“Breaking Bad” and “Dexter” Spirituality

September has seen the ending of two very popular and critically-acclaimed television shows…Breaking Bad and Dexter.

What did we learn about ourselves through these shows? What larger theological issues can we take forward from these shows?

How does Unitarian Universalism engage-in/critique popular culture? Or does it?

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Why Can’t UUs Celebrate Belief Has Much As They Celebrate Doubt?

Here we go again. In the newest issue of the UU World, UUA President Peter Morales writes an opinion piece which is headlined “Belief is the Enemy of Faith”. Before I get to the heart of my fundamental disagreement with Peter’s thesis, there is one minor point which I think I need to bring up.

To quote Peter’s opinion piece:

Young people are rejecting all religion in numbers we have never seen before.

This is true, for certain groups of young people. When you start looking at the numbers as they are, certain things become apparent. Young people of color are NOT “rejecting religion in numbers we have never seen before.” And as long as the talk continues to lump all “young people” together, nobody will address what the religious landscape of the US really looks like. That, however, is another post for another time.

Anyway…the main point of Peter’s opinion piece seems to be that “belief” is a bad thing and that the mission of Unitarian Universalism in this time is to usher in a new age of freedom from belief. Well, I call bullshit.

It matters what we believe.

Some beliefs are like walled gardens. They encourage exclusiveness, and the feeling of being especially privileged.

Other beliefs are expansive and lead the way into wider and deeper sympathies.

Some beliefs are like shadows, clouding [children’s] days with fears of unknown calamities.

Other beliefs are like sunshine, blessing [children] with the warmth of happiness.

Some beliefs are divisive, separating the saved from the unsaved, friends from enemies.

Other beliefs are bonds in a world community, where sincere differences beautify the pattern.

Some beliefs are like blinders, shutting off the power to choose one’s own direction.

Other beliefs are like gateways opening wide vistas for exploration.

Some beliefs weaken a person’s selfhood. They blight the growth of resourcefulness.

Other beliefs nurture self-confidence and ignite the feeling of personal worth.

Some beliefs are rigid, like the body of death, impotent in a changing world.

Other beliefs are pliable, like the young sapling, ever growing with the upward thrust of life.

-Sophia Lyon Fahs

At some point, my dear UU friends, UUism must stop being a negative religion and actually articulate a positive vision. When will we (as a collective) start to celebrate/encourage belief in the same way that we celebrate/encourage doubt (anybody else remember the “when in doubt—pray, when in prayer—doubt” mess)? If doubt is an important companion to faith, why isn’t belief just as an important companion?

It matters what we believe my friends. What we believe about humanity and its ultimate end matters. If you have no beliefs about humanity and its ultimate end, then why work for justice/peace/tolerance/freedom/etc.? To work for those means that you BELIEVE something.

Belief is the enemy of faith only when the belief brings more destruction (thanatos) into the world instead of more creativity (eros).

It matters what we believe.

Let’s Talk About Sex…or…Why Don’t UU Churches Use Song of Solomon More

For a group of religious people who take pride in the fact that we (along with the UCC) have produced a really progressive sexuality curriculum, UUs don’t talk about sex much outside of the 12-14 year old range. We talk about marriage equality and anti-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but we don’t talk about sex.

In doing my research and writing about ‘Scandal’, I figured out that so much of what I’m thinking about is how we liberal religious folk talk about things like sex and pleasure and desire and beauty—good things of the flesh. And one of the best pieces of writing talking about things of the flesh is the Song of Solomon (not Toni Morrison’s novel). Yet, how often has this beautiful piece of religious poetry spoken in UU congregations?

Why don’t we talk about the good things of the flesh more? We have no problem with talking about the bad things of the flesh; which mostly is the good things of the flesh taken to sinful extremes. Sex and pleasure and desire and beauty are wonderful things and worthy of celebration. We should do it more often.

Let’s Talk ‘Scandal’….The Theological Question….Are There Some Things That Can’t Be Fixed?

Well it’s Wednesday, which means that it’s “Scandal” night on BET. So I thought this was a good time to post the next in my on-going series about the show.

On the show, Olivia Pope and Associates is a crisis/risk management firm. The Gladiators are handlers, in other words. And over and over other characters say that everything is fixable in Olivia Pope’s world.

But is that true? Is everything fixable? Or are there some situations/relationships/people that cannot be fixed?