Confessions, part 2

I had first heard about Unitarian Universalism in college.  In my early 20s is when friends started getting married, and for those who weren't religious yet didn't want a wedding at City Hall, a Unitarian minister was the minister of choice.  You told them what you wanted said, and more importantly what you didn't want said, and the minister would happily go along with it.  No questions asked.  My friends and I all liked that about UU, but it didn't strike me as a religion that I would commit to.  It had struck me as "fluffy."  What was the point of belonging to a faith where you could believe whatever you wanted to believe?

But after over a decade of searching for "the right religion for me" and not finding it, I was weary and just wanted a place to park myself for a bit.  I had also noticed a disturbing trend where I was increasingly isolated in my ivory tower of science/academics.   In high school and college in the San Francisco bay area, I had been heavily involved in social activism and community volunteering.  I had struggled to maintain that during the demands of graduate school in Los Angeles, and it all but disappeared as a postdoc on Long Island.  Week after week, I told myself I would get involved "next week."  One day I decided that I needed to find a group that would remind me of my obligations to my community.  And UUs were known for their commitment to social justice, if nothing else.  So...I remember thinking, "Well, at least the UUs will never say anything that will offend me."

And they didn't. For three years from the fall of 2000 to the fall of 2003, off and on, mostly off, I attended a small UU fellowship in New York.  Through their social action committee, I got involved in an interfaith response to the anti-immigration backlash that erupted during that time.  The congregation never said anything that offended me; but they never said anything that particularly inspired me either. Except for one joke I can't remember a single sermon. After three years of admittedly sporadic Sunday attendance, other members of the fellowship recognized me by sight but still could not remember my name. (Nor I theirs.) It was pretty much what I expected going in - a tepid relationship based on our mutual interest in social justice but not in each other.  I got out of it exactly what I put in to it.

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Acknowledgments is made possible in part by generous support from the Fahs Collaborative