- About Us
The Rev. James Ford marks Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Divinity School address as the moment when “the ‘new infidelity’ was brought home to the institution of Unitarianism.”
While Unitarianism had rejected the trinity and focused salvation on “character,” on the actions of the individual in her or his life rather than through a vicarious atonement achieved by Jesus’ death, it was nonetheless deeply rooted in biblical Christianity. . . . Emerson . . . explicitly [rejected] the necessity of scripture as divine revelation. Instead he declared that the intuition of the individual was sufficient to find one’s way.
This created a firestorm within Unitarianism. A fire that has not yet burned itself out. (Monkey Mind, July 15)
The Rev. Dr. David Breeden explains why he is a “post-theist.”
I bought a new Ford truck, not a Model T. Why? Because a Model T, even though it revolutionized the automobile industry, is no longer an efficient mode of transportation in the contemporary world. . . .
This is how I view “god.” It’s not that I don’t believe in the god concept. It’s that I don’t think the concept is good transportation in our contemporary context. (Quest for Meaning, July 17)Love, love, love
The Rev. Amy Shaw suggests that the word “because” should not follow the words “I love you.”
Loving you because implies that there is an alternate world in which I could not love you, because. Or a world in which my love for you would change as you drew nearer to some select goal that you and I shared. (Loved for Who You Are, July 14)
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern objects to the word “bromance.”
In our culture, we don’t need a special name to describe the relationship between two women who love each other, love to spend time together, and are not romantically involved together nor seeking to be. We already have a term: friendship. What disturbs me about the embrace of the “bromance” term is the shunning of the obvious, available word.
Is there something so extraordinary about a close, loving, non-romantic relationship between men that we need a cute, arch term for it? (Sermons in Stones, July 14)
Liz James writes about loving beyond the bounds of committed relationships.
in the complete stretch of history i can see how
every time i felt this pull
to join with someone
it was because there was some part of them that i needed
to learn by heart (Rebel with a Label Maker, July 16)
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum criticizes religious language about “brokenness.”
One of the most radical things we can do in the face of oppression is to counter messages of brokenness with proclamations of wholeness: I am whole; I am loved; I am worthy; I have inherent worth and dignity; You are whole; You are loved: You are worthy; You have inherent worth and dignity. You are loved — just as you are.
This doesn’t mean that we are perfect. It doesn’t mean that we never do harm. But we are still loved. We are whole, just as we are. (Loved for Who You Are, July 16)
Katy Schmidt Carpman writes that babies remind us our own interdependence. (Remembering Attention, July 14)Creating new worlds
The Rev. Scott Wells notices that there was only one new congregation welcomed at this year’s UUA General Assembly, and wishes there were more.
To keep from shrinking, we need new congregations, and one isn’t enough. We need leaders with experience to foster new congregations, and one isn’t enough to found them.
So, again, I’m happy for Original Blessing. I only wish it had some cradle mates. (Boy in the Bands, July 15)
The Rev. Elizabeth Curtiss says it’s not too late for the UUA to move to Detroit. “Detroit has replaced Silicon Valley as the place where pioneers will create the real 21st century. Religion is about creating new worlds out of old chaos: let’s pull up our stakes and get busy.” (Politywonk, July 14)
Hobby Lobby opinion is not the opinion of all religious people
The Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher, retired minister of DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville, Ill., joined clergy and others for a protest outside a local Hobby Lobby store. The effort, which included handing out condoms, was intended to show that not all religious people support the U.S. Supreme Court’s position in the recent Hobby Lobby case. (Daily Herald - 7.3.14)
Other Hobby Lobby protest stories include:
“Activists Hand Out Condoms at Hobby Lobby to Protest Supreme Court Decision—Their Profession Though Might Surprise You” (The Blaze - 7.4.14)
“Even Clergy Are Against the Hobby Lobby Decision—And They’re Protesting in an Unexpected Way” (News.Mic.com - 7.4.14)
“Culture War Notes From All Over” (The American Conservative - 7.4.14)
“Small protest held outside Naperville Hobby Lobby over Supreme Court decision” (Naperville Sun - 7.2.14)
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) joined over 100 other faith leaders and groups in signing a letter urging President Obama to oppose religious exemptions as he considers anti-discrimination policies in federal contracts. (Religion News Service - 7.8.14)
News from UU congregations
Unity Temple in Oak Park, Ill., named a UUA Breakthrough Congregation in 2008, shares how giving away the money they collect each Sunday has increased their pledge drive by 14 percent. One member said the practice has shifted the congregation’s way of thinking from one of poverty to abundance. (OakPark.com - 7.8.14)
When the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills in Somerville, N.J., moved into their new building, they purposely delayed dedicating it until renovations were completed that made it welcoming and accessible to all people. Each Sunday, they light a candle and acknowledge the progress they have made toward this goal. (centraljersey.com - 7.7.14)
After deciding as a congregation to take steps to be more environmentally sustainable, members of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bloomington, Ill., learned that they could do even more if they became certified as a Green Sanctuary congregation by the UUA. They are actively completing a number of projects to achieve that goal. (pantagraph.com - 7.9.14)
The Shelter Neck Unitarian Universalist Camp in Burgaw, N.C., is a summer camp and retreat center with a rich historical connection to early Universalism in North Carolina and the Unitarian Universalist faith movement today. (StarNewsOnline.com - 7.4.14)
Justin Almeida’s first attempts to explain UUism to his new classmates were “a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff,” so he worked out a more formal elevator speech.
