Connie Goodbread, Acting District Executive for the Mid-South District of the Unitarian Universalism Association of Congregations (UUA) when speaking about faith development will often say: “Faith Development is all we do; Unitarian Universalism is all we teach; and the Congregation is the Curriculum.” Recently at a Regional staff meeting we were discussing the vision of Unitarian Universalism for the Southern Region and I mentioned that when we live our faith out in the community the Culture is the Crucible.
We only truly embody our faith and values when we live those values in the culture. It is in the culture that our faith is put to the test to strengthen our mettle. Currently our culture is resisting attempts to be compassionate towards others. There are loud voices that claim the individual is above all others; disregarding the worth and dignity of others. Moves in our government to reduce taxes on the über wealthy and corporations to the detriment of life giving services to the poorest in our country is received with high praise by politicians and citizens alike. The recent GOP debate had an audience member shout ‘let him die’ to the hypothetical question of a young man who chose not to get insurance and then had an accident which left him in a coma, should he be treated? A bad decision on the young man’s part and lack of compassion by the Ayn Rand neophytes who place individual rights and a disdain for minor impositions above collective societal rights. It is in this world where we either live up to what we claim to profess on Sunday morning or we fail to meet the challenge.
This is the test of our values as Unitarian Universalists. How well do we represent these values in the day to day? Do we speak up when we see someone being abused for being gay or discriminated against for being an immigrant? Do we talk with our friends about the deep matters in life or do we hide away to keep the peace when a disparaging word is said about another group ?
If being Unitarian Universalist is only good one day a week then our faith is weak and ineffective. We should not continually wonder why our congregations are not growing and or why claims of irrelevance surface. If we are not seeking to live the principles that we covenant to uphold then our voice will continue to grow weak against the din and noise of the popular cultural shift towards Ayn Rand’s extreme individualism.
As a faith, as congregations, as individuals we need to examine how we embody the values our faith teaches out in the world where we breathe, and eat, and have our being. This is not an easy challenge. It is hard work this path we have chosen. Dag Hammarskjold wrote these words “This is your path, And it is now, Now, that you must not fail.”
I repeat Connie Goodbread’s words with mine added at the end:
Faith development is all we do;
Unitarian Universalism is all we teach;
the congregation is the curriculum;
and the culture is the crucible.
This is our task and our path. We must not fail.