I woke up this morning and my first thought was, I just don’t get it. I don’t get any reluctance to evangelize our faith. Remember proselytizing is different from evangelizing. Proselytizing is trying to get someone from another faith to change theirs to yours, evangelizing is just spreading the word about your faith so others are informed and can know. The world is at such a perilous place.
We have come so far in so many ways but unless we take great strides in making bigger advances to help the planet and unless we all can somehow turn the tide of fundamentalism and fear, we are in danger of the future that not only faces seven generations but maybe even ours.
That is why I don’t get it. If we truly believe in the power of this faith to change lives, if we truly try to practice the principles listed on our hymnals and websites, if we truly feel that our historical and theological lineage of love infused with reason, deeds over creeds and a desire for a just, kinder and more compassionate world, why is there anyone not wanting to grow and sing Unitarian Universalism from the highest mountains and the tallest peaks.
I say this in part those in our congregations struggling with growth. People who in their lives are clearly working for a better world but in their congregation don’t want to lose that “feeling of community.” That comment always sounds the same way to me, “now that I have found it, and it works for me, I want it to keep working for me the way that I like it.” This comment always strikes me the same way, well if you have found it and it is so important to you, how could you not want that for others who need it too?
And others need it. Others need to feel a part of a community that stands up, on the side of love, against the forces of marginalization and oppression of otherness. Others need to feel a part of a community that examines their own tendencies toward privilege and oppression as difficult as that can be. Others need to stop being others and belong to a community that encourages wholeness and bringing your full self to the table even when that challenges our own liberal understandings of tolerance, acceptance and unconditional love.
So that is what I woke up and just couldn’t understand this morning as I face this start of another congregational year. If your congregation is starting your year this week, next week or you will be starting soon, I wish you the best as we all navigate these tensions and as we work together, constantly and sometimes it seems, endlessly, to balance our own desires for the community that wraps us in the comforting blanket of familiarity, verses the loud, visible and vital proclamation of what this faith does and can do to help us all build a better world.
The Reverend David A. Miller is the minster of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito in Solana Beach, California. Reverend Miller is a graduate of the Claremont School of Theology receiving a Master of Divinity degree with an emphasis in Social Transformation.
He participated in one of the Innovative Learning Circles this past year, exploring Congregations & Beyond experiments.
While I agree with many of the statements in this posting it also troubles me. What I wonder is whether the drumbeat for social justice and creating a better world becomes numbing over time. Code words like ‘privilege’ are useful among the ‘choir’ but less useful for visitors or people who will believe rightly or otherwise that they are being shamed for being who they are. ‘Privilege’ really is a tired word in liberal circles.
What I truly wonder is whether people showing up are seeking more of a neo-Universalist perspective on what the promise of wholeness in each and every one of us can look like and how it can become real as part of our individual and collective spiritual evolution.
I have probably pontificated on this way too many times but the triangle of healing the world, finding kinship in community, and awakening the whole self are equally essential to the success of UU’ism in the future. To me our increasing success would be based more on the power of the Six Sources and what they share with us and then from there to the Principles.