Probably like most of you, I'm enjoying the cooler weather. After a long, hot summer, it's nice to have temperatures that occasionally require donning a jacket. Of course, a similar feeling will occur next spring when the opportunity comes to put the coats and sweaters away and bring out the shorts. What is it about these changes that cause elation in people? Is it the change itself, or perhaps, it's experiencing the variety of seasons. I lived many years in Texas and Mississippi where summers are long and hot, interrupted by brief interludes of colder weather. I've also lived up north in Vermont and western New York where a guy I used to work with said they have three seasons - July, August, and winter. I certainly wasn't going to choose either of those extremes to retire to. Give me four seasons, like what we have here. Most people prefer variety; eating different food, reading different types of books, and yes, wearing different types of clothes during the year.
Most UUs really have a propensity for variety, at least in their religious views. If they had a specific belief that they wanted to adhere to and not be interested in other ideas, they'd probably attend a religious institution that was tailored to that belief. Instead, UUs tend to be more open minded. They seek variety, or at least knowledge of other beliefs and ideas. So, why do some people, including UUs, avoid the opportunity to explore. I'm reminded of the quote by English author Terry Pratchett that "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it." Well, what's wrong with that?! Being exposed to different ideas isn't the same as indoctrination. Yet some seem to avoid and even disdain different ways of doing things or being exposed to information outside their comfort zone. I'd expect that in many other churches, but not a UU one. You've probably noticed that Westside has changed what RE stands for, from Religious Education to Religious Exploration. Although the word "education" is merely the presentation of information about various things in our world, some could interpret it to mean providing a direction of infallible truth. The word "exploration" signifies a much broader presentation, with no absolutes. Exploration is a key element to a UU church.
So, open yourself to exploration. Keep an open mind. Don't stay away on Sundays because you don't like the topic or Rev. Carol is not present. Likewise, don't avoid the adult RE sessions afterward because you are not interested in the subject or it's not being led by Rev. Carol. I recently watched a DVD of a UU conference on worship. A presenter at one of the workshops talked about this very topic. She said that people need to be patient and tolerant of programs that are not aligned with their beliefs and way of thinking because their turn will come. There will be services where their preferences will be the topic, and hopefully, the others will attend and participate in order to share in all the variety that a UU church has to offer.
Please don't hesitate to comment to members of the Committee on Ministry, Board of Trustees, or Rev. Carol about things you do or do not like about services and other programs at Westside. These people are all open minded, just like we hope you will be. Meanwhile, remember the old saying that variety is the spice of life.