UU Rev. Shirley Ranck hits the nail on the head in her rewrite of the popular feminist Cakes for the Queen of Heaven, -- " Perhaps our most important religious task of the 21st Century will be learning to take pluralism seriously." This you can find in her essay "A Statement of Feminist Thealogy."
The chance to be with such creative and dedicated women leaders at the March 20th celebration of UU Women as leaders, as Agents of Change has given me an opportunity to think more on the challenges of our diverse faith practices under one roof. Today I am noticing our difficulty in living up to "true religious pluralism." Other days there seems to be movement. Recently I had a Wisconsin woman ask how to attract people of color, another from Chicago how to attract Caucasians to a Kwanza celebration African American film series.
Ironically, in one salon I learned about another prejudice I hadn't recognized or thought much about before -- an atheist/humanist expressed concern about the lack of respect and sometimes disrespect for Atheists/humanists. Incredulous, she explained that humanists made important contributions to UU's Seven Principles which call us to religious pluralism.
I shared an experience at the same salon where I was awakened to how much Christianity has unconsciously been derided. It was at a coffee house at a retreat several years ago -- a cute Christmas song about "J.C." written by a clever Kindergarten teacher was such a funny hit. I laughed like everyone else, until the next morning at breakfast when I sat with a nun who recently left the convent and was "trying out UU." She came as a workshop presenter that year but I never saw her again.
Pagans are given short shrift too in some congregations where CUUPS groups flounder and frequently fail because lack of support in the church population or their lack of connectedness to the congregation, perhaps? In one California UU congregation at Winter Solstice the CUUPS group sold out 500 tickets to this pagan holiday ritual. The irony of the festive spirit of Wintery blessings for each creature, great and small, every one of us...alone knocks me down.
The world is smaller in so many ways. Didn't know the word "connection" would become so important when it was suggested as part of our new name in 2003. I like the idea it sometimes implies -- "reconciliation" -- part of the task of thoughtful people of peace who are able to allow each individual his/her, well, individuality. The test ground for practicing that in the world is our congregations. Maybe we try and fail sometimes, but that so many keep trying is encouraging and at the end of the day sometimes all we can really say about a failed program or missed demographic target is, "I will try again tomorrow."