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GRAVY

  • My first novel started with a mole. Yes, a MOLE - a freckle, a birthmark, whatever you want to call it.
  • I was at the pool with my daughter getting ignored by our swim instructor when a lifeguard with a particularly ripped abdomen walked by. He stopped to flirt with one of the female lifeguards and my eyes flew directly to an adorable mole on the top can of his six-pack.
  • "How cute!" I thought (among other things). "He looks like a character in a romance novel!"
  • So I went home and started writing fiction for the first time. That was over a year ago and I still haven't been able to stop. GRAVY is the story of a suburban housewife who wants another baby, but gets a man with a mole instead.
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« Moments | Main | Let's make a deal »

January 17, 2011

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Sara

I think I mentioned it to you at some point, about how I've always felt like I'm meant to be Jewish. Anyhow, I took that quiz and according to it I am a 98% match to Reform Judaism! I thought that was funny!

So sad your experience at the UU church was so bad. It sounds...weird.

Sally

Very interesting! I've thought about checking out our local UU church for exactly the same reasons you had, but worry about having the same negative response. I'm just as liberal on many of the issues you are conservative on, but we both have the same stance on separation of church and state. It kills me when political issues are brought to the pulpit by either side. I've heard that UCC, United Church of Christ, is a good option for people who think like you and me. They're supposed to be quite open to diversity, but are considered more "Christian" than Unitarian Universalists.

heather

I'm a UU and that you had that experience sucks in a million ways. Every congregation is different and if we're honestly not all like that. Please email your post to the minister or a version thereof if you're at all inclined. I'm sure they will then convene a committee to convene a committee to review being a more welcoming congregation. Only half kidding! Hope you can find a better fit!

Account Deleted

I'm sorry you had a bad time. :/ The overly politically correct thing is one of the things that keep me away from the UU church.

The thing with some UU churches is, a lot of them are less focused on spirituality (which is hard to talk about without feeling like you're stepping on someone's toes) and more focused on politics and outward action. One of the aims of the UU church is to be a force for good in the world without being constrained by religion -- unfortunately, this tends to fall heavily in the back-patting liberal range. Though I'd like to stress this isn't always the case, or even the majority -- but it does tend to go up in bigger cities.

The race thing, though, wow. That's ... wow. Ouch.

On the other hand, my friend grew up in a fantastic UU church, very inclusive, non judgemental, good with kids, the lot. Their campaigning was things like soup kitchens and a gay youth helpline. So YMMV. I will say, though, that you might have better luck in a smaller setting -- the bigger any church gets, the more back-patting it's going to be. That's true of most denominations, I find.

Amber

Sounds like Universal Unspiritualism to me! They really ought to be embarrassed and refocus on their goals.

I got a kick out of this one and you kicked something off your list. Now I'm going to go read what a secular humanist is.

Cherie Beyond

Oh, blurgh. Political discussion of any kind in church, even if it was my own views parroted right back at me exactly, would totally turn me off. I spend enough time listening to people spout why their opinion is the best in everyday life. When I want to focus on something deeper, politics is the last thing I want.

Shame, shame, UU. Shame, shame.

Ah, well. Now you know.

Iced Borscht

What dorks.

Give me a crazy-faced Pentecostal snake-handler over these guys any day.

Or Avvakum the Archpriest. Writes Daniel Kalder:

"Avvakum led the Old Believers who insisted on using two (traditional for Russia) instead of three (a Greek custom enforced by a reformist church hierarchy). For his pains, he was flogged, exiled to Siberia, imprisoned for 14 years in a hole in the ground in the Arctic Circle and finally burnt at the stake. And yet Avvakum never recanted his beliefs. His faith was that strong. He was that hard."

The rest here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2010/feb/09/russians-world-s-hardest-writers

cindy w

So, you know I'm kind of the polar opposite on the gun thing (have never touched one in my life and will never), but this doesn't really surprise me. The Unitarian Universalist church is kind of known for being super-liberal. In fact, when I was growing up in Mississippi, there was one UU church in town, and I remember several of my friends (who were strict Southern Baptists) saying that it was a Satanist's church. It wasn't until I was an adult that I found out what the UU church was all about.

