Just one. And man, is it boring.
Based on my most recent church experience, I’ve decided to stop identifying churches by name, and to stick with their denomination only. I don’t want these posts to seem like restaurant reviews, because it’s not about whether it’s good, it’s about whether it works for me. And the Unitarians, God bless ’em, don’t work for me.
Having said that, I’m immensely glad that there are Unitarians. Their core principles meet up with many of the reasons I’ve always been agnostic. Check out what The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Christianity says about them:
Current Unitarians hold that God is not one in three persons but rather a single entity. They also believe God is good and human beings are good, too. This makes Jesus not an incarnate God sent to redeem a sin-ridden humankind, but a great moral teacher filled with God who did great things as an example for us all.
They don’t think the Christian Bible is an exclusive source of spiritual guidance and truth, and in fact draw from lots of religious traditions and even science, nature, and human intuition to promote spiritual growth. Unitarian Universalist churches hold two key principles in common: congregational independence and toleration for all forms of religious belief and practice.
There is a lot to like in all that. The appeal of Christianity is often diminished by the insistence of some of its followers that it is the only source of salvation (a belief not limited to Christians, I hasten to add) and wisdom, and that all other sources are not only wrong but even demonic. I once heard of an article that condemned yoga as an evil practice, and anyone who’s practiced yoga knows that its only evil is in wearing you out physically. Christianity is undermined by overheated fears like these.
Anyway, having said that there’s a lot to like about Unitarianism, I didn’t enjoy a Unitarian service. I missed the pageantry and the emotion and the sense of ritual and tradition. At times it almost felt like a panel discussion. I think Unitarianism’s strength is in its removal of some of the more specific Christian trappings, at least in appealing to those who would like to be Christian without all the Christianity. (This is a whole separate topic, on which more later.) But by doing so, it loses those of us who would like the toleration but with a side of pageantry and…well, awesomeness, for lack of a better word. I may not agree with everything they say at Our Lady of the Green Clock, but mass there is an emotionally enormous ceremony with overwhelming impact.
A caveat: It should be noted that Unitarian services in other states may be completely different. But I’m living in the land of the Scandinavians, a people not noted for their emotional displays. If you want to see a demonstration of this, I think the best way is to watch a bunch of Minnesotans sing “This Little Light of Mine.” They try, they even clap, but there’s a little something missing.