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Saturday, July 5, 2003

Damned laity.

Here's an example of criticism that really knows how to win friends and influence people — a letter from a Mark A. Thomas of Boston, responding to the Boston Globe's article last week about the Unitarian Universalist Association's current conversation about the advisability of using more traditional religious language. (Make sure to read the fourth and final paragraph.)

I take great issue with the reporting of the Unitarian Universalist general assembly being held in Boston (''Words of wisdom roil a church in Boston,'' Page A1, June 28). A group that rejects any creed or doctrine in the core of its operations and — astoundingly — eschews and condemns the mere invoking and mention of God in its communications can't rightly be called a church. It is simply a group of people lost, wandering, and bickering in darkness.
A church is a historical, sacred institution where members gather to worship, recognize, and pray to God; consequently, because of that activity and effort, such people form a deep belief in His benevolent existence. Absent this, an organization is not a church.
If a doctor, lawyer, dentist, or engineer were practicing and dispensing advice without degree or license, you would not continue to refer to them with their eminent title. You might even label them as fraudulent and a sham, and alert your readers. Why then do you give an organization that loudly and defiantly asserts no belief in anything the standing of being called ''a church,'' ''a religion'' possessing ''faith.''
I think the most fitting comparison your reporter and editorial writers might have drawn to local events is: This is the sad and convoluted result when you let the laity run a ''church'' with their flawed human wisdom.

Let us think about this line of argument for a moment. I'd go along with the second paragraph — and I would argue that, with a degree of redefinition, Unitarian Universalists actually meet this requirement. (They simply have embraced a high degree of euphemism in their language about the center and source of their faith.) But that final paragraph! "When you let the laity run a 'church' with their flawed human wisdom"?! I don't doubt that there is flawed human wisdom in the UUA — but where can one find a "church" that lacks "flawed human wisdom" in its leadership? Mr. Thomas couldn't possibly be thinking of the Roman Catholic Church, could he? No, surely not in Boston.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 5 July 2003 at 10:56 AM

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