I do not ever talk about religion. In fact, I am a “None.” In my day job, as a teacher of literature, religion comes into play a lot with the context of many classic works, but I am very non-denominational.
Having struggled to come up with a U post, though, I found myself continuously coming back to the initials U.U. which stands for Unitarian Universalist and since many people do not know about Unitarianism and since I do have a connection to it, I thought I might offer a bit of information.
When I was ten, we moved to a new town. To meet people and become part of the community, my mother thought it would be good for us to join a church. She had been raised Catholic, so we joined the town’s Catholic church. I made my first communion, a little late, but when it came time to be confirmed, I declined. I was a teenager and becoming more and more rebellious. So, I did something pretty drastic. I joined the Unitarian Church on my own.
There was a large contingency in my town of U.U. kids and there was a youth group that was very active. This youth group was part of a larger regional youth collective that very much favored free spirits and alternative views. Piercing, tattoos, Doc Martins, dyed hair, boys in hippie skirts, clove cigarettes. That was us. Alternative. It was a very open and accepting community and it fit with my values. People of all sorts were welcome and in a time when the LBT community was still pretty quiet in high schools and such, it was a place where people who identified differently than the mainstream could feel welcome. I approved of this message and was happy to be a part of the community in general.
We would attend U.U. Conferences which would take us to Unitarian Churches around New England where we would stay from Friday night to Sunday morning. There was no religiousness at all, at least not that I can remember. But values of self-respect, community building, kindness, giving, sharing, and understanding were taught via group workshops like Stone Soup, where everyone would bring something (an object of meaning to them) to the “pot” and share it with others. We would take shifts in the kitchen and be responsible for cooking meals and cleaning up. We would stay up all night and make friends from new places. There were no drugs allowed at these conferences and people were generally respectful of that. It was a place where kids from all over got to be different and accepted at once and part of something bigger.
Today, I am not part of the local Unitarian Church, as I said, I am a “none” mostly because I am not a joiner. If I were to attend any church though, it would certainly be Unitarian. Both my mother and my sister have since changed from going to Catholic Church to going to Unitarian meetings. Some U.U. churches lean more towards the Christian side of things, as they are traditionally a part of the Protestant collection. Nineteenth century American thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bronson Alcott and Henry David Thoreau were part of the early Unitarian movement. Some U.U. churches today lean to a true universalist meeting where all faiths and spiritualism are welcome and openly celebrated in a mixed forum.
Diversity and cooperative community are the aspects of Unitarian Universalism that I most revere and so, that is my U post.