I could write an entire blog about the three years we were members of a Unitarian Universalist Church and my positive experiences would garner maybe one single post. The best word I can use to describe what it felt like to be involved in this place is lopsided.
It felt like every element of the congregation, from the physical structure of the building, to each individual person and every activity they were involved in, was lifted, tipped upside down and shaken. Being a strong proponent of “shaking things up” myself, the process of going against the status quo was not the inherent issue I had. I’m perfectly fine with things not immediately righting themselves, but in this church, it felt to me like equilibrium was never obtained. Everything always felt lopsided.
UUs favor the democratic process, and of course I believe this to be necessary for strong organizations. But at this particular church, it was as if the process was more important than the outcome. Let me clarify. Going through the task of ensuring every single voice was heard became the end goal of any bit of work that needed done. As a result of this hyper democracy, very little work did get done. Committee after committee was formed, people talked and talked and talked. “Did everyone have their say?” was asked hundreds of times. Finally after three months, a paint color for the entry hall was selected. Lopsided.
Many of the people I met here were former Christians. Scoffing at the ridiculousness of Christianity was commonplace. Yet some of these same people would see no problem with making a choice as important as whether to feed their severely allergic child an item from the ubiquitous buffet by swinging a pendulum over it. Pseudoscience reigned. In this, the most highly educated group of people I have ever been involved with, wearing crystals was a sign of spiritual enlightenment. Lopsided.
My goal as a parent is to raise well-rounded, healthy, confident children. I only met a few children in this community I felt were well-rounded. Again, do not misinterpret what I say to mean I believe in conformity to the constraints of society at all costs. I am an atheist. Nothing could be further from the truth. Still, I value the ability of my children to act and react appropriately in a social setting- to be able look directly at the person they are speaking to, to be friendly and kind and to state their opinions in a logical fashion. I often felt many of the members of this church who were parents wanted their children to be odd and antisocial above all other things. Some personality traits, like extreme artistic ability, may manifest in a way where the youth appears to the outside as unconventional. I respect that. But here, it was as if weirdness was some endgame unto itself, perfectly acceptable without the de rigueur talent. Lopsided.
As an atheist, the only motive I had to join a religious organization was for the sense of community. But when the lopsided structure hindered its capacity for me and my family to feel any sort of connection, there was no reason to continue to attend.