I’m laying in bed scuffed and sore after taking a bad spill on concrete earlier today. It’s nothing I would want to repeat, and I didn’t lose consciousness, break bones or chip teeth. It could have been a lot worse. Repeating the tale to some friends, also Unitarian Universalist Christians, I expressed my gratitude in terms of providence. Clearly (to me) God was watching out.
I’m not as bashful about this kind of expressed piety as I once was. And it reminded me of one unexpected upside to Unitarian Universalism: nobody’s going to reward you for your conventional expressions of theology. You might even get an earful.
For the record, I think of myself as orthodox as anyone in the mainline. I can (and do) recite the Nicene Creed without mental reservation, understanding that it’s not an evasion to have a complex approach to some issues. Indeed, I may be notably conservative for some liberal Christians. So be it. (Universalism is not a heresy but that — and why some Universalists would want to make hay claiming it is — is a discussion for another time.)
The fact is I got here theologically entirely in my time as a Unitarian Universalist. This process took years, and a lot of soul searching. Previously, I was a low christology Unitarian Christian and before that (as a teenager) would have caucused with the Humanists. I’m not a hold-over or an entryist, but very much a part of the Unitarian Universalist narrative.
My theological orthodoxy doesn’t provide me any benefit among Unitarian Universalists, which also means I’m not penalized for believing the wrong thing. There’s no reward for lying about believing something I don’t believe in. It’s a lot easier to be honest as a Unitarian Universalist, and that’s something I highly treasure, even if it means I’m in a small minority.
Which is why I find the idea of a political orthodoxy so repellent. Not meaning political parties per se, but having to adhere to a particular theory and vision of human relations, including the present form of anti-oppression work. The imputed value and rightness of the work does not justify the intrusion, the mental evasion needed to survive, and above all the dishonesty such an orthodoxy necessarily demands.