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A Home for My Spirit When it Was Homeless

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By John Maindonald

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John Maindonald © 20 September 2015

The religious atmosphere of the family in which I was nurtured, and of the churches that I attended, now seems to me resonant, in many ways, of English Christianity in the early 1800s, 200 years ago. Religious belief was taken very seriously, doubt was a sin, and those lively minds who did finally reject the old belief systems found the process traumatic. To the trauma of abandoning a way of thinking that had become deeply part of them was often added the trauma of parting ways with a community to which they had been strongly committed. I, from my own experience, feel a strong sense of kinship with those 19th C figures who found the dogmatic Christian belief system in which they had been nurtured too much of a prison of the mind.

Unitarian churches were, in many or most places just as orthodox as the rest, albeit they did reject a few orthodox doctrines. The old is rejected, but the new hardens all too easily into a new orthodoxy. Even without a creed, the freedom of belief that we in Unitarian and UU churches enjoy today was not always a feature of the Unitarian movement. There were, in the 19th C and later, some hard-fought controversies that led up to this point. Ultimately, it came to be accepted that once that process of challenge has started, it is impossible, in advance, to set limits to that process, to say where it might stop.

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