Sing Like You Mean It….or Why UUs Don’t Do Gospel (well) pt. 3

Thanks to both Scott Wells and Chalicechick for making me realize that I’ve been using the wrong words to get my point across.

I’ve used gospel music as my example because it’s the most glaring one for me when I’m in UU circles. That, however, is just part of a larger point that I haven’t made as well as I should. So I’m going to put it in the simplest language that I can.

Sing like you mean it!!!!!!!!!

Sing as if you actually think that music in worship is not just for the professionals. Sing as if you actually enjoy being around the group of people that you’re with. Sing as if you actually think that music is an important part of worship.

I don’t particularly care which song you are singing…..from “Spirit of Life”, “Siyahamba” and “Blue Boat Home” to “Forward Through The Ages” and “O God, Our Help In Ages Past”, sing it as if you mean it. These songs are in the service for a reason. Somebody took the time to pick them out. The very least you could do is respect that person (or persons as the case may be) and actually SING.

This is what I’m talking about when I used the Revelation text. Don’t be lukewarm when you sing. Choose which you’re going to be….cold or hot…..but this lukewarm mess has just got to stop. I can’t take it anymore.


Tambourines and Other Things We Don’t Do…or Why UUs Don’t Sing Gospel (well) pt. 2

I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

(bonus points for anyone who can tell where the above quote comes from)

I am so glad that there is no UU congregation within 30 minutes of this place. That way I’m not expected to go to and be a part of it. This gives me the opportunity to go worship with people who do more than think when they cross the church house door. So I’ve been going to the nice little black Pentecostal church about a block-and-a-half from my apartment for a while now. And of course, I study their services the same way I study UU services.

You might remember that a couple of weeks ago my post was about why UUs don’t sing gospel well. My basic premise is that the reason that UUs don’t do gospel well (aside from UU inability to get over the theology of many of the songs) is that UUs don’t do suffering well. After service today I have a whole new list of things that UUs don’t do. Here’s just a portion of that list:

1. Tambourines. Maybe with the exception of the second service at All Souls-Tulsa, my guess is that if a tambourine is at a UU church, it’s got something to do with children’s RE.

2. Liturgical dance. I know the word liturgy probably scares a number of you, but deal with it. Dance can be a way that people get in touch with the divine.

3. The minister have a sermon ready but decides not to give it and all the assembled do is sing.

What I’ve noticed is that all the things that I’m talking about require that emotions be a part of the worship service. And with all of the UU focus on reason, we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater. But even more than that, do UUs preach about emotional issues? And when I’m talking about emotional issues, I’m not talking about mental health issues or social issues that have strong emotions tied to them. I’m talking about real emotional issues like shame, suffering, joy, hope, mercy, forgiveness, loneliness, resentment, fear, anger and so forth. The churches that grow talk about these issues.

I know I’m on a rant these days, but I’m looking towards next year when I have to do my internship. And I have to say, the prospect is not that thrilling. If I have to sit through another group of UUs sing “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and do it badly, I’m gonna scream. Hell, if I hear another group of UUs sing “Spirit of Life” (a song I hate beyond measure) or “Blue Boat Home” (a song I love) half-assedly, I’m gonna scream even louder. I want a UU church that knows what it is, be it hot or cold. This lukewarm mess is driving me bonkers.

Which Group Do I Ignore? or What To Do When One Is Multi-Confessional

Note: if your first thought is to comment or argue with me about my use of the word “confessional”, don’t go there. I am not the one.

Many of you who read this blog on a semi-regular basis probably remember that I’m doing an independent study on UU History and Polity. I haven’t talked much about the other two classes that I’m taking this semester. Well, this post is about one of them.

Aside from Discernment of Calls and Gifts (a decidedly Quaker class), I’m taking Constructive Theology. This is the class that puts me in a quandary.

The required reading list is small; only four books. Three of them David picked out. The fourth is where the quandary comes in. According to our syllabus, we are to pick a book

From one’s own confessional community.

Ah. There’s the rub. When I first read it, my question was “how does one deal with this when the community is non-confessional?” The longer I’ve sat with it though, I saw how wrong I was. UUism isn’t non-confessional…’s Multi-Confessional. And that presents an even bigger quanday.

So in picking a book, what book should I pick? Do I pick JLA because he’s my default when it comes to U/U theologians? Or do I pick something by a lesser read theologian (the question then would be which one)? Do I pick something from the 19th century people like Emerson, Parker or Ballou? Or skip that completely and pick something from more contemporary people like Forrest Church or Rebecca Parker? How about Varieties of Religious Experience?

Or do I pick scripture….and if I do…which one?

Do I chuck it all and go outside the usual and pick something like Souls of Black Folk or Faces At The Bottom Of The Well? Do I choose Catherine Keller and Katie Geneva Cannon? Emilie Townes and Jacqueline Grant? Or how about Amy-Jill Levine?

And let’s not forget the contemporary atheists like Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.

In choosing one, which group do I ignore? And how does one choose a book as representative of the multi-confessional nature that is UUism?