Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Community among Unitarians and Pagans

As a long-term participant in Pagan groups (since 1990) and having joined a Unitarian church in 2007 (for those who don't know, there are plenty of Pagans in British Unitarianism), I have been mentally comparing the two. There is no clear "winner" but the comparison is interesting.

Pagans are more focussed on individual friendships; Unitarians are more focused on gathering in community.

Unitarians are better at including everyone in the community, even if they are different from others in some way. (Lesson for Pagans - we need to gather in larger groups, and focus on shared values instead of differing beliefs.)

In a crisis, Pagan friends will rally round, which is great, but if you want a trained full-time minister, with all that that entails, then you're more likely to find one via Unitarianism.

In terms of age and class and education, Unitarians are more diverse than Pagans. This is probably because Paganisms haven't been around so long.

In terms of the values we embrace, Unitarians are much less diverse than Pagans. Even though a Christian Unitarian may differ from a Pagan Unitarian in the mythology they happen to like, their values are remarkably similar.

Unitarians are better at focussing on values and regarding beliefs as less important. Unitarians have more shared values in common, simply because we are very explicit about what Unitarian values are. (Hopefully Pax's recent Pagan Values Blogging Month will go some way towards changing that - and I hope it will happen again in 2010).

Both communities are inclusive and welcoming and non-judgmental.

I'd be interested to hear from UU and Unitarian Pagans on this.

Incidentally, while I am still philosophically pagan, I have stopped referring to myself as Pagan (I now call myself Unitarian and Wiccan) because it is no longer clear what "Pagan" actually means (due to things like the reburial issue).

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Grandfather God

I have trouble seeing the Divine as a father, due to too much Christian imagery of the stern and patriarchal "Lord and Father of mankind". The word Grandfather makes me think of Native American spirituality instead. But the imagery of this prayer does not draw on that source, but rather on childhood experiences of my own grandfather.

Grandfather God,
who trails beards of moss over the rocks and the trees
and decks the bushes in autumn with hairy seed-cases;
you are not an authority figure but a playmate.
We come to your house on holy days
to play hide and seek,
sing lustily,
and have tea and cakes.
Your wisdom is of the humble variety,
quietly spoken, close to the earth.
You love to gaze at the stars
and give bread to the ducks.
You don't tell me off,
you just hold me close
and tell me jokes about life.
Tell us another story, Grandpa.
Tell us how we are loved.
Let me bring you something -
a cup of tea? a biscuit?
No. Only my heart will do,
as I sit cradled in your arms
by the hearth of dreams.
A heart bruised by experience,
brimming with joy,
suffused with love.
Well, then.
Cheerio, Grandpa.
See you soon.