#233 | Kara Stebbins | Delete "Love" from Center of Graphic

Submission 233
Kara Stebbins
UU Fellowship of Madison County (Richmond, KY) 3726

What is your suggestion or idea?

““Please delete ““LOVE”” from center of Graphic””

C2.2 Graphic for Values and Covenant

Delete the word ““LOVE”” from center of Graphic. Possibly change 6 flower ““petals”” to 6 overlapping hearts.

Possibly delete image of chalice from center of Graphic.

Possibly add one Covenant verb to each Value, for example: Acknowledge Interdependence; Celebrate Diversity; Support Equity; Seek Justice; Adapt with Change; and Share Generosity.

As has been suggested by others whose posts I’ve seen, I think we should use 6 colors that are most familiar to all: the rainbow or the color wheel.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Our Fellowship objects to the ill-defined use of the word
Love and the assumption that Love is at “the center.” If we want to focus on
love in some way, we could consider changing the round petals of the flower to
overlapping hearts?

A wordless image (of the Chalice or perhaps just of a white
light) should be at the “center” of our graphic. A wordless image can mean different things to
different people, e.g. the light of reason, the light of Love, the great
mystery, etc. Therefore, delete the word
“LOVE” in the center. The connecting lines
may symbolically stand for “LOVE” for some UUs, but the word does not need to
be included in the graphic. Or alternately, we can symbolize love by replacing
the “round petals” of the flower with overlapping hearts.

The graphic then would have 6
words – and they are just nouns. We
recommend the possibility of adding 6 verbs to breathe life into the graphic.
We do NOT want to use the verb “covenant” for each - in order to reduce the
impression of reciting a “creed.” Our Fellowship prefers to instead emphasize
the verbs for each Value. One specific
verb could be included in the graphic.
With this in mind, further editing of the detailed description of the
Values might be needed.

For example, one suggestion for
verbs that work together as a whole in the graphic and also specifically in
list form (perhaps specifically in this order) would be: Acknowledge
Interdependence; Celebrate Diversity; Support Equity; Seek Justice; Adapt with
Change; Share Generosity.

One final suggestion: use the colors of the color wheel for the 6
colors. Easier to remember and to symbolize how they are inter-related.

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

We began considering how to change the Graphic in response to our Fellowship’s input while reviewing the Proposed Revision during 2 of our Sunday Services. We later talked about ideas at weekly zoom group meetings. We also shared our Amendment ideas with the minister at the UU Congregation of Lexington, Kentucky. He shared a version of the graphic with rainbow hearts for the 6 values, and I added the Covenant verbs to form verb/value statements. He said he could imagine using the verb/value statements in RE classes.


I think this is a brilliant amendment and appreciate all the time effort and thought that went into it.

Excellent suggestions. But my hope is that all discussion of specific amendments will become moot. I believe the proposed complete rewrite of Article II should be abandoned, and that we can instead participate in a careful and gradual refinement of the document that we have lived with up to now. Evolution may be called for; revolution is not.

I agree a vague, undefined, unaccountable “love” at the center of UU is not ideal.

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Having “Love” as the central value presents two serious issues:

  • First, (also discussed in topics #276, #407, #262, and #89), it’s not possible to define it meaningfully in this context

  • Second (also discussed in #144, and #110), this places a single virtue at the top (or literally center) of the spiritual hierarchy

Is “Love” the process of breaking down the ego for the purpose of spiritual growth? Is it just a chemical reaction in the brain? Is it the intangible “goodness” of friends, community, and the universe? Since “Love”, by design, has so many meanings, it cannot stand as a stable, central core. Love is an emergent property, even more-so than Justice or Equity, and if “Love” is basically just all the “good stuff” that you value, then we aren’t really making any statement at all.

The more theological UUs I’ve known will say that God (in the Christian or general sense) is synonymous with Love, and if we’re a church that believes in “Love” then that just makes us a church that believes in “God”, which is a Christian idea with the Christian paint removed – something only a few people are looking for. Love is certainly a core UU value, but that emerges from our application of compassion, justice, etc.

Which brings me to the second point: this structure reminds me of the classical Christian Unitarianism: that the “God” which we renamed “Love” is the central Godhead from which all other morals flow. We have this set of central values, but Love is the most central value. The structure of our covenant should reflect the structure of our egalitarian morality, and we should be careful about naming a single value or virtue as the top of the spiritual hierarchy.

Our conception of Love must be able to address the possibilities of how and from where Love manifests and be explicit in its implementation.


I strongly agree that “love” should be deleted from the graphic.
There is much baggage around “love” and the proposal doesn’t give any substantive definition to say what is included or excluded from its meaning in this context. (I think this is an impossible task and it is a distraction to search for such a definition, so it is better to remove it.)

I’m very interested in your suggestion to expand the values to include verbs that enhance each of the nouns. One formidable strength in the seven principles is that they have the space to have nuance (and even contradiction), single words inherently do not have that capacity. Additionally, a verb-noun pair more strongly suggests the more detailed explanation that actually gives us the context to work with these values.

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Does this image and explanation of love address some of the concerns you had with the graphic? I love the idea of using verbs more and changed the inspirations to verbs but doing so in the graphic gets to be wordy. I am currently working on condensing the verbage with the graphic and inspirations

Ironic to click a heart to like a post about deleting the word love from the graphic. Yet I did because love is a word that has so many meanings it is only meaningful in context. Kindness, compassion, respect, and nurturing are more specific statements, but I don’t think any one word should be the center of our faith.

The seven principles provide a poetic and concise statement of what is important to UUs and what sets us apart from other religions.

Growing up UU, I felt respected by the adults in my community because they encouraged me to seek my own truths in a free and responsible search. This was a stark contrast to friends in other religions who were told what to believe. When they were told to believe something they couldn’t really believe, some of them pretended to conform to what their religion taught and others left their religions. I felt privileged to be able to express my beliefs without fear of being condemned.

This freedom of conscience is the closest I can come to what is the central principle of Unitarian Universalism.