This week’s Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey release seems to have captured the media’s attention, perhaps because, like so much else in American life, it defies their either/or perceptions. It turns out that not only are we not a Christian nation; we can’t even be called Judeo-Christian — too many Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, et al.
It appears that the Unitarian Universalist experience of religious identity reflects the American landscape better than we might have imagined. Our identity cross-section is different in many ways, but our diversity mirrors the nation. How well are we dealing with our diversity?
Some of us are still trying to absorb the possibility that we may be classified as Protestants! Who knew? I did hear a reference to the Christian Bible during a worship service the other day. No, it was not during the Christmas Pageant Service — that was largely a Christmas-like stories from around the world sort of adventure.
In our church we hear occasional reference to Christian or Jewish scriptures, just as the preacher may call upon Buddhist or Sufi thought at other times. There are even periodic movements to have our various religious traditions celebrated more intentionally. But, mostly, our diversity seems to be taken for granted and not explored very closely. Often we seem, like Barack Obama, to be a little embarrassed by our heritage, rather than eager to celebrate it.
In any case the Big News about our many religions background is not the multiplicity but the seeming ability of parishioners to put together a more or less satisfying spiritual practice based in multiple sources.
The modernist drive to find the single truth all must believe will find no satisfaction among us. How ironic is that — given our Humanist bent for the last couple of decades!
But the post-modernist embrace of the many may help us build a sturdier religious platform as we become more accustomed to not knowing with the old, should we say arrogant(?), certitude.