— Is Your UU Heart, or Brain, at The Core of Your Faith?

June 1, 2013 at 9:22 am | Posted in Online Ministry | Leave a comment

“Where is the heart in this church?” I asked a group of lay leaders and two ministers in early 2009. “Words, words, words, that’s all I hear,” I said. I waited to ask the questions until others spoke in that Sunday’s impromptu talk targeted at newcomers who attended worship.

A few people responded, but one minister offered a few words that seemed to broach an answer. I wasn’t very articulate then, being new to organized religion. I knew, on a visceral level, what I didn’t want: self-soothing talk that intellectuals may gravitate to as a defense against the power of emotion and raw feeling. It’s the great undiscovered country that many good brains often work diligently to suppress.

From ongoing conversations about ethics, morality and faith with professional colleagues (see previous post “Are Many Hurt-Free, Working Professionals Turned Off in Our Churces?”), I think I’m hearing an assumption that religion is about understanding why one should believe in God – regardless of the definition. So the belief, or rationalization, seems to come before living and feeling what is mystery, what is sacred.

In my 2009 newbie conversation, it seemed that UUism – a faith populated by very educated individuals – asked deep questions that were in many ways philosophical and abstract. I hadn’t yet witnessed questions that wondered what the mystery of life (God’s love, for those who don’t have a problem with the G word) feels like and how to be aware of God’s presence.

Worship services by the minister who responded to my question eventually produced that feeling, that awareness. To me, Sunday worship unraveled as a way to experience that which the heart understands and not necessarily what the eye sees and the brain defines.

There are plenty of people attending churches, temples and mosques that stand on a foundation of  gods. These individuals, though, don’t actually believe in supernatural beings. One woman on a plane recently said to me: “I don’t believe it, but it’s how faith is defined, so I’ll follow that.” It seemed the better choice for her was to behave (not think) as if God were real.


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