Sunday, August 26, 2007

First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans

Going to other congregations is not something I do often, but this was pretty interesting. And, since I'll be living 15 minutes (on foot) away, I might as well stop in a see what's what.

The most immediately impressive thing (beside the beautiful stone building in various states of disrepair) was the additional song lyrics in the hymnal - namely, lyrics to "spirit of life" in Spanish and English as well. An added bonus was the song being sung in sigh language as well (I'm not sure what sign language, but I assume American). It was interestingly multilingual, and that is certainly something I am in favor of. Of course, I'll need to go back to make sure of that.

The first unpleasant part was a reading of the principles as though they were catechism. It struck me as decidedly non-noncreedal. This was only further bolstered by the mediation on how we are failing to live up to the principles. Catholic guilt is not what I want at a UU church.

The welcoming had an explanation of UUism, which makes sense in such a small setting (the church only had 80 people). This also included a section where the lay leader pointed out the resident extroverts. There were two.

They sang "Wade in the Water", which is a song I was secretly hoping for. They played it up-tempo, which was surprising.

The whole affair was rather informal, and this was only enhanced by the speaker. The service was lay-coordinated, and the speaker was a lay member, who had been asked to finish off the summer. Her speech was rather slow, pedantic, and several times she mentioned how she isn't a speaker. Her speech had the usual assumed UU liberal (and so opposed to conservative) demographic, and it had an assumed intelligence on the part of the audience as well. And then...

Halfway through her speech, she focused in on the horror of poverty; on the vast injustice that is having kids die because their parent was selling crack to afford food for them and their 7 siblings. It's the injustice that is poverty, the overwhelming demon that hurts everything. It's being terribly mad at the parent for letting something like that happen, for being part of the creeping crime, and it's having more outrage, more justified outrage at the system that allows this to happen, and the horror of poverty itself that still exists no matter how much an individual escapes it, that still exists no matter how far removed we find ourselves. It's erring on the side of the poor who suffer with addiction than erring with the wealthy who cause poverty. It was really, really impressive.

Afterwards, she drifted back into poor speaking, and the service went on.

Met one of my professors, who was sitting in the row in front of me. UU church will be part of my college life, I think.


Christine Robinson said...

Perhaps you'll be able to bring them some new ideas about worship, PM!

I'll be in N.O. with the Service Committee Sept. 16-18, and hope I can get free to see your new digs.

Kelsey Atherton said...

Sounds great!