Unpacking your bags

I’m always amazed when I look at other people’s luggage while traveling. Especially when I am stuck behind someone checking in or going through security when I am feeling impatient. I’m fairly utilitarian and spartan in my approach but others clearly are not. Many seem to just accept they will pay extra so they figure, “why limit myself?” They bring things they probably won’t need with the attitude of “you never know.” (Not true. You don’t need a sweater in Hawaii.)

For many people, their religious identity and spiritual journey process is much the same way. They bring baggage (and carry ons) that are often haphazardly packed to go to an unknown destination. They bring language and feelings and biases that reflect their other travels or places. Language and emotion linked to language are their biggest space holders. People have emotional feelings about words like “minister,” “church,” and “faith.” For example, despite adamantly denying a Christian belief system, they feel a need to attend a place called a “church” and could never go to a place called a “temple” or “society.” Despite their lack of Christian belief they feel a psychological need to attend something called a church even if the word has negative emotions associated with it. So they refuse to journey at all.

It is theological and cultural baggage that limits their travel options, costs us more (psychologically, if not physically), and often agitates our fellow travelers. We need to unpack our bags, think through what is packed in them, and decide what really needs to travel with us. If we don’t, our journey may never take us anywhere and may simply exhaust us to the point where we give up on travel.

The dogmas of Unitarian Universalism

For people unsure of many thing and rarely fans of absolutes, UUs are sure convinced of a few – the way the order of service should be laid out, how the chairs and tables “must be” arranged for coffee hour, and even the type of materials used for religious education classes can all be causes of debate and consternation.

For a people unconvinced that anything happens after we die, we are convinced that the font used on our name tags is part of the world’s problems.

For a people unsure what should be taught in the religious education program we do know there is a “right day” to start the RE program.

For a people unsure what to say to newcomers, we are sure that the people talking to them should use special coffee cups when talking to them.

I think our uncertainties about many things lends us to focus on minor attributes associated with them. It gives us a feeling of comfort to know that uncertain things are handled with certainty. We don’t know where the path leads but we know that we must take certain things with us on the journey.

Worse yet, at times, we fail to convince others of our certainties. And though we tout democracy, we are unable to comprehend and handle when we get outvoted. The cattiness that comes from these discussions is rather heated at times. Folks even get mad and leave the church over them. It is as if we have replaced dogma with catma.

We struggle to journey together when we realize others aren’t handed where we think we want to go.