Examining our Unitarian Universalist Values

Last week I posted an entry that questioned whether the Republican Platform as it is currently being expressed was compatible with Unitarian Universalist values. I concluded that it was not and suggested that Unitarian Universalists could not in good conscience align themselves as Republicans and remain Unitarian Universalists.  Needless to say that I received comments asking if I was a Unitarian Universalist since my views seemed to be disparate from the value of inclusivity and welcome.I appreciated the comments and here is what I hope is an expansion of the point I was attempting to make.

Those that I heard from said they value other republican values such as small government and business entrepreneurship and not the values I stated as incompatible with Unitarian Universalist values.  Unfortunately, we are being sold a packaged deal and so it is hard to find and vote for a republican candidate in the south that is pro-small government who is also not anti-women, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-worker, and racist. I would argue the current Republican party is small government in rhetoric only, their actions over the last 25 years has proven other wise. The party has shifted so far away from anything that resembles Unitarian Universalist values that the argument of changing the party from within is a losing proposition.

How willing are we to sell out our Unitarian Universalist values for one issue that may be important? I never understood how anyone, regardless of party affiliation, could vote based on one platform issue when all the other platform issues presented are oppositional to ones beliefs. And if this is offensive, then sobeit, I place my Unitarian Universalist values above my political alliances.

We need to examine as part of our spiritual practice the values we lift up as Unitarian Universalists and whether or not we are living those values into the world. I dare say that neither Republican nor the Democratic Platform represent Unitarian Universalist values.  I lifted the Republican Platform because it is the easiest to see manifest the sharp contrast between their values and Unitarian Universalist values in the political scene today. But the Democrats are not the pinnacle of Unitarian Universalist values. Far from it.

Rev. Peter Morales, president of the UUA, is advocating for us to see us as more than congregations and begin to see us a movement that can and will transform the world. If we are serious in following his lead, then we as a faith need to be very clear about the values we hold as sacrosanct to Unitarian Universalist identity. This means to me that we need to be discerning about the actions we take into the world including the political affiliations we make as individual Unitarian Universalists.

Now we all start from somewhere.  But this faith, if it is true, cannot leave us where we are found, but must transform us into something more, into something holy, into something more aligned with the values we profess as Unitarian Universalists.  To be holy means to be set apart, to be singled out as special, as sacred.

Holy is not just reserved for holy ground, as in the Hebrew story about Moses and the burning bush; or holy as in blessed like the holy water used for Catholic baptism’s and the ritual of preparation of the Eucharist. Holy in this context is referring to the devotion of followers who have integrated the values and beliefs so fully that they and their values are one.  The Dalia Lama would be an example of this transformation into the holy.  He is a person who exemplifies Buddhism in the modern era. Mother Teresa would be an example of a person who exemplifies the servant Christ. Both have been called holy people.

Holy does not mean perfect in this context. Pointing out faults is to avoid the question being asked, how are you exemplifying Unitarian Universalist values?

So if Unitarian Universalism faith is true, if this faith is worth devotion, then it requires our examining of Unitarian Universalist values and how we live those values into the world.  It means we are also required to be transformed into the holy. This process does not happen over night but it can and should be happening within our Unitarian Universalist faith. Where are our holy people of the faith?

It begins I believe in the discussion of the values we honor and how might we operationalize those values into behaviors in the world.  It may mean that we choose to drop our political affiliations as I am doing.  I am no longer going to be a registered Democrat.  It may mean we adopt new ethical eating habits.  It may mean we seek to change our congregations from mono-cultural to multicultural, from an Anglo hegemony to a multiracial hegemony. It certainly means we allow our faith to have the transforming message to save us from our selves and thereby empower us to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly in our path.



One Comment

  1. Well said! Whenever I engage in the subject of who is, and who is not, a UU, I eventually get back to William Ellery Channing’s definition…that nobody can be excommunicated except by the death of goodness in his/her own breast. In a 21st Century context, I think it’s more attitudinal than doctrinal (or even political). In that sense, it can be argued that much of present-day conservatism has been “attitudinally” moving away from the core premises of Unitarian Universalism, thereby excommunicating itself from our non-authoritarian, egalitarian principles of human dignity, freedom and personal agency, and of the larger sense of “the commons” in which we all have a stake in the preservation of those principles as well as the ultimate sustainability of our planet and its sacred ecosystems. As you pointed out, Fred, neither of the major political parties is doing particularly well at this. We have an important voice and presence to add to this conversation.

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