Or — more to the point — what if we treated religion as a metaphor, a series of nice stories that make us feel good. Greta Christina wants to know.
God and his/her relationship with creation is a true story and religion tends to tell the story badly much of the time…..but gets cudos for at least trying to tell the story. BTW, there are those rare individuals and even groups who tell the story well and are worth seeking out to hear it clearly.
And they tell the story really well without being all cranky about it. I find myself reading a lot of this writer’s stuff — not because I agree with her, at all, but because she mostly presents her case clearly in such a way even I get it.
Isn’t this what UUs do already? :) Well, those and those pesky principles we try to live up to.
Lose the principles, buy a set of Spock ears, and I’m there! I kid. I kid because I love.
Star Trek is just a “metaphor”? Puleesze!
~Sharon, First Generation Trekkie
“Avid convention-goers don’t treat casual fans as apostates; Original Showians don’t treat Next Generationists as sinners and blasphemers; and none of them write editorials lambasting people as immoral sociopaths if they prefer documentaries to any sort of science fiction. And they — okay, fine, we — don’t insist that “Star Trek” is just a story… and then get bent out of shape when people point out that it is a story, and hence that it’s not true.”
Okay, this writer just hasn’t been to enough science fiction conventions.
Many Greeks are culturally Orthodox, just as the author describes. Some of them will even admit it to their priest. But they still go to church, light a candle or two, make the sign of the cross, and of course go to the Good Friday and midnight Easter services. The Orthodox know how to do ritual, as do the Catholics. But except for the Episcopalians and Lutherans, Protestants don’t have a rich tradition of rituals to fall back on. In fact, don’t they specifically reject the whole robes and incense and bells thing? Walk into any Orthodox or Catholic home and you’ll find at least one little shrine with icons and a candle. I don’t think Protestants do that, do they? So what are you really left with? Some traditional dinners–Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, … ? There are no “secular Baptists” because there is little or no “Baptist culture” outside the walls of the church.
Golly Sharon, I don’t even know where to start…culture isn’t all ritual you know, and Baptists have plenty of traditions and culture. At least my family did. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it, but don’t say something doesn’t exist because you don’t get it.
You know, I’ve often wondered if I could be a cultural fundamentalist. The humor is stunning — really dry, really twisted — and the food’s out of this world. I also love the music.
Would other fundamentalists recognize you as one of them?
Carol, did you read the entire article by Greta Christina? Can you explain how the phrase “secular Baptist” could possibly make sense?
There are indeed “secular Baptists” and secular whatevers.
They don’t go to church except maybe for a family funeral. And as Carol says, Baptists have plenty of rituals and traditions. Perhaps it’s more of avoidance of ritual and liturgy, but that in itself is ritual and liturgy of their own!
I was at a potluck dinner recently in a purely secular setting. I noticed a mother and two pre-teen daughters. All three were wearing long dresses and out-of-style hairdos. They quite stayed to themselves.
Aha! They weren’t Episcopalians, for sure!
Don’t God’s Frozen Chosen have a fundamentalist branch? (And I promise I heard that “God’s frozen chosen” in seminary from an Episcopal rector.)
Sort of. Several congregations have split from the ECUSA and joined with Anglican dioceses in other parts of the world. Some of them are still wrangling over who owns the church property, I think.
That has to be an ugly conversation, fighting over property. Or wrangling one.
How can someone be a Baptist–or a Methodist, or a Presbyterian–I never meant to single out Baptists–and never go to church? What are their rituals outside of the walls of the church?
Oooh, oooh, I think I can answer this, from the fundamentalist branch of Christianity: I think people within the walls would probably shun someone outside the walls calling themselves a member, but I think a cultural Christianity would mean you embrace the ethics of the faith without the dogma. And you get to eat the food (fried, in my case) and sing the hymns (scary, ditto) but you don’t have to warm a pew.
But if they don’t recognize you as one of the tribe… are you still a fundamentalist? Isn’t being a fundamentalist all about [vocally] believing in a literal interpretation of the Bible?
Not in my view, it isn’t, but I realize I’m on thin ice here. The original stance of the original fundamentalists was to draw Christians together — not to get all exclusive and stuff. So I’m an original fundamentalist.
YOu know, I’m finding it really interesting raising children in a different faith than my own. My youngest, especially, is very identified with being UU, can tell me about Theodore Parker and Lewis Latimore, loves the Flaming Chalice, and really trys to think about , as well as live the Principles.
“Don’t God’s Frozen Chosen have a fundamentalist branch? (And I promise I heard that “God’s frozen chosen” in seminary from an Episcopal rector.)”
Ayup. We have a broad tent.
Episcopalians do not vote on who becomes a member, so we get ‘em all. Conservatives (the Episcopal Church used to be called “The Republican Party at prayer”) ultra liberals, charismatics, monastic orders, tree-huggers, rosary praying, no-popish-candles-on-the-altar types, rebels, middle of the roaders.
Interesting–when I visited the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma AL and told the director of my religious affiliation, she quickly responded, “We could not have succeeded without the Episcopalians.”
I would have dropped to my knees crying at having belonged to a tribe with that as its legacy. Man.
“That has to be an ugly conversation, fighting over property. Or wrangling one.”
Very ugly, and the lawyers are having a field day on this one.
Some of the church properties are on very valuable land, so we’re talking a lot of money, here.
A particular quirk is that some of the parishes are older than the diocese, so all-of-a-sudden it’s “ours, not yours.”
That’s too damn bad. Seriously.
C’mon in! There are 175 Episcopal Church parishes in the diocese of Connectciut. There’s one near you.
And the diocese is getting a new boss bishop in January! Plus, one of the two suffragan bishops is a woman!
I am starting my own church, thanks. Didn’t I mention that?
Ways in which I’m culturally Baptist – I can give you a Spirited theological argument on why infant baptism doesn’t take. Baptist guilt never gets forgiven. I am reading my kids the Bible even though we don’t practice it. There are non-alcoholic recipes called “Baptist Grasshopper pie” andthe like. And drinking makes me very nervous.
I can speak Baptist very well. I can tell you about the Baptist martyrs.(As well as RC, but not Methodist or Lutheran because I havent studied it.) I sing Baptisit extraordinarily well. I did altar calls. Trust me the songs are different, the authors are different, the Bible translations are different. The potlucks are amazing.
This stuff is part of who I am – you don’t just drop it in the narthex on your way out. I have beautiful memories of playing in the baptism tank, and the robe with the weights sewn in the bottom of it.
I had to look up narthex. I don’t speak Baptist as well as I thought. But I share some of these same things — fundamentalist-style. You’re right. You don’t just stop. Or, at least, I didn’t.
OK, you convinced me–there is such a thing as being culturally Baptist.
“Narthex” isn’t Baptist at all! They wouldn’t know a narthex from an apse!
Crap. Now where IS that dictionary, again?
Where’d my comment go? Anyway, I said: Better I remain a fundamentalist, where everything is just called “church.”
I was drawn to Ms. Christina’s latest attempt at a kinder, gentler militant atheism when I came across the fresh issue of Free Inquiry.
I can’t help wondering which came first, the Christina article linked above, or The Secular Humanism of Star Trek: A Conversation with Susan Sackett.
She has another one at AlterNet, but I didn’t buy into that one as much as I normally do her stuff. I like her way of presenting her arguments, for the most part. I’m still clinging to the old rugged cross, naturally, but I like the way she makes her points.
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