Unitarian Universalism is rooted in liberal Christianity and developed out of the reformation. It is now a pluralistic, non-creedal religion that believes truth resides in the individual as informed by experience, tradition, family, culture and history. We have seven principles which guide our congregations, all of which boil down to ‘there is one love and nobody is left behind. (What’s My Age Again?, July 9)
For Gracia Walker, simple loving presence is a form of evangelism.
I think to show love doesn’t mean you tell people where to go to church or if they should go to church. It just means you spend the time you have with them in a loving way. (Loved for Who You Are, July 9)
The Rev. Dr. David Breedon reminds us that a culture of loneliness is the context for our evangelism.
As the Beatles knew, denizens of post-industrial countries may exist in utter isolation. We often shop in anonymous supermarkets rather than bustling markets. We buy clothing off a hanger, not from the source of the craft. As Robert D. Putnam pointed out, many of us bowl alone. (Quest for Meaning, July 10)
Katy Schmidt Carpman notices that many programs that support innovation are cropping up within UUism.
It’s a ripe time for innovation.
What’s your big idea?
How will you change the world? (Remembering Attention, July 3)
While shopping in Target, Colleen Thoelle has a flash of insight about accepting the person she is right now, letting go of regrets and fantasies about the past.
Should the goal be to not go back and dig up but to walk forward and look straight ahead? Should I leave “her” behind me and just be who I am right now? What in the hell is wrong with who you are right now?
Bam! Lightbulb. (Adventures of the Family Pants, July 10)
During a stressful summer of “mothering from afar,” Jordinn Nelson Long also struggles with the question of doing and being “enough.”
My faith tells me there is no hell, but amazingly, that doesn’t touch the fear of damnation here, on this earth.
Not by others. . . .
What I’m afraid of is bigger and deeper, a theological matter for our time. The final judge will be the limits of each 24 hour day and the reality of opportunity cost and the truth that to love is on some level to leave your heart lying helpless. (Raising Faith, July 4)Religious freedom, religious bullying
The Rev. Marti Keller, responding to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, writes that “We need to find ways to talk about the ripples of oppression and harm that may inevitably stem from this ill-considered verdict while not losing focus on the women in this country who were originally targeted.” (Leaping from Our Spheres, July 10)
After a thorough examination of the court’s decision, Doug Muder concludes that Pandora’s box is open.
[Any] clever person can find a link of some sort between whatever they don’t want to do and the commission of some act they consider immoral by someone else. Alito is encouraging Christians to develop hyper-sensitive consciences that will then allow them to control or mistreat others in the name of religious liberty. . . .
I focus on Christians here for a very good reason: Given that this principle will produce complete anarchy if generally applied, it won’t be generally applied. (The Weekly Sift, July 7)
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern wants Unitarian Universalists to work for a more substantive conversation about abortion.
We wish to talk with others who struggle with these issues, not in order to concede to intolerable positions nor make peace with every opponent, but because they matter to us, and it is the duty both of a government and a civilization to grapple honestly with such questions. (Sermons in Stones, July 3)
John Beckett believes Americans too often confuse religious freedom and religious bullying.
Religious freedom means you are free to believe, worship, and practice as you see fit. It means you are free to advocate for your religion in the public square. It means you are free to live your life by your values and to encourage others to do the same.
It does not mean you are free to coerce others to believe, practice, or behave as you would prefer, nor does it mean you are free to ignore your obligations to our wider society.
That’s not freedom. That’s bullying. (Under the Ancient Oaks, July 3)Sweetness and love
The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg reflects on this year’s General Assembly theme.
Perhaps the biggest take away for me from General Assembly was the emphasis that “Love Reaches Out” means partnering to create social change with those whom you may in many ways differ from politically or theologically. (Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism, July 8)
The Rev. Scott Wells objects to overly sentimental views of Universalism.
In the last generation, I’ve seen a revolting amount of ecclesiastic “mansplaining”: condescending depictions of Universalism, out of a Unitarian lens, to re-cast my tradition as something sweet, loving, emotive, poor, rural and homey. The whole thing reeks of Victorian sexual politics. (Boy in the Bands, July 6)