Do we want to grow?
We seem to circle back to this question time and time again…year after year. It’s as if we are on this merry-go-round that doesn’t always feel so merry. I’d like to approach this question from a direction in which you might not be accustomed.
It can’t be denied that throughout history many religious movements/denominations have done considerable harm to their faithful (and their cultures); leaving pain and wreckage in their wake. (I won’t elaborate on this harming here. One could fill books with examples.) This harming has alienated many from organized religion; and those alienated have now had children of their own who’ve never experienced organized religion in any way. These are the “nones.” The alienated and the nones, if they have any connection to the Divine, the Mystery of Life, etc., would likely call themselves “spiritual but not religious.”
Here’s the thing though….
Since the Reagan administration, the United States has celebrated individual and corporate achievement at the expense of all else. And despite advances in communication and social media technologies, our individualism has left us more disconnected from others than ever before.
As a denomination Unitarian Universalism isn’t, and hasn’t been, perfect, yet we have consistently engaged in self-reflection and in self-examination in the name of justice and in an effort best serve all who walk through our doors. This is difficult work and at times it feels as if we don’t know what we’re doing…but we are trying.
Yet despite our imperfections and failures, I believe that Unitarian Universalism is a lifesaving faith tradition. We, as Unitarian Universalists, want you to bring your whole self to this faith….your WHOLE self! You are free to be who you are – leaving nothing out, behind or in a closet. (That alone can be lifesaving!)
We won’t tell you what to believe. We won’t tell you that your spirituality is wrong. We will encourage you to follow and grow your spiritual path in your own way. Not many religious movements offer that freedom.
Yet there is another way that Unitarian Universalism is a lifesaving faith. I believe it can save our life-in-common. Any perpetrator of injustice will relish individualism. They will celebrate a disconnected populace. Individuals who are spiritual but not religious, are generally not joiners, and they generally do little to serve the cause of justice. The perpetrators of injustice need the spiritual but not religious; they need those who are not joiners; they need us to be disconnected, disorganized. They need people who will stand by.
To me, “do we want to grow?” is the wrong question. (And it may be a very selfish question as well.) Rather, we should be asking ourselves, “How do we nurture the spirit, strive for justice, transform the world?”
I believe in Unitarian Universalism; and if any faith has the potential to nurture the spirits of those who might presently call themselves the “spiritual but not religious;” if any faith has the potential to organize in the cause of justice; if any faith has the potential to be open enough to transform the world – it is this one: Unitarian Universalism.
…more to come on this topic.
Nurture our spirit. Strive for Justice. Transform the world.