Post Reply
Page 1 of 2  •  1 2 Next
Switch to Forum Live View Quacks like a creed
5 years ago  ::  Oct 19, 2009 - 12:18PM #1
DotNotInOz
Posts: 6,833

Not as though there's much any individual can do about this since the UUA persists in printing the Principles and Purposes on handy wallet cards and bookmarks one can hand to those inquiring, "So, what do UU's believe?" Nevertheless, I'm thinking that the new minority group among ourselves consists of those who disagree with some or all of them.


Reason why I'm wondering...I was told pointblank by a couple of people at church recently that the P&P are "the expression of who UU's are to the rest of the world." (That's nearly a direct quote, btw.)


I thought perhaps the meaning was that these simply represent some values commonly held by UU's and thus indicate something of what we are like, so I asked for clarification. I was quickly disabused of that notion when one person informed me that "Even though they're not a creed, the P&P show what UU's believe." 


I replied, "Well, only a few of them express what I believe as a UU, and even then, they're such commonly held American cultural values anymore that I don't think they constitute anything much to distinguish us from a lot of other people."


Now, ask people of creedal faiths how they interpret "what UU's believe," and I'd bet it means to them "what UU's must or are supposed to believe." [Quack! Quack!] Sure, we can explain till we're hoarse that no UU is obligated to believe them, but that leaves us typically being asked, "Well, then, what DO all of you believe? Don't you believe in ANYthing?" (And most of us have probably had this discussion at least once, likely leaving the impression that we actually don't believe in anything, thereby fueling the "not really a religion" argument.)


I think we've gotten dangerously close to creedal when we use the P&P as the easy answer they provide. The UUA seems to me to encourage doing so with all the printed forms of the P&P and study guides that it produces, not to mention the page in the hymnal. 


I wish that each congregation would do as was originally the intent and draft its own statement of values. After all, if each is supposedly an independent entity in the Unitarian Universalist ASSOCIATION of congregations, why wouldn't we be obliged to do so? Personally, I prefer the term "core values" or simply "values" rather than beliefs as I think that most religious people understand "beliefs" to mean part of a creed when used in this way. "Values," on the other hand, doesn't seem to me to carry the "must believe" baggage and also indicates something changeable because what is valued may change as circumstances change.


What do you think?

Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Oct 19, 2009 - 4:24PM #2
Jcarlinbn
Posts: 7,053

Oct 19, 2009 -- 12:18PM, DotNotInOz wrote:

What do you think? 



I have no problems with the P&P even though like you I have issues with some of them. When someone asks what a UU believes, I usually respond that I like most UU's have spent a lot of time figuring out what I believe, as UU's build their own faith.  They build it around what they bring to UU from their old faith if they have one, and generally around some or all of these principles.  I will usually add something like most of the P&P are pretty general and wishy-washy, and most of us strengthen them as in radical respect for the first.  Then I would add, if you think you could build a faith around what you bring to us, and these principles as you modify them, Welcome!  

Jcarlinbn, community moderator
Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Oct 19, 2009 - 7:15PM #3
DotNotInOz
Posts: 6,833

Oh, I agree that one may certainly answer the "What do UU's believe?" question as you suggest, J'C.


Perhaps I ought not to have included that sideline in my OP since my primary concern is the extent to which the P&P seem to me to function as a creed in UU churches despite insistence that they are not one.


 

Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Oct 22, 2009 - 6:21AM #4
findingmyselfgod
Posts: 25

If our culture embraces the UU principles, all the better for our culture.


But do we really? Democracy, for instance - do many of us care about whether it's in China? Etc.


I think it's lip-service, and one of the points of the UU community is to enable and encourage and challenge us to fight for these principles - fight our own bigotry and laziness, and also the world's.

Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Oct 22, 2009 - 6:23AM #5
findingmyselfgod
Posts: 25

I'm sorry - I missed the point of your post.


If you want to call it a creed, I wouldn't mind personally. But I've always assumed that creeds were about beliefs in metaphysical entities, rather than of ethical commitments, which the principles seem to be.


Does that make any difference?

Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Oct 22, 2009 - 12:42PM #6
DotNotInOz
Posts: 6,833

It doesn't make much difference to me, Finding. They are still used in a manner suggestive of a creed, I feel. We point to them and study them in ways that creedal faiths do their creeds, IMO. I think this creates a good deal of understandable confusion for "come to" UU's from creedal faiths.


Perhaps this is merely my personal bias, but I find it disconcerting for a UU who expresses disagreement with any of the P&P to be told by another UU, "Then, why don't you find a faith you can agree with?" Maybe such questions result from a lack of sufficient education that no UU is obliged to agree with any of the P&P because they are not to be considered a creed.


