This spring I am taking a personal blogging hiatus and have invited some folks to blog in my stead. It is my intention help share some new voices and perspectives with a larger audience and keep my blog active during my break. If you are interested in guest blogging, feel free to submit an idea. Today I welcome Christian Schmidt to the blogging crew. Christian is the intern minister at the First Parish in Needham, Unitarian Universalist. A former journalist, he lives with his wife, Kristin, near Boston. They are expecting their first child in April.
Hi, church! It’s been a while since we talked—all of us, I mean. I’ve missed you. Too often, I just end up talking to my friends, and not all the rest of you, which is too bad.
I’m writing to ask something important: Can we work on really being one church? I know I’m asking a lot. After all, I’m a Unitarian Universalist, so a lot of “the church” probably doesn’t even think my little church is a church at all. For that matter, plenty of UUs don’t think we are a part of “the church.” I disagree.
I think we’re all connected, all us UUs and UCCs (we come from the same tradition, many of us), Presbys and Methodists, Catholics and Pentecostals, evangelicals and emergents, fundamentalists and liberals, Baptists and AMEs, Seventh-Day Adventists and Mormons, black and white and Asian and Latino and more, woman and man and trans and queer, gay and straight and bi, old and young and in-between (finish the rest of the list yourselves, please). We so often talk about all those differences, instead of what unite us: our faith. Our faith that there is something greater than any of us, and that we are called to help make a better world, both here and now and on some future day beyond what we can know.
But that’s not what we usually talk about together, is it? When we talk—or argue or yell or condemn—we usually focus on our disagreements. I’m tired of us talking about being one body (let’s not even get started on other religions) and then splitting off into our nearly infinite little sects. I’m tired of people walking away from the discussion table because we can’t all agree about every matter. I wonder at the things some people think are absolutely vital to their faith, so much so that they would condemn or marginalize those who think differently. We resort to name-calling, to condemnation, to schism, all too easily. None of it honors our faith or God.
Let’s start small: can we agree to sit down and talk—talk, not argue—and see that maybe we are all in this together? Maybe we can all sit down one day and just talk: about our faith, about things we agree about, about how most of us, most of the time, seem like pretty good, though flawed, people. For now, maybe we can all just try to talk to one or two people, ones we don’t always see eye-to-eye with, and have a real conversation. That would be a start. We could admit that even though we really think we are right about, well, everything, there’s a little chance that someone else might be right and that we are the ones who are wrong. We might even both be right, though it seems like we are on opposite sides. I don’t pretend to know what might happen if we sit down and talk. I think that’s why we should do it. We might be able to hammer some things out, and really begin living as if we are that one church we talk about being.
So Church, just think about it. You don’t have to get back to me right away. I’ll still be here, plugging away at the little UU church where I work. I hope to hear from you soon.