Wednesday, February 01, 2012

What's a Unitarian Universalists

1. Technically, a Unitarian Universalist is a person who is a formal member of a UU congregation.
2. Popularly, a Unitarian Universalist is anybody who calls themselves a UU, whether or not they belong to a congregation  (Group #2 is three times the size of group #1).
3.  Beyond Congregations is a conversation about how we might serve/include/claim  more people in group 2 and, by extension, some of the "spiritual but not religious" who would say, when they found us, "I've been a UU all along and didn't know it!"

4. It is an interesting fact of our UU life that lots of people seem to know exactly what Unitarian Universalism is, including Beliefnet, three quarters of a million polled persons, and that "I've been a UU all along" new member, but the official UU's do a very poor job of articulating this.

I think this is at least in part because we're so afraid of creeping creedalism that we won't articulate our shared theology.  So..let's be clear. A creed is a statement of beliefs which is used AS A TEST FOR MEMBERSHIP.  ("Believe this or go elsewhere.")  We don't have those.  But we do, it seems to me, have a theology.  The theology goes something like this.

Life is good, and so are you.
Reason and Intellectual Faculties are good.  You can trust them to understand life. 
However it's a Very Big Universe out there, and many important things can't be known through reason and intellect.  For this we have intuition, heart, spirituality, and other faculties which are useful but don't lead everyone to the same conclusions.
Truth on these Very Big matters is best found in conversations, actual, virtual, literary, and internal.  It is to be expected that there will be differences.  They enrich us.

That's what we do as Unitarian Universalists...grow in spirit, together.  

Many Unitarian Universalists have much more specific theologies...beliefs about God, the afterlife, and so on.  And this is NOT A CREED.  People can join our churches who think that science is a bunch of baloney.  But they won't hear their view extolled in sermons and there will probably not be any adult classes on the subject.  We don't determine membership based on our theology, but we do figure out what "fits here" based on it.

I go into detail about this because it is going to be hard to figure out whom we can serve among the "spiritual but not religious" unless we can describe ourselves and what we offer more clearly than we do.