Perhaps my single biggest problem with the wording of the 7 Principles of the UUA is the use of the word “Responsible”. This is largely because, without more context, it has little meaning. We are talking about a religion, but one that affirms both prophetic wisdom and scientific reason. What wins when these two forces are at odds? If, as James Luther Adams teaches us, revelation is not closed (More on the Smooth Stones in the near future), then by what measure do we accept new prophets and speakers of spiritual truth? If we do not answer these questions, then only rigidity and rabid individuality keep us from becoming a shallow faux-religion that ordains people via email.
It may just be possible that defining what we, as a movement, will accept as being “reasonable” might just resolve my question as to what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist.
It seems that the UUA is willing to look at the question of who we are, but from a very different angle.
Over on the UUA’s own Growing UU blog, a post was made recently about Discernment (the determination of the quality or value of a thing) as a growth strategy. They asked a few crucial questions that come within a hair’s breadth of getting to my point.
They asked what the purpose of our religion was. They asked what our message to the world is about salvation and personal growth. They asked how we could “reveal” that message in all of our actions. Most crucially, they asked “At the end of the day/ week how will they have known we were Unitarian Universalists?” (emphasis in original)
They stopped short of actually asking, “How do we define what it means to be a UU?”, but they came so close, and the questions they did ask are crucial to resolving my quest. I can promise you, though, that if their best answer isn’t more about the beliefs and behavior of our members than it is about tacky yellow clerical vestments, then I will not be among those carrying the banner through the new century.