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

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.