Saturday, March 10, 2012

The UU Identity

I recently did a very good "webinar" with Katie Covey, author of multiple UU Religious Education curricula and the book Full Circle (a wonderful book, btw, which my Family Ministry Team at church used as a year long study book for the committee), in which Katie presents her take on our unique and core UU Identity and Beliefs.

There have been other efforts in history to describe what is commonly believed among UU's, rather than to emphasize our differences and theological diversity, and I applaud those efforts. Although we are a religious body that welcomes many different viewpoints, I don't find it helpful to say "UU's can believe whatever they want".

We actually do have some core beliefs. Katie Covey's version of them is:

The 4 implicit beliefs that need to be made explicit:

1) We believe that by being together in community we learn best and love best.

2) We believe that there is the potential for good in each person.

3) We believe that we can trust the inner voice of our hearts and make decisions using reason and compassion.

4) We believe that choosing is the essential religious act.

The 20th century Unitarian theologian James Luther Adams called it the "Five Smooth Stones of Religious Liberalism":

  • "Religious liberalism depends on the principle that 'revelation' is continuous." Our religious tradition is a living tradition because we are always learning new truths.
  • "All relations between persons ought ideally to rest on mutual, free consent and not on coercion." We freely choose to enter into relationship with one another.
  • "Religious liberalism affirms the moral obligation to direct one's effort toward the establishment of a just and loving community. It is this which makes the role of the prophet central and indispensable in liberalism." Justice.
  • "... [W]e deny the immaculate conception of virtue and affirm the necessity of social incarnation." Agency: Good things don't just happen, people make them happen.
  • "[L]iberalism holds that the resources (divine and human) that are available for the achievement of meaningful change justify an attitude of ultimate optimism." Hope.

And then there is this recent video put out by The Radical Spirit

"Each of Us is Elected"

"All of Us are Loved Beyond Belief"

"No One is Left Behind"

So what do UU's believe? Who are we? We are the people who uphold the worth of all, believing that all are born with the possibility of good. We are the people who believe that if we come together in community and covenant, we can create a better world, in this life, on this beloved planet. We believe that everyone should be free to choose.

I find these beliefs very powerful. We may be of differing opinions about what will happen after death, but we know what to do in this life.

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