That said, I'm a Methodist, which I like because they're pretty relaxed (no hellfire & brimstone stuff), and they tend to keep politics out of the room. And when I lived in Washington state, I also really liked the Episcopalian church we went to (my husband is British & went to the Anglican church; Episcopalian is kind of the US equivalent).

Hope you find something that feels like a good fit for you.

Jenny Greene

Thank you for writing this, and for your honesty. I can't say much more because just thinking about it makes me so angry I could spit! When are we going to learn to simply love each other?

Again, thanks. I'm right there with ya.

taylor

Wow, sorry you had such a bad experience so soon on your Journey. My new years resolution in 2009 was to finally find a church i could commit to and call "home" or to accept the lack there of once and for all. I went to several different churches and finally joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or The Mormon Church as most people call it.

My mother is Lutheran. My father is Pentecostal. I have always considered myself agnostic, or borderline atheist.

The Mormon Church believes in both history and science in addition to the scriptures. We believe in Evolution too - that shocks most people - and I finally found my home.

Everyone is different, yes, but i agree with you ONE HUNDRED PERCENT on the separation of church and state. I am in Texas and most of my friends and I are Pro-Gun Rights, but my church never preachs on the topic. (in fact, they don't preach on ANY topic. another thing i like about it). I'm sure there are mormons in other states that are anti-guns and, hey, to each their own right?!

Anyways, I'm sorry you had a bad time there... Just keep looking. There IS a home for everyone. I totally believe that.

You can read more about my spiritual journey in the archives of my blog (Jan 2009 is when it started) at www.ChasingConviction.com

Good Luck! :)

Elizabeth

I'm sorry you got stuck with a shitty congregation. I know some people who love UU and have great parishes. I also know that some UU parishes are crazy liberal and pretty closed minded. I hope you can some day find another one to try out.

Personally, I hope to some day find a socially liberal Catholic parish. I'm totally cool with the whole "judged by your actions" thing, but I have trouble with the whole "all ur ovaries are belong to us!!!11!1!" thing they've got going on.

AA

Why do you call the UU church elitist? I get the distate for a political agenda being plugged in church, but religion for better or worse has always has been about like-minded people banding together. I'm just wondering why your assumption is that they think their "shit don't stink?"

Stefania/CityMama

Oh man, I wish you had talked to me before attending a UU church. Knowing how you feel about guns (and that you aren't a pinko commie liberal), I would have told you to stay far, far away. I'm terribly sorry you had that experience.

I agree with AA above--on my spiritual quest, I purposely sought out a community of like-minded thinkers. Like-minded in the sense of respecting differences of opinion and the inherent worth of dignity of each person while still being allowed to hold onto my own values knowing that others have the same "like-minded" approach to my beliefs. Like-minded NOT necessarily meaning we all think the same, act the same, believe the same, although, yes, we do share lots of the same values.

Having been brought up Catholic, I cannot abide many things that the Catholic church stands for and teaches, everything from not allowing women to be priests to, well, the whole belief in god thing. What attracted me to the UU church (and we've been attending for about 5 yrs now) is the fact that, in general, I share a lot of UU values, from their stance on social justice issues to the environment. Are all UUs as staunchly anti-gun as I am? Lots probably are, but I bet plenty aren't. Still it's a place where I can feel comfortable that my anti-gun beliefs (and very liberal views)are welcome. A Gun Free Zone sign would have made me make a bee-line for that church. Others might be pulled in by "He is Risen" or "God hates fags" signs...what repels some attracts others. As it has always been.

I do agree with you on the diversity thing, but part of the problem is that Portland is overwhelmingly white...that's one of the reasons why we moved back to the Bay Area. Even in the Bay Area, my church struggles with the issue of attracting more diverse (not just racially) community members.

Have politics and church ever been separate? I don't think so, which is why you have to go where you feel most comfortable. I can tell you that UUs (at least my congregation) strive to not accept any form of state or govt funding, and my congregation refused to sign a loyalty oath during the McCarthy era, was fined for it, then sued (successfully) to recover the money lost. That makes me damn proud to be part of my UU community.

Amanda P. Westmont

Any time people make the assumption that everyone agrees with them because they are (obviously! duh!) right, it reeks of intellectual elitism. The rest of us bumpkins just need to be educated as to the correct way of thinking. It was like college all over again.

