system ever created leaves room for improvement. I feel the same way about anything I hold dear. This goes equally for music, the written word, films, and my favorite sports team. None of us live in a vacuum or immune from the passage of time and as such I believe we are constantly in search of perfecting ourselves. Thus it's not surprising that the elements in our life which we hold dear reflect this own innate sense of striving for perfection.

In reading back over what I wrote earlier today, if I had it to go over again I would have made a point to add a few well-placed qualifying statements. These would have made a point to mention that my criticisms noted problems I have observed in the whole of liberal religion. The main idea, namely, that in a desire to be as inclusive as possible we have progressively whittled away more and more the meat of that which we believe. In a comment posted today to my blog, a Quaker blogger pointed out that the same issue exists to some degree in Quakerism as well, which is to say that no liberal movement, even the one I currently hold in favor, is immune to this same sort of quandary.

In conclusion, please hear this. I put my heart and soul into being the best Unitarian Universalist I could possibly be for eight years. Then my priorities changed. Then I changed. I found that I had serious problems with a faith which I had once been so committed. It broke my heart and I felt deeply disappointed. In time and with the insight of maturity, however, I have realized that no faith journey is static and that my time as a Unitarian was another journey along the way--merely another knot on a rope that exists next to the one I label Methodism.

I'm not sure where my faith journey leads me. Rest assured, however, that if Quakerism is the path by which God is leading me, you'll likely hear one, if not several of my theories of what it needs to work on. Think of that in terms of that of a Mentor or a Parent offering constructive criticism, the implication not to tear down, but to reveal the truth in an effort to build up.

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