And so it was that in the sixth month of the 2015th year of the Common Era, whatever the hell that means, the PossiblY Nonexistent but Neutral-Gender God appeared unto Mel and commanded him to open his tablet so they could Skype.
Mel trembled before his tablet. He began to speak: “Y-You look just like Bill Maher, O PossiblY Nonexistent but Neutral-Gender God.”
“A lot of people tell me that, but please just call me the PYNNGG, or use my first name, which is HeSheItThey, We have much to talk about and it will take a lot longer if you keep using my full name.”
“But how shall I pronounce your first name, O Awesomeness?” Mel asked.
“With four syllables, not three, He-She-It-They.”
“Good, I was worried about that diphthong, HeSheItThey. Why have you come unto me?”
“Well,” said the Lord, “I recently took your first-born son…”
“…and I am giving you a mission in return.”
“Maybe not,” said the PYNNGG. “But, as the Buddha keeps telling me, what is, is.”
“OK, HeSheItThey. Hit me with it.”
“First, do you know what happens when you cross a Unitarian Universalist and a Mormon?”
“Yes, of course, HeSheItThey. That joke is as old as you are. You get someone who rings your doorbell for no apparent reason.”
“Yuk, yuk, I can’t help laughing every time I hear that joke. I think I laughed so hard this time that I started an earthquake somewhere. That’s your mission. That’s what you will help me with.”
“Earthquakes, O Awesomeness?”
‘Of course not, Mel, You don’t know squat about earthquakes. I want you to help with the Unitarian Universalists. They have lost their way, and the perhaps-all-knowing PYNNGG knows they are needed.”
“Lost their way?”
“Big time,” said the PYNNGG. “They have forgotten that after I either did or didn’t create the world, I either literally or figuratively made environmental organizations and political parties and civil rights organizations and homeless shelters. Those things are important, and need help from religious organizations, but I made ministers and priests and rabbis and shamans and imams and monks and churches and synagogues and mosques and temples and so on to help heal my people’s souls, to help them with their overwhelming questions about intangible things, like why are we here, why do we suffer, and how do we face death.”
“But, HeSheItThey, so many UUs say they come to church because of the social action. Won’t we lose them and become even smaller than we are now?”
“Maybe you’re not as bright as I thought you were, Mel. Social action is important, and I like seeing it, and I love all the activists. But I love the pacivists, too. Remember, I love all my children. Not everyone who sincerely believes in the UU Principles wants to fight for the same cause at the same time. Some don’t agree on a particular tactic. Some need a refuge where they can sit in peace. They come to your churches for a religion where they can be accepted for who they are. They’re fleeing damnation for their spiritual beliefs, and you offer them damnation for their secular beliefs unless they march in your protests, join your rallies, and vote for your party.”
“Are you talking about Republicans? Conservatives? Libertarians? Big-game hunters? MBAs? College dropouts? High school dropouts? Oil company executives? Insurance agents? Rich folks? The 1%? People who believe that life begins at conception?”
“Yes, yes, yes. I love them, too, and you UUs have covenanted to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person, haven’t you?”
“Can’t we affirm and promote their worth and dignity without letting them into our churches?”
“You’re beginning to try my patience, Mel,” said the PYNNGG, and with that there was the sound of thunder, and Mel’s parrot began speaking in tongues.
“OK. I get it. What do you want me to do, HeSheItThey?”
“I want you to take these 10, uh, suggestions to your people. I’ll download them to your tablet.”
- Put Milton’s words on your walls and in your hearts: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”
- Greet newcomers by asking about their spiritual journey and their beliefs, and share yours.
- Remember that being a faith without a creed means that you support each other on your individual spiritual paths; not that beliefs are unimportant.
- Let your social action flow from your beliefs, not vice versa.
- Assume that those who disagree with you about social actions also want a better world, but they may have different ideas about the path to get there.
- Never disparage, seriously or with humor, any group because of its beliefs, especially from the pulpit.
- Make no assumptions about people because of their occupation or their net worth.
- Stop quibbling over words like “church” and “prayer”; they may be what your fellow congregant needs to say and hear, and you may define them as you like.
- Be aware that it’s called a “sanctuary” for a reason; make it a holy place where you treat one another with love and respect, not another petition to sign.
- Honor those who disagree with the prevailing thought on a social issue just as you honor those who disagree on a religious belief.
“You take that tablet to your people, Mel, and tell them they have a unique role in meeting the needs of the spiritually wounded. To quote Rabbi Hillel: ‘The rest is commentary.’”
And then the PYNNGG’s Skype image disappeared into a wisp of smoke that for a moment appeared to resemble a question mark.
Copyright 2015 © Mel Harkrader Pine