1) Universalism and pluralism can tollerate any [i]
[/i] viewpoint except for exclusivity. I think this is what Norton and Emery were trying to get at. This was why Christianity was persecuted in the first centuries, because the Roman empire was held together by the pluralistic religion of polytheism. Christianit's exclusivity was seen as a threat then as it often is now. You really can't have your cake and eat it too, though: either you are accepting of Christianity's basic claim of exclusivity, or you are truly faithful to a universalistic mandate.
2) Let's say we had a room full of people in lab coats, in a lab. They were all highly qualified, and were all busy about their business. However, because they never wanted to cause acrimony, none of them actually came to any conclusions[i]. They simply tested, looked, examined, and [i]enjoyed the journey of discovery[i], while categorically excluding the possibility of actually arriving at a conclusion
[/i][/i][/i]. Would such people be scientists? I think it would be more accurate to say they were "playing science." Likely, they have "real jobs" on the side - for whatever reason, they like to "play scientist" on the side. And who would want to stop them? Good, clean, harmless fun is hard to come by these days! This is kind of the feeling I get with the UU's. They don't really want to be religious, but they like "playing religion." I don't mean that disrespectfully though - I could see how it would fill a need that would otherwise be vacant in one's life, especially with the social aspect of it.
3) Oddly enough, I really appreciate the honesty of the UU church. Unlike liberals, they actually ADMIT that they are a cult (of the non- Jimmy-Jones variety!
), or a heretical sect of Christianity. This is refreshing because so many people who have exactly the same beliefs and practices as they do continue to call themselves Christians - many of them being teachers and pastors - which is just dishonest and frustrating to the historic Christians.
4) I am very moved by the image I get of a group of people, all hurt and disallusioned by the church, coming together for mutual comfort and healing. Something I often say to such people is, "Don't let the people you like the least keep you from what you need the most!" So often we allow one person who has wounded us in the past to dictate our decisions for the rest of our lives ("Well, my dad was Christian, and he beat my mom. Therefore I will never go to church.") It's a very hard thing to deal with a scarred past. I don't say this lightly, but, I would urge people to consider that sometimes daring to believe what their "enemies" believe(d) could be the highest statement of intellectual maturity and emotional freedom.
Blessings on you, though, UU crowd. I pray that you find healing, hope and comfort and that your seekings someday bring you to the one who is Life!