Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In which CC refuses to honor and uphold "honor and uphold"

Steve Caldwell has the new revision of the Seven Principles posted and Robin Edgar has been talking about how one of the changes is that we are going from "affirming and promoting" the seven principles to "honoring and upholding" them.

I think that change is a mistake and will lead people to treating the seven principles even more like a creed. Plus, I'm not sure how you "uphold" reverence or a goal of world community.

Thoughts?

CC
who really doesn't like the seven principles in the first place, but likes them a lot less when people treat them as a creed.

14 comments:

fausto said...

I think honestly that their time has passed, that the merger of Unitarians and Universalists has been fully accomplished, and that the best way to honor them today is as a period piece rather than a living covenant. Put them in a list of historic affirmations of our faith, along with the Racovian Catechism and the Cambridge Platform and the Winchester Profession and "Things Commonly Believed Among Us", and let's continue to draw inspiration from the 7 P's in the same manner as we do from their historic antecedents.

One thing they are clearly not is a binding, federal, associational covenant among otherwise autonomous congregations. If that were truly the case, they would stand alone as the basic charter of the UUA, rather than buried obscurely in a thick stack of bylaws.

If we do not want to either elevate them to the status of a genuine federal covenant on the one hand, or relegate them to the status of an historic witness from a particular time and circumstance on the other, let's stop the dissembling and admit to ourselves that we are no longer creedless.

The Eclectic Cleric said...

Against my ordinary intuitive predilections, I actually kinda like the COAs revision in its current form, including even the "weasel words" around cultural appropriation and right relationship, which inspired such a kerfuffle among us a few months ago.

As for the issue of creeping creedalism, I think this is also becoming more of a touchstone than a real benchmark of our faith. The defining mythology of Theodore Parker's "excommunication trial" before the Boston Ministers Association, which William James Potter of New Bedford later attempted to exploit for his own purposes in the so-called "Yearbook Controversy," is now thankfully becoming obscure historical trivia rather than a central and defining point of our group identity...and good riddance! Meanwhile, I agree that burying these words obscurely in the midst of a thick stack of bylaws tends to diminish their significance, rather than exalt it.

The underlying issue of "UU identity" remains with us. My own cynicism first began to bloom large when I discovered that "Unitarian Universalism" and its natural derivatives are now all registered Trademarks (that's right "Unitarian Universalism TM"), and have been since the Schulz administration. I still see the basic options as three-fold: is Unitarian Universalism best described as 1) a form of liberal Christianity; 2) a "post-Christian Protestant heresy which draws upon the wisdom of all the World's Great Religions; 3) it's own "New Religion;" or perhaps 4) All Of the Above? Think I'll leave it here for now.

Robin Edgar said...

That last bit is what I have been saying for years Fausto. The Seven Principles are a creed, as per the dictionary6 definition of the word creed, and always have been. And I really need to ask U*Us just when U*Uism became an allegedly creedless "religion" since it seems to me that both Unitarians and Universalists had and used various creeds. You ought to be well placed to answer that question considering your apparent knowledge of ancient U*U history so please do provide *your* answer.

CC just did what I expect many U*Us to do in response to this significant change in the terminology of the Seven Principles. She has publicly proclaimed that she refuses to honor and uphold "honor and uphold" which, by extension means that she refuses to honor and uphold the Seven Principles of U*Uism. Not that ChaliceChick aka CC is the first or only U*U to ever to outright refuse to actually honor and uphold U*U principles and ideals. . . As I pointed out to CC and other U*Us on The Dark Pit Of Egotistical DelU*Usion Is Hell post of dis*illusioned U*U David G. Markham's UU A Way Of Life blog I now have U*Us over a smoking 16" gun barrel thanks to the damned if U*Us do and damned if U*Us don't proposal to change "affirm and promote" to "honor and uphold". Hopefully it will not be necessary to explain to U*Us U*UN World-wide why they are in a damned if U*Us do and damned if U*Us don't situation now. . .

Interestingly enough the Blogger word verification code for this comment is shinsize. . .

Robin Edgar said...

"Meanwhile, I agree that burying these words obscurely in the midst of a thick stack of bylaws tends to diminish their significance, rather than exalt it."

Does this look obscurely buried in the midst of a thick stack of bylaws to you not so good Rev. Dr. Tim Jensen?

The word verification code for this post seems to have been printed U*U backwards to me. . .

dedworg

Robin Edgar said...

U*UN World-wide was a typo but perhaps not an inappropriate one.

WVC = parillys

Chalicechick said...

((((I agree that burying these words obscurely in the midst of a thick stack of bylaws tends to diminish their significance, rather than exalt it.)))

Right, but such a tremendous fuss over the seven principles tends to exalt their significance rather than diminish it.


((Unitarians and Universalists had and used various creeds.))

People as people can use whatever creeds they want, I just don't think it's appropriate that those creeds be forced on other people.

Also, if we HAVE had other creeds, then what's so special about this one that it should be the central creed of all of UUism?

((she refuses to honor and uphold the Seven Principles of U*Uism.))

Pretty much. I might uphold the feelings behind them (Indeed, they are so meaningless, how any reasonably liberal religious could not basically agree with them is a mystery to me,) but I'm not upholding a creed for the sake of that creed.

