Friday, September 21, 2007

The Sources of Unitarian Universalism--#1

I finished the almost-final draft of Sunday's sermon, the topic of which is Source #1: "direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces that create and uphold life" and the more time I spent on it, thinking and writing, the more convinced I have become that the Sources hold far more depth and inspiration for UUs than the Principles, worthy though they are.

The Sources are our history, our wellsprings, our path through time. A student of the Sources will understand, during his/her study (IMHO) what it means to be Unitarian Universalist, that we are not just a conglomeration of liberal thinkers trying to get along in the world and spruce things up a bit. We are a living organism, like the ocean, with many streams contributing to our nature and character, all of which are essential, all of which are evolving together, each of which contributes a complete ecosystem to the larger whole.

Do you realize what it means that our First Source is "direct human spiritual experience"? We do not require those who join us to build their spiritual life around a doctrine, a deity, or a prophet. We believe that human beings can find and experience spiritual growth without these things, noble as they are. We know that each person's life offers meaning and insight into the human spirit and its relationship with other living beings and with the mystery of the universe. And we believe that this experience is so important that we acknowledge it as a Source of our faith. The First Source, as a matter of fact.

I further have come to think that out of a lack of understanding of our Sources, our roots, we Unitarian Universalists often struggle with our religious identity and purpose. We are more inclined to say what we don't believe than what we do believe, and I think this has to do with a lack of knowledge about our Sources, the wellsprings from which we flow, as a religious faith.

So I'm looking forward to Sunday and speaking on this topic. I'm excited about the Conversation we'll have later on in the week, where I hope we'll be able to delve more deeply into our own experiences. And I'm looking forward also to subsequent months where I'll preach about each of the Sources in greater depth. I'll publish the sermon on the blog Sunday night.

1 comment:

LinguistFriend said...

A week and a half ago, I was invited to sit in on an honors physics class, in which an elderly retired physicist (visiting speaker) was speaking about the philosophic background of physical thought. To my amazement, he (Lutheran, I think) found much relevant in Emerson, whom he knew better than anyone else I have met or heard. It revealed an aspect of Emerson of which I had never been aware. My conclusion is that it is not always obvious what source of UU thought is which.