Why I’m staying a UU

Over the last few weeks, my posts have been critical of certain aspects of Unitarian Universalism. I think there are issues we need to address if we are going overcome the attrition that we are suffering. It is a slow death, certainly, but as congregations fail, we will loose people  who would rather have continued their participation. In short, things are likely to speed up, not slow down.

Why, then, do I spend the energy criticizing the movement? Because what we have to offer, at our core, is what I believe the world really needs. Our Principles are a fantastic guideline for sharing our planet with each other. Our message of inclusion, when we are truly living it, has changed lives and helped to rebuild families. I can honestly say that I believe Unitarian Universalism is a religion for our time.

I am passionate about my religion. I want to share it with people, not because I hope to dissuade them from their own faith, but because my religion’s Principles require no superstition, and many people will not have to give up any of the things they love about their own faith. Certainly, not every belief structure fits within the broad theological field estabilished by the 7 Principles, and that is a shame, but even if a person grasps only 3 of them to add to their personal philosophy, I think that it makes the world a better place.

I want to share those Principles, because I believe that they can be a covenant between individuals to work together to create a better community. We may disagree on tactics, but as long as we are acting with a balance of justice and compassion, and in ways that we believe affirm the worth and dignity of others, then we can debate, resolve, and work together in love and trust.

That is my vision: Each of us acting in covenant with the 7 Principles, building a better world, and winning minds and hearts through our example rather than through fear or debate. Our ideals can stand on their own, if only we would live them, and they will spread on their own if only we give them a voice. The Principles of the UUA are a meme of which the world is in need. We have truly Good News; I am only trying to improve the way in which we share it. We have a covenant; I am simply concerned that we live up to it.

I am UU, and despite all my concerns and even complaints, I am better for having found this vibrant, liberal faith and a loving community to share it with. I am passionate about making the Principles an active force in my life, and sharing them with others who are willing and able to see them as the ecclesiastical walls of our church: keeping no one out, but reminding those within of our commitment to each other and the world at large.

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7 Responses

  1. […] I am a member of a small religion. It is a religion that has a lot to offer the world, but it is a young religion that hasn’t quite got its message in order. I am alright with all of these things, because it has created a community where I am loved for who I am, but I am not merely accepted; I am challenged to be better and to do more. Not forced. Not pressured. Challenged by people who became my friends, learned who I was and what I was capable of, and challenge me to be my best, while supporting me (as little as necessary) spiritually, emotionally, and on more than one occasion, financially. They encourage me on a free, but responsible, search. And that is what I was looking for. I love being a part of that. […]

  2. “Why, then, do I spend the energy criticizing the movement? Because what we have to offer, at our core, is what I believe the world really needs. Our Principles are a fantastic guideline for sharing our planet with each other.”

    What Unitarian Universalists *claim* to have at their core, and what UUism actually has at its core, are sadly two very different things Thomas. . . Why do you suppose *I* have spent so much time and energy criticizing “The U*U Movement”? Yes, the Seven Principles of UUism, and other ideals claimed by Unitarian Universalists, are a “fantastic” guideline for sharing our planet with each other, the Big Fat U*U Problem is that U*Us can’t even manage to genuinely honor and uphold those principles and ideals to share the UU World with each other, let alone the real world. . . If they did, we would not be engaged in this little war of words that has been going on for a decade and a half now, would we?

    “Our message of inclusion, when we are truly living it, has changed lives and helped to rebuild families.”

    The key phrase here being ” when we are truly living it”, which isn’t nearly often enough from where I stand Thomas, and I am *very* confident that many other people who have had various kinds of “bad experiences” with Unitarian Universalists, including but by no means limited to intolerant and abusive U*U clergy. . . will wholeheartedly agree with me on that point.

    “I can honestly say that I believe Unitarian Universalism is a religion for our time.”

    *I* can honestly say that I believe that Unitarian Universalism *could* be “a religion for our time” but it sure as the Hell most U*Us don’t believe in is NOT “a religion for our time” at the moment, indeed *some* persons of inherent worth and dignity would argue that Unitarian Universalism, as it is currently “practiced” by U*Us, isn’t even a real *religion*. I expect that you have seen the recent blog posts and comments to that effect so I shouldn’t be obliged to direct you to the “evidence”. No, sadly Unitarian Universalism is every bit as much “a tiny, declining, fringe religion” now as it was back in 2008 when current UUA President Rev. Peter Morales quite accurately described it as such in his “sermon” cum “stump speech” announcing his candidacy for President of the UUA. From what I can see President Morales has done little or nothing to live up to his grandiose aka over-the-top, if not just plain delusional. . . election platform/promise to transform Unitarian Universalism into not just “a religion for our time” but nothing less than “*the* religion for our time”. There *is* a very significant difference between those two phrases even if only one single word differentiates them. Nope, I would even go so far as to say that President Moralesm (to say nothing of other UUA leaders) has committed various “sins” of commission, and “sins” of omission, that have not only failed to “grow” UUism, but have even led to The Tiny Declining Fringe Religion™ being that much tinier, declinier, and even “fringier” than ever before. . . I dare say that President Morales is dreaming in Technicolor if he *really* believes that Unitarian Universalism will be “going viral” in 2017, it is more likely to die of the Bird Flu or something. . . but I expect that Peter’s most recent over-the-top proclamation is just empty and insincere BS that he feels he needs to feed to U*Us in order to keep the passengers and crew from abandoning the proverbial Ship Of Fools.

