Saturday, January 2, 2016

Recovering Unitarian Universalist

At my congregation, I used to hear, “I’m a recovering Catholic,” spoken with an air of smug condescension, now that the speaker had seen the light of Unitarian Universalism.  Since UUs are called to honor the wisdom in all religions, why would any religion be something to recover from? Nonetheless, I’m recovering from the current local version of Unitarian Universalism.
My mind stands with David Kipp who writes to the UU World Winter 2015, “. . . a person who dares challenge any central tenets of political liberalism, which masquerades as social justice, is openly scorned, mocked, and made unwelcome by UU congregations.”
Some social justice issues prioritize the planet over the people living on it.  Elite UUs driving Priuses to the Co-op can rail against fossil fuels, GMOs, and non-local, non-organic food.  My values lie with people who need low-cost fuel and food.
My journey away from UU green liberalism began when I did the food miles math and discovered long distance semis use less gasoline per pound of food transported than a family Prius going to a local farm because the semis carry so much more freight per trip.  Details in 12/5/15 blog entry: “A Fine Line.”  If they lied about food miles, what else are they lying about?
With the focus outside the congregation, rather than within it, individuals don’t matter much. Turnover is high.  “[People] find comfort and stimulation while here, then move onto something else,” according to the congregation’s newsletter.  Although the writer was describing, not prescribing, there’s a structural reason why congregations are quick to drop people from the rolls; they are taxed for each voting member.  Congregants are only as good as their last pledge.
My heart stands with Teresa Soto who blogs,  “I’m going to be angry when people are indifferent to barriers keeping me and people like me out of buildings where they are indifferent to our participation.” UU World Winter 2015.
The air is so polluted inside my home congregation’s building that I cannot enter it without suffering a debilitating cough caused by chemical sensitivity that I acquired due to inadequate safety measures while ameliorating a Superfund site.  No other buildings in town give me trouble. A gas mask will protect me from the bad air, but not the gauntlet of stares and rude remarks.
When I offered to help purchase a ventilation system, I was told Board Policy prohibited special contributions.  I appealed to the appropriate committees. The Building Committee was bonding with each other; the Environmental Committee was saving Earth from carbon dioxide; the Accessibility Committee met once.

The irony of a Green Sanctuary in a sick building! The double irony of an organization that professes to be accessible to all but isn’t! The triple irony of an organization that focuses on saving the environment being inaccessible to a person who was injured while improving said environment!

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