“Can We Find a Home Here?”

That is the title to a raspberry-colored pamphlet I brought home last Sunday from Birmingham Unitarian Church. It’s directed at interfaith couples, and the answer is — I’m not spoiling — “Of course!” (Of course.)

“If your life partner is someone who comes from a religious tradition different from your own, you are already familiar with the joys and challenges of creating intimacy across cultural boundaries,” I read aloud to my husband, after vetting with him that he is my “life partner.”

“Hey, what does that mean?” he asked. But he was playing fantasy baseball on the other computer, so maybe he wasn’t focused.

Good question. I think it means, among other things, that the Unitarians are highly educated and expect to have highly educated people reading their pamphlets. “Cultural boundaries,” “styles of interaction,” “search for truth and meaning” — I read on — these phrases are familiar to anyone who’s been through a liberal arts survey course anywhere. I think I committed all of them in one term paper or another.

So one “cultural identity” that the pamphlet assumes is that of “product of modern American higher education,” possible emphasis on modern (post-modern?) critical theory.

All well and good. I’m one of those products. I have the scars from my critical theory course with Stanley Fish to prove it.

So why did an hour in seminar at BUC leave me unsatisfied?

Because that’s what the worship felt like. It was a lecture — maybe a panel presentation — on civil rights and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with some moments for personal reflection on the above. Also, hymns.

This should be right up my alley! </cliche> The pink pamphlet even said: “Religious identity is closely tied with a person’s larger cultural background.” I’m fairly certain that most of my college edification insisted on some version of that. Cultural background is predictive.

And, yet, I missed something. Maybe passion. Maybe praise of God, who was so seldom mentioned. Maybe awe.

Why didn’t I find a home there?


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