This is my slightly revised point-by-point response to the blog post titled The Impossibility of Believing Whatever You Want
on Jeff Wilson`s Transient and Permanent blog. I have tried submitting it a few times without success so I am posting it here instead. I will add pertinent hyperlinks to the text shortly.
:There’s a mighty big myth about Unitarian-Universalism that has been circulating for years. It’s the idea that in UUism “you can believe whatever you want.” That’s not at all accurate.
Unfortunately it is by no means an impossibility for Unitarian*Universalists aka U*Us to believe whatever they want to. In fact all too many contemporary U*Us do exactly that in various ways. Like many myths (but by no means all myths. . .) that perception or indeed stereotype about contemporary Unitarian*Universalism is based on fact and observed behaviour. The fact of the matter is that many Unitarian*Universalists are effectively free to believe whatever they want to believe, even if their beliefs can be shown to be quite untenable. It seems that the Unitarian ideal that one`s religious beliefs (to say nothing of other beliefs) should be solidly founded on Reason went out the door some time after the 1961 merger of the Unitarians with the Universalists, if not some time before it. . .
:Truthfully, in UUism it’s more like: “you have to believe what you really do believe, whether you want to or not.”
This sounds like goobledegook to me. It would be far better to say “U*Us have to believe what the facts lead U*Us to believe, whether U*Us want to or not.” Unfortunately, well documented facts have never got in the way of U*U beliefs about me or any number of other people and things.
:Followed authentically, this is potentially a far harder, more spiritually refining course than creedal religion. UUism isn’t for slackers.
Tell that to all the hundreds if not thousands of U*Us who have been “slackers” (to put it mildly) for over a decade regarding the facts that I have brought to their attention about the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry of some so-called Humanist U*Us and various other well-documented U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy. I might add that there is plenty of other evidence of U*Us being slackers on any number of other issues, including fundamental monotheistic religious beliefs. . .
:Wanting has nothing to do with belief. Who can believe what they want?
Montreal Unitarian U*Us for starters. . . They can and do continue to believe that I am psychotic even though church leaders have been given two letters from a qualified psychiatrist stating that he could find no traces of psychoses in me. They can believe that Creation Day is a cult even though there is no evidence supporting that belief. They can believe that I will commit a serious personal injury offence even though I have a proven track record of non-violent direct action that is more than a decade long. They can believe that they have done no wrong whatsoever inspite of the abundant documented evidence of their obvious injustices, abuses and hypocrisy. The UUA and its very aptly named Ministerial Fellowship Committee can believe that Rev. Ray Drennan`s obvious anti-religious intolerance and bigotry and related verbally abusive harassment is “within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership” even though it clearly violates both the letter and the spirit of the UUMA Guidelines of Professional Practice aka the UUMA Code of Ethics, to say nothing of various other claimed principles and ideals of U*Uism. Plenty of other U*Us believe what they want about all manner of things in complete disregard of hard facts that call their dubious beliefs into question.
:In UUism people are called to believe what they believe:
Huh? Isn`t that effectively believing whatever you want to believe? Be assured that I know plenty of U*Us who believe what they believe even though their dubious beliefs are quite untenable when confronted by hard facts. . .
:to test their beliefs and those of others, to replace fantasy with truth,
I am still waiting for U*Us to get around to doing that. When will U*Us replace the fantasy that I am psychotic or suffering from some other serious mental illness with the truth that I am remarkably well-balanced and sane, especially for someone claiming a profound revelatory experience of God? When will U*Us replace the fantasy that Creation Day is a cult with the truth that, by definition, an inter-religious event that brings together people from diverse religions cannot possibly be a cult? When will the UUA and it`s aptly named Ministerial Fellowship Committee replace the fantasy that Rev. Ray Drennan`s verbal abuse and harassment is “within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership” with the truth that his anti-religious intolerance and bigotry clearly violates both the letter and the spirit of the UUMA Guidelines of Professional Practice aka the UUMA Code of Ethics? I could present numerous other examples of U*Us abjectly failing or obstinately refusing to replace fantasy with truth but it would take up a lot more space here.
