Stev Hull-Allen

What did I gain from being part of a UU Church? I had a really hard time organizing this. I mean I knew what to say…just not how to say it. I am what I learned so maybe I’m just too close. So I looked for inspiration.

Tyler would say something about our fathers being our models for God and how we’re all God’s unwanted children.

Donnie is agnostic and would talk to me about the spectrum of human emotion and then ask me what I know about time travel.

And they would both tell me how destruction is a form of creation. It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything, losing all hope is freedom.

Donnie Darko and Tyler Durden. Great start. Maybe I’m going about this all wrong. I needed to figure out how it began. Okay, new approach…

Galadriel told me that it all began with the forging of the Great Rings. Three were given to the Elves; immortal, wisest and fairest of all beings. Seven, to the Dwarf Lords, great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls. And nine, nine rings were gifted to the race of Men, who above all else desire power.

This isn’t going well. The Rolphs belong in Middle Earth, the Shire, maybe Bree. I’ll be up in Rivendell if you fancy a visit. Okay, focus. Let’s stick to what I learned. The seven principles of Unitarian Universalists.

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

Ah, the classic seven principals.

At First Parish, I learned about the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Not everyone can say that. I suspect that most people can’t. I learned some things at church at a young age that ended up being a cornerstone, or a push for my life on the fringes of society. When you view society from the edge that’s the best perspective. It’s healthy. Not a place to judge but simply observe and hopefully make change. The UU Church and the support I saw within First Parish gave me the confidence to kind of move to the edge. It’s not always easy out here. People wonder what the hell you’re doing. You’re planting seeds. Not in terms of ministry or the converting sense of the word, and the seeds aren’t for everyone. Most people will think you’re a weirdo. Which, to be fair, is a reasonable assumption by their standards. But out here, there are no standards. One time on a Boy Scout camping trip I decided I’d do the sunday religious service for my troop. Usually the scout in charge read something approved and fairly generic. Although I’m not “religious” I am spiritual and I never felt anything spiritual about the words. No one ever seemed moved. So on this sunday I walked out there with the approved Boy Scout sunday prayer thing and decided to recite a parable that Buddha told in a sutra. It was followed by a moment of silence. I think it was mostly a moment of shocked, awkward, silence… followed shortly after by one of the scout leaders reading the approved Boy Scout sunday prayer anyway. But I’m pretty sure I planted a seed. And that’s life on the fringe. Life on the fringe is asking the hard questions. Examine yourself more closely than you examine others.

Rod Serling. Unitarian Universalist. One of my favorite writers and a huge influence. I’m actually writing a play about him within The Twilight Zone. Anyway, he once said, “There are weapons that are simply thoughts. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy.”

I’ll admit I haven’t been to church in some time. I think that’s because I take the church with me. Or the parts of it I need anyway. Unitarian Universalism and First Parish and the Coming of Age process makes you ask yourself a lot of questions and introduces you to these ideas and philosophies that some people will find exotic, threatening and radical. Especially in a very small New England town. Or maybe it’s just how you use them. Knowledge is power and there will be people wondering why individuals so young need to know about all types of Paganism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity. Well ,superficially it’s to make you a more informed person. In school I did much better than my peers in a world religion class. Which is to be expected when a class spends a chapter on basics of traditional religions and I was used to group discussions about the pillars of Islam. But it’s more than that. It’s about critical thinking and asking questions.

With education and life on the fringe comes responsibility. The responsibility to act. To plant seeds. In tandem with my upbringing at home, First Parish gave me a strong sense of individuality which is something I value most and something I hold in my daily life when I interact with others, to what attracted me to my girlfriend who is out here with me on the fringe planting seeds. She helped me write this and gently reminded me this is going to be read in a church (clearly she’s never been to a UU church). A strong sense of individuality.

Tyler would say sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.

If you’re on the fringe…own it.

Edgar Allan Poe said;

“All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.”