I have a working theory that many UUs are more afraid of the imagined beliefs of other UUs, than they would be if they knew what those other UUs actually believe.
Here’s what I mean. When I hear people insisting that we need to define our UU identity, that we need to name the core of what UUs believe, I get nervous. I’m afraid that the circle they might draw would shut me out.
But something changes for me when I hear what people really believe, rather than what I imagine. The bedroom light switches on, and the monsters in the closet are just shirts and shoes.
I first realized this when Patrick McLaughlin shared with me David Bumbaugh’s suggestions about UU core beliefs. Bumbaugh’s poetic language allows enough space for a range of interpretations, for a broad spectrum of UUs to say, “Yes, this is what I believe.”
Christine Robinson has also risked articulating our common beliefs. Here’s what she says:
Life is good, and so are you.
Reason and Intellectual Faculties are good.
You can trust them to understand life.
However it’s a Very Big Universe out there,
and many important things can’t be known
through reason and intellect.
For this we have intuition, heart, spirituality,
and other faculties which are useful
but don’t lead everyone to the same conclusions.
Truth on these Very Big matters
is best found in conversations,
actual, virtual, literary, and internal.
It is to be expected that there will be differences.
They enrich us.
That’s what we do as Unitarian Universalists…
grow in spirit, together.
It takes a certain amount of bravery to propose a list of “things commonly believed among us.” We’re a tough crowd. We attack imagined monsters before anyone has time to turn on the lights. We shred a lot of shirts and shoes.
I think it’s time for us to find our courage. Courage to speak our beliefs––and courage to listen to others without reflexive critique.
We are not children. We can expect more from ourselves. We can replace fearfulness with a deep and abiding trust that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”