Give me Hell

We need a Unitarian Universalist Hell. With fire and brimstone, pain, fear, and eternal suffering.

I feel this way every year when we do the annual pledge drive.

Our canvassers are armed with tables, charts, and logical arguments. They remind us the importance of this community, and try to convince us that giving to First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco is the most powerful way to resist evil and strengthen our own spirits.

Pledge captains talk of growth aspirations such as having more professionals to nurture membership or the ability to provide more pastoral care. They talk of boring – but urgent – needs for things such as financial staffing help or stopping deferring maintenance. First-hand stories of the value of membership inspire the congregation on Sundays, in newsletters, and at coffee hour.

The work of persuasion is heartfelt, measurably effective, and also reasonable an measured. Unfortunately, some of the pledging is too measured.

It would be so much easier if we had a hell to threaten ourselves with.

Devil in Hell

Unitarian Universalism Needs Hell

“Give! Or, God our Father will see your stinginess, cast you from His sight into the Depths of Everlasting Fire! And, you! He knows you’re cheating and not really tithing. Cough up the full 10%! And, I mean 10% of your income without any of this liberal Adjusted Gross Income” nonsense!”

Personally, I’d like you to hear the last statement in your head whenever Marty or another leader talks this year about how much your pledge is really needed.

Why? Because we religious liberals are often too cool and unemotional about things we value highly. We are good at keeping our distance and not committing, especially financially. We are much better at ranting and raving at the injustices and stupidity in the world than we are at applauding and raving for institutions and communities that sustain us. And, these organizations, THIS Society, needs your financial support to be effective and healthy.

Conservative denominations like the Mormons give more of their income to their churches than Unitarian Universalists do. They commit, dig into their budgets, and give10%. They also have lots of other causes that are asking them for money, just as we have ACLU, KQED, Planned Parenthood, etc. But, they give first to their church.

Are they giving because of fear? Do they they’ll be shut of Everlasting Life because they’re $500 short? Probably not. They give because they know their church furthers their values and deepens their lives.

But, I don’t know. We intelligent, free thinking Unitarian Universalists know that UUSF speaks our values and our faith saves lives. And, many of us give very generously. But, in general we give less than our brothers and sisters in more dogmatic faiths. Maybe Hell helps.

So if you are not already giving like you thought our community is uniquely inspiring, listen to the carefully reasoned arguments for increasing your pledge. Then, give what feels right. If anyone asks why you increased your pledge so much, tell them that the Devil made you do it.

About Galen Workman

Galen has been a member since 1982. He most recently served on the Board from 2013 - 2018 and as Moderator from 2017-2018. He is also a member of the board of the Hinckley Fund. He has been Moderator, Assistant Moderator, Secretary, and Treasurer of the Board, on a ministerial search committee, active in social justice activities, and on the Nominating Committee. Galen is married and spends time away from church showing his dachshunds and squaredancing.
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