Sunday, November 28, 2004

An accepting faith

Religion has always been a losing proposition for me. As I’ve written about before, the organized variety of faith I have encountered has often left me confused, hurt, angry, or some combination of these emotions. Without resetting the scene, let me just say that while I consider myself spiritual, I no longer consider myself religious.

My father and mother-in-law had the opposite experience when they joined a Unitarian-Universalist congregation in a nearby town. My late father-in-law, one of the most intellectually honest men I’ve ever met, found the UU community a comforting way station for the end of his life’s journey. For the last 20 years of his life, he and my mother-in-law found this church to be a place that allowed them to continue their quest for knowledge and truth in an affirming and non-judgmental environment. My mother-in-law still attends regularly and today, I went to the morning service as the congregation dedicated a new sound system in my father-in-law’s memory. Since he believed that all people had dignity and were worthy of a hearing, my father-in-law had encouraged the church to look at upgrading their sound system in 1998. After he passed away from cancer in 1999, a fund was set up to purchase a new system “so that all may hear”. With the recent purchase of the new sound system, with engraved plaques on each of the speakers, it is a fitting way to remember this man and what he stood for.

Being part of the service this morning with my extended family was rewarding. It made me reflect upon the wonderful people that my in laws are (and were)—committed to the worth and special qualities of all people—as well as recognizing that not all faith communities force you into a narrow box.

With the moral values of fundamentalist Trinitarians supposedly guiding voters during the election, I found the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism to be a welcome contrast to the absolutism of many religious leaders currently basking in the media spotlight. For those unfamiliar with Unitarian Universalism, here are the seven principles that all congregations affirm and promote:
  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Not a bad set of guiding principles, if I do say so myself.

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