#125 | Karen Brown | More About Sources

Submission 125
Karen Brown
UU Church of the Monterey Peninsula (Carmel, CA) 2311

What is your suggestion or idea?

The sources are important. Start this part again. Change words or categories, but this concept is central to what we are. Central to our worship and to our membership. That list has been of great interest to many people I have talked to in my outreach work. They have left one church because it is too narrow. They’ve become interested in more. That’s us!

I like ““inspirations””. I like including ““secular””. Nothing wrong with the paragraph in the proposal. Now list them. I suggest that we change the second source to read:
““Prophetic words and deeds which …”” That shift makes it include the secular and uses a wider idea of prophetic, I think. I don’t like ““idolatries””, so I would delete the second half of the fifth source.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Already said that.

Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?


Yes, the sources spell out the sorts of wisdom we follow and leaves out the sorts of wisdom we don’t follow (dogma, magical thinking, patriarchal religious traditions). The new text puts science and pseudoscience on the same plane.


I’m in favor of the section in the proposed revision. The listing of sources/kinds of sources feels, to me, out of sync with what we actually do draw from in Unitarian Universalism today.

Like Karen’s thinking, but I favor a list of sources. A specific list assists in communicating to both UUs and others considering joining the denomination the full scope upon which they can engage in their free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

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Interesting comment, can you tell me more? What do we actually draw from in UUism today? I can think of some things that aren’t on the sources list, and I’m curious what you think.

Jonathan, thank you for askibng. I’ll name just a few examples:

  • We draw on a lot of poetry that doesn’t seem, to me, to fit cleanly into any of our 6 sources
  • Various prose sources (articles, speeches (including, e.g., TED Talks), conversations (such as interviews), etc.) that may or may not be recognized as words of “prophetic people”
  • We may draw on nonverbal sources, such as works of art

I’m just listing those quickly, off the top of my head. (I’d love to hear the first few that come to your mind.)

Also, I think the singling out of Jewish and Christian teachings, as a category separate from “wisdom from the world’s religions” is out of sync with the balance of religious sources that most of our congregations draw up.


I like the idea of adding the arts to what inspires us. We take guidance from secular prose sources, as you point out, but can we be more specific? Do we take guidance from pseudoscience? From populist politicians? I think we take input mostly from prose sources that are in line with reason, science, and liberal values.

It seems like we take guidance from postmodern academia and sometimes from New Age practices, although they’re not from our sources.

I think the phrasing from the proposed revision, “sacred and secular understandings that help us to live into our values” does a pretty good job of encompassing the kinds of things we take guidance from without including things we’d reject on principle (pseudoscience, populist politicians, etc. (Great examples!)

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