Thursday, January 26, 2012


My mom always tells this story about how we ended up Unitarian Universalists. She took me to the local UU church when I was about 4 years old and after Religious Education (RE) class ended she picked me up and asked if I wanted to come back. I told her I wanted to come every week. Now, for all I know they were serving a snack I liked in class that day, and I'm not trying to say I was making some vast spiritual decision before I even started kindergarten, but I do consider that to be very symbolic of me religious experience in general. I have always had the luxury of being incredibly autonomous in my spirituality. During middle school, we wrote new personal credos in RE every year. Also during middle school, we spent two years exploring in-depth other believe systems from Judaism to Jainism. I have been allowed, even encouraged, to change my views as I gain new experience. However, it is far too easy for me to forget that my experience is not typical. Many people are not afforded the freedom to shape their own thought. It is a generally held principle of UU RE that we do not teach our religion to our children, we present options (and yes, perhaps we hope they will make our choice). Unfortunately though, because the beliefs are so personal and so transient, it is often hard for UUs, particularly young UUs, to explain themselves. Over the years, I have taken to describing us as new-age hippies to people I do not have time to fully explain the religion to. It also means so many different things to the individuals involved. We have Christian UUs and Buddhist UUs and Pagan UUs. I tend to mesh many belief systems and I believe very ambiguously, but it works for me. It becomes clear to me that UUism is less of a religion and more of a constitution. We have no scripture, no statements of belief except for seven simple principles that are, in and of themselves, ambiguous.

-The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
-Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
-Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.
-A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
-The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.
-The goal of a world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
-Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

I believe these things. I strive for these things. Thus I am UU. But in my mind that makes virtually everyone UU. So I am still searching for what makes us different, because I do not want to be the same.

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