#290 | Jennifer Courtwright | Proposal is too Generic to be Meaningful

Hi, Jennifer, ours is finally added, and I hope our congregants/delegates, yours, and others can get together and discuss!

Love this proposal! I hope people move towards something like this in tonight’s meeting.

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I am very interested in this amendment.

While having no explicitly stated sources is not enough, this list of 18 is so long as to be unwieldy. I think a middle ground would be the right way forward. Perhaps some of these could be combined or consolidated, or only choosing three or four from each category that all together are the most representative of this more expansive list.

I like the inclusion of " […] relationships which […] make us feel more alive" because it gives acknowledgement to the reality that relationships and a sense of community is a strong draw for many UUs and it lifts up our interpersonal relationships as explicitly important.
I like the inclusion of “the long arc of the moral universe […]” because we are intimately connected with our history and it is good to look to that history for hope and fortitude.
I like the inclusion of the category of “balance and restoration” because this gives our faith a strong anticapitalist stance.

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As a pluralistic, living religious tradition, we draw inspiration from our direct experiences of transcending mystery and wonder as well as historical wisdom which provides many paths to feeling a part of something larger than ourselves. These experiences of connection open our hearts, renew our spirits, and transform our lives. We draw upon, and are inspired by, sacred, secular, and scientific paths that help us make meaning and ground us as we live into our values. These diverse paths include but are not limited to:

Paths of wonder which provide energy and joy

  • Experiencing the beauty of the natural world and learning scientific and mathematical insights which help us live the questions and deal with uncertainty;
  • Sharing experiences of collective effervescence with large groups of people which promotes joy and expanding goodwill;
  • Performing acts of moral beauty which nourishes our spirits and bodies;
  • Laughing and sharing time with friends which help us find our true selves and belonging;

Paths of wisdom which provide courage, hope, and faith

  • Practicing discernment and recognizing knowledge comes in many forms;
  • Gaining perspective by taking a long view of time, learning from history and prophetic people, and embodying ethics in the here and now;
  • Practicing philosophies and religious and spiritual traditions which center love for our neighbors, humility, reciprocity, and celebrate the sacred circle of life;
  • Experiencing or creating myths, art, poetry, music, and dance which help us feel and express the ineffable;

Paths of grounding which provide balance and restoration

  • Practicing rituals which bring historical wisdom to life and create shared sacred time and space;
  • Practicing mindfulness by deeply listening to ourselves, each other, reason, and the ground of being;
  • Practicing sacred rest which connects our minds and bodies and creates routines and patterns such as those of the seasons or day and night;
  • Composting difficult times into new paths forward and practicing resiliency and resurrection.

We respect the histories, contexts and cultures in which these paths were created and are currently practiced, and we are called to ever deepen and expand our paths.

To replace the existing flower values image and description:

Our living religious tradition can be thought of as a metaphor of a flower and its environment.

The values of our tradition are represented by petals and they are how we communicate and live out our living tradition with the ultimate goal of love. This goal of universal love also represents our Universalist heritage. Wonder is represented by the sun as it is where we draw our energy and joy and represents our Unitarian heritage of Transcendentalism.

Unitarian Universalism draws wisdom and grounding from many older traditions. These are represented by the leaves, stem, and earth. Wisdom from these traditions helps us make meaning from our experiences and photosynthesizes courage, hope, and faith needed for our work. Grounding from these traditions grounds us in reality and provides balance and restoration during difficult times.

Not depicted here are elements of air and water which represent that which cannot be named and the ultimate forms in which we live, move, and have our being.

Above we have taken a first cut at trying to draft one inspirations amendment that we could all rally behind. We welcome specific text edits in this google doc.

We believe our amendment is a synthesis of the majority of amendments out there, while it also takes a novel out-of-the-box approach to what inspires us. This novel approach articulates three primary paths of inspiration: wonder, wisdom, and grounding.

We love the change from sources to inspirations. However, we need specificity to inspire us and serve as an internal and external communication tool about what UU is and does as a living religious tradition.

Since we have changed this section to be inspirations, we need to expand beyond the old sources which do not encompass where we derive inspiration.

Of the old 6 sources, we agree wonder is a primary source of inspiration and that our other 5 historic sources were primarily focused on where were find wisdom which can help us make meaning of experiences of wonder. Therefore, we have centered wonder and wisdom using other amendments verbiage, while still allowing room for folks that struggle with cultivating wonder.

