10 October 2007

Things That Parody Themselves #367

by Phil Johnson

ht: Ligon Duncan, Justin Taylor, Chris Larson

Phil's signature


cslewis3147 said...

of all the things that keep people from going to church...yes that's it, it's God...if He weren't so involved in the whole thing I'd find it much easier...crazy.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Actually, the Unitarians and Jehovah's Witnesses have merged. Now they knock on your door and say, "Everything's OK!"

(The good ones deserve to be retold)

Mike Riccardi said...

If God were not completely sovereign, stuff like this would throw me into depression and despair.

The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. -- Proverbs 16:4

My eyes shed streams of water, Because they do not keep Your law. -- Psalm 119:136

centuri0n said...

Wow. Wow. wow. wow. wow. WOW.

like, WOW.

Invent your own God and come tell us about him/her/it/them.

steve said...

...search for your own truth and meaning.

ECM churches could use this same ad, put their own logo at the bottom, and split the cost with the Unitarian Universalists.

Keith B said...

"Nurture Your Spirit Heal The World"
I wish this bumper sticker mantra did not have each word capitalized. It would add meaning if it read, Nurture your Spirit and heal the world!

Keith B said...

Not add meaning but clarify meaning.

Blake said...

I guess I don't understand how this parodies itself.

SolaMeanie said...

My, my! Maybe they'll join forces with Emergent Village. I can see the commercials now.

Lane Chaplin said...

/me shakes his head.

Jason E. Robertson said...

"searching for your own truth and meaning"

Is that even possible? If it is your own meaning then how is it possible that you haven't defined it yet? And if you haven't defined truth yet then how can you search for something that does not exist?

oh wait...

I know what I think about these questions so I am going to search for answers because I haven't thought about them yet.

chris said...

Students of mine once had to attend a UU "service" for a class on world religions. They called the place to ask about the time, and what sort of things they should bring/wear. When they asked about whether they ought to bring a Bible, the reply was that it would probably offend a number of their members who don't hold to the Bible as being especially true, so they should leave them at home. That right there is "nuff said," but it gets better.

The "sermon" topic was why you should eat meat, and, since you're eating meat, you ought to buy locally.

Heal the world indeed.

northWord said...

yeah, that is pretty ugly.
I appreciated Mike Riccardi's restorative observation.

aside, fwiw:
one of the atheists we/I'd
been cough debating hack awhile back belonged to a Uni church of some stripe but "obliged his wife and daughters by attending their church for Sunday services" (a presbaterian one)

ah but for the sake of peace in the home eh?

To the saved it's all very disheartening at first glance..
It's really something to see, biblical truths unfolding in the world before our very eyes.

oh - and did somebody say Parody?

the postmortem said...

Honestly, whom are these people more like: the "sinners" (tax collectors, Gentiles, prostitutes, etc.) or the Pharisees?

In this ad, the message is basically "You don't have to have a set idea about who God is (or that he is at all) in order to come to church with us."

And that seems identical to the problem the Pharisees had: worshiping with "zeal" (according to Romans 10:2), "ceremony" (Luke 11:37-38), and yet, as Jesus points out, "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." (Mark 7:8).

So why is it that conservatives always get painted as the Pharisees? That's always bothered me. The Unitarians are like a downgrade from the Pharisees...they "do worship" completely based on the ideas of men, ignoring the testimonies of God...at least the Pharisees were willing to admit God exists!

Kim said...

The very sad thing is that I happen to know a few young people who would take that kind of bait like a hungry cat. Some of them are uncomfortable with the idea of God, and specifically, that He won't let them make Him into their own image. Now this gives them a way to do it.

joanna said...

At first i thought that had to be a joke. And then it sunk in that this is the fruits of post modernism out of control and is very much for real involving real people.
I imagine worship there would be a weird experience considering they seem to have no firm idea about what they are worshiping is like.

CBX said...

It's not God who keeps me from going to church... it's the gas prices!

Maybe they should give all new visitors free gas discount cards, yeah!

What's next... "God for people who don't believe in God"?

The profundity is staggering.

Martin Downes said...

"The human heart is a perpetual forge of idols."


Tim said...

From the article:

Unitarians - who have a long history of social activism - like to say they're about deeds, not creeds.

Hmmmmm..... that's awfully emergent of them.

donsands said...

"Is God keeping you from going to church?"

You better hope not. That would be scary.

If God is against you, who can be for you?

Daryl said...

Why not just join your local beer league ball team?

They don't care what you believe either and you can meet new people there too!!

Rhology said...

Used to be you'd hear "Is church keeping you from God? Join us at ___church.tv, where the church's name is also our website!"

DJP said...

Frank — Invent your own God and come tell us about him/her/it/them.

Or don't, and come tell us.

