Saturday, January 31, 2009

if it works

My column for the Santa Clarita church February newsletter

One of the lines that struck me most powerfully from President Obama’s inaugural speech was when he said that it was time to put behind blind allegiance to old ideological differences and employ a new measurement to judge the worth of ideas. He said, “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.”

It immediately occurred to me that this is the approach Unitarian Universalism uses in regards to belief statements. The question is not whether a belief is right or orthodox, or in line with tradition, or found in scripture. The question is whether it “works.” Does a belief have a practical effect in making your life better? Does a belief lead you to support the value statements listed in our seven principles? Does a belief lead you to a life of joy and meaning, encourage to create relationships of justice and compassion with a larger community, and to take care of our earth home?

Sometimes we say that our churches are open to all beliefs, which isn’t quite true. But the question isn’t whether your beliefs follow the party line, but whether your beliefs contribute to the world we all seek. As with Obama’s desire to push beyond old political categories, Unitarian Universalists seek to move beyond old spiritual categories, not “are you a loyal follower of the one true path?” but “Does your path, however it goes, lead to the world we’re hoping to create together?”

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