Dropping the “G-Bomb”

PETRIE-KIT-103This morning, our District Executive Ken Brown sent all the ministers in our district an interesting article that appeared in the Huffington Post, about the author’s perception that UUism is moving away from humanism (Click HERE to read).

For my part, when I first began this racket eight years ago, I liked using “God language” when I preached – having grown up UU, I enjoyed using “language of reverence” (former UUA President Bill Sinkford’s phrase), and challenging what I perceived to be a narrow humanist perspective. But my 2003 – 4 internship supervisor in Austin, TX, the Rev. Dr. Davidson Loehr, who became my beloved mentor and second Dad, made it very clear to me: “If you’re GONNA use the word GOD, you better define what on EARTH you are TALKING about!” And, “ANY point you make in the PULPIT, you OUGHT to be able to MAKE it WITHOUT using the word GOD.” Finally, “GOD is not a CRITTER!” Ask me sometime about that last one, if you want to further understand what on EARTH I’m talking about.

Nowadays I rarely use God language in the pulpit, for two reasons. One, I’ve discovered in recent years that I identify most comfortably as a pagan theologically, and the de facto maleness of the word “God” just kind of pisses me off. Second, Davidson is right – any point worth making in the pulpit can be made without dropping the G-bomb. What do you think?

Here at Neighborhood Church, we want to encourage you all to discuss this among yourselves, ideally in a safe, structured environment, such as . . . Chalice Circles! One of the ways we are revamping and improving the program for this church year is by coming up with compelling topics to discuss – ones that we hope go to the heart of the examined life, be you humanist, theist, pagan, agnostic . . . however you might identify. See below the topics that the Chalice Circles Oversight Committee has designed. Sign-ups begin September 8.

  • October – What does it mean to live a good life?
  • November – How do we determine the difference between self-affirmation and selfishness?
  • December – What does the word “God” mean to you?
  • January – What does the First Principle of Unitarian Universalism mean to you, “to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person?”
  • February – How do you define community?
  • March – Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • April – What do you believe happens after you die?
  • May – How has forgiveness affected your life?
  • June – What is on your to-do list for spiritual/emotional reflection this summer?

-Rev. Hannah Petrie

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3 Responses to Dropping the “G-Bomb”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Occasional references to deities do not bother me. However, references to “goddess” would absolutely delight me. After millennia of male-god worship, a goddess-worship movement now seeks to create balance. There is a quote by thealogian Mary Daly that really resonates: “If god is male, then male is god.”

  2. Ann Petersen says:

    I am delighted to learn of next year’s topics for the Chalice Circles. Unlike last year, these questions will have real meaning in our lives, and should provoke lively discussions. I hope there will be an afternoon circle I can join.

  3. The God I believe in is male AND female, just because it feels good this way. The male God I see is a sort of Orson Welles figure, with all his wildly creative intelligence and hilarious life-enlivening largesse (in more ways than one!), and the Goddess I see before me is Mae West, with her non-judgemental, non-conformist sensual zest and verve for Life!
    The tricky part is getting down on your knees and praying to these Gods; it’s kind of hard to keep a straight face.
    They, I believe, wouldn’t have it any other way.

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