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December 21, 2004



Unitarians? You don't even have to believe in one God to go there. They talk about the spirituality in many religions, and, at least at the services I have gone to, celebrate holy days from a wide variety of traditions, including pagan. At the church down the street, the lesbian and gay families actually outnumber the heterosexual ones. It was a good fit for my sort-of Catholic upbringing and my husband's Quaker upbringing. Just enough ritual to make me feel like I'm actually at church, and a lack of fire-and-damnation that makes my husband feel comfortable. And everyone truly lives their beliefs in this group. No one is telling them they have to show up or they'll burn in hell, but they still do. Teenagers are involved, willingly. It is a wonderful place for me to feel good about believing in God without being typecast as a loony Christian (I'm with you on the Jesus thing), and not feel like I am somehow lacking because of my unorthodox views. The new pastor is not someone I really click with (she's perfectly nice, I don't know what it is), so we don't go much anymore, and I miss it.

Thanks for the kind words on my blog. It means a lot when people comment, especially people who don't know me, and so therefore I can't convince myself they are doing it out of obligation :-)


The Unitarian church here is small and odd. I've tried Unitarians in the past and gotten frustrated with the lack of a regular liturgical structure. But they're certainly on my list of places to go next if this doesn't work out!

Have you tried Quaker services? I find that I *want* to like them more than I actually like them, mostly because I like meditating, but meditating by myself in the attic, with my incense and my cushion on the floor is much different than sitting in a circle with 15 other people! But I respect Quakers immensely, and I might like services better in another time of my life.

Thanks for reading, and for commenting. It's nice to have a little on-line community.


I haven't been to meeting, because I thought it sounded too weird, frankly. I like the idea of it, but I feel like I need more...ritual, I guess, to really feel the way I want to feel. I have a hard time focusing during meditation, and don't really enjoy it at yoga class, so I think I wouldn't like it at meeting either. My husband went to meeting here for a while and didn't like it, because there's a guy who is apparently compelled by God to begin speaking about politics and the wrongs in the world for most of the time, and no one has ever stopped him, apparently.

We actually have two Unitarian churches here, and one is a lot more formal than the other. The formal one, unfortunately, is filled with rich white people who didn't make me feel particularly welcome, though I liked the sermon much better. I wonder sometimes if I should be worrying so much about the church community instead of actually going, but I really do think it is as important as what is said on Sunday.


There are two issues, I think, pulling in different directions. That's what makes it difficult.

On the one hand, you want a church that doesn't ask you to believe nonsense. On the other, you want a church that preserves the structure, the lore, and the discipline which supports genuine spiritual transformation. Unfortunately you rarely find both at the same time.

Rarely isn't never. I wouldn't assume that the right church (temple, sangha, coven, whatever) isn't out there. It could be anywhere, under almost any auspices.

One of the (many) joys of leaving academia, for me, was discovering that the rest of the world is considerably more hospitable to a life of the spirit.

You might be doing your fellow-academics a huge favor by just bringing it up. "I'm looking for a church or a temple, do you know of a good one?" -- might start unexpected conversations. There are lots more academics out there, I think, with serious spiritual yearnings, than you'd ever guess -- to hear them being clever at parties, anyway. After all, we've all been clever at parties too, nicht?

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