Saturday, March 03, 2012

Examining our Unitarian Universalist Values « A Unitarian Universalist Minister in the South

I just don’t think UUMSouth quite gets what it means to be a UU.

Examining our Unitarian Universalist Values « A Unitarian Universalist Minister in the South

We tell a story every so often in my Church of our founding Minister, Augustus Conant.  After founding Churches in Geneva and Rockford Illinois he found his fervent abolitionism no longer welcome at the pro-slavery and anti-war congregations he helped build.  He left, became a Chaplain in the US Army, died on the battlefield of disease, his body returned to Geneva.  His funeral service held at the Church that abhorred his abolitionism.  His new born son dedicated in the same service.  The child held aloft over the Father’s coffin, and the chastened congregation resolved never to let politics split it again (and politics don’t get any more divisive than then.)

We in Geneva continue to live this.  Not every UU Church does.  But there is simply no power within UUism to set UU values.  There is no authority to say this is UU, and this isn’t.  Spout values as you wish, but there’s  no way to enforce your test.

Now I’d like to see more writing and thought on UU history, and some of the values we’ve held: Fritchman’s Communism and fervent prosecution of WW2 versus Holmes pacifism (and America Firstism), the quests for fewer but better babies, the Republican Washburn’s mingling of Universalism and America into what sounds a whole lot like an Empire of Democracy,
He clearly identified the American Republic with Universalism, which was the most democratic faith in his view. His blending of Universalism and democracy foreshadowed our understanding of a “civil religion,” which is expressed in the ideals of freedom and equality. This religious counterpart to democracy was seen as the future church of America. In an address he gave for the Universalist centennial celebration, he said the faith was “universal in its scope and ultimate membership, — it will embrace the world.”
Instead of reading each other out of the faith, it would be better if Rev H. showed more grasp of how all-over-the-place UU values have been throughout our History.  It’s damn hard to run a UU out, and when the Unitarians succeeded with Holmes, many regretted it later.

Examine UU History first.  The values will emerge.  They don’t bind us at all today.  No authority does, but you’ll be a better UU for having done so, and better appreciate how Us and Us have managed to congregate together despite some pretty odious values.  Some of which they should have known better to hold in their own time.  Yet Unitarians and Universalists they were.

2 comments:

DJD said...

Amen!

Bill Baar said...

Thanks DJD