    Sorry to be somewhat “less than polite” here Thomas, but U*Us need a good slap upside the head so they wake up and smell the rotten Bridgehead coffee that is being served to them by negligent and incompetent UUA leaders before it is too late to save the so-called UU World. . . Rev. Peter Morales described 25 Beacon Street as a place that “reeks of privilege and hierarchy” when running for UUA President, well it reeks of hypocrisy and hubris too, and President Morales is well and Truly part of *that* Big Fat U*U Stink as far as I am concerned. If he does not shape up very soon Unitarian Universalists would be very well advised to ensure that Peter Morales is a one term only President, and no I do not mean the traditional eight year term that most UUA presidents seem to traditionally enjoy after being (s)elected by UUA delegates. . .

    • Robin. I respect that you don’t always see the best of our religion. You don’t look for it, and you certainly don’t inspire it. Never the less, they are ideals, and we don’t expect anyone to live up to them all the time. None of us are perfect.

      As for the decline, almost every religion in the US is seeing a decline in dues-paying membership. The bigger picture is that the number of people who identify as UU is growing, though only enough to keep up with the population. We aren’t loosing adherents, just their cash. That’s a national problem. That is part of what “Congregations and Beyond” is meant to address.

      I admit, and have said right here in AMS, that there are UUs, and even whole congregations, who are not living the 7 Principles in a way that I approve of. We are working on plans to improve inter-congregational contact and to hold each other in covenant more effectively. The “Congregations and Beyond” initiative is sparking some good conversations and a couple of decent changes already. It isn’t going to be an over-night culture shift. There is a very different discussion to be had about whether it is enough, or if it fulfills promises.

  3. Just so you know, I submitted the above comment twice under my real name etc., only to see it vanish into thin cyberspace twice. *Maybe* those submissions ended up in your SPAM folder, but I don’t know that with any certainty do I? So I submitted it a third time with the usual “fake” info so it at least ended up in your moderation queue. If it is *too* “less than polite” I can resubmit a toned down version of it, but in that the UUA happily allows U*U clergy to be far more in your face rude to me and other people, and in that I really do believe that U*Us need a bit of “shock treatment” to prod them out of their apathy and moral turpitude, I would prefer that you posted it intact.

    Thanks,

    Robin Edgar

    • They were in the Spam folder. Do you need pics? Wait, I could have moved it there. I guess you’ll have to trust me. Or not. I can live with it, either way. In any case, it was another self-serving rant that has nothing to do with any of my posts, and it stays in the spam folder. Sorry, Robin, but you have a dozen blogs of your own to rant in. This one is mine.

      (For those interested, Robin usually keeps copies of all of his comments, posting them to his own blog. Hopefully, this will not be the exception.)

      The UUA allows pretty much anything, as long as it is legal. I can call Peter Morales a blowhard, or a visionary, and as those are both opinions, the UUA would likely take no notice at all. We believe in free speech, and that doesn’t stop no matter how many honorifics you have.

      The problem is that you aren’t shocking. You are not prodding. You are seen, at best, as a lunatic standing outside the building, screaming at the windows. No one takes you seriously, Robin. No one really cares what you vision is, because you’ve proven to be irrational in your desires. You’ve demanded an apology that you’ve already gotten. You’ve called us out for a scandal that resulted in an arrest, conviction, and defrocking. What more would you have us do to the man? You think we ought to be doing more, but you can’t seem to be rational about what that means. I know I’m going to get a rant over this, but I want to try to reach you. You have a problem. You are obsessed. You are irrational. Please consider what you are doing with your life. If you have evidence that there is criminal wrong doing, then take it to the authorities. Otherwise, it is all internal politics, and you are an external force. Either come back and find productive ways to address the problems, or just move on with your life.

  4. […] am, ultimately, keeping my religion. Oddly, though it is the best instrument available to me for the kind of change I see the world […]

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