Julia

Oh I'm sorry! My UU church (in MA too!) is amazing. I live in Charleston, SC now for school and miss it a lot. UU churches are actually the most diverse services that I have experienced in my life (and I've been to a lot of religious services!) so I'm sorry you were disappointed. Is there another one in your area?

Blythe

I rarely wade into online religious/political discussions online, but this post struck me so I wanted to respond. I imagine it's difficult as someone with traditionally conservative views (in some areas, I realize I don't know all about every aspect of your politics) to find a spiritual practice that is not neither super-liberal nor super-Christian. We're used to thinking that conservatives = fundamentalist Christians and liberals = goddess-worshiping peace protesters.

I know virtually nothing about the UU church, but if other downtown Portland congregations are any indication, you probably happened upon one of the more liberal/political versions of the UU church, and as for the absence of kids, I would guess that most people who live/worship downtown aren't families (lots-o-old people and young singles around there). If you're interested in giving it another chance, you might check out a suburban congregation?

(Also, I wonder if the topic of the pastor's sermon was chosen because it was MLK weekend? Not that this should affect your reaction, but it could explain the topic choice.)

On the other hand, I, too, have heard good things about United Church of Christ - more spiritual, less political, very family oriented.

Thanks for bringing this up.

valerie

Come to church with me...we meet downtown every night after work between 4-6 and we are happy. Amen, pass the hummus.

Rosetta

You have the sepAration of church and state backwards a bit - it prohibits the state from interfering with the church, not churches commenting on the laws/actions of the state. And if you listen to even one of MLK Jr's speeches, you'll hear him condemn something the gov't is up to - segregation, neglecting the poor, the Vietnam War. Dude was a radical.

I understand why that isn't the community for you and I personally attend a Presbyterian congregatiin because Unitarians are too woo-woo for me, but church and politics are permanently interwoven in this country on every level. Every war we've ever fought has been "for God" - can churches not comment on war, either for or against? Or, for those churches who want to be able to legally marry their gay parishoners but cannot, should that not be mentioned as an example of the state interfering with their godly responsibility to love because it might offend someone sitting in the congregation?

It was a government that killed Christ! The church has been critical of gov't from the get go.

Marilyn Stavinoha

I am a non gun-toting secular humanist UU Texan.
What the hell did you expect? If a congregation does not think a God is directing their lives and plans each asassination as it occurs,then power to them to try to prevent murder in their locality. Did you really think you were going to a meditation session or a feel-good Joel Osten type service. Get real! Secular humanists try to react to the world as it is and work for the good of the many. Carrying guns is not going to be defended in any church most likely, but since the killer entered the Knoxville congregation last year and killed several members, we are more likely to be up front about no guns in church. But hey, if you can think of a better way to be diverse and carry guns and worship nothing and leave feeling great then go start a church for others like yourself. I'm just going to stay a UU and say thank you for not threatening me with hell, nor saying the world was created in 7 days, nor fighting each scientific advancement as unBiblical, nor telling me that I cannot go to heaven (if such there be) because I don't toe the line. I like being with folks who try their level best to improve the country, support gays, and survive on the paltriest donations of any denomination. Hooray for UUs!

LM

I don't really know what to make of this post, since I've long thought of you as being an open-minded person who doesn't jump on opinions that oppose hers and declare them as being prejudiced.

If a church, any church, wants to promote an environment of diversity and peace, that does not mean they are accusing everyone around them of being gun toting maniacs and white supremacists. You sound as though you think the beliefs of that church and the sermon of the pastor were directly solely and accusingly at you. The idea of going to a multi-racial church that is attended by people who are not packing heat for a Sunday sermon sounds really pleasant to me, but, for some reason, you find that threatening.

You were not being attacked, Amanda, and no one told you that you were a "horrible excuse for a human being" because you own (or want to own) a gun. You were also never told that you were not good enough to attend that church because you were white. The question, then, is why YOU interpreted the sermon that way. Maybe you were so ready to not like church that you just took everything about the church to be a major minus instead of a plus? For the record, I am 100% non-religious, and I don't attend church either, but I'd be pissed off at a church for, say, demonizing homosexuality or minimizing the rights of women, not for supporting an organization (Cease Fire) that removes illegal weapons from the hands of inner city criminals.

