If you had to name just a few values that are essential to Unitarian Universalism, what would you come up with? Here is one answer: Equity; Interdependence; Generosity; Justice; Growth; Diversity–and above all, Love.
This week I attended a feedback session, hosted by the committee that is working on revising the current statement of principles and sources. For 90 minutes I discussed this draft of UU values with about two dozen other UU’s from across the country. This feedback session was the latest step in a process that’s been going on for a couple of years now. Realizing that a revision to the 1987 version of the 7 principles and 6 sources document was long overdue, the Unitarian Universalist Association has had a group working on this revision for a while now. They have received feedback already; they have hosted sessions at General Assembly to discuss their work; they plan to have a final proposal ready for an initial vote next summer.
In doing this revision, the committee wisely decided to put everything on the table. The new statement of UU values might not be in the form of “principles and sources” that has become so familiar. The gathered voice of Unitarian Universalism, as expressed through voting at General Assembly, charged this committee with centering Love in their work. They have done just that.
In the feedback session I attended Sunday, the committee asked for our feedback on the expression of UU values as a simple diagram. The diagram had LOVE in the center. Then around that central value, like spokes in a wheel, were the other values: Equity; Interdependence; Generosity; Justice; Growth; Diversity. Many people in the feedback session responded favorably overall; some of us brought up things that might be missing: Democracy; Environmentalism; Spiritual Seeking.
One thing in the discussion struck me that I want to lift up: gratitude for the process itself. In our religion, Unitarian Universalism, the statement of our core values is revised, and discussed, and deliberated upon, by a committee with input from the larger body of Unitarian Universalists. We get a say in this. We get to respond to the draft and get our feedback to the committee…and ultimately we get to vote. It is a messy and deliberate and slow and imperfect process–because it is democratic. And because the task–how to sum up Unitarian Universalism in a few concise words or statements–is a challenging one. The process is very UU, and I think the ultimate outcome will be very UU.
In order to follow this process more closely, including upcoming chances to offer your own feedback, please look for “Article 2 Study Commission” on the UUA website:
God / Light Within / Deepest Human Wisdom / Infinite Sky / Mother Earth…
…May all seekers be blessed. May we be blessed in our stumbling, in our finding and doubting our way and finding again.
May the community of seekers be blessed, as we strive to understand together what is Good, what is Right, what is True, what is Worthy.
Amen. Blessed Be.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
I have a cherished family photo taken on the day of my oldest child’s graduation. Along with me and his mother are his brother and all six of his grandparents, posed in front of the Japanese Maple tree at the house in Ohio.
In the seven and a half years since that photo was taken, the grandparents are older and one has died; teenagers have become grown ups; their mom and I divorced and I no longer live in that house. Even the tree in the background of that photo is no longer there: it died from disease and I eventually cut it down.
Yesterday I planted a tree in my yard, at my new house in Michigan: a Japanese Maple. I did the planting with fertilizer and also with ritual, adding sage and echinacea to the soil; saying prayers to the four directions before and after planting; creating a circle of stones around the tree. Planting a tree is a sacred act, a way of faithfully connecting with the future.The tree is leafy, red and gorgeous, and stands a little taller than I do.
When I cut down the dead tree in Ohio I decided to keep the trunk, cutting off the limbs and sripping the bark to create a staff. The staff is curvy, strong and smooth, and stands a little taller than I do. When I make a sacred promise to myself, or perform other rituals, I use this staff, connecting me to Mother Earth.
The living tree in my yard contains the magic of growing: of taking in sunlight and water and air and turning them into beauty and life. The wooden staff in my living room contains magic as well: years of life and growth made solid, a strength and rootedness I can hold in my hand. Maybe it is just me, but I guess this is true for many of us: living things (loved ones, pets, plants in the garden) connect us with the present and point toward the future; special objects that we possess (photographs, jewelry, a piece of pottery) connect us with the past through memory and love.
May trees grow and flourish in abundance.
May beauty surround us, may it be the constant background of our lives.
May we rejoice in the cycles of life: birth, growth and death–and may we be rooted in the present even as we connect to the past and the future.
May it be so.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Yesterday the voters in Kansas voted to affirm the legal right to abortion—by a surprising 60-40 margin in a traditionally conservative state. Abortion rights are strongly supported by Unitarian Universalists. This summer, 99% of General Assembly voters approved the reproductive rights statement that includes this language:
Our Unitarian Universalist faith affirms that all of our bodies are sacred, and that we are each endowed with the twin gifts of agency and conscience. Each of us should have the power to decide what does and doesn’t happen to our bodies at every moment of our lives because consent and self determination are holy. In the words of SisterSong, the Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, we unequivocally support every person’s right
· To maintain personal bodily autonomy
· To have children
· To not have children
· To parent children in safe and sustainable communities
…and goes on to frame reproductive justice in terms of freedom from oppression:
Controlling people’s bodies during pregnancy is about enforcing white supremacy, patriarchy, and ruling-class power. Historically, those most affected by reproductive oppression have not been centered. Again, as advocated by SisterSong, we must:
· Analyze power systems
· Address intersecting oppressions
· Center the most marginalized
· Join together across issues and identities
It is expected that Michigan voters will be asked to consider abortion rights in November, just as voters in Kansas did yesterday. I believe that UU’s can and should act on their religious and moral convictions to advocate for issues in electoral politics. The national effort called “UU the Vote” puts the organizing power of our religious institution into such efforts.
I felt joy and relief upon hearing the results from Kansas. The overturning of Roe v. Wade was disheartening, and it is wonderful to get some good news for a change. I also reflect that these issues are not absolute and black-and-white. When I get pulled into an “us versus them” mindset, when I start thinking that those who disagree with me on issues like abortion are evil people, I need to remind myself to take a broader perspective. All people deserve love. All people want to feel safe. I want to keep struggling against unjust laws, and I want to do so with love and joy in my heart.
Spirit of Infinite Life and Love, Bringer of Blessings:
Bestow your blessings of Joy, Love, Comfort and Belonging on those 6 out of 10 Kansas voters who affirmed the right to abortion yesterday
Bestow, Gracious Spirit, an equal share of these blessings to the 4 out of 10 voters who disagreed.
May all be blessed by Love. May all know that they are worthy and enough.
Rev. Drew Frantz
Rev. Andrew Frantz
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