For example, you might hear me say "You shouldn't do that because it's not right," (though I usually phrase things "You shouldn't do that because it isn't in your best interest, let me tell you why...) but you will never hear me say "You shouldn't do that because the seven principles advise you to act otherwise."

CC

Chalicechick said...

For a clearer example, I might have minor quibbles about whether coveting other people's stuff is really all that bad, and I might sincerely object to God's plan to take out people's misdeeds on their children and grandchildren, but otherwise I objectively accept that following the ten commandments is a reasonable way to live your life and deciding to not kill or steal, and being decent to your parents, etc. etc. and soforth is probably a good thing.

But that doesn't mean I'm going to say "Lying is against the ten commandments so you shouldn't do it."

Saying "Lying is a bad idea because..." just makes more sense to me.

CC

patrickmurfin said...

I’m not over fond with the clumsy wordsmithing in the Board’s latest run at revision of the Seven Principles. At least it is a vast improvement over the first draft with its attempt at pat-on-the-head explanations of each principle. Still, most of it is tinkering-for-tinkering’s sake and not very edifying at that.

But I don’t share the revulsion at their very existence served up and circulated by some of the most gifted and widely read UU blogers, CC and Fausto included.

It seems to me that disdain for the Principles comes from three sometimes overlapping sets of folks.

First are those who despise and mistrust “Those People in Boston,” an evergreen for any group with the congenital allergy to authority shared by many religious liberals. If “Boston” wants it, so the thinking goes, it must be a plot to bring us all under their thrall.

Second are the resurgent congregational polity fundamentalists who see any unifying statement by the Association as an assault on the autonomy of congregations or cringe that individuals adopt the Principles as moral guides when they were meant only to imply agreement between those autonomous congregations, (Hey, I know those to sentiments seem at odds, but I have heard both, sometimes from the same people.)

Finally there are the political conservatives and libertarians who are mad because the Seven Principles are routinely used to justify advocating politically liberal positions by both the UUA and individual congregations.

Put all of these folks together and you get a loud and articulate opposition to the Principles. But they represent a tiny minority of Unitarian Universalists no matter how brilliantly they argue.

Folks out in the pews, the actual members of all those autonomous congregations love the Seven Principles. They know the difference between a Creed that demands conformity of belief about the nature, name, and number of God; prescribes ritual and worship; and erects clear walls between “us” and them; and a broad statement of how we try to be in the world. If the Principles were meant to apply only to the member congregations, most of them feel that they are not bad personal guides as well. And they like—even yearn for—something that unites them as Unitarian Universalists with other folks sitting in distant pews. If that is “denominationalism”, well, they’re fine with that. And so am I.

kim said...

I think I prefer the meaning of "affirm and promote" but prefer the sound of "honor and uphold".
I dislike the statement about misappropriating other religions' stuff because it sounds very negative.
I try to describe the Principles as "values" rather than "beliefs".

Robin Edgar said...

:(Indeed, they are so meaningless, how any reasonably liberal religious could not basically agree with them is a mystery to me,)

How any reasonably liberal religious person could describe the Seven Principles as "meaningless" is a mystery to me CC. . . Along the same lines as Rev. Ray Drennan brazenly asserting that most of the rituals of the world's religions are "meaningless" in his insulting, if not defamatory public attack on Pierre Elliot Trudeau's Roman Catholic state funeral. How about if *you* come up with Seven U*U Principles that *you* would actually consider to be meaningful CC? I am all ears. . .

WVC - surse

An anagram for ruses? A suggestion to sue religious sh*theads? Did I forget to mention that I am pretty good as solving cryptic crossword puzzles? ;-)

Chalicechick said...

(((How about if *you* come up with Seven U*U Principles that *you* would actually consider to be meaningful CC? I am all ears. . .)))

What a fascinating challenge!

I'm going to do that, but I will only but them on the blog if you promise not to give me crap about it when I fail to live up to them.

Negative reinforcement doesn't work well with me and will actually make me LESS likely to follow them in the future.

CC

kim said...

Off topic, tangentially:

Saying "Lying is a bad idea because..." just makes more sense to me.

CC -- If you ever have time for outside reading again, there is a book about this you would probably enjoy. It's called Lying -- Moral Choice in Public and Private Life, by Sissela Bok. It exhaustively explores the ramifications of lying. Beautifully done.

Robin Edgar said...

:What a fascinating challenge!

I thought presenting fascinating challenges to U*Us was one of my specialties CC. ;-)

:I'm going to do that, but I will only but them on the blog if you promise not to give me crap about it when I fail to live up to them.

Fair enough CC. I will stick to giving you crap about refusing to honor and uphold the Seven Principles. There's more than enough ammunition there. :-)

:Negative reinforcement doesn't work well with me and will actually make me LESS likely to follow them in the future.

I guess that makes two of us CC.

TEA

WVC = nutlis

Robin Edgar said...

The "fascinating challenges" link was originally intended to go here but it could just as easily been linked to this fascinating challenge, or this one or even this old one which *may* have ultimately led to this very post of yours CC.

And believe it or not U*Us the word verification code for *this* comment is kingus.

No joke. . .

So how about it U*Us?