Over a long life, I often think about the choices I’ve made or were made for me. How have they determined who I am now? How have they pointed me in a positive direction or made my life a personal hell? They have surely done both. Has my life followed a script with little input from me, or has it been totally of my own making? These are the musings I’d like to explore this morning.
I keep getting enquiries about and objections to replacing principles with values (Here are links to the earlier talks on this topic:- 1, 2, 3 & 4). I thought I’d dealt with this issue but, apparently, not satisfactorily for some. So, let me try again.
These changes did not come out of the blue. There are a couple of stories behind them. They tell stories about UU principles and values.
This morning is the fourth in a series of musings about what it means to be a living tradition. (Here are links to talks 1, 2, and 3.) How have we changed? Who decides what it means to be a UU today? And who owns the congregation?
When the eight members from diverse backgrounds were appointed to review Article II Bylaws, the first thing they did was consult UU stakeholders. These included, amongst others:-
Congregational leaders, lay and professional
Philosophical and Theological Groups (e.g. UU Humanists, UU Christians, etc.)
8th Principle and 1st Principle advocates
Past GA attendees
Former UUs who have left the faith
Unchurched UUs who still identify as UUs but don’t belong to UU
Members of the 2010 Commission on Appraisal
UU Issues groups (e.g., UU Earth Justice Ministry, UUs for Justice in the Middle East
This is participatory theology. Its purpose is to determine and articulate our shared values and theology.
I was intrigued by excerpts of Diane Miller’s reflections on the proposed changes to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Bylaws to be voted on in June at the General Assembly. Dianne was a young pregnant feminist invited to be on the committee charged with revising our purposes. Her son was born during the committee’s work. He was a toddler when what we know as the Seven Principles passed General Assembly in 1985. It was a radical change from such statements in the past. Her son is now a parent with two children, and Diane is retired. She is 74. She is also delighted that the hard work of the committee she served is being revised nearly 40 years later. What struck me most is that, including her generation, which is also mine, three generations of those who became UUs after 1985 have only known the Seven Principles as the definition of who we are.
This morning I would like to focus on what it means to be a living tradition. As Unitarian Universalists we sing about it. We proudly proclaim it as what we are. But what does it mean? Most simply put our beliefs are etched in pencil and not carved in stone. But there are consequences. Like being green, being a living tradition isn’t easy.
It is a big topic, so this is the first of several random musings exploring who we are, how we got here and where we are being led. My hope is that we might better understand our Kaupapa, our mission and purpose.