Tuesday 22 December 2009

Can't Make My Mind Up

I'm puzzled about a service I am going to take, at the Hull Unitarian Church. I don't know what to do. It is for January 3rd. I want the topic to be new things, and although the new decade starts in a year's time the noughties are already replaced by the tens and teens.

So I have two ideas in my head. One is to do a theological service, bringing forward and projecting forward in a postmodern way the theology and practice of James Martineau. A new theology from old: naturalistic, liberal, with our sociology of knowledge, historically proper and forward projecting. I think I could make a good stab at that. But another idea that I could pursue is beginnings, as I am a long term diary keeper of detail (with some exceptions, open ended lined A4 books not space limiting diaries). I have had a look at the first proper Sunday Unitarian service I attended and read my first impressions. For example, I wrote of symbol at the front being 'a cross with the top lopped off and replaced by a flame' - well that was one way of seeing the flaming chalice.

My visit there was after the Baha'is used the hall for a meeting, to investigate the church itself by attending, and my account is in amongst a context of discovering the Baha'i cultic behaviour around a woman I was interested in - Baha'is have peculiar rules about relationships and they marry rapidly before any romantic contact; by now I'd been identified as too much an outsider when it came to thinking for myself regarding their religion, and finding some Covenant Breaker's material that put a different view from their self-presentation. Also there had been a visit for a number of days to a theological college in Birmingham when I was considering applying for Anglican ministry training, and I was pretty much appalled that I had something in common with the staff but very little with most students, who seemed to live in a different world from me. Things back in 1984 seem little different from now (and I was also writing about all the infighting in the Church of England!).

There are (so far skimmed at) three services in a row (there is a gap when out of town one Sunday) where there are quite some extensive same day notes written about what happened and who said what. I don't write as extensively these days on such matters (for one thing, I don't seem to remember sermons as well). But it could be interesting to show impressions when I was less well informed. This was November and December 1984. By 1989-90 I was at Unitarian College, and I managed to be a heretic there too - outside the British Unitarian mainstream. I still am, really, except I know that now and I'm not so innocent, though I see a number of other people have moved on since.

So I'll look at these entries more carefully and see if there is a sermon to be created, and indeed a liturgy on new things. I know that after so many I went back to the Church of England, and thoughts of its ministry, only for my beliefs to collapse and then to attend the Unitarians with greater intent, usually still interspersed with some Anglican services for some years. Just like I attend now.

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