The Searcher said...

the postmortem-

The problem with the comparison between Unitarians and the Pharisees is that the Pharisees actually believed things about God. The Unitarians are the Church That Doesn't Believe Anything (tm). I think the best comparison with the Pharisees out there right now comes out of Catholicism. My wife when she was growing up, asked a priest why she had to go to confession when she could just talk to God herself, and was told that she just "didn't get it". If that's not getting stuck on the traditions of men, I don't know what is.

Anonymous said...

As several here have noted, the parallels between the U-U statements and the emerging/emergent conversation are unmistakable. Like this quote:

"I'm an atheist because I don't believe in a god that sits up in the clouds and has superpowers and knows when I'm good and bad," said Raughley, district executive of the Unitarians' Pacific Central District. "But I'm a theist because I believe in the divine. And I'm agnostic because I know I make a distinction between what I know and what I believe."

That could easily be taken for a quote from McLaren or Bell. Doctrine = bad. Spirituality = good.

The U-U's are correctly reading the times, though, and seeing that they have an opportunity to advance their non-belief. Postmodern America is looking for places like this where they can belong to a community and yet invent their own belief system and spirituality without being judged or evaluated as to the validity of that system.

I love their slogan: "Find us and you will seek." Again, sounds plagiarized from the EC.

Bill Gnade said...

I live in the heart of New England. This is UU country, baby!

I confess here to you all that I was the first EVER live-in sexton at the Unitarian-Universalist Society nearby -- for five years. As you all know, the "sexton" of a church takes care of sacred things, like toilets. Well, my five years proved many things, not least of which is this: a UU toilet is EXACTLY like any other. There are many areas where we can all differ, but the john ain't one of them!

There is a UU tract -- yes, they have tracts -- which profiles various types of religious people. An atheist is profiled, as is a pagan. And there is also a "born-again Christian" who offers a rather compelling "testimony." (I tell the truth.) The point of the tract: You are safe to search for God ANY WAY YOU SEE FIT; and you are even safe to conclude that there is no God at all.

So, if what the UU church says of itself is true -- that ALL are welcome and all beliefs are cherished and protected -- then I wonder if it would not be a glorious act for all local Christ-affirming, orthodox churches to send their 30 brightest congregants to the local UU church. Can you imagine? Can you imagine in every UU society 30 evangelical Christians joining the ranks every Sunday, in every roundtable or lyceum, or even serving on the Steering Committee (essentially the board of elders)? What if 100 members of the Body of Christ began to visit, and serve in, each local UU society? And what if they each brought a copy of -- the Bible?

I am only being half-facetious here.

There was a table in the church in which I worked that stood essentially at the crossing, or what could be considered the altar, in the gorgeous nave of the 19th-century building. It was a beautiful mahogany table, with carved legs and stunning scroll work. When I would move it from the wall - I can't explain the architecture here - I would always note that carved on the back face - the part that faced the wall - were the words "In Remembrance Of Me."

How sad! At one time this communion table was turned the other way, with Christ's words facing the people. But now, ashamed of those simple words, this allegedly religiously-tolerant and open society hid Christ, the Christ they once accepted: they turned Him to the wall. Moreover, I knew the storage closets of the old church well; it was there one could find brass crosses, communion trays, and piles of old Bibles.

Someday, I pray, it will be those obscene and inane tracts that will be tossed into the UU closets, the cross and the Bibles having been brought out as the lights that they are.

I recall telling the minister - who often called me the "Christian-in-residence" but presented me to the whole church once as the "fundamentalist-in-residence" (buffoonery!) - about the communion table. I told him of the irony of it, of the sad contradiction of it. He replied that he would turn the table around.

He never did. But I did.

The table was turned back in less than a day.



Faith of the Free said...

Well, as a long-time--even devout--UU (yes, we do exist), I like to think that our little denomination of 250,000 is only at the beginning of its venture into "pr-land," with plenty of growing still ahead of us in the way of articulating--and (respectfully) sharing with others--our "stubbornly protestant" (small p) and "radically catholic" (small c) centuries-old legacy in religion. The fact that so many people are talking about it is a start, I think. Ultra-fundamentalist Christians are even cursing us. That's progress. Before, nobody even though us to be worth mentioning. Hey, we had to start somewhere. I think the next step is for us to define true liberalism in terms of spirituality....not in a shallow "just me" or "me first" context but within a larger one of connectedness, responsibility, obligation, and accountability.

No, guys, everything's not inherently equal to UU's...our tradition is one of disciplined self-discernment of religious priorities and of attempting to distinguish the "transient" from the "permanent" in matters of religion and life. (Theodore Parker's famous sermon affirmed this part of our liberal way in religion almost two centuries ago.)

Any of you who may sincerely want to discuss this further, or honestly find out more about us (instead of just trading cheap shots) are more than welcome to join us at my UU message board... http://faithofthefree.informe.com.



