Category Archives: religion

what DO we UUs believe


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 hard.

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.

Advertisements

challenge to the UUA – reinvent UU ministry


There was a tweet I saw come across my time line last week from @Rev_Mother who stated to fellow UU blogger and tweeter @mattkinsi that she wanted to be put in charge of Faith Development. Kins was appointed to the UUA committee on appointments. Or the committee on creating appointments to appointing committees. I don’t know… irony and name aside, Kins has been noticed by some higher-ups in the UUA and it’s pretty cool that I can say I knew him when. In fact, Kinsi is the only one of my blog peeps who I have actually met in person.

Anyway… so a few days ago I woke up with a fuzz of ideas swimming through my head as I meandered from almost awake to drifting back into a dream state. I began thinking about her statement about a ministry on faith development.

Her statement was a tangent off a bigger discussion that had occurred (actually it’s still happening) which was debating the idea of the UUA focusing on it’s cause de jour coupled with the recent Social Justice General Assembly vice focusing on our salvific message. (i learned that word from Rev Mother. I use it all the time now. 🙂 )

I’m assuming this is what brought on this subconscious/dreamlike thinking the other day. So I began thinking what if there was a ministry on Marriage and Family so that we could not only focus on pushing for legalizing same-sex marriage but also from the pulpit deliver a message that strengthened families and those who are married AFTER they have walked down the aisle whether they are gay or straight.  It may seem like semantics but the thing is we work pretty diligently at getting gay people to the alter but do NOTHING for them or other UUs who are married for that matter, AFTER they are married.

I challenge the UUA to develop a broad set of ministries, such as a  Ministry on Marriage and Family, Ministry on the Holy and Sacred, Ministry on Human Dignity, Ministry on the Holistic Human, Ministry on Stewardship  of the Earth. I challenge the UUA to reinvigorate the move Rev. Sinkford had in reclaiming our religious language and pull away from living by-gone days of being a hippy in the 60s.

These are just ideas for names but the concept is to create a small number of core of ministries where our actions and witnessing are sacred, holy work.  And the culture of our congregations would view it as such because that’s what we would hear and learn while sitting in the pews.  Those who are concerned with inhumane conditions at Joe Arpaio’s tent city would be doing holy work… UNDER the auspices of church/religious inspired language such as “ministry” “dignity” “sacred” instead of simply attending a protest to bring attention to a cause of injustice.

There are a million injustices in the world that should be righted simply because we know as a species what is right and wrong. The thing is when we as a religious people take up that cause to right a wrong it should be because we believe in our heart of hearts, it to be a sacred calling. UUism is a religion with a message of salvation… NOT a social club that meets on Sundays for coffee after protesting inhumane conditions the night before.

Happy Birthday Gautama Buddha


The paragraph below comes from a link at the History Channel’s website.

On this day, Buddhists celebrate the commemoration of the birth of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, thought to have lived in India from 563 B.C. to 483 B.C. Actually, the Buddhist tradition that celebrates his birthday on April 8 originally placed his birth in the 11th century B.C., and it was not until the modern era that scholars determined that he was more likely born in the sixth century B.C., and possibly in May rather than April.

Yesterday PBS aired a documentary on the life of the Buddha and his teachings.  I have been enjoying it immensely on YouTube.  Below is the 1st of 19 parts TheBuddhaPBS youtube channel has posted.

A life changed in 30 days


I’ve been meaning to write about this for awhile but kept feeling like I needed more time to grasp any meaning or to analyze what happened but I don’t know if there really is enough time to comprehend entirely the how and the why.  So a little more than a year later here’s my take on what happened to my dad and his wife and how their lives were upended.

You know… it can happen so quickly.   Your life as you know it completely changed; unmistakenly different from it was just the day before.  In the case of my dad and stepmother… 30 days.  It took  exactly 30 days for the transformation of their lives to be different to a point that it will never be what it was before.

In December of 2008, my dad’s wife of 30 years went to visit her brother near Dallas.  An important fact I should note is she has a disease that suppresses her immune system.  As a result she needs to be as careful she can about getting near any one who is sick or should cut herself.

Well she wasn’t as careful as she usually is and something got hold of her in December of ’08 that made her very sick.   The bacteria that attacked her body was strong and Continue reading

Jesus a student of Buddhism in Kasmir India?


Not only do I have my Deist side but I also have a Buddhist side to spirituality.  So to hear that Jesus may have been trained by Buddhist monks makes me all giddy inside.

Have any of you ever heard of this idea… that the missing years of Jesus are attributed to him having gone to India and while there, becoming a student of Buddhism.  It’s an interesting notion.

As this clip from a BBC documentary on the subject says, Jesus espoused ideas that were unheard of in Judaism of his time, yet those ideas had been taught by the Buddha 500 years earlier.

I’ve seen Christian websites saying reincarnation is not biblical.   Not being a scholar on 1st century Jewish thought I don’t know if reincarnation was something even conceived during that time but there are passages that hint that the idea was valid.

