When I was 8 yrs old, I told my Lutheran Sunday School teacher, in the church where my great-uncle was the minister, that what she was saying didn't make any sense: I'll teach this class next week. I sang in the children's choir, listened to my uncle thunder and warn the congregation that if they didn't believe, the God of love would have them roast in hell.
I went through confirmation. Schoolmates going to other churches got to write essays and have discussions –we had to memorize this boring little gray book that had no relevance to real life.
My Mom was an organist and choir director. She played in a variety of different denominations, also in a reform Jewish congregation. I often went with her. It was great exposure to music and liturgy from a broad perspective, and I learned to sing.
In high school I went to Quaker meetings with one of Mom’s friends. That was an hour of meditative silence, not easy, but very renewing. I liked the Quakers. The difference between a Quaker and a Unitarian is that UU's can't sit still and be quiet that long.
I played music with several friends who were UU, for their services, but I had no idea what it was at the time. Mom bought into the anti-communist propaganda about the UU's common in the fifties, so discouraged me from hanging out with them. In college I went to Hillel, the Jewish students’ organization, but socially really didn't fit.
Got married, tried to find some religious organization that would fit both Andy and me – to no avail. The seventh place we lived I needed something, so I converted to Judaism and enrolled the children in Jewish religious school. That lasted a couple of months until they locked themselves in their rooms and simply said they weren't going.
The simple theology of Judaism makes sense to me: God is One. We all have the same origin and are all connected. That's the Unitarian motto in Transylvania: Egy Az Isten (pronounced “edge oz eeshten”). The historical perspective, the depth and insight of Jewish legends and wisdom still speak to me. Socially I remained a misfit. I needed a place where my whole family would be comfortable; that wasn't it.
I went thru a lot of anger and cynicism as I let go of my experience with Christianity. It felt like brainwashing. God will punish you if you ask questions. What a contrast to the Jewish attitude, of “never mind the answers – you should have questions?”
And that is Why I Belong.