#39 | Burton Brunson | Unclear Meanings

Submission 39
Burton Brunson
CCUU New Orleans

What is your suggestion or idea?

It is incredible that any of this is taken seriously. Almost every line contains wording subject to multiple interpretations. The word ““Love”” is used as though anything so labeled must be accepted as realistic and desirable. Terms like ““transformation”” are meaningless – transform from what to what? Where is clear definition of what we should transform to? Terms like ““equity”” and ““justice”” are meaningless until we define them. Can I declare that if the president of the UUA has a greater income than I, then equity and justice have been violated? ON re-reading the article, I don’t find a single sentence that can’t be cited by someone to justify stupidity. The whole thing is intolerable, unnecessary, and doesn’t deserve even a pretense of respect.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Start all over, use only words that have clear immediate meaning. Specify rights and duties of all participants. Without use of fuzzy opportunities for controversy.

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

Yes. Most want to avoid making waves, and will accept whatever is presented. A relatively few are as steamed as I, and will probably leave if something like this becomes normal.

You’ve captured the sense of disbelief that I have heard from fellow UUs that this expansive change to the fundamental truths of UUism could pop up so suddenly and without input from long time and dedicated members.

From what I understand, the idea of making single-word values started from a word cloud, made from statements from UUs. No matter how accurate these words may or may not be to describe UU values, they will always be vague and simplistic if you force all your values to be represented by a collection of individual words.

Leaning on the ambiguity of the words doesn’t make our system more flexible – it makes it unstable and inapplicable. If we are to have a short phrase to represent each value/principle, it needs to be a couple words so that they’re unique and memorable: “inherent worth”, “empathetic justice”, “religious truth”, “spiritual growth”, “beloved community” would be more appropriate.

The phrase “transformative power of love” always brought a tear to my eye, and none of the proposed text reads with anywhere near the same passion to me.


I was leaning in the other direction: choosing a three or four values that everyone understands (my choice would be Love, Justice, Reason and Interdependence), but your comment is on the mark: I agree that the short phrases are more inspiring.

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Since we are not a dogmatic religion, I believe it is up to the individual congregations to define those terms (love, justice, equity, etc) in context of the community in which they live.