Monday 26 November 2012

My Service, and How a New Attender Appeared

To be honest, I don't think my service Sunday was one of my best. It took as long to write, as I also write my own prayers (I just don't like what I find elsewhere, and I'm as capable as they are at putting thoughts together). There were too many new hymns and I did chop a reading down to size myself once the main point had been made. But it did reflect my own changes and did take a chance to explain how I understand the thinking of Rowan Williams and my differences with such. It's my turn back to a more realist position, and why whilst I agree with Don Cupitt about religion I don't agree with his all-embracing philosophical stance. As well as presenting the service I continued to do the music.

We had a new attender among the pathetic turnout. Now I am on a dating website and so far have been enjoying a text exchange with someone locally. She learnt (slowly) of my religious involvement (it's not something to advertise these days - by far the biggest number now is 'no religion') and she is herself neo-Pagan. But she told an ex-Catholic friend of me and the Unitarians and so that friend attended today for the first time and rather liked it. And I seem to remember that our Muslim attender's first time was when I took the service, and she kept coming until it was time for her to return to Iran.

The dating evening was a cock-up Sunday evening, because I didn't see the person with whom I've been messaging, but she was in this smallish, very packed venue with its blistering loud music. After 50 minutes I went outside to see if she was arriving, when she was already inside with a friend. So eventually after a further half an hour mainly outside I went and joined my friends arriving at another pub.

But no problems as my dating friend may arrive with new attender at the coffee morning on Friday. If both were to get involved (and my dating friend excused herself so as not to make me nervous - eh?) then we might be even further on the way to rejuvenating with more new blood the congregation. We have recruited new faces recently and if we hadn't the place would be in a sorry state indeed.


Matt said...

I liked your service a lot, Adrian.

Whether you agree with it or not, it had substance which is often what present-day Unitarianism lacks.

I'd be interested to know how well it was received by the congregation?

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Not very well, to be honest. One said it met my needs but not those of others and another made a barbed comment about my brain and how it manages to stay together - she thinks she's being funny.

Matt said...

That's a shame. I suppose it's a question of what the needs of Unitarians are? And can they even be spoke about collectively?

There is probably a contradiction to be found somewhere in people entering a church that proclaims individualism, then complaining that a fellow individual's sermon didn't meet their own particular needs.

I have to say, before abandoning ship to the Quakers, I was of the Unitarian Christian / Free Christian / Classical Unitarian camp - basically something similar to the American Unitarian Conference theology. So we would disagree on the course of Unitarianism.

However, for me, your service read (on paper at least) as a very credible alternative Unitarianism to Unitarian Christianity in terms of the substance and the worship around on it. It wasn't just a mish mash of pithey sayings, as often is the case with 'post-Christian Unitarianism' - it was well connected and inspirational.

It probably helps that I also have great admiration for Carl Sagan and readily engage with his work.

Anyway, it's a well done from me at least.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Well, I appreciate the comments of course. I'm pleased that my effort - and I write my own prayers - are seen as co-ordinated and coherent. I think the problem isn't just individualism in that there are only so many points of coherence and variation, but rather Unitarianism as a kind of inherited easy-listening religion where it is neither one thing nor the other. People like me upset those who want a quiet life, to sing nice hymns and generally go unchallenged. I can debate a coherent Christian message too, though I'm not sure I'd want that every week, say from a minister dedicated to that point of view. That's a contradiction in itself, when such minister should have no test of belief. The worst 'easy-listening' or 'do not disturb' approach is a feature of religious demand well beyond Unitarianism too.