Brushes with Bad Theology

“Unitarian Universalism is faith in people… It is spiritual responsibility for a moral tomorrow.”

– Edward Schempp
a coming of age quilt, created by north parish youth featuring various underwater sea-life
A Coming of Age Quilt

During last Sunday’s sermon when I spoke about what we teach our UU kids, I asserted that they are having theological conversations by the time they are in Kindergarten or elementary school. A few of you told me your own stories afterwards.

Cara Forcino’s mom Charmaine found her 6-year old brother trying to atone for something he had done wrong in parochial school by hanging himself upside down in the basement, because the nuns had told him “God would take his parents away”. Charmaine marched to the school and demanded their tuition back. Shortly after she started attending the UU church (after asking God not to strike her down while in the church, so no one else would get hurt).

Kim Adami was about 7 when her friend’s big sister Connie, who was 10, told her about purgatory. Kim was petrified and raced home, not wanting to tell her mom but knowing she had to. Her mom, Priscilla, took her face in her hands and very gently said, “Oh honey, we don’t have to worry about that. We don’t believe in any of that stuff.” Kim writes, “When Connie told me about purgatory, I literally shut down.  It was as if I had fallen into a deep, dark hole.  I guess I experienced purgatory in that moment.” Once her mom reassured her, she writes “In that moment the sun came out, the birds began to sing and all was right with the world. Life was good again, everything looked brighter, clearer- and the sounds were exquisite.”

Helen Cymbala said that her son came home from school one day when he was about 10 and just couldn’t stop laughing. He said to her, “Do you know that the Bible says the woman came out of the man’s body?!” He thought this was just hilarious!

Whether they belong to a religious community or not, our kids hear all sorts of theology at very young ages as they’re trying to make sense of the world. They often have brushes with bad theology- theology that generates fear and is based on very old, unscientific, misogynist ideas. The ideas we share- including a theology that is based on life, love and evolution, a theology which generates confidence, a sense of belonging, gratitude and joy- matter. So does the community that backs up those ideas.

On Sunday I also invited folks to write down one worry and one hope for our children and youth, as well as to name one thing we do well at North Parish. I think you’ll be impressed by reading the responses, here. If you missed Sunday and have something to add to the list, feel free to send it along to me at  (Responses from your kids or teens are also welcome.)

I’m sorry to miss the veggie potluck and movie night this Friday because my son is in a talent show fundraiser at his high school. Have fun, enjoy one another and the great food! On Sunday North Parish alumna the Rev. Margaret Weis will be in the pulpit and Celtic music will fill the sanctuary. Daylight and nighttime will be balanced once again and sap will be running in the Maple trees. Despite the snow, spring is coming- it is!

Yours, in boots but with daffodils on my mind,
Rev. Lee