Monday, February 14, 2011

So Many Sundays

There's "a year of Sundays" qua idea -- a way of thinking of the passage of time -- and "a year of Sundays" the expression -- used to convey the aforementioned idea and/or to spice a salty tirade with a little PG-rated emphasis -- and now there's AYear of Sundays, a new Portland-based blog with an avowedly jaundiced and snark-rich take on religion. In the menacing words of Daniel Plainview, "this makes them my ... competitor," but then again, I recognize no peers. Um, yea ... I think I'll just let that one hang there awkwardly.

Anyhoo, I know what I hate, and I don't hate this -- take, say, the blog's treatment of a rather high-hanging piece of fruit in the tree of criticizing religion, Universal Universalistickal Universalism or whatever:

As far as I can tell after three visits, and this time on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of all days, the downtown PDX U.U. church doesn’t quite live up to its promise. They seem to define liberalism as: abstaining from gun ownership, getting the United States out of Afghanistan and hoping that more black people will join the church. I, on the other hand, define liberalism as: "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to paraphrase Voltaire." That difference made me and my fellow pew-warmer a very small minority. On the other hand, for these smug, predominantly white people singing "Amazing Grace" like they held a fresh turd in their mouths, liberalism is just another form of fundamentalism.

Closed, self-referential and piously tautological, the service we attended was as intellectually conservative as they come. That's too bad. Taking place on the only U.S. holiday dedicated to overcoming race divisions, it was an auspicious day to go to a liberal church, but between the self-congratulations over their membership in cash-for-guns group Cease Fire, the (African American) minister William G. Sinkford spent the balance of his sermon complaining about the dearth of dark-skinned members of the church. If the church was truly liberal, why stop there? Why aren't they wringing their hands over their failure to attract politically conservative and Libertarian members? Why aren't they handing out leaflets at NRA meetings, Tea Parties or army bases? THAT would be true liberalism – true **cough cough** UNIVERSALism. (For the record, I vote all the way down the Democrat ticket. So I’m not saying, I’m just saying.)

The only clear message I heard at the U.U. service was that GUNS ARE BAD. Maybe they are and maybe they aren't – it’s not as big a deal for me as it is for my Pink Pistol-advocate girlfriend. But I certainly didn't get up dressed up and haul my hungover ass downtown on a Sunday morning just to find out. Regardless of what I think, however, millions of Americans disagree with Sinkford about gun control – and that supposedly "Universalist" minister as much as told them they weren't welcome here.
Whatever small quibbles I might cite here -- can't we find the generosity within us to let the UU Church proceed as though Libertarians and Tea Partiers are best left unacknowledged? Can't we? -- they had me at Voltaire shortly after already having me at tautological, and those were embellishments of the having-of-me in the very premise of the blog. Namely, the co-authoring couple will visit Portland-area churches over the next year and write up their findings. Upon the evidence presented to date, they will do so entertainingly.

I'll be reading.


Joel Gunz said...

Hi Dale -

Thanks so much for dropping by the blog and for your thoughts! We have just finished having our way with the Beaverton Foursquare church and, as soon as I can get straight in my head the difference between sarcasm and cynicism, we're going to go live. Love to hear what you might have to say.

Also, I love how you change your "comments" section to "rejoinders." Mind if I steal that?



Dale said...

Joel, as much as I'd like to claim otherwise, I don't own the word 'rejoinder,' so feel free. Um ... actually, on second thought, nevermind that first part. I DID invent that word. You can use it so long as I get $1 every time you use it on your blog, say it, or think it. Sound fair? If not, I would settle for a payment of zero. (As a Democrat, I cannot negotiate.)

I've truly enjoyed your new blog. I am sorry to see the freakouts it seems to have engendered among some people, but so it goes.

Nicely done!