Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Community among Unitarians and Pagans

As a long-term participant in Pagan groups (since 1990) and having recently joined a Unitarian church (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 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 those 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 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).


Pitch313 said...

In the San Francisco Bay Area there is a long intertwining of Unitarian Pagans and the rest of the Pagan community.

Lots of Bay Area Pagans are members of Unitarian Pagan centered groups. Unitarian churches or halls offer space routinely for all sorts of Non UU Pagan events. I have attended and participated in a goodly number of them, myself. It always astonished me to see Pagan emblems, icons, banners, and such displayed alongside all the other Unitarian decorations--on equal footing.

I didn't notice much difference between Unitarian affiliated Pagans and non-Unitarian affiliated Pagans.

But I also did not consider Unitarian Paganism as a Trad as much as a comfortable home for liberal and/or Progressive Christians transitioning to a more congenial (multi-deity, Green, feminist???) Neo-Pagan world view. Or for hearth-loving Pagan folks to gather.

My sense was that Unitarian Paganism was a little less magic-minded than the the Craft Trads that I knew or practiced. Or that Unitarian affiliated practitioners did most of their actual magic working outside the formal Unitarian focus and via a Craft Trad. (I guess that I'm sorta saying that I did not consider Unitarian Paganism as Craft. I am a Craft practitioner far more than I am a Pagan.)

Q: I do not get your comment about the "re-burial" issue and what "Pagan" means? A U matter, I presume.

Yewtree said...

Reburial - no, not a Unitarian concern at all - rather, very much a live concern in British Paganism, and the reason why I have distanced myself from it.

Thanks for the gen on the Bay Area communities, very interesting.

I think Unitarian Paganism in Britain is a trad in its own right (not a form of craft though). Don't know about the UU Pagan situation though.

Clare Slaney said...

Nice to read this Yewtree. Pete and I went to the Essex Unitarian church in Kensington this AM and found it sane, welcoming and pleasant. We shall be going again.

What I'm interested in for myself is grounded community and the UU seem to offer that in a manner that Pagan avoids.

Yewtree said...

Glad you enjoyed it Clare! I have heard the minister of that church give a series of talks and she really knows her stuff (Joseph Campbell, Jung, van Gennep etc.)