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Friday, October 14, 2005

Roots, don't hold me too close.

The Unitarian Universalist blog post of the week is surely Fausto's "What a Great UU Church Could Be," written in response to this post at Boy in the Bands. It's a perennial question: Is there really a place for Unitarians and Universalists — classically defined — in the new "UUism"?

I won't weigh in here because the conversation Fausto is hosting is quite good, and I don't have much to add beyond what I said last year: We need better narratives about our tradition's evolution. The basic issue for religious liberals who are anxious about the quiddity of Unitarian Universalism comes down to making sense out of the mixed metaphor in "Spirit of Life": roots hold me close, wings set me free. If you take both parts seriously, you've got a good thing going; if you only pretend to, you've got a sham.

Also good this week: "Curiosity Turned Into a Rant: On Christianity and UUism" at Never Say Never to Your Traveling Self; and, in case you missed it, Rev PeaceBang went down to Baton Rouge to help out for a week and has several great posts about the trip and how you can help.

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 14 October 2005 at 8:22 AM

Previous: Notable new histories (tangentially Unitarian).
Next: UUA trustees meet in Boston this weekend.




Walking, Not Falling:

October 14, 2005 01:02 PM | Permalink for this comment

thanks for pointing me towards that discussion. i'm a Quaker universalist attending a Universalist Unitarian church. one of the things i like best about this church is they were originally Universalist and the members of the church have worked very hard to keep a sense of their history and tradition. since the joining in 1963? of the two denominations, they have had to struggle with remaining true to themselves while embracing some of the more "out there" stuff....and while working with some of the newer UU's that in my experience have been not very receptive to the more Christocentric folks who have attempted to join and ultimately left.


October 18, 2005 06:21 AM | Permalink for this comment

Perhaps our problem lately has been that we have paid too much attention to the "wings set me free" part, forgetting or downplaying the "roots hold me close" part. If we can find a balance between both attitudes, our movement has possibilities to survive and even thrive. If we only innovate, we will lose our own identity and personality. If we remain bound by tradition only, we will quickly become obsolete. OTOH I have read your essay on church doctrine and I agree with most if not all of it. I only miss a more in-depth study of the object of our worship. Is it an unknown God, a pantheistic or monistic Universe, or the very individual that is seeking answers and meaning?


October 18, 2005 07:33 AM | Permalink for this comment

When I was in seminary, I found the question of the object of worship for Unitarian Universalists generally too daunting to try to take on. I simply couldn't see a way to identify a shared loyalty, as James Luther Adams describes it in the passage I analyzed in "Authority in the Spirit."

The closest I think I've come to such an idea -- and it's not very sophisticated -- is that human beings experience transcendence in worship, but conceptualize the nature of that transcendence -- and therefore the implications of that transcendence -- differently. A Christian or theist will think of transcendence in terms that engage them in a dialogue with many traditional resources; a religious humanist or "perennialist" will think of transcendence as a universal quality of human experience or religious experience; and so on.

The weird thing about transcendence, of course, is that we can only experience ourselves as being transcended: that which transcends us cannot actually be comprehended by us, although we may be able to apprehend it in part. To me that's the foundation for humility no matter what conception of religion or worship we have in mind.


October 19, 2005 06:13 PM | Permalink for this comment

No, really, folks, if you haven't already read it, do check out Fausto's post, "What a Great UU Church Could Be." At 39 really interesting comments and counting, it's the theological-diversity blog entry to watch.

Robin Edgar:

October 22, 2005 06:21 PM | Permalink for this comment

If you take UUism's Seven Principles seriously, you've got a good thing going; if you only pretend to, you've got a sham. . .

Based on how most of the UUs I know, including you I am afraid. . . willfully disregard and flagrantly violate the Seven Principles of UUism, you've got a sham. . .

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