Jon Nunley said...

That's the same church that my dear friend's now-blatantly gay ex-husband that left her for a man goes to... and they applaud him for searching, discovering and pursuing his true self... his own truth.

(Lisa, Jon's wife)

centuri0n said...

Bill Gnade:

First of all, your impression of Holly from Red Dwarf is uncanny, so hat's off for that, dude.

But seriously, you're assuming that you could find 30 Christians. I like your optimism -- I'm not sure a lot of our readers would share it.

Sewing said...

Donsands' comment resonated:

"Is God keeping you from going to church?"

You better hope not. That would be scary.

If God is against you, who can be for you?

Yup. On the basis of God's promises and warnings in Deuteronomy and Joshua and the cyclical apostasy and chastisement of Judges, if God is keeping one from going to church, that means one is already deeply into the process of God's setting His face against one and hardening one's heart. The solution is not to attend a UU congregation, but repent before it's too late! (If one interprets the lead-in question literally.)

Sewing said...

Cent, you're a Red Dwarf fan!?

donsands said...

Thanks Ron for the link.

I read your beliefs.

Hey Ron,
Could you please explain who you believe Jesus Christ to be? Just a short and sweet statement who suffice.

For instance: I, personally, believe He is God. He died and rose from the dead, and He rules this universe.

Martin Downes said...


How do you know about Red Dwarf? I'm impressed.

SolaMeanie said...

I don't know about you all, but when I see "UU," all I can think of is pitching horseshoes.

mike rucker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

AHHH! To be self-enlightened...

Such a wonderfully devastating place to be.

Bill Gnade said...


Alas, I am an ignoramus in nearly all things. I have no idea who Holly is, though a quick Wikipedia search led me to a synopsis of "The Red Dwarf." For all I know, you've insulted me!

Ah, yes, perhaps I am overly optimistic. Maybe my town is worse than Sodom: there are not even 10 righteous men.

I admit it is all so quaint of me to imagine a group of Trinitarians who believe in God's judgment engaged in a search for "Who-knows-what?" with a group of folks who by self-definition (See? Unitarians ALREADY know who they are!) reduce God to simplicity and pronounce that all men are forever accepted by him as equals; where, to UUs, even if there is no God at all, well, everyone -- and everything -- is wonderfully equal. (Except, of course, those irritating Trinitarians with their Bibles and their trite little creeds.)

Come unto us all you who are heavy-laden with Bible verses and weary of orthodoxy, and we will make you very, very bright.

Unitarianism: Where YOUR "truth" will set you free.

"Behold, gnosis stands at the door and knocks. If any man/woman/womyn/GLBT/BLT/PB&J entity opens the door - then gnosis will come into that entity, and gnosis will make that entity a prognosis: You are still dead in your sins, but you are so very smart about it."

Peace and mirth,


Bill Gnade said...

Dear RON of the Faith of the Free,

I am Bill of the Faith of the Enslaved; the Encumbered.

No doubt some of us have taken cheap shots at UUism. But not every cheap shot here is born of ignorance; some of us are pretty well-informed in these matters. I claim no expertise; I come as no authority. I just come and think.

But I would be remiss not to remind you that Christians of all kinds are routinely criticized by our Unitarian-Universalist peers. I have been a rather public victim of Unitarian 'kindness' in the letters-to-the-editor pages of the local paper. And while many UUs have been incredibly kind to me -- I remain fast friends with a whole lot of them -- I cannot say that I have found a Unitarian Church that is not blind to its own bigotries, or to its own cheap shots.

I could be wrong about this. Perhaps you can enlighten me at your website, to which I will turn presently.

Peace to you,

Bill Gnade

centuri0n said...


You're not just banned from posting rule-breaking comments -- you're banned from posting -any- comments. e-mail Dan or Phil if you think you have something to say which will change that.

centuri0n said...


It's truly bizarre what makes it from BBC to US televison. Phil actually owns all the episodes on DVD, and the next time he's in Tulsa I'm taking a week off to sit in his parent's living room with a stack of pizzas and watch them all in order from start to finish.

mike rucker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
threegirldad said...

Mike Rucker,

If you have so little integrity as to continue posting in open defiance of a ban, what could you possibly have to say (or write) that is worth any of my time?

Sharon said...

I wandered over to Mike's blog, and left a comment; however, when I tried to publish my post, I got this: Comment moderation has been enabled. "All comments must be approved by the blog author."

I wonder if I'll ever see my post?

stratagem said...

Let's take a look at this ad for a second.

"Maybe you're uncomfortable with the idea of God - or at least someone else's idea of God"

The next line of the ad should have read:

"Then come gather with a bunch of other people, whose idea of God you'll be uncomfortable with, as well."

