I’m not going to post everything I say as part of my President’s Welcome and Announcements on Sunday mornings, but sometimes I will. Here’s what I had to say this morning:
Robert Wuthnow is Director of the Center for the Study of American Religion at Princeton University and author of the book Christianity in the 21st Century: Reflections on the Challenges Ahead. In that book, he said “Instead of being a reaction to fundamentalism, liberal religion needs to become a counterculture to secularism. [Liberal religion] should present itself as a third way.”
It’s easy for us to be a reaction to fundamentalism. We like being a reaction to fundamentalism. We’re too smart to fall for their claims of Biblical inerrancy, and we’re too ethical to threaten people with eternal damnation to get them to support our church.
But it’s a lot harder to present a practical alternative to the wider culture – the culture that says your value depends on how you look, how much money you have, what kind of car you drive, or how much education you have. It’s more difficult to challenge the culture that says faith doesn’t really matter and that communities aren’t worth the effort unless they’re giving me what I want.
Reacting to fundamentalism is easy – it lets us feel superior. Becoming a counterculture to secularism – now that requires some work.
But what good is a religion that doesn’t encourage you to examine your life and dare you to live up to your highest principles? As practitioners of liberal religion, we UUs need to challenge each other to reject secularism, materialism, and cynicism, and to truly embrace compassion, community, and the inherent worth of every person – including the fundamentalists.
Free religion isn’t easy religion, but it’s honest religion. I hope you’ll join us in building that “third way” here at the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.