What I see here is someone re-defining the word “god.” UUs are champions at this! I have seen UU’s call everything and anything God. My God is Evolution! My God is the Love that Binds us all together! My God is All Being!
What is the point of this exercise? Why is it important to use the same term, “god” to describe things, ideas, experiences and feelings that the vast majority of humans do not understand as God? Do we feel like we need religion so badly that we need to manipulate language in order to feel like we belong? Or for some other reason?
I understand that these non-god gods have some of the attributes of traditional Gods — universal, original, powerful, etc. At the same time, they are philosophically unnecessary, they don’t add anything that cannot already be explained by something else or simply accepted as “the way it is.” Traditionally gods were created to fill in the gaps, to explain the otherwise unexplainable. I suppose you could say that the system of mathematics is otherwise unexplainable. But why can’t we just be satisfied with that, instead of trying to “deify” it?
I think that’s just the inherent problem of trying to reduce a concept to a single word. There will never be a single word which can be used to describe “all the spiritual stuff” or “all the good stuff” because only words in combination have meaning.
For me when I speak of gods in the most general sense, I mean “the form of the spiritual world” (which includes the possibility of the empty set, e.g. the pure a-theology) and “god” is a familiar one-syllable shorthand. In a rhetorical context, aesthetics can be as important as accuracy.
When I see the word “spiritual” I either wonder “what the heck is that?” or I think “oh that’s that awe, wonder, ineffability, infinity that makes you feel funny” and leave it at that. Maybe it’s the emotional response to infinity.
What do you mean when you use the word “spiritual”? (And no fair using the word ‘god’ in the definition.).
For the purpose of Article II, I think it’s fine (and perhaps best) to rely on the cultural, non-prescriptive understanding what what “spiritual” is. That is, if we asked random people to name some “spiritual” stuff, I think most people would have some answers: god and gods, heaven and hell, pantheons of spirits, yin and yang, the soul, natural or universal forces, metaphysical abstractions (like justice and mercy), unexplainable experiences… and any other possible answers.
If I were to go with something more prescriptive for “spiritual world”, I’d go with something like
“the whole set of immaterial or non-physical things, which may be beyond one’s direct access or feel ‘greater’ than one’s self.”
And now perhaps I must specify what it means to “have access” to something, and if we really have access to anything at all, but I think a discussion on the nature and ontology of reality is beyond the scope of this thread. So to stay on topic, maybe we can continue this discussion via email.
It’s actually “Wisdom from the world’s religions” - so I take that as “the good part”.
From a historian’s perspective, I prefer that language, since it does feel more quantifiable and definite than “Sacred understandings” which doesn’t really mean anything (or, to be fair, is probably meant to mean whatever you wish it to mean).
It’s a little pototoes / potatoes… but I do find “sacred understandings” to not include the wisdom I have gleaned from religions that I personally do not follow, but, am sometimes inspired by. Or I guess at that point it becomes a “secular understanding”? I am not sure the intent of that term.
This is why we added “discern” in the draft I shared with my congregation (it’s around here somewhere as #460 and is also being workshopped as one of the “mid-form” alternatives alongside @beccaboerger’s shorter one.
“We are inspired by our Unitarian and Universalist heritages and other world religions and wisdom traditions, by science and other secular sources of knowledge and meaning, by the creative arts, which open our hearts to life’s joys and sorrows, and by the direct experience of wonder and mystery which expands our minds and spirit. These sources ground us and sustain us in ordinary, difficult, and joyous times. We honor the pluralism of our lineage. Moving forward, we discern and build upon Unitarian Universalism’s sources, mindful of the cultures in which they evolved.”
I like this and suggest changing the last sentence to, "we discern and build upon our sources . . . " As short as this one is, I think “Unitarian Universalist/Universalism” twice is a bit of a mouthful, and also the latter sentence is a little clunky to say perhaps?
We are inspired by our Unitarian and Universalist heritages and other world religions and wisdom traditions, by science and other secular sources of knowledge and meaning, and by the creative arts, which open our hearts to life’s joys and sorrows, The direct experience of life, including its wonder and mystery, expands our minds and spirit. These sources ground us and sustain us in ordinary, difficult, and joyous times. We honor the pluralism of our lineage, mindful of the cultures from which it evolved. As a living tradition, we build upon our sources, called to ever deepen and expand our wisdom.
I prefer your original version. I feel it does a wonderful job of highlighting the most important sources succinctly. And it remains broad enough to include the current sources that aren’t explicitly named in your version (Earth-based traditions as wisdom traditions, lives of prophetic people as exemplars of the best of world’s religion and wisdom traditions and secular sources too). I am a creative artist so I don’t object to adding that but I also don’t find it necessary as I can see it included in the other sources you’re naming (a kind of wisdom tradition and practice, a form of direct experience, a secular source).