Thursday, March 16, 2017

Love IS our Doctrine

You can wander into any Unitarian Universalist congregation and find different beliefs - even among the first ten people you meet. There are some UU congregations that are primarily secular. Some UU congregations are primarily Pagan or Earth-Centered. Some are primarily Christian. It is the goal of most (and hopefully all) that even where a majority may be of a particular leaning, anyone can feel and be accepted. The is because of a commonality among UUs: our doctrine is Love. 

When many of us in the UUA hear that term, doctrine, some may have a response in which the muscles in one's face may tend to tighten. For those of us who have fought hard to escape dogmatic views where we may have surrendered to spoon-fed doctrines, the beauty of UU is that we have a more simplistic understand that speaks to probably the greatest universal truth: Love. 

Doctrine comes from the Latin word doctrina which originally had a meaning of instruction or teaching. One of the definitions, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary states it as "a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief." And while that is generally applied to dogmatic thinking, in UU we use this term as a tenet of our universal faith to describe our devotion to Love toward the human spirit. Instead of being bound to rules, we are called into action by truly loving each person. 



We live in a difficult time. I am deeply affected by the orders by the 45th President of the United States in the edict to ban Muslims from particular countries and regions from entering the U.S. I am bothered at his need for building a wall. I am bothered at his administration's very "white power" persona. It bothers me tremendously and I am waiting for the other shoe to drop...because it will. These actions of targeting people because of their religion and the color of their skin is upsetting to UUs because it violates our doctrine of Love. It is upsetting to us because it violates our first, second, sixth and seventh principles. 

There is a big responsibility in our congregational covenant. It is not just intended for those who congregate within the walls of every independent fellowship. It is a call to action to those on both sides of the wall. Let's revisit this covenant: 
Love is the doctrine of this church,
The quest of truth is its sacrament,
And service is its prayer.
To dwell together in peace,
To seek knowledge in freedom,
To serve human need,
To the end that all souls shall grow into harmony with the Divine-
Thus do we covenant with each other.
What if we were to see our neighborhoods, our homes, our hearts as this church? How might that translate on a more global scale? What if we were to seek out truth in various areas where our neighborhoods are located, with those we may dwell with in our homes, or the full examination of our hearts? How might you do service in each of those areas? What if we were to dwell together in peace in our neighborhoods, in our homes, in our hearts? What if we were to seek knowledge in freedom in these areas? What if we were to serve the need of each person - truly serving the needs of each person - in our neighborhoods? What if we were to truly serve the needs of those dwelling with us in our homes? By doing these actions, wouldn't that allow each of us to grow in harmony with the Divine? Could we build this covenant with our church without walls? 

There is a big responsibility in our congregational covenant. It calls us to truly live our lives in covenant with our global family. It gives us the opportunity to reach beyond the pews. It gives us the opportunity to truly carry the flame from the chalice out into the world every day and every moment of the day. 

So, I invite you to examine your heart in this moment and think of some creative and definite ways that you may live out this covenant with non-UUs. How can you coexist in a world that may not see things the way that UUA (as a whole) sees things? How can you coexist in a world that the 45th President seems to want to destroy? How can you coexist with a people who want to remove those who belong to a certain religion or skin tone? I invite you look deep within the chasm of your heart for this well of love, this doctrine, this universal teaching, that you may be inspired to share it with others. 

Namaste/Shalom/Blessed Be! 



Sunday, March 12, 2017

Principle People


Every day, it happens: I have the awesome opportunity to achieve the First Principle in my UU faith. And every day I manage to rip it to shreds. It doesn’t matter how hard I try.

The truth is that there are just some real jerks out there in the world that really challenge me. Before I know it, I have spent energy within myself on anger, refusing an individual based on how I perceive him/her, and even the energy of forgetting one of the Principles I am called to uphold.



I am not a literalist in many ways. For instance, as one who was brought up in the Christian tradition, I do not read the Bible through a literal lens but rather through a literate or metaphorical lens. Therefore, I also treat my situation of messing up the opportunity to uphold First Principle not as a “better luck next time,” but more like I am not bound by it due to my humanness. Just as each of us are capable of being jerks (and I’ll admit I have been one before), so too are each of us capable of rising to the occasion of accomplishing First Principle.

One of my favorite UU Apps, called Illuminations, has a section where it lists all 7 principles of our faith in short form. All I have to do is whip my phone out, pull up the app, go to the principles – and right there: “Each person is important.”


 How simple is that? Apparently not simple enough. The truth is that our humanness gets in the way and builds a barrier between ourselves and the rest of the world. We fall prey to stress, forgetfulness, the day to day tasks, and even the mundane, which all comes at a cost.

Each person is important. Each person is part of the First Principle:
the homeless person
the junkie
the jerk
the conservative zealot
the radical preacher on the street corner
the woman living on food stamps
the wealthy man in his shiny, new BMW.

And so I ask myself, “Who are they to me?” Strangers? Friends? Nobodies? I will tell you who they are. All of these are Principle People.