Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Desperate Theology


One of my seven deadly TV sins is Desperate Housewives. As I always say, takes one to know one.

A new episode aired this past Sunday and the theme was religion. It was only a matter of time before God came to Wisteria Lane (shoddy ratings owing to viewer attrition, stale satire, a few months long writer's strike, and show hiatus notwithstanding).

God entered stage north when the tornado struck - in all its mysteria, hysteria and Wisteria wonder. That was where we left off a few months ago.

God was asked to stick around awhile or so it might seem. Sunday's episode opens with Lynette deciding - post-cancer and tornado scares - that she wants to start going to church. So she approachs Bree, the lesser of all irreligious evils called friends, and Bree offers to take Lynette, her reluctant couch-slothing, football-loving hubby, and their four amiable children to her Presbyterian Church. All all was well and swell until Lynette dared raise her hand during the sermon to ask the Pastor some pointed questions concerning that oh-so awkward topic of good, God and evil in the Garden of Eden.

Bree was mortified and later suggested that Lynette might be better off with the Unitarians because she heard that with them, "anything goes."

Someone at the Unitarian Universalist Association must have been loving the timing of that desperate if disparaging dialogue, coinciding as it did with the latest UUA ad campaign, which includes full-page ad spreads in Time magazine and the like. Perhaps that line was even bought and paid for in pop culture fashion. If it was, kudos to the UUA for doing some saavy church planting in TVland. Who rightly knows.

Who knows indeed. In fact, who knows might well be the two words I would have chosen, rather than "anything goes," to describe us them thar Unitarians. At the very least, it would have been "seek freely."

On the topic of UUism though, I've found myself not quite evangelizing or spreading the good news of UUs these past couple of weeks, so much as setting the record straight. One young Mom I know wants to find a new church home for her pre-teen daughter ~ one far removed from the church of her childhood. She may indeed find what she's looking for in our humble abode. She's planning to attend an upcoming Coming of Age ceremony to hear how our daring young 13-year olds articulate their own personal theologies. In two words? Damn inspiring.

A few other members that I've not so coincidentally met through my other community spheres lately have validated how important the fourth principle of UUism is to them ("a free and responsible search for truth and meaning") with respect to the religious direction they want for their children.

Another friend of mine I spoke with this week admits that God is Who and what's keeping her from going to Church. The latest UU print ad in Time magazine this month (with the tag line, "Is God keeping you from going to church?") succinctly speaks to her truth.

And as for buddy, my newfound investment advisor who attends a "non-denominational" Christian church here in town...I dunno, I get the impression he was a tad worried about my weird hybrid breed and brand of religion, on account of the dangers of relativism and humanism and the Immanent rather than Transcendent mask we UUs tend to place on God's face. I smile, raise my hands and assure him I'm in no more danger than him on my bike ride through life, even if I do appear to be pedaling a little crazily and yelling, "look ma, no dogma!" at the top of my lungs.

I like that I attend a church where I can freely raise my hand, ask a question of Peter the Pontificator at the Pulpit during service, and know that he'll have no more THE definitive answer than I do. If anything, he knows exactly how to frame the Definitive, Divinitive questions. And to this I give a reverential bow and murmur Amen, brother.

Because what I've noticed is that when God isn't busy hanging out at the busy corner of Sacred and Profane streets, panhandling for us to notice His presence, (or on Wisteria Lane for that matter), he's meditating and chillin' in the Gaps. As a fellow UU friend insists, this is the precious if precarious place upon which we all do well to stand. He calls it "the space within the dichotomies." Now if that's not cosmic, kismet and inane, I don't know what is.

And what do ya know? I've found a couple more two-word phrases to add to my UU description peace pipe and smoke ~ "don't know" and "what is."

In deed and blessed be. :)

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Holy Thought of the Week

"To live fully is to let go and die with each passing moment, and to be reborn in each new one."

~ Jack Kornfield ~