Along with that there are apparently other ideas from Buddhism that Jesus was trying to incorporate into his reform of Judaism that hadn’t been a part of it that managed to stick in Christianity.  Take a peek at the video below and see what you think.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I think Jesus built my UU church


Yep… I said it. I believe with all my heart that Jesus built my UU church. And it’s in this place that Jesus built where I’ve been able to learn about sacrificial love, compassion for all living things and helping those weaker than me.

And a couple of weeks ago I told The Little Man I believed Jesus built our church as we were pulling into the parking lot.

I should back-track a little before going any further in why I think this. I mean it must seem odd for The Deist, especially one of a UU persuasion to be making such statements.

A few weeks ago The Little Man (for new visitors here, The Little Man is my wife’s son… my stepson) and The Deistette were going to check out another church… a Methodist church and so I felt obligated to tell him a little about what he might see there. So Emmie and I naturally began with Jesus. We told him there are some people who believe in a man named Jesus and that they believe he is God.

And he said, “well, what about the real God? Do they believe in God?”

“Well, yes… but they believe Jesus was His son and is God also.”

He couldn’t quite grasp the concept. I have to be honest it perplexes me, too.

So we told him that Continue reading

I used to love this UU annual ritual


UU congregations have very few liturgical traditions. Having come from a Catholic background where there are butt-loads of rituals and traditions I really look forward with much anticipation to our annual water ceremony.

UU flaming chalice w/ holy water in background  photo by julian

UU flaming chalice with holy water in background

For my non-UU readers, the water ceremony summed up is this: It’s a Sunday service held in mid or late August, where everyone in the congregation brings a small amount of water and pours it into a bowl that sets at the front of the sanctuary near the alter. The water has been gathered during the summer (mostly… some gathered throughout the year) while people were away from school obligations, work obligations, kid obligations, parent obligations… just obligations in general. There are readings about the significance of water, a short sermon then everyone goes up to the front, one after another, and as they pour their water in the bowl they describe where the water came from. The bowl has water from last year and from our District water ceremony held earlier in the summer. I could probably write this in a little more detail and try to describe it better but that’s basically it.

I love this ceremony. Always have… ever since I first started attending my church.

But this year, it changed a little for me. Even as I walked up to pour my water in, I kinda had a sick feeling in my throat because Continue reading

and the Dixie Chicks were ashamed to be from Texas?


Well, add The Deist to that list! I just found out that the legislature of my home state did one of the stupidest things in the history of things that state legislatures have done… EVER!

Apparently Texas high schools are now required to offer (as an elective) a class that teaches The Bible. How did I miss this?… it passed two years ago and it begins this school year.

What I am hoping will happen is this will be challenged, defeated and left in church where it belongs. Hello 1st Amendment!

Until then, I suspect what will happen is the students who take this class will fall into one of three categories:

  1. kids who have been taking Bible study in church and are hoping to score an easy A.
  2. objective, smart kids who hope the class will actually teach them something new and will ask about the inconsistencies and contradictions or
  3. stoner kids hoping they can score on the churchy kids.

I am hoping the person who teaches this class is either:

  1. an atheist who knows the Bible inside and out and will bury the kids looking for an easy A.
  2. a fundamentalist who gets stumped by the smart kids and made to look like a dumbass or
  3. the football coach who doesn’t teach a thing except why it’s called a hail Mary.

Ok, in all seriousness, if I could be convinced Continue reading

poking at believers and non-believers


I was listening to the Pacifica Station here in Houston yesterday. I normally don’t.  But as I was changing from FM1 down to AM, I had to punch through FM2 where 90.1 KPFT was playing. The DJ caught my attention by saying the next song was brand new. So I paused for just a second to hear what it would be.

It’s by Regina Spektor (who I’ve never heard of) and was released about a month ago.  The lyrics made my ears perk up immediately so I listened to hear what this song was about.

I think she’s making fun of those who don’t believe in God (perhaps a UU or two?) but when shit hits the fan… well, as she said, “no one laughs…” And I think she’s poking fun at those who believe God grants wishes like a genie.

I’m curious about your thoughts.

does God make mistakes


I’ve been reading a new blog lately as she intermittantly posts and one thing she said recently is, “although I am an atheist and fairly ‘out’ about it, I’ve been trying to avoid writing about it too much because I don’t want this to turn into an atheist blog…”

It resonates with me in that although I consider myself a deist, I don’t have the intention of this being a resource for Deism. Although, considering, a HUGE percentage of my small number of hits per day comes from people searching out Deism, maybe I should be a little more blatant about my view of the world from my deist perspective.

So even though I don’t consider this blog a deist resource, I couldn’t help but post this video on people’s different perspective of God.  It comes from Rainn Wilson’s website, SoulPancake. I was surprised by the number of people who said they were atheists.

My answer would be, “No.”

The reason I say no isn’t because I think God is infallible but because Continue reading