I want you to know why our spiritual leader does not have gold teeth.
It was Buddhism that I wanted to pursue again. But you know what? Monks aren’t much for childcare.
But a wrong turn prompted me to check out First Unitarian Universalist. Your Hey Lady had dabbled in Unitarian before, so I was pretty sure it wouldn’t piss me off.
Now anyone who knows me knows that me and church in the same sentence don’t go. When I was a kid, your great-grandmother used to draaaaag me to church. Baptist? Lutheran? I don’t remember. Let’s just call it BLACK CHURCH.
Surely an eternity could not be longer than a Black Church service. There is hollin’. And screaming. And people get “the spirit.” Meaning this.
Okay, not exactly that. Brother Franklin is in a whole ‘nother category.
Also? One church totally had outhouses. And the minister had gold teeth. To me, gold teeth say, “God is totally my part-time job. My other one is shooting dice."
I know. I’m totally a judgy asshole. My penance shall be a few Hail Pamays.
But if it bothers me? It bothers me. I’m not going to get any more open-minded if I can’t get past the teeth in the minister’s mouth.
I might have been able to roll with it and have a little fun, were I not arguing with every single word of the sermon.
In my head.
Never out loud.
Is you crazy? This BLACK church.
Anyhow, I will cop to having a very, very specific, yet extremely vague vision of what I want my religion to be like.
For example, when I go to a Buddhist temple, I wanna see some shaved heads and saffron robes. And if we’re talking Tibetan Buddhism? I wanna see somebody from Tibet. Not people who were taught by somebody in Tibet. I want somebody with a foreign passport. Right or wrong, I like to feel like my religion is coming straight from the motherland.
But Unitarian Universalist … I didn’t know enough about it have a bias as to what my minister would look like. Therefore I got over that prejudice pretty easy.
Female minister. Cool. Her name is … Reverend Meg?
I’m on a first name basis with my spiritual leader? Should I be? Shouldn’t I be calling her Reverend Barnhouse?
Then I started wondering why would that make me feel better? Do I have some kind of crazy submissive thing? Okay, that’s my own personal little bit of crazy. Objection overruled.
We settled in for service. They light a groovy chalice. The logo is pretty sweet.
What? I’m in marketing, I can’t help it.
And they are all about taking action in the community. Love that. Not a fan of lip service church service.
They call Sunday School "religious education.” I call it Sunday School. Because religious education feels like something you provide for a Terminator so he won’t stick out on the sabbath.
And the music. It is a very enlightened mix of genres. I mean, I think I saw some Dave Matthews songs in the hymnal. I like that.
But that first Sunday, I was a little … unmoved? The music is sweet and polite and pretty. Everyone listens politely.
Then I realized that that was the remanants of Black Church in me. At Black Church? The music damn near makes you want to step in the name of love.
I used to want to ask the people that got the holy spirit how they knew it was the holy spirit that made them cripwalk? I humbly submit Exhibit A. Did your toe tap? Mine did.
But dude, while I look like something is moving through me when listening to Van Halen? I know that’s just David Lee Roth and not the holy spirit.
Let the church say Panama.
That first Sunday, I was performing a near constant analysis of the church. Is this reverend for me? Is she reverend-y enough? Is this music for me? Should it make me want to bust a move? Can I hang out with these people? Are they people I want you to hang out with? Would I want us wearing their t-shirt? Do I agree with this? Do I agree with that? Do I want to join this team?
And I decided that I was interested enough to come back the next Sunday. And to read a few books on UU in the meantime. Including one by Reverend Meg.
And we went back the next Sunday. And a few times after that. And when we couldn’t go, I was sad. I missed it. It is the good in my week. I can let go and be inspired. I feel safe. And I am not arguing in my head anymore.
I should tell you that when we came in, they gave you a bag of crayons and some stickers. Your religious vote was bought. I’m going to have to teach you to have my discerning eye when it comes to religion or you’ll be rocking black Nikes and clutching a pack of Kool-Aid.
I am choosing this religion for you, until you can choose your own. And it’ll be okay if you grow up and choose another.
First Unitarian Universalist has a banner that members pick up and carry, to both protests and celebrations. That banner says, “We stand on the side of love.”
Even I can’t argue with that.
Just be sure that your new church can say the same.