However, that the P&P are emblazoned on all sorts of materials only encourages regarding them as "what UU's [are supposed to] believe," i.e. a creed. 


Hence my heading, "Quacks like a creed," despite the disclaimers.

Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Oct 22, 2009 - 5:38PM #7
Jcarlinbn
Posts: 7,053

 


Please Welcome findingmyselfgod


to the UU boards and the new beliefnet.


Thanks for joining us.


 


Oct 22, 2009 -- 6:21AM, findingmyselfgod wrote:

If our culture embraces the UU principles, all the better for our culture.


But do we really? Democracy, for instance - do many of us care about whether it's in China? Etc.


I think it's lip-service, and one of the points of the UU community is to enable and encourage and challenge us to fight for these principles - fight our own bigotry and laziness, and also the world's. 



I think you make a good point, finding, but I am not sure they are intended to be generalized to the culture.  I think if UU's can demonstrate the effectiveness of the principles internally, and we still have some issues to deal with, we will have a stronger political base to carry them outward.  


 

Jcarlinbn, community moderator
Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Oct 22, 2009 - 8:00PM #8
findingmyselfgod
Posts: 25

I would've dressed up if I'd known I'd get a welcome like that! I just hope someone brought champagne!


Seriously - very nice of you.

Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Oct 22, 2009 - 8:04PM #9
findingmyselfgod
Posts: 25

Oct 22, 2009 -- 12:42PM, DotNotInOz wrote:


It doesn't make much difference to me, Finding. They are still used in a manner suggestive of a creed, I feel. We point to them and study them in ways that creedal faiths do their creeds, IMO. I think this creates a good deal of understandable confusion for "come to" UU's from creedal faiths.


Perhaps this is merely my personal bias, but I find it disconcerting for a UU who expresses disagreement with any of the P&P to be told by another UU, "Then, why don't you find a faith you can agree with?" Maybe such questions result from a lack of sufficient education that no UU is obliged to agree with any of the P&P because they are not to be considered a creed.


However, that the P&P are emblazoned on all sorts of materials only encourages regarding them as "what UU's [are supposed to] believe," i.e. a creed. 


Hence my heading, "Quacks like a creed," despite the disclaimers.





I guess I don't understand your concern.


The principles are emphasized too much? UUs take them too seriously? Disagreement with them isn't welcome enough?


 

Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Nov 01, 2009 - 2:16PM #10
Pesko
Posts: 5

Hello, all.


I'm new to Beliefnet and a newer UU member, although I've been reading about and have been interested in UUism for about 10 years.


The way I'd respond to this question is that, without the principles, are there any minimum standards of conduct that UU's have, other than what is already prohibited by law?  I appreciate the free search for truth that UUism allows me as a member.  The principles don't tell me what I must believe, how I must worship, or to whom I must worship, if I 'worship' at all, in order to be a member.  It states that these congregations agree to act in certain ways.


If an individual agrees to be a member of a congregation that has signed this agreement with other congregations, don't they have a personal responsibility to uphold it? If a person feels in strong disagreement with one of the principles or purposes, why would they join an organization that has made its commitments known?  I would not apply to be a student at Regent University because I know that they have a stated philosophy of teaching from an evangelical Christian point of view, and that I could not in good conscience join something that I disagree with.


To address the original issue raised:  Compare the principles & purposes with creeds of the major faiths of the world and it should be clear that the p&p aren't a creed:  Nicean Creed, Shema Yisrael,  and Shahadah.  Indeed, the word "creed" comes from the Latin "credo", or "I believe".  As we've heard a lot, the P&P are about what UU's do, not what they believe.


Now... If you want to call the Principles & Purposes a covenant, that's a different issue.  Ignoring that "covenant" is actually used in the text of the P&P, a covenant is, in a general sense, "a solemn promise to engage in or refrain from a specified action."  The P&P certainly seem to do that.  The question is, does the P&P apply to some detached corporate interpretation of what a congregation is, or is a "congregation" defined as the collection of all its members? It would be nice if the relationship between the Principles and Purposes and individual congregants were clarified to put this issue at rest.


If we are allowed to have different beliefs, but then we also do not agree on any expectations of conduct or purpose, what exactly is a Unitarian-Universalist congregation?  If the members of a congregation do not have to act according to the P&P, who does?  Just the congregation's representatives when they interact with representatives of other congregations?  It seems the P&P has been designed to be applied more broadly than that.

Quick Reply
Cancel
Page 1 of 2  •  1 2 Next
 
    Viewing this thread :: 0 registered and 1 guest
    No registered users viewing
    Advertisement

    Beliefnet On Facebook