This advert literally shows better than anything I can think of, why it's not possible to be truly open-minded about anything. Everyone has an idea about things, even if they fail to recognize it.

For some reason the UU folks have elevated open-mindedness as being the ultimate positive attribute, and their ego doesn't allow them to recognize that they have just as many biases as anyone else; they just are less able to admit it.

David said...

Does anybody have the patience to enter into relationship with a UU just to talk through life and see whose God is better?

Bill Gnade said...

Dear David,

I don't know if I "have the patience," but I try to. Actually, it takes no more patience than being friends with anyone else. At least, that's what I've found. But the UUs I am friends with don't compete much on this better "God" idea. Neither do I. I don't know if I try to show the superiority of the God I worship; I try to simply share with folks the good news and let them decide if Christ crucified and risen is proof of the Father's loveliness.

Peace to you,


stratagem said...

Does anybody have the patience to enter into relationship with a UU just to talk through life and see whose God is better?

In keeping with my last post on being honest with oneself, I admit I don't have the patience to do that.

Right message, wrong messenger. Any other volunteers?

northWord said...

heheheh........Todd Friel was just now reading the 'choicer' comments in here....(after 'introducing' the topic)

this after an awesome plug for TPyro :)

Martin Downes said...


Sounds like a great vacation to me.

We get 24, Lost, House...and you get Red Dwarf. Is that a fair exchange?

Sewing said...

And we get the token English "mean judge" on every reality show. At least you get to watch Hugh Laurie speaking with a pretty convincing American accent.

Which gives me an idea...TBN could have Christian reality shows with token "mean Calvinist" judges.

Josh said...

Is God keeping you from going to church? That reminds me of a joke:

You're rowing down the street in your canoe and a wheel falls off. How many flies can fit in a garbage dumpster? Purple, because ice cream doesn't have bones.

Now that makes sense...

Anonymous said...

Chris: "The "sermon" topic was why you should eat meat, and, since you're eating meat, you ought to buy locally."

Dude! UU's must be OK if they are proclaimers of the virtues of being carnivorous! I'm going to have to give this more consideration. I had assumed a vegatational view of the proper foods. Hmmm...

Sacchiel said...

Unitarians and JW's, much the same difference, haha.

centuri0n said...

Friel's a groupie. I love it.

Bill Gnade said...

Dear Pyros,

After following Ron-The-Unitarian's kind invitation to explore his fine faith at his "message board" (see "Faith of the Free" above) I now discover that after having posted but two comments, I am banned.

Such hospitality!

It is all rather ironic. I can only conclude that I must have committed the unpardonable sin of saying the right thing.

I just thought you'd all like to know.

Bill Gnade

PS. This marks the first time I've ever been banned from any blog or site. Not even The Daily Kos dealt such a blow to my "free pursuit" of my "own truth."

stratagem said...

I've just gone over and taken a look at the site where you were banned. It says that the forum is only for "UU's at heart," and all others are banned. By the way, they also completely removed the forum for questioning. What Freedom!

"Faith of the Free"? kind of akin to the "People's Republic of China". Just saying you're free doesn't make it so.

Bill Gnade said...

Dear Mike R., and everyone else,

Yes, Mike, you are too eager. I pray I will not be banned anywhere else (though I did once, no, twice, ban myself from my own blog).

I have posted an apology over at the UU site -- sincerely offered -- but I doubt that it will remain public.

Peace to you all, and much bliss.

Bill Gnade

northWord said...


Bill, have so appreciated all of your comments.

an ot aside:
anybody else notice the elephant?
the many parallels of the left (I do mean left-left) and, well, I dunno...just don't bother'm with facts.

SolaMeanie said...

Oh oh, looks like someone slipped past the ban here.

I can feel it coming in the air tonight . . .

Bill Gnade said...

Dear Northword,

I very much like your screen name.

Thanks for noticing my comments. I feel a few of them have been a little too snarky; I pray I've not offended anyone or dishonored our Lord. I hope a little irony and sarcasm, with a pinch of venting, is permissible.

Peace and mirth,

Bill Gnade

Robin Edgar said...

Well it is quite fraudulent false advertising in any case, and top level UUA officials know it.

God is not keeping me from going to a Unitarian*Universalist "church", but intolerant and abusive fundamentalist atheist "Humanist" U*Us most certainly are. . . In fact God believing people in general, and Christians in particular, are far from genuinely welcome in many so-called U*U "Welcoming Congregations".

Talking Blue Crow said...

Well... I myself am a Witch, but I work for the UU's. I've met some really nice folks and I've meet some really rude and arrogant folks. Egos like you would not believe. And you know what... they are no different than any people anywhere. For the most part, working here, as well as, reading this blog has reminded me why I don't go to church. And it has nothing to with "god."