:even when fantasy seems infinitely preferable to truth.
Indeed it does to plenty of U*Us. In fact Montreal Unitarian U*Us and no shortage of other U*Us, including U*U clergy and top-level UUA administrators, have found fantasy to be preferable to the well-documented truth for over a decade now. . .
:With no creedal litmus test, UUs can’t hide behind dogmas they barely understand or even disagree with.
You`d be surprised. . .
:When discussing what a Christian is, one doesn’t say “A Christian is someone who claims to believe in God, whether he really does or not.”
Actually I have heard of some U*U clergy, including one UUA President, pretending to be Christians even though they are not Christians and may not even believe in God. . .
:Likewise, one shouldn’t say “A UU is someone who can believe whatever they want to.”
Why not? It is effectively very much true these days, even though it should not be true. . .
:The UU who believes what he wants to believe is not a model UU,
I agree in principle, but the U*U who believes what he or she wants to believe, even in defiance of hard facts and compelling evidence, seems to be very much the de facto U*U these days. I won`t paint *all* U*Us with that brush but that statement certainly can be applied to hundreds and even thousands of U*Us if not a majority of U*Us.
:just as the Christian who fakes allegiance to the Nicene creed is not a model Christian (no comments here about the stereotyping of what it takes to be a Christian please–this is just being used to illustrate a point).
What about U*U ministers, including at least one UUA President faking being Christians for various reasons? What about those many U*Us who fake allegiance to the Seven Principles of U*Uism and other claimed ideals of U*Uism?
:When a mature UU encounters theist UUs, she never thinks “Oh, he just wants to believe that there is a God.” Rather, she assumes that he has struggled with his beliefs and found that he can’t deny the existence of God.
I guess that makes Rev. Ray Drennan and all those other intolerant and abusive Humanist U*Us who have repeatedly mocked and ridiculed my carefully though out monotheistic religious beliefs, and have even gone so far as to label me as psychotic or otherwise insane, are immature U*Us. . . No argument from me about that.
:When she encounters Wiccan UUs, she never think “Oh, he just wants to believe in magic.” She assumes that he has wrestled with how the world works, and can’t discount that our intentions impact the world and what we put out into the universe comes back to us many times over.
Well the intentions of Rev. Ray Drennan and other intolerant and abusive U*Us have certainly come back to U*Us many times over. . . It is most unfortunate that U*Us have repeatedly proven themselves to be chronically unready, obstinately unwilling, and seemingly outright unable to responsibly acknowledge and adequately redress the well-documented injustices and abuses arising out of the intentions of Rev. Ray Drennan's, and other outrageously hypocritical U*Us', anti-religious intolerance. . .
:She assumes these UUs believe different things as UUs because they can’t escape the fact that they believe them, not because they merely wish them to be true or find such beliefs fun.
Of course. . .
:And that’s why even though she may not agree with either perspective, she gives both UUs genuine respect.
Right. . . Which is why no shortage of atheist Humanist U*Us have shown all kinds of disrespect for, to say nothing of having engaged in various forms of discrimination and harassment of, bona fide monotheistic Unitarians and Universalists as well as pagan U*Us.
:Believing what you really do believe can be a very harrowing path. It also means that you must allow a certain level of criticism. To be a UU is to be vulnerable in your conviction and to accept that vulnerability as part of the price of acknowledging your true beliefs.
Up to a point. . . I draw the line at being subjected to ridicule, deep insults, slanderous lies and defamatory allegations about me and my religious beliefs and practices by intolerant and abusive Unitarian*Universalist U*Us.
:If UUs must make elevator speeches, let them be the opposite of the ones that have been made before.
Which ones might those be?
:“You are a UU? What do UUs believe?” “UUs believe in being fully authentic with our beliefs and actions, even if there are consequences. That seems puzzling? Well then, let me tell you how I live that belief. . .”
Here are a couple of examples, but by no means all of them. . . of how I live the belief that U*U beliefs and actions have consequences -