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Friday, April 22, 2005

Travels to Freedom and Unitarian Universalism

I was recently asked to tell the story about how I came to be a Unitarian Universalist. I figure anything that involves this much writing needs to be shared on my blog. I was reared an institutional catholic. This is a term I've coined to distinguish from faith catholics, many of whom I find to be heretical in catholic terms. As an institutional catholic, it makes all the difference what the institution of the church wants, says or teaches. Part of my up bringing, as you can imagine, included a fair bit of homophobia in the form of the lie that it is a reparable situation, being either a choice, a mental disorder, or a lack of maturity. The result, of course, is that one internalizes a negative message about who one is. It is much deeper than a message about one's behavior as I had not really "behaved" as a teenager. If the message was as "kind and loving" as Pope Benedict XVI would like us all to think, I can't imagine how I could have internalized such negativity since I had not engaged in any of the FORBIDDEN ACTS until after my 19th birthday. So, when I attempted to break down these walls of the closet early in college, I received such a well organized silencing from family and church that I retreated back in. I mean really, one doesn't want to be rejected and one doesn't want to burn in eternal torment in the second round of the seventh circle of hell. Does one? And I married. And built up the very picture of the heterosexual family life. If there is truth in the AA adage "fake it 'till you make it," then it is in opposition to the proposition that sexuality is something other the very substance of your being. The closet began to fracture as the dysfunctional bonds of family and church began to creak and crack. The final nail for my institutional catholicism was the scandal in Boston where it became impossible to deny the complicity of the hierarchy. As the mortar of dishonesty crumbled and the stones of the power structure were revealed behind their facade of piety, I began to examine all my beliefs and allow myself the questions denied for so many years. Eventually, my wife kicked me out of the closet as it was killing me. Remarkable woman. There was much pain. I wonder if relationships can be rebuilt without considerable pain and courage. The relationship is rebuilt and it is good. More awe-inspiring is the new relationship with my fiance. So, this is what people mean by a soul-mate? Part of the pain in rebuilding the relationship with my son's mother is the realization of what she had missed all these years; what I could not have given her. In visiting with friends, I found people who attended their church community far more for the community than the church. They found solace in the companionship and support. They often hold heretical opinions and are uninterested in pursuing it with the purveyors of dogma in their communities. That connection with a community increasingly held an attraction, for in coming out of the dark closet of denial and death, I found a willingness and joy in connecting with others that had always been overshadowed by my need to manage other's perception of who I was. My fiance investigated the local UU church and he found there a remarkable fellowship that embraced the concept of non-creedal community. It is not necessary that we agree on the number and nature of the sacraments or the procession of the Trinity, or even the existence or nature of a higher power. The infinity of a transcendent higher power can encompass all these truths with simultaneity and joy. Who are we, as a small community, to limit the infinity of god, or even quibble about her existence? If one does not work so hard at being right, one might be wrong less often. Someone tell Herr Benedict XVI. He doesn't seem to have heard the Good News. ;-)

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