My minister was sitting on the back steps with another member of the congregation on Sunday as I was either helping someone bring books in for our book sale or helping my daughter find her iPod (which she swore she left in the nursery and which she later found in her jacket pocket). In any event, I was walking through when he pointed to me and said “Ask her. It’s taken her a while to come to terms with how Humanists can argue rabidly and then walk away friends, right?” (Okay, I said rabidly, not him. And he used my name, not ‘her.’ My blog, I can paraphrase anyway I want. Thems the rules.)
To this remark, I responded: “Yes. And it sucks.”
And that’s what I actually said as I walked between the two of them that day. Then I turned and told them how I recently took the Belief-o-Matic test at Belief.net and found out that I am–surprise, surprise–100% UU. But the one that took my breath away was my 4th place listing: Secular Humanist–87%.
Hubba-what? Me? Secular Humanist? I like God-talk (well, my kind of God talk, not yours). How can I be a secular humanist? I asked my minister. How?
Then I walked away in search of what i was in search of or delivering what I was carrying, whichever it was. I wish I’d stayed on a bit longer to offer this to the woman who was really agonizing:
I don’t like the arguing part, either. It is not what i come to church for. I am the mother of three girls–my spirit does not replenish itself with more argument. I also don’t find the place of literal interpretation to be a particularly friendly or comfortable one–at least not for me. So, if I am 87% humanist, it’s that other 13% that I respond to–the mystical, magical, lyrical, poetic, and metaphoric part. The part where my heart rests, like a well-fed baby.
And I still have trouble with sermons that try to bend my mind rather than fill my heart. I still need those other sermons, the ones that feed me body, mind and soul. And that is the reason I keep coming to church, and knit through the first-hour discussion while listening to people spending time bending their minds to come up with common definitions that honest to goodness don’t exist. And I sit there and listen and then I throw in my two-cents worth (really, more like 2-dollars worth once I get on a roll) and try to explain the best I can that they can argue over meaning all they want, it is not going to change the way I experience change and life and love.
So, have I come to terms with it, really? Have I come to terms with the idea that Humanists love to argue and for them it is a spiritual practice? Not really. I understand it better than I did two years ago. And I wish I had taken a minute or two more to offer the kind of shelter I carved out for myself to this other congregant–to ease her mind that while arguing may be ‘the way’ for some, it isn’t for all.
But there’s always next Sunday, right?