Additionally, we have added grounding as a path because we need to be grounded in reality if we wish to live out our values in the here and now which is not always filled with wonder.

We have removed references to specific world religions and Christian ancestry and instead taken the approach of articulating key historical insights and wisdom that we carry forward. However, we do specify what our Unitarian and Universalist heritages are in our artwork description without going into too much detail.

We have added sources of science, the arts, and listening to one another which were all themes in other amendments.

We have changed the sources to paths and verbs similar to how the values have now been changed to include verbs as well. Additionally, we have visualizing these paths in art form to address the issue of hierarchical lists.

We have also added statements about restoration and resiliency of the human spirit which was a theme in other amendments.

We have removed the “Grateful for the religious and cultural ancestries we inherit” language which some found problematic but have kept the “respecting histories, contexts and cultures in which these paths were created” language.

Lastly, we have included poetic language while still shortening our amendment from our previous draft based on feedback.


We detail how we address or incorporated specific comments from each of the 32 inspirations amendments below:

#85 – We include religions, wisdom traditions, science, other secular sources of truth and meaning, and direct experience of transcending wonder and mystery.

#485 – We include other forms of wonder we find in life and not just transcending mystery. We also adding “listening deeply” under the mindfulness practices.

#447 – We add the creative arts. We retain the essence of our old sources and do include specific references to our UU history and current practices. We add the “including, but not limited to” verbiage.

#460 – We add a specific source of “discernment”. We add the creative arts, science, and mathematics. We consolidate several of the previous sources as done here.

#14 – We center transcending mystery and wonder and take direct quotes from this amendment in our first paragraph.
#324, #28 – We have changed the wording so this amendment to grammar is not specifically relevant, but we welcome a grammar review for our current version.

#66 – We do not list specific religious traditions as done here but try to make our ancestral religious history clear without promoting one tradition over another. We retain the essence of our current threads of inspiration. We add science as a path and retain reference to reason. We adding listening to each other as a path and also acknowledge personal joy and pain.

#370- We do not go into our specific history in this detail as that is likely beyond the scope of this document and as written in this amendment is not expansive enough for future growth. However, we do specifically reference Unitarian Universalist and Transcendental heritages in our artwork.

#229- We tie this section explicitly back to the values and covenant in our artwork. We highlight our “living tradition”. We honor direct experience and individuals through prophetic people and friendship. We remove the “grateful” language and balance religious references with secular.

#147 – We add the arts as a specific source. We consolidate the previous sources using some of the direct verbiage in this amendment. We incorporate science as a path and keep references to reason. We do not prioritize certain forms of knowledge over one another though and instead stress discernment.

#426 – We add specific references to our Unitarian and Universalist heritage without promoting one tradition over another. We add science as an inspiration and retain the essence of the other old sources.

#319, #470, #410, #403, #277, #364, #71– We keep the essence of the old sources while adding breadth and depth and included the arts and science as a source

#384- We add “experiencing beauty of the natural world” and emphasize wisdom and mystery. Additionally, our artwork was very much inspired by the wisdom of the natural world.

#380- We add specific references to our Unitarian and Universalist heritage without promoting one tradition over another. We add “philosophies” and list some specific insights that may be attributed to mysticism, theism, skepticism, and feminist and liberation theologies. We add in concepts of resiliency and restoration.

#330- We add specificity to the sources without promoting one tradition over the other.

#81- We specifically add statements about learning from our history. Additionally we specify specific aspects of our historical traditions that we find inspirational.

#328- We keep the essence of the old sources but did remove specific references to Christianity as suggested. Additionally, we have removed references to evil

#313- We have attempted to define inspirations more explicitly by articulating categories of inspirations and what they do.

#106- We add science as a source.

#206- We have blended the essence of the old sources with the new proposed text and additionally added novel elements.

#188- We included history and myths as sources. We admire the simplicity and depth of this amendment. Our amendment is far more-wordy than this one but we welcome suggestions on how to retain the specificity, novel components we have added, while being as concise as possible.

#336- We disagree and think the inspirations logically flow from the values.

#72- We have centered transcending wonder and mystery.

#61- We keep the essence of the old sources while adding breadth and depth. We specify that we learn from our history and list specific components from our histories that we find inspiring. We centered direct experience.