I know you are conservative, but this post is not indicative of that. It's more an indication that you didn't listen to a single word the pastor of that church spoke. That's really a disappointment.

Joel

Wow, Marilyn. Thanks for proving Amanda's basic point that UU-ism is just a "liberal" form of fundamentalism. Are you a member of the choir, too? (If so, read on.)

Why the quotey marks around "liberal"? Because there is nothing actually liberal about the belief structure that I observed Sunday. Closed, self-referential and tautologically pious, the UU service we attended was as intellectually conservative as they come. Because, hey, in terms of outreach, why should the UU church only be thinking about skin tone? Why aren't they reaching out to political conservatives and Libertarians? Why aren't they handing out leaflets at NRA meetings, Tea Parties or army bases? THAT would be true liberalism, true UNIVERSALism.

By the way, LM, the very clear message at the UU service was that GUNS ARE BAD. I'll tell you where the minister lost me: When he lowered his voice and solemnly announced that he was shocked to learn that there are 270,000,000 guns in this country and the audience audibly gasped as one in horror. When Amanda felt devalued for her pro-gun-ownership views, it was for good reason. Of course, LM, you wouldn't know know this because you weren't there. That would make it hard for you to evaulate how many words of the sermon Amanda did or did not hear, wouldn't it?

I don't object to the UU's right to a worship program that conforms to a very specific world view. They are free to do that and may God -- whoever she is -- bless them. I do, however, strongly object to wasting a perfectly good Sunday hoodwinked into a religious bait and switch -- on MLK's birthday, of all days. How Dr. King could get it so right and this black UU minister get it so wrong astounds me.

On a side note, while the music was nice, as I scanned the faces of the mostly female-of-a-certain-age choir at church Sunday, I couldn't help wondering how many of these women had ever experienced an orgasm.

Also, I've heard that other UU churches are much more open and humanist, so maybe we'll check them out.

But first, I want to attend one of those snakehandling Pentecostal meetings. You KNOW the food afterward will be better! For one thing, they'll probably serve meat.

Sara

Hmm... I think the Churches are inherently going to be somewhat political. One's own politics (in regard to law and democracy) is directly influenced by their personal morals and beliefs. I mean, we all make our voting decisions based on our personal beliefs. I don't see how you separate that?

I guess I don't believe in separation of church and politics, I think the two are too inherently tied. Separation of church and state as Jefferson was referring to was to prevent government from preventing freedom of religion in our country. Basically to allow us to practice whatever religion we choose. I do believe in seperation of church and state, to keep our democracy going so that we can vote on what our personal beliefs are.

The UU church is often working in some forms with the Quakers who are pacifists and one of UU mainstay beliefs is World Peace (which can sometimes be a catch all for pacifists). The UU church is also very active in environmental issues, social rights, civil rights, feminisism and gay rights. They are almost by definition a political activism church. So, maybe this isn't the church for you if you don't believe in polictical activism in a church. And it definitely doesn't seem like the right congregation for you. A different UU church may have a congregation and minister that you like more, but they will tend to be politically active.

Best of luck on your spirituality search!

Amy

On a side note, while the music was nice, as I scanned the faces of the mostly female-of-a-certain-age choir at church Sunday, I couldn't help wondering how many of these women had ever experienced an orgasm.


Huh ? That's just fucking weird. So old ladies are sexually repressed or is it just people who disagree with Amanda's ideologies ?

Marilyn Stavinoha

Did you not get the point about the UU Knoxville congregation experiencing a gunman during a service who killed several people?
Is is too flaming liberal to be scared of this and want to do something
about it?

Suki

As a lifelong, 3rd generation, daughter of two ministers UU my first reaction to this post was "bygones". I love my religion and it's willingness to take a stand on political issues, but I also get that, like any religion, it's not for everyone. So, bygones.

Then I read Joel's ever so tasteful comment about those poor orgasm-less choir members and I couldn't resist setting the record straight. From my personal experience, UUs are some of the least sexually repressed religious people you will ever meet and therefore, probably the most likely to have enjoyed orgasms. Heck, I learned sex Ed through a church program whose main message was that sex and sexuality were nothing to be the least bit ashamed of as long as they were enjoyed in a safe and responsible manner. For all you know, those women went home, got off and then wrote some erotic poetry of their own :)

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