The Commission on Appraisal has come up with a proposed draft of the first few articles of the UUA bylaws, commonly called our purposes and principles. It's here.
I have liked our current purposes and principles, and while I agree that such statements should be revised from time to time, I don't like this revision. One reason I don't like this revision is that I don't like the way the purposes and principles have moved into a creed-like place in our life together. People are taking them way too literally. I heard it just yesterday: "Our purposes and principles say we are for Peace and Justice. Therefore YOU SHOULD support (our idea of how to gain these two things.)
The Purposes and Principles have taken over RE in the same, concrete way. Ugh.
Given that background, I have to say that I don't like the basic format of the Commission's work. It has given us too many more words to make concrete in the "principles" section, and it has collapsed the "sources" section into a paragraph of prose (verbose prose at that) which is not suitable for use in liturgy. That will mean that those italicized principles will be all the more elevated and concretized in our life together.
It also elevates our paranoia about "cultural misappropriation" to by-law level and seems to permit others rather than ourselves to decide what is appropriate and respectful. I can tell you that there are millions upon millions of Christians who would say that our use of any kind of communion service is disrespectful to their doctrinal Christ, and that any prayer which does not end in the name of Jesus is an insult to the word prayer. These bylaws would allow them to criticize us and give us no way to make our own decisions. Even worse, they would allow some us to criticize others. I'm all for exercising sensitivity to other's sensibilities. But my experience with discussions of cultural misappropriation leads me to believe that this "sensitivity" is mostly used amongst us to distance ourselves from spirituality and dis those spiritual leaders who take the risk of introducing us to spiritual practice. With a bylaw like this, we will reduce ourselves again to classical music, intellectual sermons, social action and a moment of silence as our only legitimate shared spiritual practices. It just won't do.
And there's the statement that the highest purpose of our congregations is to "worship together to create beloved community" (sorry, that's not my primary goal and I think it is a very dangerous one)
It's been hard enough navigating the shoals of congregational life around seven principles. (see above). Navigating around seven principles, cultural misappropriation, and beloved community is not going to make us healthier.