…. (Could have quoted the entire piece)

I am in awe of the integrative rendering you have achieved. THIS captures the nature of UU, both its solid grounding and its growing edge. Wow!

Do you intend a similar integration for the values? (I know Alec et al. are doing the massive spreadsheet). impossible to imagine. Just hope.

Jennifer - I really like the emphasis on “Pluralistic, living tradition”, contemporary language and the three types of “paths”. The opening paragraph is very nicely done.
I like the creativity behind the graphic. I could see this being used in all types of educational settings. But I don’t know if that is needed in Article II.
Personally, I think this is too long. I wonder if it might still work without all the bullets under each of the path headings? Or, could three “super sentences” be crafted that describe the inspirations and impact of each kind of path?
I also appreciate the sentence beginning “We respect the histories…”

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Wow. I am in awe of the deep thought that went into identifying and explicating the three paths. It is long, but I think something is added with each statement. I can see this being a valuable addition to Article II. I can also see delegates rejecting it as being too long.

I would not want the graphic and especially the explanation of the graphic to be part of the amendment. To me, it just makes it too long. If there is content that is found only in the explanation of the graphic, I think it should be added to the upper portion.

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Thanks for the feedback @BekWheeler @beccaboerger and @bbetty77479. I have some ideas for simplifying further and making three super sentences of sorts to eliminate the bullets. I am thinking maybe this longer version is used in RE curriculum and a shorter version is used in Article II itself since folks seem set on brevity. I personally think the inspirations section should be just as long if not longer than the values section so that these are given equal weight. However, I agree this seems unlikely to pass voting.

I will also consider where best the graphic fits whether it is in a separate section or incorrporated with the inspirations.

@BekWheeler we largely found the commissions values proposal sufficient and don’t have much interest in wordsmithing it. I have not had time to dive into the values amendments but if Alec puts together a summary I would be happy to take a look. I think the graphic does make the connections between the values and inspirations more apparent and might suggest that there needs to be an iterative process between revising the inspirations and the values so I will definitely consider this in the next version of the inspirations/graphic.


Jennifer, I agree with you on all this – that the inspirations section ought be of same weight (or longer) than values to gain equal weight. I really appreciated all the bullets fleshing out, bringing life to the uber statements. But also agree that that likely won’t pass. And I really want your rewrite to pass.

Well, this is very useful to know. Cuz if you had re-envisioned the values like y’all did the inspirations, it would be a very different document. True, word smithing isn’t of much interest. However I do have an amendment in (which I will work on more and share more tomorrow to return to “inherent worth and dignity,” ditching the “worthiness” oddity.

I really like Alec’s comment (@peckalec’s somewhere) that the values section needs TWO WORD intro statements to better anchor and connect deeply.

thx for answering!

Bek Wheeler

I have a PROCEDURAL/foundational question for the BOT or the Moderators @CharlesD.
Am copying my question from the A2SC FB page:

Given that, I believe, it’s the Board of Trustees that puts forth a limited number of amendments (submitted by delegates),

How will the BOT handle what appear to be paradigm-different types of amendments — amendments that work WITHIN the context of a given section vs. Those that replace the entire section?

Thus, an amendment working within a given section (Values) doesn’t make sense in the context of an amendment that may pass replacing the entire section.

Thus, for example, this possible amendment targets just one phrase inside the existing Inspiration section: https://discuss.uua.org/…/72-frederick-wildes…/200

Whereas this possible amendment replaces the entire inspirations section: https://discuss.uua.org/…/290-jennifer…/501/6

How will the BOT of trustees/Moderators handle this paradigm-different approach to the Proposed Revision to A2 during GA?

Thank you,
Bek Wheeler
@KLusignan @beccaboerger @courtwrightj01 @Janet @peckalec

I’ve also wondered what happens if two conflicting amendments both get over 75% – it’s unlikely for very different amendments, but certainly possible for a total-rewriting amendment and a small revision that addresses one of the same issues could both pass but have mutually exclusive solutions.

Thinking about “naming” the values/principles… names are better than numbers --and more egalitarian. There are two big things we want in a name: it should be unique, and memorable. I feel the ideas behind “equity”, “pluralism”, and “interdependence” are relatively clear, but “generosity”, “transformation”, and “justice” have some overlap that could be better organized (just as with the current 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 8th principles).

