Saturday, July 30, 2005

Am I leading people astray again?

I wrote in a post a few days ago that:

To be a UU is to reject the notion that justice will be provided in heaven so seeking it on earth is of relative unimportance. And to be a UU is to understand that, God or no God, humanity's duty is to take care of one another.

I normally preface things I say of this nature with "Well, I can't tell you what UUs believe, but I can tell you what I believe..." but I didn't this time.

I think these two points are pretty much generally accepted among UUs. But now that PG, a kickass blogger whom I respect mightily, has gone and taken me at my words, I'm a mite nervous with those assertions.

PG says my post makes (PG) think it may be somewhat exceptional among religions in explicitly prioritizing life on earth. I think this is accurate of UUism as I've seen it, but going around speaking for other UUs is not something I think we're supposed to do.

I know a decent number of theistic UU and Christian UU bloggers read TheChaliceblog, so I'm going to open this up to everybody. Educate PG (and CC for that matter) Would you guys say these statements are ones most UUs would agree with?

Not asking y'all to speak for everyone, but just to take an unscientific survey...



Jeff Wilson said...

I'm neither a theistic nor a Christian UU, so maybe I don't have the perspective you're looking for. But I can say that my understanding of UUism dovetails with what you wrote above, and futhermore that I am very hard pressed to think of any UUs whom I have known who would disagree. Actually, I can't think of any, though of course someone might surprise me.

There are other religions what prioritize life on earth, though maybe few as clearly as UUism seems to. Even amongst the Christian UUs I happen to know, the orientation is strongly toward what it takes to live a good life in the present, rather than what it takes to qualify for a good life after death.

Clyde Grubbs said...

I was raised a Unitarian Christian,(long ago) and I was taught in Sunday school that our religion is about putting heaven into people, rather than putting people into heaven.

I might lose the "to be a UU is" as a little too presciptive, but as a description of what has been commonly believed among us for at least the last century I think you are right on....

TheCSO said...

The phrase "to be a UU is" sounds a little too 'Seven Principles as a creed' for me, though I know what you mean and I'm not sure of a better way to phrase it. The "I can't tell you what UUs believe" thing, while a good disclaimer in many ways, does tend to reinforce the "UU = believe anything you want" misconception.

I think both of your points are pretty generally accepted. The first is a more interesting assertion, especially since it differentiates UUism from other faiths. The second, if I squint just a little, basically says "Social justice work GOOD!", so I can't argue with that representing most UUs.. even though I think social justice is way overemphasized by the UUA, I can still agree with the more 'pure' statement as you make it.

The two other sorts of religion that might prioritize life on earth that I can think of have reincarnation and/or some sort of "ancestor spirit" concept. I think your phrasing clearly excludes reincarnation, since that generally comes along with something about cosmic justice or whatever guiding how one is reincarnated. I'm not sure if a purely random reincarnation belief would count, and it may not even be an issue, given how UU that sort of belief would be anyway. As for ancestor spirits, I think that counts as an emphasis on the afterlife.

So, basically, yeah. I would consider both of your points generally accepted among UUs, probably to about the same degree as the "Seven Principles"* or something along those lines.

*I can't find a snarkier punctuation mark on my keyboard, but they really do deserve one..


PeaceBang said...

I'm in.

(Christian. Life Long UU. Not sure about the afterlife concept.)

Anonymous said...

I'm not Christian, but I am a theist, and I agree with the sentiments. My trouble with social justice committees and votes has NEVER been with the aims, but with the methods. Nobody ever seems to ask, "Do you believe method A or method B is the best way to achieve the end goal?"; They ask "Do you agree with method A or do you disagree with the end goal?"

Joel Monka

TheCSO said...

Thank you. That's a good way of putting into words something I've tried to say more clumsily before.