Monday, January 23, 2006

Fixing UUism: Rewrite the Principles and Purposes

by Indrax

Rewrite the Principles and Purposes
It has been decades since our congregations adopted the href="http://www.uua.org/aboutuua/principles.html">Principles and
Purposes. It is my understanding that these are supposed to be
revised from time to time, and I think it is time to start. This s
something it may not be best for the UUA itself to do. To me, the
Principles feel like they were written by a committee. Don't get me
wrong, I like them, but I think it would be nice to have what we stand
for stated in a way I can comfortably quote in an elevator speech.
People find "Unitarian Universalist" intimidating and "style="font-style: italic;">The right of conscience and the use of the
democratic process within our congregations and in society at
large" is not much more comforting. I do not think that this is
the best way to present to people the higher, abstract concept that that
principle represents.
The best religious guidance is simple and clear. Generally, this is done
by individuals. Some editing would probably be needed for wide
acceptance, but this should ideally be done by the individual or small
group that wrote the original.
The UUA should encourage UU's to begin thinking seriously and writing
about 'What UU's believe' with an eye towards a revision of the
Principles and Purposes. YOU need to start writing. Someone will create
a new document that resonates with us.
Regardless of the method used, we need to talk a good look at our
current document, and find ways it can be improved upon.

6 comments:

boyinthebands said...

I thought I saw a revision reference in the January UUA Board of Trustees papers. Did anyone else catch that? If so, we need to start talking and writing about it because they've become the Association's rudder.

The Emerson Avenger said...

I personally believe that the UUA's Seven Principles, and other stated ideals of UUism such as those expressed in Rev. David O. Rankin's *little red booklet* ;-) are really quite good as they are presently written. The main problem that I see is that rather too many UUs feel that they have not the slightest obligation to actually practice what these stated principles and purposes profess UUs affirm and promote. I have said it before but it bears repeating that UUs are very good at quite emptily and insincerely "affirming" and "promoting" purported UU principles and purposes but do a rather poor job of actually practising said principles, purposes and ideals. . . Many UUs disingenuously claim that the purported Seven Principles of UUism are only "covenants" (i.e. solemn promises and mutual agreements) made by UU *congregations* and thus individual UUs have no obligation whatsoever to live uo to said principles.

I say this is pure unadulterated U*U BS. UU congregations are made up of individual UUs and if a UU congregation "covenants" to abide by certain principles then it stands to good old Unitarian Reason that the individual members of that UU congregation are cosignatories to the professed "covenants" of that congregation. I believe that this fundamental principle must be upheld and I expect the UUA and individual UU congregations to take steps to ensure that this perfectly reasonable principle is responsibly upheld and that willful disregard and/or outright violation of the purported "covenants" of UUism by individual UUs, especially UU religious leaders who flaunt UU principles. . . are dealt with in accordance with those stated principles and ideals that call for truth and justice etc.

Also, when it can be shown that any UU congregation as a whole *corporate entity* has clearly disregarded or outright violated claimed UU "covenants" or other UU ideals etc., and has even made a complete mockery of the purported principles of UUism. . . via its well documented words and actions, then that the individual UU congregation should face censure and genuine accountability from the UUA, the CUC and/or other UU associations of congregations up to and including (as a last resort) being suspended or permanently expelled from the UUA and CUC etc. if it fails or refuses to accept accountability and change the error of its ways. . . If UU congregations can dish it out then they had better be ready, willing, and able to take it. . .

Sincerely,

Robin Edgar

The Emerson Avenger said...

Ahoy there BoyInTheBands. . .

Surely you mean they have become the U*U Ship of Fools' rather less than trustworthy rudder.

Allah prochaine,

The Dagger of Sweet Reason

PB2U*Us

Kim said...

...Punishment is a dubious principle in itself, scientifically proven to be of limited value to procure the behavior desired.
Perhaps he should call himself the Emerson Revenger instead?

The Emerson Avenger said...

Historic UU "records" will show that for approximately the first two years of this long drawn out conflict all that I sought from Rev. Ray Drennan was a sincere and comprehensive formal apology that clearly and unequivocally acknowledged the wrongfulness and harmfulness if his intolerant and abusive behavioir towards me. He obstinately refused to provide one and I was unjustly, unequitably and uncompassionately punished by the Board, and later the congregation, of the Unitarian Church of Montreal for writing perfectly legitimate letters of grievance and subsequently publicly protesting when all of my letters of grievance were negligently and irresponsibly dismissed and/or ignored by Montreal Unitarians, the CUC, the UUA and its aptly named Ministerial Fellowship Committee and various other UUs in positions of responsibility including untrustworthy UUA Trustees. . .

You are quite right about one thing however Kim. The repeated unjust punitive expulsions and other punishments up to and including theft of my picket signs, threats of violence, actual physical assaults on yours truly by Montreal Unitarians; up to and including extemely misguided attempts to criminalize my legitimate public protest in an deeply cynical effort to abrogate and deny my Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteed civil liberties has not procured the behaviour desired by outrageously hypocritical Montreal U*Us nor will it. . .

Allah prochaine,

The Emerson Avenger

as in obtaining some genuine restorative justice for me and for other good people who have been subjected to various injustices and abuses by outrageously hypocritical U*Us. . .

Patrick Murfin said...

No document, not the Seven Principles or the United States Constitution should be exempt from periodic review and revision. However, the Seven Principles, however clunky some of the language may be, have been enormously successful. Informal surveys have shown them to be very popular with the membership. Folks identify broadly with them, even take them as personal guides though they were meant as a covenant statement of congregations, not as a personal credo. Regardless of the original intent, they have become just that for many. Along with the Chalice as a symbol, the Seven Principles have become the common glue to our religious identity.

I only wish that the rest of the original statement, including the common sources got as much attention among us. It might relieve the worst bickering about who’s vision is rightly UU. I also think that we need better education about their meaning—especially about the “respect for the essential worth and dignity” of everyone, which was intended to a common birthright, not a free pass for every form of disruption and chicanery.