I’m almost done analyzing the C-2-2 amendments data, but having skimmed through most of the proposals now, here are some “names” for the themes which I think the principles/values try to stand for:

  • “Inherent Worth” — inherent & equitable personal worth, right to dignity, respect for individuals
  • “Religious Truth” (alternative: Religious Freedom) — search for truth and meaning, pluralistic interpretation of the spirit, collective understanding
  • “Beloved Community” (alternative: World Community) — use of democracy and rights of minority, egalitarian power structures, fighting systems of oppression, goal of world community
  • “Natural Connection” (alternative: Global Interdependence) — interdependent web, interconnected tree of life, human connection and relation to nature
  • “Empathetic Justice” (alternative: Isotropic )— peace between and justice for groups, empathy and compassion in personal relationships, need for diverse perspectives
  • “Spiritual Growth” (alternative: Personal Transformation) — acceptance of personal identities, encouragement and openness to change, balance between acceptance and change

“Isotropic” would have been a good word to use, but it’s too obscure.

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We will do our best to structure the order of the amendments to lead to some logical understanding of the intentions of the delegates if/when more than one amendment passes. We can’t prevent people from submitting amendments that may be in conflict with one another. In the discussion prior to and during GA, the sponsors of conflicting amendments may be able to argue for the passage of theirs, while encouraging a no vote on the other.

Also, the goal of the workshops is, for those of you who have submitted ideas, to find one another and look for compromise and merge ideas together.

I like this idea a lot. I was really uncomfortable with how the official UUA proposal focused on Love as the ONE central value that all the others are based around. To me it felt too much like smuggling “god” back in as our movement’s focus. (Thinking of the “God is love” idea.) This proposal decenters that and puts the emphasis on the pluralistic nature of our tradition, which is where I think it should be. Thank you!


Considering aesthetics and rhythm, might “Empathic Justice” flow better than “Empathetic Justice”?

Section 2.2. Covenant, Values, and Inspirations

As Unitarian Universalists, we covenant, congregation-to-congregation and through our association, to support and assist one another in our ministries. Drawing from our Universalist heritages of love and our Unitarian heritages of wonder, these diverse ministries of our living religious tradition can be thought of as a metaphor of a flower and its environment. The flower’s petals represent our values. Our values are how we communicate and live out our tradition with the ultimate goal of love. Our inspirations, represented by the sun, stem, leaves and ground, provide energy, pathways, and nutrients needed for life. Air and water are not depicted. These elements represent that which cannot be named, and the ultimate forms in which we live, move, and have our being.


Love is the power that holds us together and is at the center of our shared values. We are accountable to one another for doing the work of living our shared values through the spiritual discipline love. Inseparable from one another, these shared values are:

[[[insert final values statements here]]]]


As a pluralistic, living religious tradition, we draw inspiration from direct experiences of transcending mystery and wonder as well as historical wisdom which provides many paths to feeling a part of something larger than ourselves. Inseparable from one another our inspirations are:

Wonder. We find energy and joy in the mystery, beauty, and creativity of life.

We cultivate wonder by using science to explore mystery and quantify uncertainty, experiencing and creating moral and physical beauty, and connecting physically and emotionally with others.

Wisdom. We make meaning from our experiences which photosynthesizes courage, hope, and faith needed for our work.

We expand our wisdom by gaining perspective, practicing discernment, practicing philosophies and religious and spiritual traditions, and participating in the creative arts.

Grounding. We practice balance, restoration, and resurrection during difficult times.

We ground ourselves using rituals, mindfulness practices, sacred rest, and composting difficult experiences into new paths forward. By deeply listening to ourselves, each other, reason, and the ground of being, we co-create and re-create our home.

We respect the histories, contexts and cultures in which these paths were created and are currently practiced. Grateful for the experiences that move us, aware of the religious ancestries we inherit, and enriched by the diversity of our faith, we are called to ever deepen and expand our paths of connection.

Alternative graphic

I think the graphic is beautiful. However, I believe a graphic would better be displayed on our website and in informational documents that explain the meaning of UUism, not in the formal document of the bylaws.


Hmmm… What does it even mean “congregation-to-congregation"and through our association”? The older wording was much simpler and clearer. This wording from A2SC almost doesn’t even make sense.

How about instead, the more direct:

“We, the member congregations of the UUA, covenant to support and assist one another in our ministries.”