They’re coming in oneseis and twoseis… tweets and posts and articles from different people putting their two cents into the cart before the horse debate of doing good works (i.e. social justice) vs faith/religion (theology).
The question makes one run in circles as Lo Williams pointed out as she responded to a post Kinsi had put on his blog last week.
It’s a hard question for UUs to answer, even those who have been lifelong UUs or those who wear the cleric’s collar of our clergy. And I think part of the reason it’s such a hard question to answer is because we’ve become so damn afraid of actually saying “We believe ______ and if you don’t believe ______ then you’re probably not a UU.”
We have drifted so far away from a belief system toward inclusivity that we have no idea any longer what we believe. We are desperate not to diminish any individual’s belief system and so our mantra of “we will support your search for truth and meaning” has become the demise of a central religious belief.
If you ask most UUs to describe their religion, it will come off sounding as though members of this tradition define their own theology, that UUism pretty much lets you believe whatever you want and that UUs love coffee on Sunday mornings after they meet for service. That would be about it.
I think it is a common misconception that Unitarian Universalism is one big stew pot of all the world religions lumped together. I can see how people might think that but I simply don’t believe that idea of UUism to be true… at least not anymore. If I am being honest, I’m sure there was a time where I did think that of UUism.
But now… not so much. In fact, not at all.
I think Unitarian Universalism should be a religion based on two ideas. Ideas that stem from our religious roots of Unitarianism and Universalism.
1) that there is but only one God… Only one Higher Power in the universe. One Truth. But there is the caveat that people view that Higher Power by way of different lenses. So for some this Higher Power or Truth is Brahma, one of the gods of the Hindu trinity. For some their view of the Higher Power is the teachings of the Buddha. For some it is a goddess that moves the wind. For some their Higher Power is sacred community, more powerful and forgiving than the individual can be. And for some their Higher Power is their concept of God.
and 2): That salvation is universal. Transformation is universal. And this salvation/transformation can be had by anyone. Again there is the caveat that this salvation is viewed from different lenses. Salvation can be had from Sacred Community when someone says, “hi my name is John Doe and I’m an alcoholic.” And the salvific response is “Hi John.” Salvation/Transformation can be had when you say to yourself, “I forgive myself for my shortcomings. I am after all only human. And I will do better” Or perhaps one’s salvation comes from the teachings of the son of carpenter who died 2000 years ago.
My friends THIS is what we UUs believe and should get back to preaching from our pulpits. THIS is the salvation message we have. THIS is our Good News and when we get this in our hearts, our heart will lead us to transform injustice in this world into right… not the other way around.
Jules you make a lot of sense to me. What I find must troubling is that wen my fellow UUs try to get me to join them in their social justice cause, be it prison reform, environmental activism or what ever it may be, they can not articulate to me what is the faith/spiritual/religion/theological reason for taking this action is. What I am trying to say is they always fall back on “the doing of good worked in of itself is enough of a spiritual reason to engage and be motivated to engage” in the particular cause. But for me the motivation to do good works has to come from a place of faith/spiritual/religion/theology for me to understand why it is worth my time and energies to engage in. I guess for me good works fallow faith and for others faith comes out of good works.
I so agree with what you said. Long have I questioned, and searched and doubted, but now I understand that I am, in fact, a Deist, and that most organized religions, in themselves, cannot satisfy an ingrained and compelling urge within myself to answer my questions. I have for many years thought myself and atheist because these built in faculties of Reason and conscience and my very own nature, seemed to clash with every doctrine and creed around me. I have attended Baptist, Pentacostal and Southern Baptist churches, I once abandoned Christianity all together and practiced Islam; I have read up on Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Native American religions, pagan eastern and western religions and STILL nothing fit..although I had thought for many years that Islam did. There is little doubt in my mind that I am, and in act have been for many, many years, a Deist, and now that I understand more about the UU church and it’s goal, I WILL be searching for a UU church in my area.
Devin, I’ve never been able to accept most doctrinaire theological writing. The creation myths of most peoples, from Borneo to Britain, seem rational constructs to me that often make humans too central. And the churches all too often establish human pecking orders, whether it’s a pope or an ayatollah who urge followers on, all too often on bloody paths, with promises of harps or virgins in the afterlife.
I believe in biodiversity. I believe how capable we humans are make us wonderful stewards for creation. Strip the words away, and the natural world exists, as do your two hands, and your mind, and all you are capable of.
It makes us wonderful gardeners. Once you’ve helped a tomato plant or a rosebush to blossom, it’s easy to move on to more complex challenges.
Compassion exists even if you don’t have a word for it, and it exists sometimes in the natural world, among the animals who depend on us, even as they don’t have a word for it.
Don’t let words get in the way.