Submission 447 Mary Jo Ebert Birmingham Unitarian Church (Bloomfield Hills, MI) 5311
What is your suggestion or idea?
Section C-2.3. Inspirations.As Unitarian Universalists, we use, and are inspired by, sacred and secular understandings that help us to live into our values. We respect the histories, contexts and cultures in which they were created and are currently practiced. These sources ground us and sustain us in ordinary, difficult, and joyous times. (Use this next statement at the end of the proposed wording.) Grateful for the religious ancestries we inherit and the diversity which enriches our faith, we are called to ever deepen and expand our wisdom.
Proposed C-2.3 wording: The living tradition which we share draws inspiration from many sources that foster learning and help us to live into our values. These include, but are not limited to:
Direct experience of wonder and mystery which move us to a renewal of the spirit and openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
Wisdom from Unitarianism and Universalism, their Christian and Jewish roots, and other religions which inform and inspire us in our ethical and spiritual lives;
Words and deeds of prophetic people that challenge us to confront structures of evil with justice and compassion;
Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and results of science;
Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature;
The creative arts, which enable exploration of life’s meaning through emotional connections.
Grateful for the religious ancestries we inherit and the diversity which enriches our faith, we are called to ever deepen and expand our wisdom.
What is the reason for your amendment idea?
For people learning about UUism, whether new or long-time members, the sources are helpful for understanding what this religion uses for its teachings. It conveys an open mindedness to a range of teachings and ideas while also subtly conveying that it’s not an anything-goes practice.
It’s important to recognize the range of sources that matter to UUs. This is the one place that Humanism and science are mentioned, as well as some others cited. The sources reference both our history and our current practices.
Saying “including, but not limited to” makes clear that this list is not meant to be all-inclusive of every possible source a UU or congregation might use.
The Commission stated that creating an updated list of sources would require “a process that includes theologians, ministers, religious educators, musicians, artists/writers and laypeople” to do the job. If that’s the case, then let’s assemble such folks to do it rather than lose an informative segment of Article II.
Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?
Yes. Over the course of five workshops attended by our congregants, this was a frequent topic of discussion. A common observation was that the Sources were an important element of what drew them to UUism.
The idea to include the creative arts as a source came from reading Amendment Idea #147 by Janet Leavens.
100% agree with “The Commission stated that creating an updated list of sources would require “a process that includes theologians, ministers, religious educators, musicians, artists/writers and laypeople” to do the job. If that’s the case, then let’s assemble such folks to do it rather than lose an informative segment of Article II.” I would very much like to be apart of a group of folks that do this. It feels to me like this statement says the commission just ran out of time and energy to do this. Lets take that time and get more energy and do it right!
I really like this proposal. It is a nice revision of current language, and the creative arts is an interesting addition. Could be broadened, other religions and spiritual traditions. It would also be nice to reference an Eastern religion like Buddhism as another example.
As a relatively new UU, I feel strongly that the current Sources are informative and liberating. We should retain some version of them, blended with some wonderful language from the proposed revision. Amendment idea #447 does this, appropriately updating the Sources. I would suggest only one tweak: In the second bullet point, after “and other religions” I would insert “and spiritual traditions” to include Buddhism and other traditions that do not consider themselves to be religions.
I like this approach of blending the original sources with the wording of the proposed Article II. By naming sources, this section becomes more specific and therefore helps to convey a clearer understanding of the intent. Indicating that the sources “include, but are not limited to” prevents this from being a closed list, which I understand was a concern of the Article II Study Commission.
Hi, Mary Jo, as mentioned in the last session we were in together tonight, your amendment falls into our general grouping of people who are trying to both blend and edit the Inspirations and the Sources and I do think has a lot in common with mine. Hope to chat more soon.
The two versions of the amendment that started from an early feedback proposal and diverged to separate proposals to Janet Leavens’ congregation and my own are #147 and #460. Note that the “Arts” language in both these amendments (with one word changed in mine) was proposed a while ago by Rev. Rick Davis and got a lot of support. You can see the wording and the citation in both Janet’s and my amendments.
I applaud this suggestion!! Excellent!! And it also affirms the Article II Commission hard work by fitting itself well in the Commission’s proposal. I was in the small group on Thursday night UUA Board Workshop but did not get Mary Jo’s e-mail. I would like to do whatever would be helpful to further this suggestion. I am a retired UU minister and will be sharing Mary Jo’s suggestion with my Central Virginia UU Religious Professionals group as well as encouraging LREDA and UUMA friends across the country to take a look at it. Let me know how I can help. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your thought and your heart on this, Mary Jo. I do though disagree with you and believe the language proposed by the Commission is a preferable approach.
I am dissatisfied with the six sources. It is an ahistorical statement. And it does not, in my experience, reflect what is preached. The current wording of the six sources is confusing at best. For example, is Judaism a source? Is Christianity? Or is it the specific and limited intersection of Jewish and Christian teachings? Or is it one specific teaching to the exclusion of all the rest?
Your removal of the wisdom from World Religions source is confusing in a version that keeps the other five sources in some form. Is the aim to avoid the suggestion of misappropriation?
Your revision’s listing of Unitarianism and Universalism as a source does significantly better than the Judaism/Christianity source as currently stated. However, the more important thing, in my opinion, is not a list of where specific inspirations and ideas that we revere came from but the fact that wisdom and inspiration are found many places too numerous to list, and we can recognize, learn from, and be inspired by them wherever we encounter them, without having to have them on a preapproved list.
The Commission’s proposed Inspirations section as a replacement for an enumeration of six “sources” is a massive improvement, a case of less being much, much more.
Thank you Markanah. I received your email and appreciate that you shared this amendment idea with the UU Religious Professionals group and others. We haven’t been given clear direction on how to submit an amendment that has support from multiple people/congregations. It appears we may have to use a delegate submission and maybe list the names of supporters?
Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts about this amendment.
I see the Sources as both historical and current. My congregation draws from all of these sources for Sunday service themes in present day.
The “world religions” source has been reworded in my amendment to “Wisdom from Unitarianism and Universalism, their Christian and Jewish roots, and other religions which inform and inspire us in our ethical and spiritual lives.” I intentionally replaced the “Judeo-Christian” language because I think it’s invalid to link them, as you alluded to in your question. In the workshop on May 11, it was suggested to add “and spiritual traditions” to “religions” (religions and other spiritual traditions) because the word “religion” is restrictive and not always accurately applied.
My concern is that if we default to “Our inspirations are too numerous to list,” then it could include anything. There are some whacko “religions” and “spiritual” practices that we would reject. For me, the listed sources/ inspirations give people an idea of the true breadth of our Inspirations while also conveying that it’s not anything-goes. The lead-in line, “These include, but are not limited to:” conveys that the list is not all-inclusive. Maybe there’s a more effective way to convey that it’s not a limited list while also offering examples for those who benefit from those. I’m thinking about a way to do that more effectively.
I understand and appreciate that there are differing viewpoints on this. I wish the Study Commission had sorted this out during earlier phases of this project.
Thank you for your comment, Teresa. It’s wonderful to hear from a relatively new UU! I’m hearing this same sentiment from newer people in my congregation, and I find the same to be true for myself after a good number of years as a UU. I appreciate your suggestion of “and spiritual traditions” and have updated my offline copy of this amendment to incorporate that change. I like that it makes the tent bigger, so to speak.